SEATTLE - Although the average woman spends hundreds of hours each year shopping, many still feel frustrated when looking in their closets to find an outfit to wear each day. But a new Seattle startup called Armoire aims to solve that problem.
Ambika Singh, CEO and co-founder at Armoire, says the company is inspired by the idea of a multi-tasking "boss lady."
"That means she has incredible capacity to do super well with whatever her passion is," Singh said. "And a result of her being so excellent is that she's super busy."
Singh and her founding team, a group of professional women, all found they identified with the issues that arise by being a boss lady.
"We really enjoyed having new things to wear, yet there wasn't really time to put together the wardrobe that we were looking for," Singh said.
The journey to solving that problem started while the team was going through MIT's Accelerator Program, which helps entrepreneurs get their start.
"We started to think about how to make this easier for both getting the variety we wanted with the time we actually had to spend," said Singh.
Their ultimate solution? An online rental subscription service that takes the time and guess work out of shopping.
"This is the new version of sharing clothes with your sister or cousin, which is something that I grew up doing with my friends," Singh said. "Now we're just making that a little easier with the internet, and you can share instead of just with your sister, with a lot of other people."
While renting clothes online is a concept that has already come to life through other companies, Singh said Armoire's technology is the key to standing apart from the competition.
When a user signs up through Armoire's website, they are prompted to fill out a style form. It asks a variety of questions about the user's body type and fit preferences. Users are also prompted to leave feedback about what they like or don't like about photos of different garments. From there, Armoire's machine-learning algorithm tries to understand responses on the style form by looking for patterns. That data is then used to create a virtual closet for each user, which contains 10-12 items. This is the crucial step to Armoire's process that leads to saving time. Because of the curated virtual closet, users do not have search through hundreds of pages of inventory to find items they'll like.
"The fact that we've given them minutes, hours, many hours in some cases, back in their lives is really inspiring," Singh said.
Users can pick up to four items from their virtual closet per shipment. Once received, there is no return deadline, and return shipping is free. If a customer ends up loving one of the pieces, they can be purchased at a steep discount. Armoire also cleans all the clothes once they are returned, which eliminates the need for a customer to make a trip to the cleaners.
Some of the brands included in the rental service include Kate Spade, Ted Baker, and Yumi Kim. Since Armoire's launch last summer, the company has partnered with Boston-based brands Brass and Ministry, as well NYC-based Of Mercer. Singh said those particular brands feature workwear that is both comfortable and practical.
But the clothes available for rent aren't just for women in the workplace. Singh saidmany of their current customers are busy moms who find the service very convenient. No matter your occupation or lifestyle, she said Armoire is driven by the ability to give all women time back to focus on the things they love.
Armoire's service costs $149 a month, and most individual pieces retail for $250. If you sign up for Armoire and use the promo code KING5 when completing the style form, you can get one extra item in your first case!
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