|This Women's Clothing Brand Is Made For Professional Women Who Hate To Shop
By: Fast Company
"I'm so sick of the stereotype that all women are shopping-obsessed," Sarah LaFleur, the 32-year-old cofounder of the workwear brand MM.LaFleur, tells Fast Company.
After college, LaFleur spent several years working in management consulting and private equity, where she needed a rotation of crisp, smart work clothes. But she had neither the time nor the inclination to shop for them. In her few free moments, the last thing she wanted to do was browse for blazers online or at a boutique. "For some women, buying clothes is just not a priority for one reason or another, but it doesn't mean that they don't care about good style or looking elegant," she says.
LaFleur believed that there were many other female executives who felt like she did. So three years ago, she decided to do something radical. She started an online company called MM.LaFleur that challenged two deep-seated beliefs of the fashion industry: that women love the shopping experience, and want to buy trendy clothes.
She partnered with Miyako Nakamura, the former head designer at Zac Posen, to create a line of classic shift dresses, pencil skirts, and blouses in muted colors that would appeal to working women of all ages. Together, they spent hours ensuring that each outfit was tailored to fit a wide range of women's bodies. And with a third cofounder, Narie Foster, who headed up operations, they invented a system of selling these outfits to busy professional women without requiring them to spend any time shopping.
The idea seemed utterly ridiculous to investors. Who would spend $200 on a ludicrously basic shift dress or button-down shirt? And if a main selling point was the fit, why on earth would you sell them online instead of in a store, where women could try them on? "We had a very hard time fundraising," LaFleur, who eventually found two institutional investors, explains. "Most of the male VCs we spoke with didn't get what we were doing at all."
But three years later, they've proved their naysayers wrong and convinced many, many women that they are providing a valuable service. One of MM.LaFleur's basic dresses, a black wrap called the Tory, famously amassed a 1,600-person wait list last fall; the first pair of pants they ever designed sold out within two hours. Revenue grew nearly 600% in 2015 from a year earlier, and is projected to be $30 million in 2016. Over the last 12 months, its employee headcount has shot up from 14 to 70.
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This article was published on Fast Company. A link to the original piece appears after the post.
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