Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake on shaking up the retail apparel industry

The company generates more than $1 billion in sales.

December 20, 2019, 4:01 PM
Founder and CEO of Stitch Fix and ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis
Founder and CEO of Stitch Fix and ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis
Taylor Dunn

Katrina Lake made history when she was the youngest woman to ever take a company public.

In less than 10 years, she’s grown her business, Stitch Fix, from an idea to a business that generates more than $1 billion in sales, serving over 3 million clients.

“It was a day that felt really, proud, I guess is the right word, where we had a lot of doubters, we still do, but we had a lot of doubters along the way,” Lake told Rebecca Jarvis of the day that Stitch Fix went public. “There were probably 50 venture investors who'd said no to us, and so to be able to feel like you kind of overcame odds.”

Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that ships their clients clothing, shoes and accessories based on their preferences and size. Clients only pay for the items they want to keep and ship back any items that didn’t work for them.

While working in business consulting, Lake said she stumbled into entrepreneurship, realizing she loved the idea of creating a business and saw a specific need for personalization in retail apparel.

“I think the world has been much slower to evolve in apparel, retail than I would have hoped, and I think we can be a big part of what's driving that forward," she said.

Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake
Taylor Dunn

Through analyzing data and understanding people and products, Lake was able to create a company that provides consumers with an individualistic experience every time they receive an order.

“The original thesis was marrying humans and data and analytics can help to build this personalized shopping experience that helps people to be able to find clothes that they love better and really transforms a way that people shop,” she explained.

Lake built her company from the ground up, spending her early days taping and shipping boxes, steaming clothes and manually entering user data because she didn’t have a website.

“It's just incredible now that there are so many tools that make it so that it's much easier today to build a business from zero to a hundred thousand or zero to a million dollars than it was 10, 15 years ago,” Lake said of the way technology has impacted startups.

In a world of overconsumption and fast fashion, Lake, 36, is striving to stand out and create a sustainable business model, selling fewer, more curated products.

“If Amazon is the everything store, we are in some ways almost the antithesis of that,” Lake said. “I think our focus on personalization, our focus on apparel, our focus on recommendations ... is what's going to differentiate us.”

Hear more from Katrina Lake on episode #144 of “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.