E-Commerce Startup Material Wrld Opens up Fashionistas’ Closets

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10 sellers—including fashion bloggers, designers, even a prominent DJ—and also offered “fun interview content along the lines of a fashion blog,” she says. “We want to get it right with a small group before taking it to the next level.”

Material Wrld’s next online pop-up shop will be in early May. The startup will launch its iPhone app later this spring, featuring 100 handpicked sellers. The company will be testing out different models for selling, by offering a full service where it holds and lists inventory and ships it out once purchased, or where sellers ship items themselves with a Netflix-esque prepaid package, Zheng says.

Material Wrld joins a slew of other HBS entrepreneurs starting companies at the intersection of fashion and tech. Zheng says this energy from hers and Yano’s alma mater helped her jump into the startup world. Zheng left her job leading international marketing at J.Crew in mid-February and previously worked for Polo Ralph Lauren, while Yano is still wrapping up her job in digital marketing at Coach.

“I definitely think the fellow entrepreneurs in our class—Birchbox and BaubleBar—played a big role in my interest in entrepreneurship, and my comfort in being able to leave a very sexy, glamorous, solid corporate job,” Zheng says.

That experience working for fashion brands could ultimately be a big boost for Material Wrld. “We believe there’s a huge opportunity to partner with fashion brands on creative marketing opportunities once we’ve built our Material Wrld community,” says Zheng. “Rie and I have good connections to many brands.”

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