Third time's a charm. Our third installment for INFLUENCERS, brings to the table Brandon Holley, CEO and founder of Everywear.
Everywear is the first technology platform to bring an editorial presence and expertise to e-commerce through personalized recommendations. Everywear is a platform with B2B tech that retailers can use to increase sales with a one-to-one shopping experience.
LOOK: Do you have a tagline for your business?
BH: It’s technology that thinks like a fashion editor.
LOOK: Can you tell us the history of Everywear and how it came about?
BH: I started my career as a magazine editor. I performed this job for thirty years. I ran magazines like Lucky Magazine and Jane Magazine as the editor-in-chief. I also helped start a magazine called Elle Girl Magazine. Over the years, I found that women were always saying the same thing to me. “I wake up in the morning, I don't know what to wear. I wear too much black. I buy too much on sale and I never wear it. I want to look better but I don't know how. But I want to look like a fashion editor.”
These statements just made me think that we had to demystified it ie: the way to be fashionable and buying pieces that are wonderful for ourselves. When I was working at Lucky Magazine, what I realized was, that you were 10 times more likely to shop after reading Lucky Magazine then it was after reading Vogue Magazine. Because we broke it down for our female readers. we made it feel like a friend, a trusted friend, who a woman could self identify with. This friend could help our reader become more stylish after they read Lucky Magazine article(s). All of this leads to, if you give her a little bit of information, she's going to shop more.
I look at E-Commerce and it's just a ridiculous paralysis of choice. Many stylish women have basically have the same closet. We start with a closet that is mostly neutrals. It's jean jackets, skinny jeans, black pencil skirts, moto-jackets, black bombers, striped t-shirt, and black coats. This is the sort of a powerful women's basic closet. It is very modular. Our Lucky Magazine editors developed a formula to help our readers shop better. The shopper selects the pieces they already have. I, as the stylist editor at the magazine, will take a Gucci shirt and show you that if you buy this one shirt, you can wear 15 different ways with the clothes you already have. We show you all these looks but instead of buying tons of things that you're never going to wear at H&M for $10. Spend some money on a really great piece that will last for a long time. That was the Lucky Magazine thesis. We were able to increase conversion, increase average order, value increase, and lifetime value. In the process of applying this thesis, we were also able to collect a lot of information. That information is sort of the meat and potatoes of what we do at Everywear.
So if you tell me you own certain basics, you are actually telling me that you'll wear certain silhouettes: high-waist, show your shoulders, show your legs or ankle. You're telling me this by the things you have in your closet. I can then say okay, I can retarget you. I know that you're looking for work. I know you're very comfortable in these things. You clicked on these other things. I just made 25 outfits for you to click here to see them. That is where we showed real increase conversion. When we can talk to a woman, we call it Narnia. We believe most ECommerce is pre-closet and we are post closet. Once we know what you have, we can talk to you in a totally way. I believe all in ECommerce is done wrong, for matters of style. Jeff Bezos made Amazon to win efficiently and with utility purchases. If you want to buy an HDMI cable, Amazon wins. If you want to look better tomorrow morning at work, Amazon does not work so that’s where we come in. I thought what if you had a Lucky Magazine editor on your shoulder. She could say, what if you got that special item that was a higher price point but you could wear it with about 10 different things that you already own? If you have a consumer with that kind of Lucky Magazine editor inner dialogue, what will happen when you go shopping?
LOOK: Everywear is B2B?
BH: Yes. We are B2B. We reach the consumers through the retail partners.
LOOK: You have covered a variety of points so far. You talked about the mindset of a shopper who happens to be female. Your professional history, the goals that you want to reach. Let’s talk a little bit about the obstacles. How is your app is different than your competitors and the promises they make compared to yours..
BH: We don't have really app. We are a platform. But we do have competitors. Some of them are apps. You're right. A lot of styling apps ask you to do things that consumers don't want to do. One is to upload your closet. No one wants to take photos of their closet and upload it! Once you do, you are not sure how to tag it. What we do this is different as we let you recognize shapes and then we compare shapes against shapes. Those items have intrinsic values. It's almost like a map. It is an algorithm that takes the shape of this slouchy sweater and knows that because it doesn't have structure, it wants a structured bottom. Very simple rule we told it. When we identify this piece, we know how to identify the following pieces. If it was construction pants for work, we would know that the shoe would be a color. It can be a flat or can be a heel. If that shoe is one color, then the bag can be another color that is not the same color or in a certain metallic. We give all the clothes these rules that they have to follow. We basically turned fashion to math, which I realized I was doing while working with my tech person. I just have to take what's in my brain and bring it to the algorithm. Competitors do not really do that. I have 30 to 35 years experience of doing this.
LOOK: How has your team changed since you started this process?
BH: Yes. I think when you are a startup, you have to change a lot. We have cycled through a few different layers. Everybody who is added is doing great stuff at the right time. Then maybe the job just does not fit as you move on. It may be the startup life does is not a fit them. We have had a really great team members over the years, helping us reach our goals and new levels of success.
LOOK: Where do you find your stylists?
BH: Through my magazine years. They're all people I’m connected through. I do not hire fashion editors. I hire the people who do the market work. To me, that means they have a good eye. I then teach them the styling piece. The algorithm takes over from there. I am teaching the algorithm as well as the styling.
LOOK: How many hours do they work and do they do other freelance work in addition to Everywear?
BH: We can make a hundred outfits, with the help of our algorithm, in about 200 minutes. We can output outfit very quickly. As we go on, the algorithm does more and more so we do less and less. We get down to 30 seconds per outfit, into one version of our algorithm. It can help put 1 million outfits, in a second. It's a little too powerful. It's putting out way too many things. We have the same paralysis of choice and we are learning how to window down the choice. We say work about two days a week, three days a week.
LOOK: Do you have a huge database of images of clothing? where do you get that from?
BH: No, we pull into seeds of our partner retailers to build her outfit. We have inventory from Bergdorf, Target, Macy’s etc. That is what we use to build our outfits.
LOOK: My next question is about your Partnerships? I read an earlier article where that was in the process yet it sounds like that is already part of the process. Do you see that growing?
BH: It’s going to grow. Right now, we are still in pilot phase. We are looking to turn these pilots into annual contracts. That is my focus is right now is to get these folks to sign on, liking the results and now let's make this bigger. There will be a subset of users that will one more layer that will use us more and more.
LOOK: Is it a subscription based platform?
BH: It is email based. Our product is very simple. We create an a frame or micro site with tech integration. It is very important to our retailer partners is, do not let it get in my product key and mess everything up. You (the retailer) do not have to do anything. We, at Everywear, will built the microsite. The retailer will send the email out to your users, your shoppers. The user/shopper will click through to our experience. The retailer and Everywear will then own the data. We increase conversion, engagement and cross merchandising, along with all of those kpi’s that we are cast with.
LOOK: How long have you been with ERA (Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator) and how much longer do you have with them?
BH: We joined with their summer cohort last year. We are done with the cohort. We just stayed on. We could go to a WeWork location but I have access to John and Murat who founded ERA. ERA has 3 to 500 mentors. At any moment, that I can reach out to any one of them. They're also walking through here all the time so I run some things by any of these wonderful mentors.
LOOK: Are you planning a media campaign or panel? How are you getting the word out, other than the partners here at ERA?
BH: When we have a big partnership. When’s there's a very large one on the table, we will go out to the press. We have a really innovative, cool idea of using the latest RFID technology so that's one thing that we will go to the press for. I don't go for press for press sake. I usually wait until there is a moment coming from myself. I have great friends at all the outlets, most of them. Women’s Wear Daily, Forbes, Inc Magazine are places I go to that when I have something to talk about. I do not waste their time if I don't have any big news. Any big partnership, like if we sign an annual or do something around it with an influencer or a movie release, then we would go to the press. We could wrap content around content in the form of your closet. Image if your watching the Oscars and Jennifer Lawrence comes out in a beautiful pale blue gown. You are the saying I love that pale blue gown, I just made 15 outfits in your closet with the platform. We are turning content into the spiritantial experiential thing. We need our retail partners to get there. First stages is to get to as many retailers as we can to sign on.
LOOK: Sounds like things are really moving, which is exciting.
BH: They are moving rapidly. I think I don't want to create a false impression. It takes time. No, this is hard as hell. I wished retailers moved a little faster. We are still in pilot phase. I wish I had fifty customers signed on but we do not. Yes, it is moving as fast as it can. Retailers, I think, are moving in the direction of, if we do not change something, we are going to die. Amazon is eating the entire pie. Traditional marketing techniques are not moving the merchandise enough. Things have to change. We are proposing a very different way of looking at things. Let’s look at it from the consumer’s point of view, let’s look at it from her closet. What is she wearing? What does she want? Other than hey we have dresses at 70% off. If you do not wear dresses, it does not matter. We can tell you if your consumer likes dresses or not. If she does not wear pants to work, which is a huge thing, do not show her pants for work. She can see jeans for weekend. But for power dressing, that segment of women should never see pants for work. Yes, I am hoping the retailers are at a point to let go of less effective ways of marketing and making sales.
LOOK: What is the next push? 6 months to a year plans?
BH: The next six months will be more work on the rules engine. So we can collect more scalable outfits. Bring the outfit time to two minutes to five seconds. Boarding as many partners as we can. Working on the RIFD as much as we can.