- Kristin Finan American-Statesman Staff
Great news for anyone who’s ever wished she had her own version of Cher’s “Clueless” closet to help her organize her wardrobe — it’s here. And it has Austin ties.
It all started when former CNN correspondent, author and part-time Austinite Whitney Casey became inspired by sites like TripIt, which organizes all of your travel plans in one place, and Mint, which manages finances, and went looking for a service that could do the same thing for her clothes.
When she couldn’t find one, she decided to create one herself, but not before getting her BFF, Austin-based actress and model Brooklyn Decker, on board.
“I made a PowerPoint to have a meeting with my friend,” Casey said. “I wanted it to be serious. We had a lot of ideas together and had done mock-ups, but I wanted this to be different than that because I thought it was a big idea. She was like, ‘Let’s do this!’”
And so came Finery, a free “wardrobe operating system” that uses your email address to pull together all of your online clothing purchases from as far back as 10 years. Once it identifies your purchases, it creates a virtual closet of your actual clothes that includes images of those items. You can edit items out or move them around — there’s a dedicated section for kids’ clothes, for example. You can also add vintage items or items you purchased in-store.
“If I have a meeting tomorrow, a friend’s rehearsal dinner on Friday and a brunch with my friends on Saturday, I can (decide what to wear) from my phone. It’s like having your entire wardrobe in your pocket,” said Decker, who is also a mom. “For me, it’s less about being creative and creating outfits and more about finding time so that I can do things that matter more to me.”
Research has found that most women only wear about 20 percent of what’s in their closets, and the average closet, Casey said, contains about $16,000 worth of items. The name Finery came from Casey’s friend and former employer, Dan Rather, who she said used it frequently when describing people at upscale events.
“It’s a word we need to bring back,” said Casey, Finery’s founder and CEO. “It’s your regalia, your clothes. It’s probably a word your grandparents will say, but I’m hoping now it’s a word your grandkids will say.”
Decker, who in addition to being Finery’s chief design officer is also shooting the fourth season of Netflix’s popular series, “Grace and Frankie,” said many women end up spending more money on their wardrobes than their education.
“These days most women are wearing many hats. They have careers, they have a social life, they have a family, a lot of women are traveling. There’s a lot of wasted time that goes into deciding what to wear, deciding what to pack, how to manage everything you own. We figured there had to be a way to fix that,” Decker said. “We all have to get dressed. We really looked into tools that are out there to help us do that.”
In creating Finery, Casey and Decker found that, even more than a fashion company, they were creating a tech company.
“There’s not enough capital set aside by women for women, and 80 percent of household spending is done by us. Why is that? It’s been shocking to me,” Casey said. “That’s been the biggest challenge, access to capital as a woman and access to other women in technology. … The thing I would want to do most when this becomes the Facebook for your clothing is commit to funding female founders.”
Decker said that working closely as friends and business partners has been surprisingly smooth for her and Casey.
“We’re both very candid and pretty brutal when it comes to our honesty, and our friendship is sort of rooted in that,” Decker said. “We were fully aware of the fact that we might have those harsh moments where someone’s saying something you might not want to hear, but I think when you’re in business together and you’re managing a team of people, it’s really important to have that honesty. Especially with a tech startup, there’s so much that’s unknown, so to have someone who can shoot you straight, tell you when you have a bad idea or a good idea, I think it’s hugely important. Also it’s just nice to be able to talk about work with a friend. From a completely superficial standpoint, we love being able to chat and gab all day about what we’re doing.”
You can use Finery to organize and manage your closet, save items to a universal wish list, design outfits, receive reminders about when you need to return recent purchases and add upcoming events to the built-in calendar. In the future, you’ll also be able to sell items or arrange trades — an idea suggested by Decker’s husband, Andy Roddick.
“All the things that are out there for women are built to sell us things,” Casey said. “We throw away 25 billion pounds of clothing a year. That’s too much. It’s already there in your closet. Wear it. And make money off of it if you don’t — sell it. Don’t throw it out. Or don’t buy it to begin with. Let’s slow down and get ahold of the things we have.”