IMBY helps busy women live intentionally in and out of their closet. They offer a curated collection of womenswear, featuring mix-and-match, versatile, and comfortable pieces aimed at being closet heroes that help one get dressed in no time. Everything they sell is responsibly made in the USA using sustainable materials. The founder, Sara Weinreb, talks to us.
How did you develop the idea for IMBY? How did you make the decision to take the plunge and start your own company?
I came up with the idea for IMBY as a frustrated consumer. I wanted to buy clothes that were made responsibly, but they were hard to find, often not the aesthetic I was looking for, and expensive! I wanted to make a simple option to shop responsibly, one that provided fair working conditions for the people making our clothes, environmentally-friendly practices, and one that made my customers’ lives easier using the concept of capsule wardrobes— by curating high quality, versatile essentials for a lean wardrobe.As for making the plunge— I have known for a long time I would start my own company one day. When I was ready to leave my previous role and simultaneously had a snafu with my apartment and was out of a lease, I knew it was time to just do it. I had nothing to lose.
What is the scrappiest, most startup-y thing you’ve had to do to date?
There are SO many things! The first thing I think of is when, two months after launching, I was approached to do a pop-up at Bloomingdale’s. I had to quadruple my inventory for the weekend event— luckily two of my designers were willing to consign me clothes— and add hang tags to them all. I sat on the floor of my living room with my parents adding hangtags to hundreds of items of clothing. There were boxes and clothes everywhere! Then I had to take all the hang tags off of what I didn’t sell and ship them back. It was definitely a process but for a good reason!
How did you fund the business? What do you spend most of your funds on?
I started the business with a $10k loan from Kiva, and have existed solely off of that since launching. I am bootstrapping the company, which is hard as an inventory based company. I definitely spend the large majority of my funds on inventory, followed by pop-up fees and packaging supplies.
Now that you have launched, what is one thing you wish you had known and would have approached differently?
I would have taken a little more inventory risk in order to stay in stock longer. Because I am so cash-strapped, I am often buying small amounts of inventory and selling out. It’s great, but at the same time, when customers come to the site and what they want isn’t available, they go elsewhere! I also would have taken my own product photos sooner, and launched my site on Shopify from the beginning.
What has been your greatest WFIO (we’re f*****, it’s over) moment so far?
Oh wow, I love this question. I think I am delusional enough to have had a lot of confidence in the business even when times were really hard. But since I am bootstrapping, I have definitely had WFIO moments on several occasions when we are cutting it pretty close to paying the credit card bills at the end of the month. Somehow it always works out, though. Oh— and at the aforementioned Bloomingdale’s pop-up when it was one the coldest weekends in NYC history and the major advised New Yorkers not to leave their homes. That was pretty awesome.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
I am really excited to be focusing more on content for our customers, and expanding the depth of the product line. By bringing on more inventory we can serve more people and increase our cash flow, which is exciting.