Sarah LaFleur founded MM.LaFleur with the goal of becoming the go-to resource for professional women. There were few, if any, sites dedicated to office-appropriate apparel that women like herself, who worked in finance, could visit to “take the work out of dressing for work.”
Not having ever worked in fashion before founding her company was a plus, because it helped her ask questions and challenge assumptions that an industry veteran might not have. Her advice to other aspiring female entrepreneurs is to let go of the idea that they need specific training to start a business, because it’s rarely true.
Two years after launching MM.LaFleur in 2013 as a typical e-commerce website offering machine-washable and travel-friendly dresses, she and cofounder/creative director Miyako Nakamura changed the entire business model to better meet customers’ shopping needs by introducing the Bento box, a service that allows women to build their wardrobes with the help of a personal stylist. “When we made this change, our revenue tripled overnight, and our brand became synonymous with personalized service in addition to a beautiful product. That’s just one example of how we’ve responded to both the changing retail environment and our customers’ evolving requests,” said LaFleur. More recently, they launched sizes up to 22 (in May 2017) and a line of shoes (in October 2018).
For now, the company is on a mission to dress every professional woman in the United States, and ultimately, around the world. The plan is to expand beyond clothing, accessories and styling to one day offer a range of services and spaces for the busy professional, in addition to opportunities for her to connect with the community.
“We have ten company values, and one of my favorites is ‘Find your superpower.’ I encourage all of my employees to lean into what they’re good at and run with it. I want everyone to develop in the direction of their unique talents and passions. In other words, I want them to bring their true selves to work. My goal is for MM.LaFleur to be a place where people produce great work, and also discover what they’re capable of,” she said.