When former CNN journalist Whitney Casey and model-actress Brooklyn Decker founded Finery in April 2017, they flipped the traditional retail pyramid on its head.
“Brook and I always had this philosophy that to actually appeal to a woman you shouldn’t sell her anything, but should know everything about her,” said Casey. “Most retail is built on product, then experiences around it, then trying to learn about women after the fact by adding data. We said, ‘Let’s start with data and knowledge and build an experience to maximize time on-site, then at the end we can sell her something.'”
Said Decker, “Tech companies talk about data, data, data. But they are not using it to help you. We are hyper-protective of our data, so if you are giving it to us, we better be giving you utilities in return.” Finery’s features include return notifications for online purchases and AI-aided styling based on the items in a user’s closet.
Casey and Decker said the number-one thing they ask themselves when creating products and features is, “Does it help our user?”
“Our ethos is to hire the best talent, and if you can hire the best talent that is a woman, we’d love that. We are always telling young women, ‘Learn how to code, then come work for us,'” said Casey.
Finery’s last two hires, head of product and head of data, happened to be male, but they were users before they were employees.
“Start-up life is a grind,” said Decker. “A really good piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs is to hire people really invested in the product because it goes really far early on.”
Finery has been steadily adding features such as weather reminders to let users know which clothes to wear or not wear. They are also looking at out-of-the-box partnerships with companies like Bumble and Open Table and LinkedIn. “We want to help women getting dressed for dates, job interviews. Even Spotify is cool because you listen to music when you get dressed.
The company also has office hours with a group of “super users” to develop such features. Up next will be one that lets the app “dress” users in whatever clothes they want, from any retailer.
Said Casey, “We hope we never get too big to operate by listening to our users.”