TechStars New York alum and co-founder of the high-flying-for-a-while-but-now-defunct ToVieFor Melanie Moore didn’t mourn for long. ToVieFor closed up shop just months after it graduated from the local TechStars incubator–Ms. Moore penned a long and thoughtful post-mortem with her reflections on the fashion industry. “No regrets,” she told Betabeat.
Apparently. “Hurricane Melanie” has already launched into her next project, another fashion startup with Girl Develop It co-founder Sara J. Chipps. “We got our first customer (and she bought the largest subscription option)!” Ms. Moore wrote in an email to Betabeat. “We have only sent the site out to about 20 people, so that’s a great conversion rate. Very exciting.”
Indeed. The new startup, Elizabeth & Clarke, is a subscription-based delivery service for “women’s basics” like “designer-quality white shirts, delivered to your door each season, for under $30.”
That’s the business? Every three months, you get a box of white shirts?
Actually, they’re just starting with the white shirt. E&C will eventually expand to other feminine wardrobe essentials. Perhaps the little black dress is next? (Please?)
Ms. Moore explains more:
E&C solves a problem I have myself: every season I am out searching for the perfect white shirt that I will end up pairing with almost every outfit. Right now my choices are: (1) something cheap from H&M or Zara that will fall apart immediately (2) something in the $50-range from J. Crew or Club Monaco – which is fine – except when I go back next season to buy the shirt I loved so much again – and it has been discontinued, or (3) something really beautiful and unique from Kain, The Row, or Oliver Theyskens – but that costs $250.
By building a brand totally online, we avoid all of the infrastructure costs of a typical brand, one that must either build their own brick-and-mortar stores, or sell at wholesale to a department store, which significantly cuts into gross margin. Because of this, we can produce basics that are similar in quality to James Perse or Alexander Wang but without the crazy mark-up.
The name is a combination of Ms. Moore and Ms. Chipps’s mothers’ maiden names. Lily Kwong, another ToVieFor alum, is also involved.
This time around, Ms. Moore plans to focus on the product and customer development. One problem with ToVieFor, she felt, was that she and her co-founder spent too much time winning a business plan competition and getting into TechStars. “We aren’t thinking about press, funding, hiring or anything else until we make a significant amount of progress on the product,” she said.