No, Karla Welch is not running for office. At least not yet.
“Maybe when I retire and sell my app,” the politically outspoken and in-demand stylist said, somewhat jokingly, at WWD’s Digital Forum in Los Angeles.
Welch, born and raised in Canada, will be voting in 2020 as an American. She also admitted that her boldly left-leaning commentary on Instagram has actually been good for business after about 20 years as a stylist, both for brands and the red carpet.
“Being a political human being has created opportunities for me,” Welch said. “I’m sure it’s closed some doors, too, but fine.
“I remember someone saying to me, ‘You should be careful with what you say,’ and I was like, ‘Hold my beer,’ because I’m not going to be careful.”
Welch recalled a post several months back when Republican lawmakers were attempting to dismantle the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act — which, among other things, outlawed health insurers denying coverage based on a wide range of “preexisting conditions” from cancer to pregnancy. She made what she called “an action post” that detail four steps for how people could reach lawmakers to express their support for the ACA.
“I think in two days we had over 20 million impressions and that was inspiring to me,” Welch said. “That’s where I’m going moving forward — action — but in an easy way, because we’re all lazy really.”
Despite the political talk, Welch is indeed still a stylist, and a busy one at that with her own agency, Meritocracy, about 10 current red-carpet clients and a rotating roster of brands. On top of that, she also has her aforementioned app, dubbed Wishi (named for the phrase “Wish I had…, but she’s fine with the long “e” pronunciation). Wishi, with one year of beta and one year of being live, is a $40 a month styling app that pairs users with a human stylist. They work with users tastes and what they already own and like to build out wardrobes or shop for special events and trips. The company earlier this year raised $5 million in a Series A funding round from model and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss and Farfetch.
As the app makes money through brands paying to list their products for selection and purchase, as well as through the subscriptions, Welch said she hopes “every retailer in the world uses Wishi as their style forum” and can see it becoming “an indispensable way of getting dressed.” She added that the app was inspired by the high level of returns being made from online shopping and also spending the last decade being hit up for shopping advice by friends, family and mere acquaintances.
“I thought, ‘Oh, you could really do this and make it affordable on a mass scale.’”
Welch also had her own “eureka moment” a few years ago when she had to pack in a rush for a panel talk in New York.
“I got there and looked at what was in my bag and I was like, I don’t have anything to wear that I feel great in, and this is what I do for other people,” Welch said. “Getting dressed everyday shouldn’t be stressful.”