How Katrina Lake became the world’s youngest female tech millionaire

 

When her company went public in Nov 2017, she showed up to ring the trading bell carrying her son. She was dressed in a burgundy shift dress and heels, her 14-month-old son was holding a large stuffed cat. “Our dreams for Stitch Fix are big and bold,” Lake declared. “And we’re just getting started.” Her baby starts to cry, Lake calmly inserted a bagel into his mouth.

Katrina Lake’s company Stitch fix is worth over 3 billion & employs over 5,800 employees simply styling women online.
Her company Stitch fix is literally an online stylist that helps women select the best fashion for their body type and personality.
A team of data scientist, computer algorithms and stylist work together to combine the best outfits for customers. The typical targets are working class women who are not necessarily bargain shoppers.
They pay a $20 “styling fee” and provide their personal data like weight, height, personality and how much fashion risk they are willing to take.

Finally, a box containing a selection of clothing, shoes and accessories would be delivered for the customer to try at home. Clients pay the full retail price of any clothes they hold on to, in addition to the styling fee.

The journey to a 3 billion dollar company:

Growing up in San Francisco, Katrina lake never thought she would go into business
Her mom was a teacher and dad a public-university doctor.

In-fact she almost derailed in her early life;
she admitted she was not a good student entering high school. As a teenager she  would consistently sneak out of her house to party hard. Those nightlife rituals–and her falling grades–terrified her parents, who decided to move their three kids to Minneapolis, in part to reverse the trajectory of their eldest child.

In college she almost choose the wrong career path as a medical doctor;
 Lake attended Stanford with the intention of becoming a doctor, but in time, she became fascinated with economics. After graduation, Lake joined a consulting firm focusing on big time retailers.

While working as a retail consultant, she discovered a  problem,
These Mega retailers like MACY’s  were still traditional and yet to embrace the digital revolution. The industry lacked technology and innovation.”

She was burning with desire to create a company that would be the future of retail , but if she wanted to start a business,  she needed some training…

Havard business school
Her objective was solely  to learn business skills  though she was not clear on her business idea yet. but she was sure it was all about innovative retail.

Light bulb moment
“My sister was a fashion buyer in New York, and she knew my body and my style, and she could find me things I loved. I thought, What if everybody had access to this kind of experience? The objective was to help women find chic clothes that fit their body and style?”

Her professors at Harvard weren’t exactly wowed. “Nobody ever said, ‘This is a horrible idea,’” Lake says.

At first it was called rack habit:
She got a partner named Erin Flynn. Together they

signed up friends of their friends, gathered their style preferences using survey monkey and logged basic style profiles in an Excel spreadsheet.

The pair also visited boutiques to buy inventory, constantly maxing out Lake’s $6,000-limit credit card for skirts, blouses and other items that were delivered to customers in boxes.

Buying goods at full retail, Rack Habit made no money, but its quick traction was validation.
“When you are doing something no one else is doing, you are either the smartest person in the room or the dumbest,” she says. “For years, I didn’t know which one I was.”

It was a struggle to find funding;
Most investors were men who did not want to invest in a woman’s product.  Some couldn’t get past her lack of technical background or coding ability, despite her analytical mind and willingness to work with data.

One Investor Steve Anderson believed in Stitch Fix and invested in them twice (he is reaping the rewards today)
In 2011, he gave them a seed funding of about 750,000 dollars, with that money she hired some of the best hands
She hired the Chief operational officers of Walmart
Analytical manager from Net-flick
And Sephora’s chief marketing officer
What started as a barebones company took off and over grew their initial office space.

In spite of her success, by 2012 things were shaky;
She was eight weeks away from being unable to pay salaries and had to seek for more funding

Lake also allegedly forced her co-founder Morrison out of the company after a dispute over her compensation and ownership stake. Morrison then sued Lake and Stitch Fix, alleging that her co founder was attempting to take her shares away to distribute to new hires.

The lawsuit was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

It was a bumpy ride on the takeoff runway, but fast forward 5 years later….Mama she made it


In 2017, Katrina Lake became the first and only woman to take a tech company public.

She also became the youngest female founder of a public company
According to Forbes, the company is currently valued at more than $3 billion. Stitch Fix has amassed 2.7 million active customers
Lake herself will close out the year with another launch: her second child is due in November, and she plans to take 16weeks off to bond with her baby.
She can do it all- wife, mum & millionaire mogul- #inspired

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