Keaton Row, the ecommerce site that matches free stylists with clients, is beefing up its tech offerings with a new chief technology officer.
If you haven’t heard of Keaton Row yet, think of it like an Avon for personal styling. After you sign up, you’ll answer a few questions about your body type and fashion preferences. Then, the site gives you a choice of five stylists. You pick one, and she emails you to talk about what you’re looking for. Answer a few more questions and, within 48 hours, she’ll provide you with your own look book full of clothes that meet your requests.
If you choose to buy any of the garments or accessories — which are culled from Nordstrom, Shopbop, Asos and Les Nouvelles — your stylist gets a cut. The retailers pay her commission, so the entire service is free to the customer.
The site perfectly solves one of ecommerce’s biggest issues: there’s just too big a selection. And just for the record, this reporter has been testing it out and finds it to be completely addictive. I may never waste four hours of a weeknight browsing Nordstrom.com in vain again, now that I have my own free stylist to send me exactly what she thinks I’ll like.
The similarities to Avon aren’t a coincidence; cofounder Elenor Mak worked at the makeup mecca for four years after graduating from Harvard Business School. She and her fellow HBS grad and cofounder, Cheryl Han, founded Keaton Row out of their own experience both dishing out and seeking fashion advice.
“My experience at Avon was really seeing this idea of flexible entrepreneurship,” Ms. Mak told the Observer in a phone interview. “The Avon woman, she’s able to run her own business.”
And so is the Keaton Row woman. Stylists can use the site’s interface to interact with their longtime clients and gain new ones. The more a stylist proves herself, Ms. Mak said, the more the site will recommend her to new clients.
The site’s had an impressive adoption rate. There are currently 3,000 stylists and 10,000 clients who use it, and it launched in December 2012. The typical client is a woman in her 30s, Ms. Mak said. Currently, the site’s retail offerings are only open to women, but men and women alike can become stylists.
Ms. Mak and Ms. Han hope the new CTO, Mike Jimenez, will usher in a new era of Keaton Row. He’ll focus on improving the stylist’s platform and the customer experience alike. He’ll also improve retail integration, Ms. Mak said.
Previously, Mr. Jimenez served as chief architect of CyberSource Corporation and CTO and cofounder of Bionic Panda Games. He also held engineering leadership positions at BitTorrent.
“His passion for using technology to elevate brands that empower and improve the lives of users aligns perfectly with our vision for Keaton Row,” Ms. Han said in a release.
Keaton Row is bicoastal. Ms. Mak heads up an office in San Francisco while Ms. Han leads their New York City base. A tech team works out of Montreal. In total, Keaton Row employs 15 people at the moment.
“We have the luxury today of having such committed users that we have a list of features they would like to see to improve their experiences,” Ms. Mak said. “I think we’re going to take everything our customers have seen in the last year to the next level.”