FashionPlaytes Raises $4M More, Goes for Billion-Dollar Customized Clothing Idea
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between virtual games and physical goods in the girls gaming category.” Seseri has joined the firm’s board.
McIlroy, for her part, is a veteran of the gaming industry. Before co-founding FashionPlaytes in 2008, she had worked at Atari, Hasbro, and Midway Games in a number of business development and strategic roles, including acting as a liaison between retail and marketing. She says she saw a “big void in gaming for girls.” At the same time, she says, her young daughter was getting into sketching out clothing designs, and McIlroy’s mother is an “amazing seamstress.” So, she says, there was “a much broader opportunity if we could figure out a platform where girls can be designers. We could have a real significant business.”
FashionPlaytes currently has seven employees, and is looking to hire a few more on the development side. The company’s quarterly revenues have grown 600 percent since January, McIlroy says. It is now looking to form more partnerships with big companies like Sanrio (Hello Kitty), which this summer. And, as with any fast-growing startup, finding the right people is the key challenge, she says. (Asked to sum up her startup culture in one word, she said, “Aspirational.”)
As for the local support groups for CEOs and entrepreneurs—both male and female—McIlroy says the startup community has been more gracious in terms of sharing ideas, information, and contacts than the more entrenched gaming industry, at least in her experience. Her main advice to first-time CEOs: “Persistence is absolutely key.”
That’s all well and good. But with more venture capitalists getting involved with the startup, I wondered just how big FashionPlaytes could get, realistically. To give some indication, McIlroy sees it eventually competing with The Gap and other big clothing retailers, and fundamentally changing how people (or at least girls) buy clothes.
“I truly believe it’s a billion dollar idea,” she says. “I knew if I didn’t do it, someone else would.”