LOS ANGELES, United States — At BoF West, The Business of Fashion’s inaugural West Coast summit, a roundtable of entrepreneurs kicked off the conference. Three of the most followed founders in fashion and beauty — Stitch Fix’s Katrina Lake, Everlane’s Michael Preysman and Beautycon’s Moj Mahdara sit down in conversation with BoF’s chief New York correspondent, Lauren Sherman.
“LA is the home of entertainment and content, not that far from us is the home of technology,” says Mahdara, who is based in Los Angeles. “Could the marriage of the two make a new commerce experience for people?” Traditionally based in New York, fashion and beauty businesses have slowly been moving to the East Coast in search of tech talent and fresh ideas.
“[In New York], there is a lot of criticism of ideas,” says Preysman, whose company is based in San Francisco. “On the West Coast, there is more openness.” Lake agrees, pointing out that “I don’t know we would’ve had that access to talent on the East Coast.”
By approaching their respective industries from outside the insulated communities in the fashion capitals — and without the traditional training of some of their predecessors— all three entrepreneurs were able to see white spaces in their markets.
“Whenever you tread down a new path, you have to be somewhat naïve, because otherwise you take the path everyone else has already taken,” says Preysman.
It also allowed them to highlight some key issues within their respective industries, which include a lack of diversity, steep discounting and outlet channels, and a broken production cycle.
But where is beauty and retail going from here? “There’s a macro trend where all companies need to figure out how to use technology, not just to succeed, but to exist in the future,” says Lake. “Uber is a transportation company, Airbnb is a hospitality company, Stitch Fix is a retail company,” but technology ultimately brought them to the forefront.
“We are in an amazing time where experiential retail and commerce and content are really playing with each other,” said Mahdara. “Communities and tribes are what are driving brands forward.”
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