Online custom dressmaker Fame and Partners closed on a $7.6 million Series A round as the company makes an aggressive bid to grow its business globally.
The round was led by FirstMark Capital and Upfront Ventures. Fame and Partners in 2014 closed on an undisclosed angel round that included Creative Enterprise Australia and the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund.
Nyree Corby, a serial entrepreneur who founded a consulting company and digital services business before working at firms such as Crescendo Capital Partners and Spark Capital, launched Fame and Partners in 2013. The business has carved a niche for itself selling bespoke dresses that can be customized online based on size, color, length and shape. Turnaround times are generally seven to 10 days but some of the made-to-order styles can be shipped as quickly as 48 hours from the time an order is placed.
Now the company’s focused on setting up the right backbone to grow it’s U.S. business — which makes up about 70 percent of overall sales — while longer term becoming a global company.
It’s in the process of relocating headquarters from Sydney to downtown Los Angeles, with staff in temporary space while a 9,500-square-foot office in the Arts District is completed.
“I think downtown and the Arts District are up-and-coming areas,” Corby said. “It’s got its roots grounded in fashion. Fame and Partners is a contemporary label that happens to be powered by technology so we felt [downtown] was true to who we are. Obviously, it’s a rich source of talent and I think one of the challenges in L.A. is how geographically dispersed it is and so we wanted to find a location that was true to who we are as a brand and attract like-minded people as well as be central.”
It’s a change from previous plans that had the company setting up a small office in New York, where it originally intended to have headquarters. As Corby was out shopping for investors, she became aware of just how difficult dealing with the time zone differences can be for synergies with the Australian office that will continue to serve as a hub for customer service, engineering and some marketing.
Once construction is completed, the office will house around 35 executives, including recent hires such as chief revenue officer and Americas president Leah Stigile, who previously served as Toms global vice president of e-commerce. Other recent key hires include former H&M executive Mie C. Anton, who is now director of brand and communications, and customer service and styling manager Stephanie Garcia. The company’s also interviewing for a vice president of manufacturing and supply chain as well as a vice president of finance and senior engineers.
Roughly one year ago, Fame and Partners launched a partnership with Asos as well as a Web site revamp in hopes of specifically targeting Millennials. That hasn’t changed but there have been new learnings since that time.
“What we’ve discovered through the process of marketing directly to Millennials is that our audience is much broader,” Corby said. “Women of a large variety of ages attending occasions or not attending occasions want to feel special and want to buy a dress that’s perfect for them. So really what we’re looking at is expanding our marketing efforts to talk to that broader range of women that share a common attitude toward life as opposed to one age group.”
This year is set to see the launch of more personalized sizing and shopping tools, according to Corby.
“Part of the Series A funding is about really heavily investing in the technology infrastructure that we’re facing and the growth to really streamline that customer experience,” she said.
As far as brick-and-mortar — something most digital brands eventually ponder — Corby affirmed it’s something the market can expect to see from Fame and Partners via partnerships set to be announced soon.