The personal shopping site Keaton Row has raised $1.6 million in a second round of seed funding led by Menlo Ventures, an early investor in Fab and Warby Parker, with participation from Rho Ventures and Grape Arbor Ventures. The site, which launched in 2012, previously raised a seed round of $1 million led by Rho Ventures.
Keaton Row is an e-commerce site that puts the “person” in personalization. After a quick style quiz to understand taste, needs, and body type, the site matches customers with a personal shopper, who draws from it’s partner retail sites to make suggestions and create lookbooks for their clients. The stylists, who are paid by Keaton Row on commission, apply to the site at an acceptance rate of about 60-70%.
On the consumer side, the site appeals to women who have money but don’t want to shop for themselves, or don’t know how to navigate the massive world of online retail. The personal shoppers, meanwhile, are fashion-savvy people who want to use their taste make a bit of cash. And although diametrically opposed sartorially, both groups are easily scalable.
“The Keaton Row customer is a professionally oriented woman. She has money to spend, but doesn’t have time. She isn’t an active reader of Vogue or The Coveteur, so she wants it to be curated and convenient. There’s a higher level of personalization, and authentic personalization,” co-founder and co-CEO Cheryl Han said.
With this latest round of funding, Keaton Row plans to build out its user platforms for stylists and customers, grow its retail partnerships, and expand its national presence, which for stylists is currently focused on metropolitan areas like New York and LA.
While other e-commerce sites rely on algorithm-based style quizzes and click-throughs for personalization, Keaton Row is one of a few retail sites leveraging an abundance of human fashionistas who can provide the same advice with better customer service. On the men’s side, Brandid has developed a similar model. Han and Elenor Mak, her co-founder and CEO, said that many of their customers see their stylists as friends and turn to them for advice on other areas of their life, like shopping for their home, child, or boyfriend.
That kind of trusting, personal relationship can be a powerful motivation to keep customers coming back. The shoppers are often most useful when the customer is on a deadline to find a specific item for an event, Han and Mak added.
The site’s network of personal shoppers is also an important route to bringing in new customers, as she has an incentive to grow her own client roster.
The idea is that the personal shoppers can turn Keaton Row into a part-time business and potentially more, depending on how aggressive they are. The site works with them on analytics to understand their customers better and set goals. They are essentially like digital age Avon saleswomen, so it’s no coincidence that Mak worked at Avon for a few years managing 10,000 of its New York sales reps.
Han and Mak said Keaton Row stylists listing that role on their LinkedIn page could be a real launching pad for a career as a stylist, which is a nebulous path. To that end, Keaton Row is building out customer reviews and portfolios to allow shoppers to build a name for themselves.
“[The shopper] may be in editorial, working at a magazine, so it’s a way to make a side income. For people who would love to get into fashion, this is a way to establish credibility.”
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