But Kitsy Lane, a Maynard startup, wants to make it a no-brainer for style mavens to set up their own online boutiques in an hour or two. And since the company's launch last summer, more than 20,000 women have done just that. They choose the merchandise that is featured (right now, only jewelry and accessories); promote the store to their friends on Facebook, e-mail, and other social networks; and collect a commission that ranges from 10 to 25 percent on everything sold. Kitsy Lane handles the inventory, payment, and shipping. It's the Tupperware party of the Twitter era.
The model seems to be working: the company says that revenues have been growing 40 percent month-to-month, and tomorrow the company plans to announce a $3.5 million funding round, led by Data Point Capital and Longworth Venture Partners. That's on top of a $1 million seed round supplied last year by Point Judith Capital and angels. All three firms are based in the Boston area.
"There's a very broad spectrum of people that run Kitsy Lane boutiques," says founder and CEO Andy Fox, right. "We made a concerted effort to target some bloggers and stylists. We have a couple of celebrities, like Shereé Whitfield of 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' and Mashiela Lush from the George Lopez show. But the bulk of the user base are stay-at-home moms, or people who have another job and are doing this at night from the couch." (Shereé Whitfield's boutique is below.) The site plans to add men's merchandise soon.
Fox, most recently an executive at Novell, says that the new funding will go toward online marketing and trying to increase the number of people running Kitsy Lane boutiques. "We’ll also be adding employees to a number of departments, including merchandising, engineering, and community management," he says. Today, Kitsy Lane has just five full-time employees.
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.