The founder of Stitch Fix on appreciating the importance of people over product and how to decompress from startup life. 

By Lauren Kim (Events Coordinator, Women 2.0)

How do you build a company that will scale for your (desired) big future without drowning yourself when you are small? That’s the question Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix addresses in the Lightning Lessons video above. Read on to learn the one thing Katrina wishes she’d known at the start of the entrepreneurial journey, what book she’d recommend to founders and more!

What is the one thing you wish you knew at the start of your entrepreneurial journey?

I had to pick one thing, it would be that I don’t think I appreciated just how important people are at the beginning.  No matter how amazing your vision or your business model, you can’t write every email, can’t talk to every customer, and can’t pick every product.  You have to be able to find and invest in great people to build, evolve, and grow the vision together.

There were countless other things I didn’t know to expect when I set out to be an entrepreneur– it would take a short novel to list them all. That being said, not knowing what I didn’t know was a great thing — the ignorance enabled me to be more fearless in the pursuit of my goals.

What do you love most about your job?

I feel truly lucky to have such a rewarding job. One of my favorite parts is having the opportunity to stay close to our clients. I personally style at least five fixes a week and getting that direct exposure to our clients make my days even more motivating.  I love working with this talented team — we learn from each other, challenge each other, and have fun together.

What is your favorite or most inspiring book that you would recommend to founders and why?

We love reading at Stitch Fix. In fact, we have our own library for inspiration and continued learning! “Delivering Happiness” by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, might have been one of the most relevant books for me in my entrepreneurial journey. It had an enormous impact on my understanding of the importance of company culture and inspired me to start thinking early in Stitch Fix’s journey about ways to institutionalize shared values across the entire company.

Where is the one place you go to relax and get away from the pressures of startup life?

I love going on long runs and to yoga– both are amazing ways for me to step away from the day-to-day and think about the bigger picture of Stitch Fix.  I also do my best to totally unplug for a few consecutive days, a few times a year. I find it to be a very effective way to recharge and re-energize.

Who is your greatest role model and what would you ask them if you could meet her or him for coffee?

I’m hard-pressed to pick anyone in the abstract as an actionable role model to me it includes both personal and professional choices and values. I feel very lucky to have many mentors, colleagues, friends, family and advisors that serve as amazing role models and mentors (and are just a phone call away for coffee!).

What do you envision the future will look like in the year 2020?

Billions of Stitch Fixes! We’d like to be a valuable and trusted partner for every woman to help her look, feel, and be her best everyday.

Want to hear Katrina discuss the values of “Thinking Big While Living Small”? Watch the video above!


What is Lightning Lessons?

Lightning Lessons is a weekly live broadcast on Wednesday mornings where Women 2.0 sits down with a tech innovator to learn about the game-changing stories of their startup journey and the hard lessons they learned along the way. Take a quick 10 minutes out of your day to learn from the mistakes and feats of your predecessors. Innovators jump in a Google Hangout On Air moderated by a Women 2.0 team member for a bit of story-time and the entire session is broadcast on Google+ for your viewing pleasure. See the full lineup of past and upcoming speakers, and catch up on last week’s session with Christine Lemke (Co-Founder & COO, AchieveMint).

Read on to learn a little more about our upcoming Lightning Lessons #12 speaker.

Katrina Lake (Founder & CEO, Stitch Fix)

Katrina is passionate about helping women achieve everyday confidence. She founded Stitch Fix to help women everywhere discover and explore their style through a truly customer-focused shopping experience.

Prior to starting Stitch Fix, Katrina developed extensive experience at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology. She managed the blogger platform at venture-backed social commerce company Polyvore and consulted with a variety of e-commerce and traditional retailers during her time at The Parthenon Group. Additionally, she has invested in and worked with dozens of entrepreneurs and startups at Leader Ventures.

Katrina holds a B.S. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

laurenLauren Kim (@LaurenJisoo) currently serves as the events coordinator at Women 2.0.  Lauren holds a BA in Development Studies from U.C. Berkeley and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and women’s issues. In her spare time, she competes in hackathons and snowboards.