Bow & Drape, a site that helps women create customized apparel recently raised $1.2 million in funding from VegasTechFund (Zappos.com founder Tony Hseish’s fund), Great Oaks Venture Capital, Triple Point Capital and StubHub, Inc co-founder Jeff Fluhr.
Founded in Boston and launched via a Kickstarter campaign, it wasn’t long before the company relocated to New York City – one of the undisputed capitals of fashion-tech. Founder and CEO Aubrie Pagano tells us a bit about the funding process and future plans for the company.
What was the funding process like?
I have heard fundraising called many things, but I think I would describe a successful funding process as a 3-month courtship before marriage. Both sides of the table must get to know each other, trust each other, believe in a higher purpose that brings them together, and contractually bind themselves together. It is actually a pretty unique occurrence if you think of it that way.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
At this stage, we do not have every single metric proven for investors, so a lot of the decision to invest lied in trusting me as an entrepreneur and in the team I have surrounding me. That confidence in the team is relatively subjective, and so it was challenging to find and get to know investors – relatively quickly – who could get onboard with a female first-time founder in a bearish retail market. But the good ones are out there!
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Well, if you don’t plan on receiving or needing capital, stay scrappy and drive toward profitability. If you are looking to raise capital and haven’t, then fire up Angel List and LinkedIn and use your network. Reach deeper into your network than you thought you could (reach to Kevin Bacon – all six degrees!) and keep at it – dreams don’t come true overnight, so be persistent. Be fearless.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We go beyond mass customization for the sake of it and add lasting value. While there is a virality surrounding the garments built on our site – our sweatshirts trend and get great reception on social media, for example – there is lasting value in what we do: we provide women with the ability to style garments according to their personal taste. At our core, our designs celebrate grown-up femininity, individuality and creativity – things that are never going out of style – and facilitate women to create pieces they will love and wear through many fashion cycles. That provides the grounds for a lasting and solid relationship with our customer base.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near term, we’re focusing on growing a community around the brand. We’ve seen people really engage with the site, having fun while creating designs and sharing these with friends. We want to encourage people to feel a sense of pride around this process. To this end, we’re evolving our UX to put the emphasis on this type of experience, putting our customization front and center and providing more social interaction.
In the long term? We want to convert more women to the appeal of customized fashion. Where it’s available, we believe more and more women will choose the path of adding their own signature to a garment and making it theirs.