A few years ago 'the fashion girl' was an easily identifiable species; she owned a masthead title and designer everything. However the avatar now finds itself in the midst of a makeover thanks to a crop of independent, entrepreneurial women who are pushing the industry forward by disrupting its identity. Here we locate the new guard; innovators in the space - from start-up founders to emerging designers - identifiable by their decision to "sit at the table," seek challenges, and do 'the fashion girl' different.
Interview By Megan Baldwin
Style inspiration is everywhere - if you've got the time to sort through the cupcake and cashmere loving noise. When Eleanor Ylvisaker and Ferebee Taube didn't, they set out to cut out the searching and create more personal approach to style discovery and shopping. Their site, FEYT.com launched a little over a year ago and has streamlined, stylized, and yes raised the bar for e-commerce, particularly as it applies to the luxury space, where innovation had been slow to load. The goal, they say is to offer the fashion customer a trusted platform for finding the things she likes (maybe before she realizes it) in a way that is less peer-to-peer and more "by the way your favorite stylist thought you'd like this." Here the co-founders share the challenges of standing apart, their joint crush on Dora and Diego, and why connections are at the heart of what they do.
Megan Baldwin: What is the toughest thing you did today:
Eleanor Ylvisaker and Ferebee Taub: Staying present while constantly shifting gears. At a start-up you need to wear many different hats, and at times all the hats, so knowing how to juggle while staying focused is key.
How did you get to do what it is you do now?
A lot of hard work. People often think of the fashion business as glamorous, but actually it is extremely top-heavy. So you spend years of your early career doing a lot of grunt work for long hours and little pay. What is most important are relationships and connections so it is important to stay active in the industry.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced to get here?
Trying to get people to understand a new concept and idea. People are comfortable with the familiar, but it is innovation that ends up standing out.
How has your business grown/evolved/changed since launch?
We launched the site with the year one goals of establishing a brand identity and creating a real industry insiders platform. Since our launch, aside from meeting these goals, we have also grown a successful affiliate revenue business and a rich social shopping feature.
What conversation do you aim to disrupt?
Our mission is to answer the search problem, enabling users to discover what they like without having to search for it. Existing social shopping sites are for users who have time invest the hours necessary to weed through everything. Our value comes in filtering and access. With a combined 20+ years experience in the industry, our relationships within the fashion community enable us to suggest great personalized fashion for our membersthats the key. Were not just another blog showcasing our own personal style in hopes of inspiring you - were showcasing your personal style at its very best in hopes of inspiring you.
What's the bravest thing you've done with your business?
Created a new way to shop online by breaking the boundaries of computer learning. We designed a software that combines real human expertise with a scalable algorithm, streamlining the e-commerce experience.
If you didn't do this, what would you do?
We would both be stay-at-home moms (which is probably a lot harder!)
What are your short term and long term goals?
Our short term goals are to grow FEYT to the next level, launching our personal styling tool (this May), and building out new features like wardrobe planning and suitcase packing. Our long term goal is to be a one stop destination for the luxury customer combining commerce with content and incorporating a social component.
What does your Monday to do list have on it - what is a typical day like?
Eleanor: Dropping my 3 year old at nursery school, heading to Soho to the FEYT offices, occasional breaks to pick up green juice at the juice press, editors lunches at Balthazar, and home for bath and bedtime with the kids at 6. Then many late night on the computer at home working!
Ferebee: Breakfast and playtime with my boys (while trying to reply to emails!), then drop them at school and head to Soho to our office. Meetings all day with investors, our web designers, and an internal weekly meeting. Also spending a couple of hours working on next weeks trend story for FEYT, and editing the following days Featured Closet. Heading home for dinner with the kids, and then spending some quality time with each of them before bed. Then back to work for a few more hours!
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of the fashion space today?
Its exciting to see the luxury brands embracing the digital world in a way they were reluctant to at first. Its exciting to have a brand identity that is on par with the luxury market, giving them a platform that never before existed.
What does success look like to you?
Eleanor: Happiness and satisfaction in all areas of life.
Ferebee: Feeling balanced with work and family. Knowing I have put in more than 100% to my business, but also being able to watch my little boys become real people who I just adore and cant get enough of!
Who inspires you to do what you do?
Eleanor: So many people, but mostly my family and friends who all seem to run at life understanding that you never know how far you can go if you dont try.
Ferebee: Family, friends, and Eleanor we are constantly pushing each other as business partners and keep each other sane!
What is one thing you wish you knew before you started?
Eleanor: That when you work out of Starbucks (as we did in the very early days) you shouldnt drink all the coffee!
Ferebee: That so much staring at the computer would kill my eyes!
The one thing that you'd never share with anyone:
Your dream collaboration:
Celine + 3x1 Jeans (the perfect pair of structured minimalist jeans!) sold exclusively on FEYT!
Who would you most like to be pen-pals with:
Eleanor and Ferebee: Lena Dunham!
Your go-to karaoke song:
Eleanor: Overwhelmed by Tim McMorris
Ferebee: Probably The Cure
The best advice your mom ever gave you:
Eleanor: Its not the load that breaks you down its the way you carry it.
Ferebee: To always be nice to people my Mom is literally the sweetest person anyone has ever met!
Fictional closet you'd most like to raid:
Eleanor: Joan Holloway from Mad Men
Ferebee : Im embarrassed to say I really liked Serenas clothing on Gossip Girl.
Celebrity crush and where you'd take them on a date:
Eleanor and Ferebee: Diego from Dora and Diego we would take him right home to meet our kids ;)
Who is the coolest girl/lady you know aka who should we ask these questions to next?
Brett Heyman from Edie Parker