Just when you thought you mastered e-commerce, along comes another hip way to shop that all the kiddies are raving about: discovery commerce. Still haven’t a clue? Economic Times Retail defines discovery commerce as:
…subscription boxes – a monthly service of curated products that is hugely popular in the West. The concept, described as ‘discovery commerce,’ is simple: A subscriber gets a box of goodies every month. What [the subscriber] pays is usually less than the cost of the goods, but what these entrepreneurs are interested in is not the small subscription fee but the chance to convert customers.
Subscription boxes, such as Birchbox, have become very popular, but, alas, none have catered specifically to dapperQs. That is until Greyscale Goods entered the scene. Greyscale Goods will let customers create profiles and receive boxes of clothing and accessories tailored to their styles, sizes, and needs. Customers can choose to purchase and keep or, alternately, return the items and will be able to review box contents to improve the future selections they receive.
I interviewed Sara Medd, CEO and Founder of Greyscale Goods, and I couldn’t help but find myself anxiously hoping for her and her company’s success in their current Kickstarter campaign.
Alex Vega shooting Kickstarter video, photo credit Sara Tollefson
Ren Wilding: What sparked your passion to provide fashion services to the community of folks who dress in the androgynous spectrum?
Sara Medd: Years ago, before Greyscale Goods was even a thought, the need for a retailer that offers more selection in gender-neutral clothing was very clear to me. I was holding individual style sessions for a couple of years at Autostraddle’s A-Camp and the same questions kept coming up: “I live in a small town in Missouri, and I don’t have access to city shopping.” “Where can I find a properly fitting button-down shirt?” “I have a wedding to attend this summer, and I have no clue what to wear! Where can I find a vest or jacket?” Similar frequently asked questions abound on blogs such as dapperQ and the frequency of the same questions show that clearly there is a lack of destinations for androgynous customers in the current clothing market. I mostly refer customers to boutique online retailers, most of whom are also startups trying to answer these frequent questions for customers. The risks involved in ordering online from startup boutique retailers are often too much hassle for the customers (inconvenient return policies, requirement to order custom fitting shirts with no returns, high pricing), and the offerings tend to be small and niche. Furthermore, customers that do not live near a metropolitan area have very limited access to brick and mortar stores that offer anything but extremely polarized men’s and women’s clothing departments. I saw the need loud and clear and I have been passionate about changing this climate for a few years now. I finally found the platform for which my background is a perfect fit: I can combine my extensive background of styling individuals based on each person’s unique story and needs with the business background that I had left untouched for the last few years to create an evolved way of shopping.
Sara Medd, photo credit Sara Tollefson
RW: What sort of information do you plan on gathering in the profiles people submit to Greyscale Goods? How will the information influence what products go into the boxes customers receive?
SM: In the same way that you wouldn’t just walk into a doctor’s office and say “diagnose me” without offering symptoms, I need some direction about who this customer is in order to “diagnose” their personal style and determine the best combination of goods to meet their wants and needs. I will ask customers the same questions that I ask of any of my styling clients, plus a few extra since I am not seeing them in person. These questions include: sizes, favorite items of clothing, type of work environment, weekend activities, budget for clothing, any major life events coming up, plus feedback about a variety of pre-styled outfits so I can determine what they do and don’t like about certain looks. All of this information is crucial to the success of what we choose to send. If you never ever wear jeans, then I will not send you jeans. If you only wear button-down shirts, I am going to send you the best button-down shirts I can find (and eventually encourage you to maybe try a few new things as well!) Like any relationship, we will continue to get to know each other through communication and hopefully continue to evolve your style. My goal is to make you look and feel the best you possibly can through your style. I believe that the right clothing can vastly improve self-confidence and I want everyone to feel like a rockstar when they walk out the door.
RW: At this juncture, would you be able to tell us what kind of price-range we might expect from the items included in the boxes? Is price-range something that will be asked about in the profiles?
SM: As with most things in life, you get what you pay for and in my experience that absolutely goes for clothing. I understand that budget is a concern for most people (this will be one of the questions we ask customers about) but at the same time, I strongly believe in offering good quality products. I don’t want to send out anything that will look like a different garment after one wash! I won’t be able to give specific prices until I have inventory in-house, but the general ballparks that I keep in mind while buying are staying less expensive than J.Crew and Bloomingdale’s, which to me means under $100 each for pants and shirts. I know this may still sound high to some customers, but please know that I am continuing to source new vendors every day! I actually just met some awesome ladies here in LA last week who are making amazing button-downs with affordability in mind, so I do believe that I will be able to offer something for most budgets once we are really up and running. Another thing I would like to mention about price: one of my goals for this company is to bring together all of the smaller startup and boutique clothiers who are devoted to this same cause of filling the gap in the current clothing market, in order to help increase their overall reach and demand. Higher demand and higher quantities will help bring their prices down as well, so I truly hope that some of the brands that you may not have been able to afford previously will become more affordable through the Greyscale Goods platform.
Photo credit Amanda Saugstad, provided by Sara Medd
RW: Do you have plans to offer Greyscale Goods’ services to individuals who don’t fall into the so-called standard sizes–above a size extra-large for example?
SM: I think about this every day: I believe so strongly in offering plus sizes as well as extra tiny ones. Timing of this offering will depend upon funding, but it is absolutely on the table. I have received so much feedback about the necessity of plus size styles especially and I agree wholeheartedly! It is bleak out there my friends I see it and I hear you.
It may not roll out until our second season, but that doesn’t mean I’ve -forgotten. It will require a little extra time to source some new vendors, but once I have the manpower I will make sure we make that happen for you!
RW: Are there plans to ship boxes internationally?
SM: The short answer is yes, but not right away. We are so brand new that we need to work out the logistics of shipping within the US before we can add international to our service. I recognize that we have an international demand and I want to offer that service as soon as possible, but it will take at least one season of shipping to figure out the best way to make it happen. Unfortunately, international shipping is still very expensive and we have no way of changing that fact, so we will need to figure out what kind of pricing structure we can work out that will be beneficial for both parties.
That being said, we ARE shipping internationally for the Kickstarter campaign! So check out what we have over there!
Stevie Boebi shooding Kickstarter video, photo credit Sara Tollefson
RW: Are you working with or are there plans to work with any vendors dapperQ readers may be familiar with, like Veer NYC, Kipper Clothers, etc.?
SM: YES! Kipper Clothiers are awesome and we are already in collaboration with them on some of our Kickstarter rewards. We worked with them to design a custom tie and polo that are only available through Greyscale Goods. This will be an ongoing relationship beyond the campaign, which will hopefully include a Ready-to-Wear line of suiting from them once funding is secured. I have also had some meetings with Sharpe Suiting and I am excited to offer their RTW collection that they are working on. There are a couple of other brands that I have been in discussions with as well that dapperQ readers are absolutely familiar with and the list is growing by the week.
Sara Medd and Leon Wu of Sharpe Suiting at GG Launch Party, photo credit Alexis Bonin
RW: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of dapperQ about Greyscale Goods?
SM: Go check out our Kickstarter campaign! I chose Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing funding platform because while I felt strongly that this service needed to exist, I wanted to take it to the streets, if you will. If YOU want this service to exist, I want each of you to go make it happen. Greyscale Goods will only move forward if we get funded, so I need to know how badly you want it.
Also, I love feedback! Please email me with your suggestions and thoughts and what you would love to see offered through Greyscale Goods at [email protected] I also have a survey up that I would love for your to take if you have 5 minutes to spare: http://bit.ly/1r1uEbG And go follow us on social media! We’ve been doing some fun updates and giveaways that you don’t want to miss!
Email: [email protected]