With her cofounder Julia Bösch, Anna Alex founded OUTFITTERY in 2012—as an online version of “personal shopping.” With the intention of revolutionizing what people knew about “personal shopping,” they wanted to create an experience that was both accessible and affordable for all men, thus bringing the fun back into shopping for men. Starting the company with three people, they began doing everything on their own: from website design to styling to packing the boxes to sending them via post. They persuaded their male friends and family members into being their first clients and they were instantly amazed. OUTFITTERY has since grown to a team of over 300 people with 300.000 customers in eight European countries.
What was your inspiration behind starting OUTFITTERY?
Anna Alex: Julia and myself had always dreamed about founding our own company. We had met at our first jobs—Julia was working for Zalando and I was working for Rocket Internet. The startup spirit has really fascinated us.
The idea of OUTFITTERY then came up through a friend of ours in New York, who hired a personal stylist for a hundred dollars per hour. He usually was no big fan of shopping, but this time he was really happy, and he looked amazing afterwards. This was the moment where we thought that every man should have the possibility to get his own personal stylist at an affordable price. When we were back in Germany, we put our heads together and brainstormed. Step by step, our idea of an online personal shopping service for men was getting real. Of course, there were many skeptics saying that this service will only appeal to a niche. But these skeptics never made us change our mind—and today, OUTFITTERY is a market leader in personal shopping.
For a full mindmap behind this article with articles, videos, and documents see #fashion
Is OUTFITTERY geared towards a specific clientele or style?
A.A: OUTFITTERY is a curated shopping service for men. The customer simply registers via OUTFITTERY and fills out a short style questionnaire with a couple of questions about his own taste, favourite brands, and sizes. An appropriate stylist will then put together two to three individual outfits regarding the needs of the customer after a personal phone call. The outfits will be sent out in a black and white box with a chic suitcase look. The customer keeps what he loves and returns everything else back in the box. In order to keep the range constantly up to date, the company looks for the most interesting men’s fashion brands and the trendiest items of popular designers worldwide.
In the Photo: Sample OUTFITTERY Box. Photo Credit: OUTFITTERY.
How is OUTFITTERY different than other online stores and how does this attribute to its success?
A.A: We believe that OUTFITTERY is the next step in the evolution of retail. After traditional offline and catalogue shopping, the area of online shopping started. All items you could think of were made available online. Convenient, with one exception: Customers now had the agony of choice. If you want to buy a blue shirt in size medium, you are presented with an overwhelming choice of 1000 different pieces in one online shop. But you don’t know which of these blue shirts is the right one, which one fits me in size, which cut is the best for you.
This is where OUTFITTERY fits in: We combine the convenience of online shopping with the personal style consultation of a traditional men’s boutique. We offer our customers the chance to dress well without any timely effort. By handpicking every outfit individually—all in line with the customers’ style and preference—we create relevance for him. And this is what he appreciates a lot and what makes OUTFITTERY so successful.
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What influence do you think social media has played in the job market?
A.A: Social media sites are a great platform for networking with people and staying up to date about specific companies and find job offers—particularly LinkedIn or Xing. But personally, I find the best place to attract talents is still at offline events. In the end, you need to have met someone first before you stay connected with them via a social media profile. Julia and me are often guest speakers at conferences, and we always meet great people there who, after hearing our presentation, become interested in our business and want to talk to us afterwards.
People like to actually talk to employees from the company they are applying to—it is actually the best and most honest insight they can get. Our HR team also goes to a lot of job fairs and events in order to find the best talents for OUTFITTERY!
Of course there were many skeptics saying that this service will only appeal to a niche. But these skeptics never made us change our mind—and today, OUTFITTERY is a market leader in personal shopping.
In that respect, how has this affected the growth of startup companies?
A.A: Of course, especially in terms of communications. Also, technology fueled the startup scene around the world. What is inherent for this scene is low hierarchies, steep careers, and open opportunities for everyone. What is great about this spirit is that you can really push your own projects at an early stage in your career, while at the same time learning from highly experienced people in your field. At OUTFITTERY, we have people from many different nationalities, and a female quota in management of over 50 percent.
In the Photo: OUTFITTERY Stylists. Photo Credit: OUTFITTERY.
Have you taken any other initiatives to promote women in business?
A.A: Since there are so few female founders in Germany, Julia, and I try to take the chance to motivate more women to found their own business at every chance we can. For example, we are faces of the network, “Women in Digital,” and also speak at certain events dedicated to encouraging women towards different careers, such as the “herCAREER” fair in Munich.
Do you have any pieces of advice that helped to bring you where you are?
A.A: Never stop believing in yourself. Our motto is: The best things in life happen outside of your comfort zone, so don’t be afraid and always be optimistic! Don’t let others make you feel insecure about your dream. There will always be people who doubt what you do. Show them they’re wrong!
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Featured Image Credit: OUTFITTERY
EDITOR’S NOTE: THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE BY IMPAKTER.COM COLUMNISTS ARE THEIR OWN, NOT THOSE OF IMPAKTER.COM.
OUTFITTERY: Revolutionizing the Personal Shopping Experience Instagram