April 24, 2019
Finery is a great example of the type of innovative, bold, energetic spirit we see in so many Kew tenants.
Growing out of personal need, Finery is the brainchild of Whitney Casey and Brooklyn Decker. Faced with a real issue that they knew affected many women — assembling looks from their closets, they resourcefully found the app technologies to solve the problem. That wasn’t enough for them; they moved on to expand their product offering to allow users of the app to catalog their closet easily, get suggested combinations, and to find new clothes from retailers online to augment what they have.
Recently they gave us an insight into this exciting concept.
We use our smartphones for nearly everything these days—from ordering clothes to ordering takeout; from monitoring our body fat to monitoring our pets when we’re away; from adjusting our thermostats to chasing down little cartoon monsters in Central Park. It seems we should be able to use our phones to organize the messiest space in most people’s homes—the closet.
Now, there’s an app for that—Finery.
“Finery is a digital wardrobe,” explains Whitney Casey, one of the company’s co-founders. “We like to say it’s like your closet in your pocket.”
Finery is an app that helps users:
- Keep track of the clothes in their closet;
- Create looks and styles from those items based on how others are wearing them;
- Fill in styling gaps with recommendations and wish-list picks; and
- Connect seamlessly with their favorite online sources to buy those new items.
How this Exciting Business was Born and Evolved
Whitney says the seed idea for the company came out of personal experience. “My best friend Brooklyn Decker and I used to send each other pretty much all of the items in our closets,” she says. “She would take a screenshot of something she just bought, and be like ‘Do you think I should wear this?’ And pretty soon, I started having so many images from her closet and she had so many from mine that we thought, ‘This is so crazy that we don’t have our closets on our phone. How is that possible?’ We both shop mainly online, so we looked into what kind of technologies exist that are not in this space but are used in other spaces.
“At the time, I was using an app called TripIt, which basically organizes all your travel plans in one place using your confirmation e-mails. So, we thought, if that could exist, then something like it could be made for retail.”
“After starting small, Finery evolved quickly over the next few years. “The look of it has completely changed,” Whitney says. “When we first had no money, Brooklyn and I were just drawing it ourselves, and we would have one graphic designer take what we were imagining and make it. After we raised some money, we hired a professional team and we built our team to 19 people. The functionality of the app is a lot better, too. At first, it took eight minutes to upload your closet. And now it takes 30 seconds. I imagine, will be even faster as we scale.”
“One of the greatest advantages of the company’s growth,” Whitney says, “is that we could move Finery out of the coworking space into our own permanent offices as a Kew tenant. “Once you make it out of a coworking space, you feel like a real company,” she says. “You have a real home, this is a real lease. We graduated. When you go to a coworking space, you try to have your brand-new company, but you’re really in their culture. It feels like our culture is here now. That’s what’s so cool about being here. We have our own little mini-fiefdom in here.”
Simplifying the Process of Cataloging Your Closet
While there are other fashion and wardrobe apps out there, Whitney says one of the key differentiators of Finery is the technology they developed to help users populate their digital closet in seconds using e-mail receipts, rather than painstakingly, entering one item at a time.
“It’s great to think of having your closet on your phone,” she says, “but if you have to take a picture of everything in your closet, and then write what it is, and where you got it, and what the price was, and what size it is, it is overwhelming. We knew there had to be a better solution.
Three years ago, we started working on this, and we got a patent on how we actually get the data into your closet via e-receipts and merging your store accounts. You sign up with Finery using whatever e-mail you shop with, and within 15 seconds, everything you’ve ever purchased online from that e-mail address gets populated into your closet. And you can add multiple e-mails.”
Helping You Choose Styles and Suggesting Additions to Better Use What You Have
Whitney points out that Finery not only manages your wardrobe, but it helps you make style choices using the clothes you own—a function that is set to expand greatly in the next few months with a new feature called “Unlimited Styling.”
“We basically took every feature that you would possibly use on a bunch of different products and put them into one,” she says. “So not only do we get all of your items into the digital closet, we also let you style them, and then we style them for you.
“The new product that we’re about to release, which is really cool, is Unlimited Styling. So, if I buy a sweater online, it immediately is put into my closet. I can use our styler to create outfits from it on myself. I can also see how influencers wear the sweater. But with Unlimited Styling, we will take this sweater and put it with all combinations in your closet and with items that you could potentially own or you could buy. It’s really great to be able to see this sweater and have unlimited ideas on how to wear it.”
How does the app “know” how to create styles at this level? Whitney says it’s a combination of human experience and an advanced algorithm.
“For the past three years, we’ve looked at 2.8 million outfits that were made by humans on our platform,” she says. We’ve been basically trying to figure out how you put items together, and what patterns go best together, and essentially, how women decide what to wear. One, we look at the weather. Two, we look at what are we doing that day. Three, we look at comfort. Four, we look at how we’re feeling that day. Figuring all that out at first seems daunting, but we spent all this time gathering that data from women using the platform. So, humans built it, and now an algorithm will take it and scale it.”
An Idea that Women Needed to Conceive and Make Happen
Whitney feels one of the best things about Finery is its universal appeal, especially for women on the go. “A lot of people think apps like this are for really fashionable people, but our drive was to build something that everyone can use,” she says. “Every woman gets dressed, and the average woman will spend eight years of her life shopping, and two years deciding what to wear. Two years! And that’s even if you don’t care that much. If you do care, it’s so much more. Your closet should be on your phone.”
Since the challenge of choosing what to wear is so universal, the question is why no one has utilized technology to solve the problem before now. “It’s most likely because there are hardly any women in tech,” Whitney surmises. “If you are a man in tech, chances are you don’t necessarily really care about your closet. So, it really takes that kind of magical moment where a woman, maybe who isn’t in tech, decides that there is a pain point and a problem that women really need solved, and then finds people who can solve it. And that’s what we did.