Launched by Lake in 2011, Stitch Fix is an e-commerce platform that mixes algorithms, data and personal styling expertise to send customers boxes of handpicked items that cater to individual fit, style and price preferences. Her company — founded while she was at Harvard Business School — is revolutionising shopping for busy women, men, and families and generates over $1 billion in annual revenues.
Lake grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Minneapolis at the age of 15. She studied economics and pre-med at Stanford University before spending two years at strategic consulting company The Parthenon Group, where she consulted with a variety of e-commerce and traditional retailers, broadening her knowledge of the changing retail and fashion landscape, before joining private investment firm Leader Ventures.
In 2009, she enrolled at Harvard Business School’s MBA programme and pursued a summer internship at social commerce platform Polyvore — a fashion collage and online moodboard company based in San Francisco — in marketing and blogger outreach. Buoyed by her experience consulting for the retail industry, and having watched her sister’s work as a buyer, Lake set up to create a data-driven styling solution that would make a tailored, personalised shopping experience available across America.
Stitch Fix offers customers the opportunity to order “fixes” of five handpicked items every two weeks to three months or as a one off, and are given three days to choose what they want to keep. Each “fix” has a set styling fee, which is refundable against any purchases the customer makes. Items are individually selected for clients based on a combination of data suggestions and real life stylists. (Today the company employs 85 data scientists and 3,700 stylists.)
The company’s heavy emphasis on data to curate its offering appears to be paying off — according to Lake, 70 percent of customers return for a second “fix” within 90 days.
According to Forbes, Lake is worth $120 million, making her a candidate for Forbes’ list of richest self-made women.