Thursday, March 24, 2011

Custom retail - J. Hilburn

Selling custom made women's shoes online we enjoy reading about other retailers involved in the mass customisation space to see how they approach challenges similar to those we face.

J. Hilburn
Based in Dallas, Texas J. Hilburn launched in 2008. 2009 revenues were US$3.25m and 2010 revenues were US$8m. They've received US$7.25m in venture capital funding from Battery Ventures.

In addition to those impressive numbers what's fascinating about J. Hilburn is they've only just launched their online clothing designer. To date their business has been primarily offline. They have a team of 800 'style advisors' across the US who visit customers in their home or office to take measurements, and help the customer design their item of clothing. The style advisors keep a commission of between 10%-30% of sales.

It's a very different model to our essentially online only approach. We're moving into our new office space at the moment (details to come, we're very excited!) and part of the space will include a showroom so we can have customers come and see our shoes in person. We've done a few offline 'shoe party' style events and they've worked out really well so while we don't plan to go down the traditional offline retailing path, a J. Hilburn offline approach is certainly something we are open to exploring further.

Interview with J. Hilburn CEO Hil Davis and President Veeral Rathod embedded below:

Hat tip to Fan Bi of Blank Label for the link and further details available on TechCrunch here.

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