Early-stage venture capital firm CRV is moving beyond its usual investment universe of technology platforms to the fashion stage, leading a $2 million seed round for direct-to-consumer bra firm Harper Wilde.
The round includes BAM Ventures, Brilliant Ventures and several participating individual investors such as NBA All-Star and Golden State Warrior swingman Andre Iguodala and his business partner Rudy Cline-Thomas, and former chief experience officer at Microsoft Julie Larson-Green. CRV’s past and present investments have included Twitter, eDocs, Zendesk, Dropbox, Airtable and Classpass.
Saar Gur, a general partner at CRV, also known as Charles River Ventures, focuses on the consumer and mobile world. An attractive component of Harper Wilde’s business was the company’s use of technology in fashion. Gur said, “They use data and analytics to continually enhance the customer experience. Their unique business model gives them access to an unparalleled data set, which allows them to guide customers to the right choices in a more efficient manner than traditional retail and other e-commerce companies in the space. With this investment, we’re helping the Harper Wilde team scale their current processes and capabilities to service more women in the most efficient way possible.”
The start-up was founded in 2016 by Jenna Kerner and Jane Fisher, who met while attending Wharton School of Business as graduate students. Their business model featuring the home try-on program is similar to the one made popular by their fellow Wharton grads who started direct-to-consumer eyewear firm Warby Parker. Harper Wilde’s program allows consumers to pick three bras for a free seven-day try-on period once a year.
Kerner said the funding will be used to add more sizes and colors to its line of bras. There are three styles — one is strapless — in four color options, with a price point of $35 each. The two styles with straps also give women the option of converting to a racer-back style.
Fisher told WWD, “The average women has 16 bras in her drawer, and she wears two 90 percent of the time.”
The bras are made in Sri Lanka. The fabric content is 86 percent nylon and 14 percent spandex, and the center bridge between the cups design allow women to fold their bras for storage.
“The common order is for someone to take home three bras, two of the same size in different styles or colors and the third a different size. The majority of the time she is keeping her one backup size and returning the other two,” Fisher said. She added that when it comes to shopping for bras, “Women didn’t really like going through a survey [or online questionnaire] process. What really happened was that they wanted to try on a bunch [to see what fits].”
So far, over 30 percent of buyers are repeat purchasers within the first five months. The average shopper buys once a year, then buys in bulk to stock up the next time she makes a purchase, Fisher said.
Fisher also told WWD the raise will allow them to expand their staff, such as hiring a part-timer to work in the product development team.
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