Cindy Weber-Cleary and Stephanie Stahl are the founders of the fashion website Apprécier.com – an e-commerce and editorial site devoted to women 45 and over. Weber-Cleary was fashion director at Instyle magazine from 1999-2014 and continues to write a column for the magazine called “Age-Wise Style.” Stahl is the former CMO of Coach and Revlon. Together they represent a significant demographic of women and in their opinion a very under served group of women. Interestingly, they have found women in this age range tend to be more settled in their careers with more disposable income but brands are not targeting them, thus they are spending less. They are hoping to fill this space with exclusive fashion content about women with experience and a sort of fashion gravitas as well as product from mature brands.
Your brand is targeted to women 40s and older – in your opinion, what are these women up to? What do their lives look like?
Our audience is affluent, active, fit, busy, style-conscious. She has places to go, occasions to dress for, and not a lot of time to shop.
What was the inspiration behind launching Apprécier?
As I began to shop more online in recent years, I began to feel frustrated because there were so many options, but very few brands seemed to be speaking to me and women like me. I had to wade through an ocean of merchandise to find clothes that really tempted or flattered me and made sense for my lifestyle. I thought if I, a fashion professional who is knowledgeable about designers and brands, is frustrated with shopping, how must other women in my demographic feel?
Cindy, you have a long resume in print – was doing something in digital daunting at all?
I had already been contributing to Instyle.com for a number of years, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar territory. The pace is definitely faster than magazines which have a 3-4 month lead time, but having produced an enormous number of fashion pages for Instyle each month, I was already accustomed to juggling a lot of stories simultaneously. And I love the immediacy of online. You don’t have to wait to find out which stories are resonating; you can see it in real time and respond! That’s a wonderful advantage.
How do the two of you split the responsibilities of the content for Apprécier? Are you both writing?
I oversee the creative and Stephanie handles the business, but we collaborate on everything. I am responsible for the editorial line-up. I write a weekly column called “Insights” and produce the trend reports. And I also select/approve all of the merchandise we feature.
How many on your team?
Just the two of us are full-time right now, but we will be making a few key hires in the near future. And we have a terrific team of freelancers and contributors.
Why do you think the print (and retail) industry neglects this demographic so much?
Because they are afraid of being seen as catering to an older customer. They all know that this woman is who can really afford luxury fashion, but in terms of brand image, they feel compelled to focus on millennials.
This seems so silly considering women in this age range are usually more secure in their career and higher earners with potentially more disposable income. Is this what you have discovered as well?
Yes, but we discovered that the amount of money a woman spends on clothing and accessories peaks at age 45, then drops off. We believe this is because no one is marketing to these women in an inspiring, compelling, relatable way.
How do you choose who you profile? What are the commonalities among these women?
We profile women who have interesting personal style and something to say about it. Some are well-known, some are just women we have met or been introduced to. I would describe them as “taste-makers.”
Currently, how are you feeling about the fashion industry as it undergoes some long overdue changes to the calendar?
I am all for an overhaul of the calendar. There are too many seasons, too many shows, too much noise, too much product and waste. I don’t want to shop for heavy tweeds, fur and outerwear in May! And it’s ridiculous when you can’t find Summer clothes in the summer months. But I don’t envy those who are trying to fix the schedule. Getting designers and fashion executives to agree on anything is a tall order!
Will this impact Apprécier at all?
Apprécier is a shopping destination so our focus is on providing the best edit of what’s available right now. That won’t change!