For customers, UsTrendy is about finding unique and one-of-a-kind designers and clothes. For designers, it’s about breaking into the fashion industry. And for UsTrendy, it’s all about inclusiveness and democracy.
In 2009, the Dig sat down with local wunderkind Sam Sisakhti to feature his then up-and-coming fashion website. Now, three years later, and the 10-person Cambridge startup is the largest independent fashion marketplace on the planet.
“That article is very near and dear to my heart,” Sisakhti says, “because it really started the whole thing.”
“I always wanted to start my own company,” says the Brandeis alum. After he graduated with a business major, he was set up with a job. “I was just not that happy. I quit my job after four days and took a trip to Vegas. My friend was there, and he was a designer, and he started telling me how tough that market could be. So I thought, that’s a business pain. A consumer should want to buy his products, and the designer should have the platform to make it happen.”
UsTrendy lets designers upload their designs, and through voting and rankings from their consumers, decide which designers appear on the homepage, receive funding, or even get sent to London Fashion Week. Even customers can win giveaways or gift cards through Pinterest contests.
The company was founded in 2008 on a different business model than the one that it adheres to today. “Back then, it was just a portfolio website: people would vote on what they liked, and we would try to then fund or support the clothing line.”
Sisakhti realized that the voting was a tease—why vote when they just wanted to buy the product directly?
It was not until Sisakhti returned to Boston in 2011 that UsTrendy established a commission revenue model where designers and customers connected directly. That same year, the company received a significant $1 million investment from one of the biggest investors in California, Tim Draper. And the rest is history, made daily.
UsTrendy disrupts the industry, and “I think that is always attractive to people,” says Sisakhti. The site does not actually hold any inventory, which makes it time scalable. Thus, they’re able to add more and more designers—currently, the website features over 14,000 designers—and the product ships directly.
UsTrendy evolved out a concept to be all-encompassing. “I wanted it to be a place where artists are liberated. Let us, the people, decide the trends.” As such, there is no approval process to get on the site.
“I really wanted to get away from this selectivity of the industry. I don’t think we should judge, and anyone should be able to come on there.”
UsTrendy also helps designers establish a social media presence, write product descriptions, give suggestions for photo-shoots, assist with price-points and get them in different magazines. UsTrendy gives thousands of dollars back to their designers.
The voting system has become a lesser component. “People still vote in different capacities,” Sisakhti explained. Most importantly, they vote with their pocketbooks—their influence in sales promotes different designers. The voting system decides which designers receive $1000 funding grants, $5000 funding grants, or who gets sent to London Fashion Week, all expenses paid, like this year’s winner, designer Kami Shade.
With UsTrendy’s revenue increasing almost 700 percent since October 2011, Sisakhti has a reason to feel good about where things are headed.
“We’re finally on the right track now, so it’s about continuing to execute the plan. We’ve just got to keep doing what we are doing.”