Cheryl Han is a co-founder of Keaton Row, an e-commerce platform designed to help busy professional women with their styling needs and budding stylists expand their reach. Armed with a background in e-commerce and personal experience dishing out fashion advice to her peers, Han joined forces with fellow Harvard Business School alum and career woman Elenor Mak to launch Keaton Row in December 2012.
How did you come up with the concept for Keaton Row?
Coming from an e-commerce background from my time at L’Oreal and Clarins, I was particularly interested in how the digital landscape was evolving and evaluating the ways in which any customer experience could be enhanced – so the general concept was on my mind. It was during business school that the more concrete idea was realized. While there, I was consistently helping my friends, other busy professional women, find outfits for a number of different reasons – interviews, formal events – and was simply sending them links from e-tailers like Nordstrom and Shopbop. It was in that simple yet personal act that I realized a service was being provided – acting as a personal stylist/shopper to women who care about how they look, but don’t have the time or patience to navigate the massive world of online retail. That is how Keaton Row was born.
What are the qualifications for becoming a stylist?
While there are no specific qualifications, its important that prospective stylists love helping women look and feel their best through fashion. Some have worked in fashion for decades, as designers, boutique owners, professional stylists. Others are just trendsetters with a great eye who are constantly being asked, “Where’d you get that?” who take the risks that everyone else admires. In all cases, these are people with strong creative vision combined with a talent for service. In other words, they not only have great taste, but they can also get into the mind of a client and know what will make her happy – a rare combination.
How many clients are currently using the service?
We have over 10,000 clients to date.
What type of retail partnerships do you have?
We have amazing e-tailer partners that cover all sizes, budgets and style preferences: Nordstrom.com, Shopbop, Les Nouvelles and ASOS.
Can you tell us a bit about how this works? Are you linking sales to other sites such as Shopbop or Les Novelles? Who processes the order?
It’s a really simple, fun process. A client requests a look book from their stylist for a particular event, seasonal wardrobe refresh or whatever her current need is. The stylist then creates a look book of options from our e-tailer partners based on her client’s budget, style preferences, etc. The client then reviews the curated look book and simply clicks to buy – it’s one universal checkout, so your payment info is saved in one place. On the back end, the order goes direct to each e-tailer for shipping and billing.
What sort of events do you find most clients need help with styling?
It really varies – everything from weddings, interviews and seasonal wardrobe updates to birthdays, anniversaries, weekend-wear, styling one dress for several occasions and maternity.
How did you experiences at L’Oreal and Clarins prepare you for your own business?
The combined five years I spent at L’Oreal and Clarins launching and managing e-commerce businesses gave me the functional experience sufficient to plant the seed of Keaton Row. However, it was at Harvard Business School that I developed a passion for serving the Keaton Row client; the busy professional woman overwhelmed and underserved by fashion. It is this passion that has directed how I leverage my previous experiences to co-found and grow Keaton Row to what it is today.
The site is still in beta testing – what have you learned so far?
How conversational the Keaton Row shopping experience is and that the relationship between our stylists and clients extend far beyond just shopping! Our clients become best friends with their stylists and being able to build a site that facilitates and brings that conversation to life is a key focus for us right now.
Where do you see Keaton Row in the next 3-5 years?
We see ourselves as the personal shopping destination for busy women all over the world! Connecting shoppers with international stylists and retailers and achieving the most personalized shopping experience available online.