Brooklyn Decker, an actress, and Whitney Casey, a former broadcast journalist, combined forces to make something that every person faces daily a lot easier: getting dressed. The entrepreneurial pair saw a white space in the fashion and tech world and developed an app to help people manage their wardrobes.
Dubbed Finery, the app keeps track of all your online purchases and manually entered clothing items, so you can plan your outfits ahead of time. With their game-changing app, you can plan what to pack for an upcoming trip on your morning commute, or pick out an outfit for date night on your lunch break. It's like having your closet in your back pocket at all times.
Finery was acquired by Stitch Fix in August, 2019. We talked to Decker and Casey prior to the acquisition to find out what they learned from starting their own business.
What company did you start? What is its purpose?
WHITNEY CASEY: Brooklyn and I were using all kinds of apps to help us simplify our lives, cull our finances, organize our travel, etc. But when it came to our wardrobes, the place we spend a lot of our money, there was nothing that existed to make it easier to manage (returns, purchases, styling, packing, all in one place). So we started tooling around with some financial apps and combined that experience with some music apps, and bam—Finery was born.
BROOKLYN DECKER: We wanted to save women time and hassle, plain and simple. We spend so much time stressing out about what to wear for a job interview, how to wear our stuff, packing, purchasing, etc. We wanted to make that easier.
Before founding Finery, I was:
WC: An anchor/correspondent for CNN, ABC News, and CBS in New York. I then worked directly with President Bill Clinton as a media specialist for the Clinton Global Initiative. I finally ended up pivoting into the tech world after working for Match.com for five years as the company's spokesperson.
BD: An actress, still am. I love wearing both hats—it exercises all parts of my brain.
What are three things you always do before 10 a.m.?
WC: When I am on point: Soul Cycle (Akin Akman’s class is the hardest one out there!), top 10 emails in my inbox, and breakfast.
BD: Dress and feed my kids. Pack my 3-year-old’s lunch, and take Hank to school. I respond to the late-night emails from our team members on the West Coast, check Finery to see what pre-planned outfit I can throw on, then pop a load of laundry in the washer. Put on music for the day. Oh! And make myself a coffee.
What were some of your biggest career mistakes, and what did you learn from them?
BD: I wish I would have said no earlier, taken a step back and allowed myself to learn a little bit more before making my mistakes on a big stage. I learned that it’s okay to say no to opportunities if it means you are preparing yourself to be better equipped when that next opportunity rolls around.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
WC: As a CEO, founder, or leader in an organization, the first person you need to manage is yourself; the rest will follow suit.
BD: If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re doing something wrong.
What is the worst piece of advice you've ever been given?
WC: If you’re good at too many things people can’t figure out where to fit you in the org chart. Be good at one thing so they know what box to put you in.
THIS IS INSANE—be good at everything and take all the jobs from the people who aren’t good at anything or just one thing. Use your work time to do the one thing you are supposed to do, and then use your free time to do all the other things that people are either too lazy to do or don’t want to do. Then bring that to your organization, and if they don’t appreciate it, get a different job ASAP.
Biggest piece of advice for female entrepreneurs:
WC: Be the expert in your space. Read everything you can get your hands on. Talk with anyone who will listen, and then put your head down and work your ass off.
If you could have your 12-year-old-self over for dinner, what advice/words of wisdom would you share with her?
WC: Trying to be perfect is not a waste of time, but it is a waste of emotional energy. Do the hard work to the best of your abilities and keep getting better. It doesn’t need the fret and worry of someone not thinking it is perfect to come with it. If you did your absolute best and worked your absolute hardest, it will be perfect.
BD: You can say no. There’s a generous power in the word “no.” Enjoy the bumps along the way, they’ll make you stronger.
Who are some of your mentors, dead or alive, famous or ordinary?
WC: Alexander Hamilton, Hedy Lamarr, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos
BD: My dad is the hardest-working person I know and has a passion for work. He also lives with an enormous amount of gratitude; I don’t know where it comes from.
What's the most important piece to invest in for an office wardrobe?
WC: A solid-colored work dress that suits your body type.
BD: A good midi skirt (I like a pencil variation).
How would your employees/assistant describe you?
WC: First, I never call anyone “assistant,” so that is pretty descriptive in and of itself! They are always chief of something or team member or something. I hate diminutive titles. The team would probably say I was hard-working and diligent.
BD: My assistant is one of my closest friends and knows me better than most. I just texted him this question, and he said “considerate, chaotic, generous, funny.”
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
WC: Becoming a published author. When I reread it this year...the book is terrible, BUT it happened!
BD: I don’t know if I’ve reached it yet. I still feel like I’m working toward something.
What type of clothing item always commands respect?
WC: Clothing that fits your body type. Don’t care if it is on-trend, if it isn’t for your body type, it should be passed on.
BD: A strong black blazer.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
WC: I want to be president of our country—seriously.
BD: I hope to make people feel like are fully supported, that they are challenged, that they could trust me. Simply, I want people to feel better after having spent time with me.
What's next for your company?
WC: We want the entire life cycle of every piece of clothing or accessory you own to live on our platform —whether you like it, buy it, want it, sell it, lend it, or share it with friends. We’re continuously refining our technology, building a community, and supporting other women in their endeavors.
BD: We’re testing a brand-new feature whereby if you click any item in your wardrobe, we style it in a look for you. We’ve done this manually, or à la Pinterest using image recognition, but this is a tech-forward approach and it’s getting excellent feedback. How awesome to pick a shirt and then have an app style it for you (with your stuff) in seconds?