BLOG STARTUPS, VENTURE AND THE TECH BUSINESS

Why I Invested in Fashion Playtes (Again)

Fashion Playtes recently announced an oversubscribed up round led by our friends at Fairhaven Capital.   The company has a platform enabling custom clothing design by tween girls (ages 6-12). It is a simple concept really.  Girls can go on the web and choose different embellishments to be sewn onto dresses, shirts, pants, bags, etc.  When they design one they want to bring to life, they purchase on line and Fashion Playtes makes the garment and delivers it a few weeks later.   They can even design their own label.  I first invested in Fashion Playtes when it was a mere concept, and have been witness to some big ups and downs the last 18 months as they brought this innovative service to market, and am thrilled that this round came together in such a great way.

I have a daughter in the target demographic, and so I knew immediately that the market pull for such an offer would be strong.  Girls have been playing dress-up with their dolls and their friends and their friends’ dolls forever.   Star Doll showed that a virtual dress-up game can be a big online attraction too.  Fashion Playtes is a combination of these two, with a bit of Zazzle and Café Press thrown in.   And as a parent, I like this activity since it is all about creativity – a craft without the clean up.  But anyone with exposure to this demographic readily believes in the market demand.   The tough part is to deliver the service in a scalable way at a value price-point.

Fashion Playtes targets Gap pricing and quality, and they achieve it nicely.  The customization costs roughly equate to Gap’s cost of supporting retail stores.   And the customization is currently done in Fall River at a factory that has ample capacity for scale.  Fashion Playtes has barely scratched the surface of that single production facility.

So, we have great inherent demand, and a scalable profitable business model.   The company has been exceeding plan with orders from direct (aka viral) traffic for all of the past three months.  No returns.  Glowing customer feedback.   So now we need to let the world know about Fashion Playtes with increased marketing spend, and add some more community elements to the destination site for improved engagement and virality.  And that is what this round of capital is all about.

I wish Sarah, Mary Beth and the Fashion Playtes team all the best as they continue their quest to help girls express their creativity and have fun with everything they wear.

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