Women’s workwear retailer MM.LaFleur works to cater to all professional women.
CEO and founder Sarah LaFleur launched MMLaFleur.com in 2013 as a place to buy women’s professional clothing, says Callie Kant, art director for the retailer. Sales have grown 300% from 2013 to 2016, she says, and Internet Retailer estimates the retailer’s 2017 web sales are more than $30 million.
The retailer has three facets to its business: its e-commerce site, its Bento Boxes and its physical stores.
80% of new customers’ first purchase is a Bento Box, which is box of four to six apparel pieces that are stylized for each shopper. A shopper fills out a survey about her body type, the work she does, and what types of pieces and styles she likes. A stylist then evaluates the survey to select the pieces. In addition to the survey, stylists also are trained to think about the geographic area each woman is in. For example, a shopper in Washington, D.C. may dress more formally compared to a San Francisco shopper, or an East Coast shopper may dress more warmly than a shopper in California, Kant says.
“We approach e-commerce a bit differently,” Kant says. “It’s centered on the stylist experience.”
A shopper receives the box and has four days to try on the pieces and decide what to keep and what to send back. Shipping is free both ways, and it is not a subscription service. Shoppers typically keep between one and three pieces in the box, and shoppers only pay for what they keep, Kant says. “Customers occasionally keep the entire box, especially if it’s her second or third, and their stylist has a more detailed sense of their style.”
Shoppers also can shop on MMLaFleur.com without purchasing a Bento Box. A work shirt starts around $110 and dresses around $325. Shoppers can still chat with stylists even if they aren’t getting a Bento Box, Kant says.
MM.LaFleur, which has more than 200 employees including its warehouse employees, designs its own clothing pieces. It works to ensure the styles are work appropriate, such as necklines that are not too low or that a wrap dress is secure so it doesn’t open up. The clothes also have unique garment features, such as hooks to secure bra straps to ensure they don’t show.
On the website, a shopper can filter products for body type, such as full-hip-friendly and tall-friendly to allow women to quickly find outfits that flatter them. Shoppers also can filter by specific needs, such as “perfect-for-travel” or “day-to-night” pieces. Plus, many of the clothes are machine washable, which is not always the case for high-end workwear, Kant says.
MM.LaFleur also has about 10 physical locations between four permanent showrooms (in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and two in New York City) and six pop-up locations (currently in Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Charlotte, North Carolina). The shops are fit stores, in which consumers book an appointment and work with a stylist to select items. Shoppers then order the pieces online to have them shipped to her house.
MM.LaFleur is a featured retailer in Internet Retailer’s 2018 Hot 100.
To read more about this company and other innovative online retailers, download the free issue of Internet Retailer’s 2018 Hot 100.Favorite