Having no experience as an entrepreneur, Katrina Lake’s success is one that is inspirational. Lake is the founder and CEO of Stitch Fix, an online styling service where customers receive a curated box based on their personal style. They currently ship in all 50 states. Since launching in 2011, Lake went public with the company. Entrepreneurship was not on her radar, but her journey has been an interesting one. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how she has been able to achieve so much.
Lake wasn’t a fan of the glorified tech startup life where entrepreneurs would spend their days and nights coding in a basement. She worked at a venture capital firm and for a retail consultant group before heading to Harvard Business School which she says was a necessary step. It was in school when she came up with the idea for Stitch Fix. Lake had been searching for the right company to join after graduation that was working on innovative ideas in the retail space. She realized that she could create that, and she did. She shipped out her first Stitch Fix box while still in school.
She loves the fashion industry, and how it affects your daily life. “It can impact all the touch points in your day.” Stitch Fix allows customers to create a personal profile with their fashion preferences. A stylist then selects items for the customer. Those selections are shipped to your door for you to try on at home for just $20 a month. Whatever items you don’t want to buy, you just ship them back for free. The ones you decide to keep, you have the choice to purchase.
The company turned a profit just after three years. In 2017, Stitch Fix went public making Lake the youngest woman to take a company public. It’s accurate to say that she has learned a lot from taking an idea from her college days to a unicorn company. “Surround yourself with people who are smart that you will learn from,” she said. She made sure to surround herself with people who challenged her. “There’s nothing worse than staying the same. When was the last time you really changed your mind about something that is important?” Lake asked. “I had a lot of exposure in my family to women who had done amazing things,” Lake said about being influenced. One other point she shared is that you really have to love the company you are building. The long hours, headaches, disappointments, down moments have to be worth it in the end. As far as getting funded, your investor needs to believe in you. “I don’t think I had the typical traits of an entrepreneur,” Lake confessed. It wasn’t easy raising money, but one investor knew she was the right one to lead the company. The initial offering was just $750k and after she went out to raise more and everyone said no, her investor decided to invest anyway.
The company plans to expand beyond shipping in the U.S. and they are happy to see plus size, an underserved market, grow within their brand.