Whimsy + Row grew up in the vintage, handmade craft fair circuit and that’s where its roots are, but its founder has much more ambitious plans for the business.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company is a multibrand e-tailer and also shares brick-and-mortar space at the co-op boutique Mar Vista Art Dept. in Los Angeles, selling a mix of vintage along with new items from about 50 brands including Knot Sisters, LACAUSA and Christy Dawn. Whimsy + Row today launches its namesake capsule collection — a mix of dresses, jumpsuits, rompers and one blouse — that will be sold online and at a pop-up shop within men’s store Milkmade’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard space in Venice, Calif. The collection, totaling seven pieces, retails for $86 to $198 and is made in L.A. from deadstock fabric. The temporary store remains open through the weekend.
“We’ve been supporting other brands and I’ve been building up the capital to go into our own production,” said founder Rachel Temko.
She’s had the advantage of seeing what does well and what doesn’t from other brands, learning what could have been done better and felt confident on moving forward with her own capsule. She also sees space for her line in the sustainable marketplace.
“For me, I think in the sustainable movement, a lot of stuff that’s out there isn’t either super fashionable or wearable for me personally,” Temko said.
She’s already thinking longer term saying her team is planning for fall, which may be roughly in line with the size of the launch collection, followed by a larger spring 2017 offering. She is also eyeing an expansion into a Whimsy + Row home goods line next year, when Temko’s also considering opening a Whimsy + Row store.
A $150,000 seed round raised via an angel investor less than a year ago is what’s helping fuel the expansion.
Temko studied fashion merchandising, with an emphasis on sustainability, at San Francisco State University and started working at Stitch Fix right out of college. She went from packaging boxes to eventually managing a team of 70 people in the company’s warehouse before moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She worked at a few different local fashion brands before deciding to go into business for herself, focusing on selling handmade, sustainable items.
Her start was selling vintage in late 2014 at the Melrose Trading Post flea market in Los Angeles, where still sets up shop in addition to other events and craft fairs to keep close to the company’s customer base.
“It’s something that we’ve done since the beginning, starting at the Melrose Trading Post. We have such a community there,” Temko said. “This model, we don’t know if we’re going to grow it, but it’s something that has humbled us. We do it to see our customers and they love it.”
Her background in sustainability also has her thinking about greater transparency in the company’s communication with customers on the production process, a tact other born-online brands such as Everlane and Reformation have taken. Temko said Whimsy + Row will fall into a slightly different space in the market.
“They’re both awesome companies that are doing super well and I strive to be that but I think what will set us apart is that we’re real and that we’re approachable. We’re also going to hit it at an affordable price point. I think we’re going to hit this middle market. We’re that girl [who] travels a lot, but we’re also not afraid to break a sweat and we want to look like a babe doing that. I just want to be part of the movement. There’s brands out there that are doing sustainable clothing, but there’s not a lot of them and I want to be another brand that’s doing it well that girls can connect [with].”