Canada: Too busy to shop? Clothing subscription services offer personalized buying
Last August, Shanlyn Cunningham, who has a public relations background, and her would-be business partners, Jenna Hill (a photographer and graphic designer) and Jeanie Borremans (retail buying and fashion styling), were discussing the challenges of shopping with young children in tow — when they even had time to make it to the mall. They decided to create a service to help busy women find unique new pieces for their wardrobes.
This was the impetus for Frock Box, a subscription service that allows customers to create a style profile stating their size and clothing preferences before being matched with a stylist who will select items for them each month.
Customers can choose from three different boxes: Gold ($49.95 a month plus $9.95 for shipping for a complete outfit), or Jewel ($29.95 plus $3 shipping for exclusively jewelry and accessories), or the most popular option, Favourites ($24.95 a month with free shipping and four to five items to choose from). The Favourites Box allows customers to decide which items to purchase and which ones to return. The subscription fee is deducted from a customer’s total price if they buy one or more items in their box; if they decide to keep all of the items, 25 per cent is deducted from their bill.
“We’re giving our subscribers the chance to try something a little bit out of the box, but at the same time we send them some basic pieces that we know they’re going to love for sure, so it’s a bit of both,” says Cunningham. “The things we bring to our subscribers, you can’t get around here. They’re unique, they’re trendy, and they’re tailored to the season.”
The company has amassed thousands of subscribers ranging from close to home in Alberta right across Canada.
“We order in crates of clothing, and every month the clothing changes because we want it to be fresh and to be new, and to be seasonal,” she explains, noting they do their best to accommodate a variety of body types.
The company will be hosting a Frock Box Christmas Shop on Nov. 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Lexus Southpointe (830 100 St. SW), which will allow customers to see some of the clothing first-hand.
Krista McEwan opened her St. Albert-based business Dear Skarlett Boutique in 2015, and she launched a subscription service in September. Lady Box, which comes with the tag line “Once A Month Has A Whole New Meaning,” offers two options: the Mini Lady Box for $75 a month or the Maxi Lady Box for $135 a month, plus options to send it as a gift. Customers pay a flat fee and get two to four items valued at different price points, depending on which box is selected, as well as a free pair of underwear with each. Much like Frock Box, customers fill out a style profile and McEwan — along with her five-year-old daughter Skarlett, the namesake of the boutique — choose clothing to suit each person.
McEwan got the idea after receiving positive feedback on surprise bags she put together for some of her regular customers. She’s currently at 50 subscribers and hopes to reach 100 by Christmas, a number she says she’ll likely use as a temporary cap to retain the personalized nature of the service and work out any kinks before growing it further.
“We don’t want to compromise the values behind it, and it really is about creating that intimate experience,” McEwan explains. “Every box is completely customized, so not everyone’s getting a red shirt with a scarf and a pair of socks.”
For those new to subscription services, or anyone who may be nervous about letting someone else choose their clothes, McEwan and Cunningham advise providing as much information as possible when filling out the style profile.
“If they have a Pinterest board, for example, they can include that too,” Cunningham says. “Be as specific as possible, but be open to try new things. We do get subscribers who say, ‘Don’t send me any dresses or skirts’ because maybe in the past they’ve had a bad experience finding those items, but we do try to find things that work for everybody.”
“There’s a drop-down menu as far as sizes go, but we do have an extra spot for a description where you can tell us as much information as you can,” says McEwan. “And a space where you can upload a photo as well and hopefully a current photo, because that helps me profile you on your body type.”
McEwan and Cunningham also hope the services can act as affordable ways for women to treat themselves, something they concede doesn’t always happen in the midst of busy lives.
“We’re providing something that’s sort of a surprise,” Cunningham says. “We’ve heard from a lot of our subscribers that it’s like Christmas morning when they get a package of clothing, because how often do you shop for yourself? So often you’re shopping for your kids or your family, so it’s nice to get something that’s just for you.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
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