How to reinvent an old fashioned shopping experience like wedding dress shopping

Today’s guest recognized that the wedding dress shopping experience could use a refresh.

But what makes her different is that she had the guts to create a brand new way of doing something old fashioned. Straight from the factory to the bride.

Leslie Voorhees Means is the co-founder of Anomalie which brings customized wedding dresses straight to the consumer.

I want to find out how she built this business.

Leslie Voorhees Means

Leslie Voorhees Means

Anomalie

Leslie Voorhees Means is the co-founder of Anomalie which brings customized wedding dresses straight to the consumer.

roll-angle

Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are, get this, they’re building their businesses. Now, if you’ve ever seen the video my interviews, you might have noticed that I’ve got a wedding ring on and buying a wedding ring was in insanely difficult. For some reason, Olivia and I argued in the car after we did it, after we went to look at my wedding ring. What we didn’t argue about was the wedding dress. It was tough. It was frustrating.

It made my wife, like, second guess should she even be buying one. Does it make sense to do it? Is this really her because it felt very old-fashioned? But I didn’t get to experience it. I noticed that she experienced it on her own with her wife, that there was an experience there that’s part of getting married. And still, today’s guest says, “You know what? I think that old experience could use a refresh.” And she has the guts to come in and say, “I’m going to offer a brand new way to do it. One that is like straight from the factory to the bride.”

And you know what? I’m not a skeptic. So I wasn’t skeptical about it, but I am the kind of person who marvels at someone who wants to redo something that is that entrenched in our lives, and I want to understand how she’s doing it and why it’s working for her. The entrepreneur behind this business, her name is Leslie Voorhees Means. It’s three names. There it is. Her company is Anomalie. I always want to Frenchify your name. I want to call it Anomalie.

Leslie: It sounds fancy. That’s fine.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s what it is actually. I feel like there’s something fancy about your brand, but I’m trying to say, “Look, this is an anomaly that what we’re trying to create. Something that’s different.” All right. And Anomalie is a company that brings customized wedding dresses direct to the consumer. I want to find out how she built up this business, and we’re going to get to do thanks to two great sponsors. The first will host your website right. It’s hosting mine. It’s called HostGator. And the second will help you hire phenomenal developers. It’s called Toptal, but I’ll tell you about them later. Leslie, good to have you here.

Leslie: Thanks. It’s great to be here.

Andrew: How much revenue are you guys producing?

Leslie: We’re over $1 million dollars in revenue. We’ve been around about a year and a half now, so we’ve sold thousands of dresses, connected with thousands of brides and business is booming.

Andrew: How much is a dress?

Leslie: Our dresses range between $1,000 to $2,000, which is less than the average dress. The bulk of the dollars in the market is in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, so we’re able to deliver boutique-level quality at a lower price point. Our average dress is $1,400 dollars, so any woman that has gone shopping for wedding dresses knows that’s shockingly low. Which is crazy that a dress that you’re going to have to only get to wear for one time, it’s so, so expensive.

Andrew: Yeah. I know that my wife was thinking, “What could we do with this now that we spent . . . ” I forget what, I think it was like $8,000 on the dress. It’s a lot.

Leslie: Yeah, they can be very expensive.

Andrew: What about what I was saying before? And I want to get into how you built up this business. But what about the idea that there’s some kind of experience there? Olivia got to take her mom in to go look at the dress and see her in the dress. She got to take pictures of it. She got to bring her best friend along? What do you do about that?

Leslie: Yes. I think that’s one of the magical parts of the Anomalie processes that we are in parallel with the current process. So right now, brides typically will visit 4, 6, 8, 10 stores to shop around and find a style that she really loves. And so brides are still able to do that even though they’re working with Anomalie.

A lot of women go shopping around, get the in-store experience with the mom or the best friends and have the champagne. And the crazy part is it’s like we’re encouraging that. We’re encouraging our customers to go to our competition essentially, and women keep coming back. And the idea is that that pain points around price and especially around customization are very real for women.

This is the most important and most emotional garment and purchase she’s ever going to make. And a lot of women take that very seriously. And, you know, from talking to thousands of brides in the last year-ish, the idea . . . We found that most women have an idea for what they want, and they just can’t find it in stores. And so with Anomalie, you can still experience shopping. We love . . . Women spend hours and hours on Pinterest doing research, trying things on. We still have a couple physical in-person elements of our experience, which I can talk through. And then the idea is that the brides just need to feel special, which is why we have . . .

Andrew: And you do that through the high-touch experience that we’ll again talk about later. I see. But you’re saying, “Look they’re still going to go into store.” Just like I, Andrew before I buy a piece of technology, I might go into the store. I actually ended up buying this cradle from my iPhone online on wish.com, but I did go into an Apple store and experience the Apple cradle.

And I do go to try it out in different stores and when I’m ready to buy, I want the right price and online gets me that. Okay, so I get how that works. Let me understand how you got to this, how you were able to build it. You’re a woman who grew up in Portland, Oregon. And like many people in Portland, you obviously knew about Nike.

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: [inaudible 00:05:30] to work for Nike, even as a kid?

Leslie: Yeah. Ever since I was a little girl, I was really passionate about the brand. And I think looking back now in my career, I worked for Apple as well. And I love being a part of the creation of physical products that people get really excited about. And yeah, Nike was always a dream. It’s a beautiful campus, a beautiful place to work, passionate about athletics, and I really, really wanted to work there ever since I was a kid.

And it’s very competitive as you can imagine. And so my mom actually recommended since I was good at math and science that I potentially pursue engineering in undergrad, which I didn’t even really know what that was. But I thought, “Well, hey, if it can give me a leg up to work at Nike, that seems like a good [path 00:06:22].”

Andrew: So you went to learn engineering just so you could work for Nike because you admired the company that much?

Leslie: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: And then you did it. You got a job at Nike. You ended up on their factory floor. I heard you were, is it the youngest person running a whole factory at Nike?

Leslie: Yeah. So I worked at Nike for five years, three of which were in Beaverton, Oregon. I was in the running group, doing product engineering, so the development of new, innovative footwear and then got a pretty cool gig as an expat, so expatriating, so I was a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia. So I actually moved and lived in Jakarta for a couple of years. And that’s where I fell, really fell in love with the factory and supply chain part of Nike. And yeah, so I had three [inaudible 00:07:11]

Andrew: It’s hard to believe that somebody’s going to fall in love with a supply chain. You talked to me before we got started. You said, “Most people don’t realize the scope of what we’re talking about.” If I were to look at a factory for the first time, what would shock me about it?

Leslie: The scope and the size is just massive. I mean . . .

Andrew: How big?

Leslie: So each Nike factory that I was working with had 50,000 people on one shift. And so if you’re picturing that you walk into a building, and it is the length of a football field, so there’s hundreds, potentially thousands of people on a manufacturing line, and then there’s multiple stories across many buildings and across many factories. So there’s hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of hands that are creating every single product. And so as . . .

Andrew: And it’s people by hands?

Leslie: Yeah, yeah. And that’s, I think, what was so crazy to me when I first set foot in a Nike factory. And then again with Apple, everything is made by hand. I think it’s maybe not as surprising for garment making that each operation is done by hand but [inaudible 00:08:14]

Andrew: No. You know what? For some reason, it is shocking to me in my head when I heard your story. I thought, “All right, there’s a factory in China that’s making these wedding dresses. You just kind of program it in and a dress comes out of the other side.” But that, you’re laughing as I say that, that’s not true. And you’re saying it’s not even true for Apple, the number one tech company. The little screws, you were telling me before we started, in the Apple watch, there’s somebody putting it in.

Leslie: Yeah. So the idea is, if you can break down this complicated process into small, unambiguous, repeatable steps, that’s how products are made. And so I’m wearing my watch, this is a product that I worked on at Apple. And I still remember, yeah, there’s a section of the line where people are using teeny tiny screwdrivers to screw in different parts of the chips and the internal parts.

And really, there are only a couple steps that use automated machinery to complete this stuff, but it’s very much done by hand. And I think that’s where the idea for this mass customization, which is what we’re working on at Anomalie, came from is the idea that we can take advantage of these step by step-by-step processes that are already in place for garments and for technology . . .

Andrew: What you did at Apple, what you did at Nike was take mass-produced products and then break down their creation into small, repeatable steps. What you’re doing at Anomalie is saying, “I’m going to create a brand new dress for every woman. They could have their own idea on it.” How do you then say, “I could actually create a repeatable process for that”?

Leslie: Yeah. It’s a good question. And this is kind of our secret sauce is that one of the things that we’ve discovered very quickly is wedding dresses are uniquely low variable. So compared to other items in the fashion world, they’re not as susceptible to trends. They have longer product life cycles. So the styles of wedding dresses don’t actually change that much over time. Like, I think about my mom’s dress in the ’80s had the big poufy sleeves that was all ivory. It was still a fitted bodice. It was still an A-line silhouette for the skirt. It was, you know, . . .

Andrew: You’re saying the components that are similar, but you know what? I’ve been reading about this strangely because I think The New York Times and even The Wall Street Journal are writing articles about how women are showing more in their wedding dress. Like, in fact on Anomalie’s website, there’s a woman with an exposed midriff in her wedding dress, which was never a thing before or more cleavage. That’s not enough of a difference to basically have you recreate the dress every time?

Leslie: Yeah. So the idea is by being really involved in the factory operations, we’re rearranging the way the factory is laid out so we can take a modular approach to the dress creation. And so the idea is that most of the core components of the dress don’t change very much over time. So for color, it’s going to be white or ivory or potentially there’s some blush, champagne colors. Fabrics, there’s a limited number of fabrics.

Skirt silhouettes, there’s 13 core silhouettes that we work with. There’s five bodice constructions. And so by using this almost paper doll plug and play operation in the factory, we can offer tons and tons of permutations and combinations to customers. And in reality, on the back end, a lot of the components of the dress look very, very similar.

Andrew: And that’s one of your specialties. You personally, Leslie, are good at saying, “Here is this big complicated end product. I’m going to find a way to break it down into small steps. And if it’s a menu of steps because it’s a dress that someone can customize, fine versus a repeatable shoe that no one can customize at Nike.”

Leslie: Yeah. And we’re trying to think of instead of customers choosing SKUs, choosing a product off of a website or from a line of clothes, you’re choosing variables, which sounds I think a little bit harder. But at scale, we’re seeing a lot of cool trends with what women are ordering. And although women are coming to us, they want something unique and different. The secret is actually the dresses aren’t that different from one another.

Andrew: Okay, so I read I think at The New York Times or TechCrunch, actually, frankly, at probably everywhere that you came up with this idea because you got engaged, you had to buy a dress, you saw the process. You said, “Look, in some stores, I’m not even allowed to take pictures, and so there’s got to be a better way.” Is that an origin story like Netflix famous origin story about Apollo 13 rental from Blockbuster, or is this a real thing?

Leslie: Yeah, it was absolutely real. Yeah, this came out of a personal pain point. I was not expecting to be running a wedding dress company. I loved working for big companies like Apple and Nike. And it was shocking to me that, you know, I was shopping for my dress in 2016, and there’s no online options. There was everything was incredibly expensive. There’s no pricing transparency. It was just crazy to me that no one had a better solution. And then also from a business perspective, that no one had really thought about this before.

Andrew: So this is your first time getting into . . . You know what actually? That happens to me sometimes. I go away from my high tech world where everyone’s got some kind of app and solution that’s a digital solution for everything, and then I end up in like a dentist’s office. And I go back in time and I go, “Why are they still doing it this way? Why do they still have, not DOS, but like Windows XP? Why do I have to fill out a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a form telling them what my name is instead of just doing it online where they could actually read my responses?” And that’s what you had. You had this experience of like going back in time and saying, “Wait a minute, this could be better.”

Leslie: Yeah. And I think I would encourage other entrepreneurs that are thinking about, you know, starting something. Just note that and be aware of that when you’re like, “How is this still, you know, how is it 2018 and I’m doing it in this way?” Because there are a lot of secrets and pain points still left in the world. And I think it doesn’t . . . New companies don’t have to be derivations of existing business models. It can be something completely new and different like what we’re doing with buying . . . Who would buy their wedding dress online? Well, it turns out a lot of women are okay with that.

Andrew: Now, Leslie, I never really watched a Larry King episode from start to finish. But now that I’m sitting down because I hurt my leg in a running injury, I’m noticing myself do this Larry King thing where he moved his elbows and leaned in close. I guess there is . . . It’s about the position that I’m sitting in and now I understand why he does it. You want to really, like, listen to the person.

I don’t want to become Larry King, but I can see myself in a little screen do it. “Let’s go. Chicago, question for Leslie. Hit it.” You also are analytical, and you said you had to have some point, said, “Here is the math behind this. Here’s the opportunity.” How did you analyze the opportunity from a business perspective?

Leslie: Yeah, I think from a savvy business person would look for a market that has existing high margins and unhappy customers. Which is why the wedding dress market is so ripe for disruption, I think. One of my VP of ops actually made a really cool comparison to video rentals in the early 2000s, where you’ve got one massive player, Blockbuster. For wedding dresses, it’s David’s Bridal, which is a 35% or 40% market share. Just crazy.

And then lots and lots of independent, fragmented, mom-and-pop boutiques, and the video rental cases all of these independent mom-and-pop video stores. And so on the surface, it didn’t look like that great of a market, but there’s, obviously with Netflix coming in, there’s something else there. And I think that bridal and wedding dresses have been overlooked and that people have left this industry for dead, but there’s real gold here.

Not necessarily analytically with this connection to women but we really see this as a gateway to connecting with women for this very important garment. And so, I mean, numerically, it’s, I think, it’s really interesting because of the high margins that already exists. There’s no pricing transparency, so we can come in and still get a healthy margin and offer much lower prices to our customers.

Andrew: So it’s dominated by a player that hasn’t evolved in the last . . . Hasn’t become digital in the last, well, since they started?

Leslie: Well, and they’re also failing. Like they’re on bankruptcy watch right now. It’s just crazy. There’s going to be a reckoning in this industry. And I think . . .

Andrew: How big is the industry? The wedding dress industry?

Leslie: The wedding dress industry is $4 or $5 billion a year, which also is kind of an interesting aspect of this. It’s not massive. So someone like Amazon isn’t going to be interested in that right now. It’s too small and it’s too difficult. These are, like amazing, our customers are amazing, but they’re tough. And it’s high touch, it’s highly customized, and so it’s not something that a big Amazon or Walmart player is going to go into right now. And what we love about it is that incumbents like the mom-and-pop boutiques can’t really compete with us. David’s Bridal can’t move online. They have 300 stores. They have this they’re betting on brick and mortar. And so . . .

Andrew: I see it actually. I see an article here about how their debt was downgraded over potential default. And so when you’re dealing with that, it’s too hard to compete with a new player. In fact, Blockbuster was facing that kind of situation too, constantly restructuring their debt when Netflix came into the video rentals space.

Leslie: It’s amazing if you look at the market cap too. So when Blockbuster at its peak was $10 or $11 billion in revenue and their valuation was I think less than that just because it was such a bad model. And Netflix has a very similar amount of revenue around $10 million and it’s valued at, you know, $150. It’s $10x or something. It’s wild just based on they came in and saw a way to centralize operations and make this asset light version of Blockbuster and now they have a much higher, higher valuation.

Andrew: All right, trying to find that market fast . . . Market cap fast as we’re [inaudible 00:19:20]

Leslie: Yeah, I said $100. I think it’s $10x but it’s significantly higher than what they were originally starting out to do, which was be an online version of Blockbuster and now . . .

Andrew: How much of this were you doing this analysis did you do before you launched, and how much did you do?

Leslie: Oh no. Not very much at all. This is, I think, has come up over the past year and a half, which like gets us more and more excited about the opportunity. I would be lying if I said we did a lot of analysis at the beginning.

Andrew: Okay. It was just a sense that this is an old-fashioned business that I’m walking into here. None of the things that I’m used to exists here in like online shopping and so on. And then it was also this sense that, “Hey, this is a fragmented market. The player who’s number one is not scaring me. We could come in here and we could do something”?

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And then you did do some tests to make sure that you’re on the right track. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then come back in here and do this. All right. My first sponsor is a company called HostGator. Have you heard of HostGator, Leslie?

Leslie: Not until today [inaudible 00:20:18].

Andrew: Here’s the thing about HostGator. They let you host just about anything. And frankly, most people who are going to use them are going to use them for WordPress one-click install. But if you want to do other things like Magento and so on, you can do it. They have this plan that I really like for my audience that allows you to have unlimited domains. I’m going to give you a few ideas of what someone with unlimited domains could do.

I interviewed a company called LessAccounting. They had accounting software. They said, “You know what? People hate QuickBooks. Let’s find all the negativity about QuickBooks, and we’re going to create a site . . . ” I think it was called something like it was probably a curse word in it, but it was something like ihatequickbooks.com, with a curse word somewhere thrown in there because that’s who the founders were. And it was just all this outpouring of negativity complete with links over to Twitter so you could see what people are honestly saying about QuickBooks.

I interviewed a company that had a business to help you find your next beautiful home, but they had a website called Sucky Houses or Crap Houses where it just showed all the bad houses. I interviewed another entrepreneur who had site selling brands, and he had a website, a sister website, with all the sites and brands that suck that he could find. The reason I bring this up is we think of creative marketing as an interesting blog post. We think of creating marketing is an interesting thing we say to a reporter, and hopefully, the reporter picks it up and goes with it.

But sometimes, it could just be a website with ugly this or beautiful that that makes a statement because it’s a standalone thing. And if you have a domain hosting package that allows you to create unlimited sites and maybe just riff on this stuff. Just like you could now if you have a blog idea, you could just go write a blog post. Just like if you have an idea for something to tweet, you can go tweet it out.

When you have unlimited domains as part of your hosting plan, when you come up with an idea in the morning in the shower within an hour, it’ll be up and running. That’s what I like about HostGator. They’re the number one hosting company out there for many reasons. If you’re looking to host a new website or frankly have a package lets you host unlimited websites, you can go to hostgator.com/mixergy, where you’ll be giving me credit for introducing you to it, which helps me, and I appreciate it, and you’ll get a discount that’s up to 62% off their already low prices.

I’m going, to be honest with you guys, I’m not the only person offering the 62% discount. If you do enough Googling, you can find somebody else offering it. So you’re not going to this URL because you’re going to get a bigger discount than you could if you’re smart enough to Google. You’re doing it because you’re going to get a great hosting company, you’re going to get a good price, and you’re going to give me credit for introducing you to hostgator.com/mixergy. How’s that for truth in advertising?

Leslie: Good.

Andrew: You did go to your friends. I actually copied and showed this to my whole team, this thing that you said to Forbes. Do you remember what it is about, they asked you, “What’s the number one business advice you have for young professional women?” I’m going to say this is for everyone. Young, old, men, women. I’m going to read it back to you, and I want to know how you did this. You said, “If you have an idea and want to start a startup, spend every possible second creating a product and trying to sell it to your friends. If your friends aren’t paying you money for the product, then you should rethink your idea because strangers probably won’t either.” True?

Leslie: Yes, yeah.

Andrew: How did you live this? I mean, again, it came from us not originally thinking that this was going to be a big business. It truly was a personal pain point. And so back up a little bit, so when I was making my dress, I was still working for Apple at the time and I was over in China a lot and discovered the city kind of next door to the Apple Watch factories which is Suzhou, China, which makes 80% of the world’s wedding dresses.

And I think the light bulb really went off for me when I saw a dress that would retail for thousands and thousands of dollars in the U.S. costs only a couple hundred to make in China. And so I selfishly was just focused on my dress journey and made my dress and partnered with a great factory and mentioned it to a couple girlfriends. And that’s where like things really grew very quickly because . . .

Andrew: I’m sorry. I want to make sure that I understand this.

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: Already, 80% of the world’s dresses were being made in factories in China. The idea that I thought that they were doing it at stores or in Europe, that’s not true.

Leslie: There are a lot of even the high-end designers still manufacturer in China. I think China has a little bit of a bad rep because there . . . And there are low-quality dresses that are made in China. There are also the best dresses are made in China. They have this amazing silk heritage and expertise and fabric supply chain and beading and lace applique and just this beautiful supply chain that is not really utilized. A lot of the big brands are manufacturing there, but no one has done a direct, like, vertically integrated [inaudible 00:25:10].

Andrew: And you went there for yourself?

Leslie: Oh yeah.

Andrew: I didn’t read . . . I don’t know how I missed this in the research. You had your dress made in China in a factory just for you. They’ll do one-off?

Leslie: Yeah, there’s lots of retail shops that have kind of factories in the back. So it’s not like . . . So the story goes, the Warby guys when they were creating Warby Parker found Luxottica, which is this massive player that makes most of the world’s eyeglasses, and it’s not the case with wedding dresses. There’s lots and lots of smaller workshops because it is so much of it is done by hand.

And so you can just walk into some of the shops and check out the dresses and the styles. And so I ended up asking more questions than probably the average shopper because I love factories and found one of the bigger partners that create dresses for international brands and was just so impressed with the quality and then also the customization aspect. So we were getting married on New Year’s Eve. I wanted a long sleeve dress which is really, really difficult to find and wanted lots of flowers and handwork, which would have been, I think, five figures if I bought it in the U.S. $10,000 or more. And so I was able to make something that I was really excited about with this one factory and [inaudible 00:26:31]

Andrew: This is your wedding on dressanomalie.com/about?

Leslie: I’m not sure. It should be.

Andrew: But it’s on your site somewhere?

Leslie: Yeah, yeah it is.

Andrew: Okay. So you went in and you said, “This is one of the biggest factories, so I know that they know what they’re doing. I like their work.” Everybody who I interviewed who sells physical products has some nightmare situation around creation. You didn’t have that with your first dress?

Leslie: No, no. I think overall with outsourced manufacturing is you need to be really, really involved. So last year I spent, I think 125 days in China. So I was there a lot. And this year we’re building up a team. We’ve hired some people in Hong Kong. We’ve expanded to southern China.

Andrew: For your own dress, did you go on the floor? Did you watch as they did this? You did?

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: And you’re saying that’s why . . . That’s what separates you from someone who just finds someone on Alibaba, maybe goes and visits them once and that’s . . .

Leslie: You can Google this. And there are tons of horror stories, especially before we established some customers is people order their wedding dresses from China online on Amazon. The pictures are beautiful and then the dress arrives and it looks like crap. And the idea is to have a trusted source in China on the manufacturing floor. I think that’s why people get really excited because it’s . . .

Andrew: You speak Mandarin?

Leslie: I don’t.

Andrew: You don’t? So then how are you able to communicate to them?

Leslie: Yeah, that’s another common misconception I think with working with Chinese vendors. All of our account managers, we work with three different vendors, soon to be four, all of the account managers speak English, which is almost like a good vetting tool. You know that they’re more sophisticated, more established, a little bit more professional, the quality is a little bit better. They’re a little bit more expensive, but the quality is also good. And so I’ve gotten along very, very well knowing, embarrassingly, little Chinese.

Andrew: Leslie, I got some writing from one of our writers yesterday. I sat down at my iPad, I gave her feedback. I realized a lot of it is negative, and they said, “I better start by acknowledging all the things that are good at the top of the Google Docs. I’m not deflating her before I tell her what I think could be changed.” And that’s like an American thing. I wonder what there is about Chinese culture that you know about giving feedback without offending people, without losing focus? What is it that you do differently than we would?

Leslie: Yeah, culturally, I think all the account managers that I work with are very blunt. And any Chinese person would tell you that their feedback can be very straightforward, very direct, and sometimes a little bit blunt. Like I’ve had a woman say, like, “Oh, you’re, like, did you have a good holiday? You’re looking a little fatter.” It’s like, “Well, you can’t say that.” So we’re teaching each other about cultural norms on both sides. But I think . . .

Andrew: But you can be blunt with them. You could say, “I asked for flowers not,” I don’t know, “not leaves on my sleeve.” You could just say things like that

Leslie: Yeah. You have to be very direct. And I think very because there is language barriers. It has to be very black and white what our instructions are and I think that’s, you know, tapping back into my experience at Apple and Nike is like every single process has a very clear recipe for every single step, and what the tolerances are and what’s acceptable and what’s not. And if you stick to that, everyone’s happy.

Andrew: All right, you found the factory. You had your dress, you got married. New Year’s Eve, you get married? Yep.

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: You did the ball drop and everything with the countdown at the end [inaudible 00:30:10]. You did, okay.

Leslie: Oh yeah, it was a party. And originally, so when my husband and I had our full-time job [inaudible 00:30:19] doing a really nice honeymoon in Bora Bora. And then that got downgraded when we quit our jobs and started, you know, working off of a startup salary. And so we’re going to do a road trip and then the TechCrunch article came out like two weeks before our wedding and we just had a massive amount of inbound requests, and so we rerouted our honeymoon to China. And so the day after our wedding, we both hopped on a plane and went to China. So . . .

Andrew: To what city?

Leslie: We went to Hangzhou first, which is the silk capital and then move to Shanghai and Suzhou so and spent most of last year in China as well.

Andrew: So you guys knew you were going to do this. And what I alluded to earlier was you went to your friends and you tried to sell them on dresses. How many friends do you have who even need wedding dresses?

Leslie: I mean, so I’m 32. I started the company when I was 30, almost 31. And it was the age when a lot of people in our network were getting married. And my assumption was that other women were feeling the same frustrations that I had, which is, why am I paying $5,000 for a dress with a brand that I’ve never even heard of and I can’t quite get what I want? I can’t quite find what I love in a boutique. And so I mentioned it to really just kind of a couple friends and then friends of friends emailed within a week. And then the next week, it was friends of friends of friends. So it was like three degrees [inaudible 00:31:50]

Andrew: How did you present it? Did you say I’m starting a company to do this? Or I’ve got a connection in China? Would you want it? Was it something else?

Leslie: It was more just like, “Hey, there’s this city over here that has incredible dresses. They’re really inexpensive. Like, this is crazy that no one else sees this. And I think the initial trust being on the ground there helped a lot. So it was a lot of inbound questions like, “How much would this cost to make? Could you find a factory that would do this?” Like, “What do you think about this?” So and that’s what built up the original Anomalie process, which is like photo sharing. So women are going shopping, women are going on Pinterest, and the idea is you share your photos with us and we can make that idea come to life.

Andrew: Who’s Rachel who was working with you?

Leslie: Rachel.

Andrew: The reason I say that is because you told our producer . . . Our producer said, “What’s the first step you took?” You said, “Well, first of all, I offered this to my friends. I . . . ”

Leslie: Oh my God, this is so embarrassing. So Rachel, this is a fun tip. I don’t know if we’ve like said this publicly before. So it was just me and Calley at the start, just me and my husband, and we wanted to seem more legitimate as a company. And so we made up an extra email address, who was Rachel, who is not a real person, but you can email Rachel if you are interested in the dress. We threw up just . . .

Andrew: At Squarespace site.

Leslie: Squarespace site and, yeah. I mean we were bootstrapping at the . . .

Andrew: You told our producer it was a shitty Squarespace site. I went to look at it, it’s not bad. But I get what you’re doing here. There’s nothing on here. Here’s a picture of a beautiful dress, which I can’t see because I don’t have access to it, and a couple of sentences describing what it is, a quote from someone who’s skeptical that this would actually work but then ended up being pleasantly surprised. And then a bunch of options to speak to our concierge who, as I look at it, is referring to Rachel and that’s it. The email address that goes to the two of you.

Leslie: Yeah, we actually had some problems early on because there would be back and forth with Rachel, who would either be me or my husband, and then someone would call in and it would be . . . They would talk to me but ask for Rachel and then, you know, be disappointed that they’re talking to me and not Rachael because they’ve established this rapport. But I think the idea is like, you’ve got to bootstrap to start.

And that was like, really, really important to testing. We didn’t think about fundraising. We didn’t think about branding or PR, making this beautiful website. I mean, so the original dresses, we started with just a handful of dresses and coerced a couple of our friends who were Soul Cycle instructors. So really beautiful women to wear the dress and convinced a friend to take pictures for a couple hundred bucks to start the site. And one of the dresses was my dress. And so my husband actually like saw my dress before the wedding.

It was dragged around the streets of San Francisco. My mom had to remove gum from, like, the train before I wore it for my . . . She was like, “Of course, we’ve got to show the best example of our work. So it wasn’t any sort of, like, let’s make a bunch of these and like have a professional photo shoot to start it. It was like, “Hey, let’s start this minimum viable product just like a couple dresses and this bare bones website.” And it was clear that women really, really wanted to get involved. And so it grew from . . .

Andrew: And the first ones were your friends, then friends of friends and it started to expand from there. TechCrunch wrote about you guys, did you get any sales from TechCrunch?

Leslie: A lot. Yeah. [inaudible 00:35:34]

Andrew: You did. TechCrunch, actually. Wow. Okay.

Leslie: Like a ton of people. And I think it was great for us early on as a company because we didn’t have WeddingWire reviews, and we didn’t have great word of mouth from weddings that had actually happened. And so the first set of customers were women that were a little bit more open to tech innovations or doing something a little bit differently. And for every single, you know, one of those customers, we assumed that they were 10, 20, 30 in the background kind of waiting to see what happen. Like, “Is this too good to be true.” And now, I mean, now we have this amazing organic growth if you go to our Instagram. We’ll never have to have a photoshoot thankfully ever again because it’s just full of our real customers on the happiest days . . .

Andrew: And they have professional photographers to take . . . right. Versus . . .

Leslie: Yeah, professional. Hair professional makeup, it’s the best day ever, and like . . .

Andrew: And they just post their pictures and you ask to post it on or got it on your Instagram. I think your Instagram . . .

Leslie: There’s this cool community and like content community that’s happened to which we weren’t originally planning on or betting on but has become really important to our business as well. If you look at other companies that are doing this well, like Glossier and Outdoor Voices, it’s like we see the value of not just the e-commerce but this content in this community.

Andrew: Okay, let me take a moment talk about my second sponsor. The thing, Leslie, about you is that you knew how to create this, you had fewer problems than other people because you had so much experience working with factories. Which is why you didn’t come up with like the basic problems that other people had come up against. Boy I see so many people on Kickstarter and Indiegogo with like stuff that they think they could launch, and then they end up with these headaches. I’m trying to contact a Mixergy fan who had a really successful Indiegogo campaign, but he can’t get his stuff delivered, just to like check in with him and see if he’s sane. I don’t think he’s sane right now.

The reason that you were able to have such a good experience is because you’ve done this so many times. What Toptal wants to do is and they have been doing this now for years is say, “Let’s find the developers who are at that place too. They’ve done this so long. They’re so good at it that they don’t have the amateur mistakes anymore. They have the years of experience working on high-end problems and solving them for top clients. That’s all we want in our network. And if anyone out there is looking to hire a developer and you want them to have that kind of experience, and you want them to be vetted by people who are, frankly, a little maniacs, the people at Toptal are like that.

They are maniacs to the point where the founder looks at every pixel on his website. They’re maniacs to the point where I actually recorded a program with them for Mixergy with one of their people about hiring. It was nothing but a puff piece. And they said, “No, we don’t want it.” I go, “Why not?” “It exposes our process. We’re really maniacal about making sure that our process for hiring stays our own process, and this guy revealed it. No.” They’re maniacs about every detail.

And so if you want that kind of maniacal attention to detail on your side, here’s what I urge you to do. Don’t sign up and hire from Toptal. Just go to the URL I’m about to give you, hit the green button, and then you’re going to get to talk to someone from Toptal. Tell them how you work, tell them what you’re looking for, challenge them to find you the best of the best developers.

And then frankly, if you have any questions about why the best of the best developers are better than cheaper developers, then actually, in that case, don’t even go to them. If you’re at a point where you don’t know the difference, you probably shouldn’t talk to Toptal. Go look at a cheapo site. But if you know the difference, challenge them to show you that they do have the best of the best developers for you. All right. Here’s a URL where this time you are going to get something that they’re not giving anyone else.

Mixergy listeners are going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. If at the end of the period you are not 100% satisfied, you will not be billed. Think about that. They’re still going to pay the developer, but you’re not going to be billed. That’s how confident they are that they’re going to set you up with great developers. And it’s top as in the top of your head, tal as in talent, T-O-P-T-A-L.com/mixergy. toptal.com/mixergy.

You raised a little bit of money after the whole article came out and then you told our producer, our producer said, “So what do you do with that money?” You said, “I hired another service person.” What is the service person and why is that such a major thing that you jumped on that hire?

Leslie: Yeah, it was about managing customers. So back to what I said in the beginning, this has to be a high-touch experience. And it can’t feel like you’re interacting with a website or a computer. It has to be there’s another person on the other side of this that’s going to be an advocate for you, for your dress. And so we . . . A lot of our first hires, probably first 10 hires were, I think, very, very overqualified customer service agents. So they’re women from Google and McKinsey and Zenefits and some really great operators that everyone started on the phones. I was the original stylist.

I think, and actually, that would be a recommendation for other people looking to start something too is you have to get to know your customers. And so it wasn’t that we hired people to create the structure. It was like, “Let’s get people on the phone. Let’s talk to these brides. Let’s understand what they want, and then it grew from there. And so it was really flat and really, really focused on customer service. And then I was the operations person on the ground in the factory for most of the year last year.

Andrew: So for the first website that I saw, it was people contacting you guys via email and then you working with them one on one to create their ideal dress. That is very intense process. How do you go from that to something that’s a little less intense or maybe do you keep it that way? Do you decide . . . In my mind, I think about how do I cut people out? Maybe you decided differently that, “How do I keep people in?”

Leslie: Yeah, it’s a good question. Overall, I don’t ever plan to automate away the stylist role just because again, it is so important. That being said, there are so many ways tech can help with this connection. So in terms of our efficiencies, we’re looking at how long does it take to prepare the bride for the factory? And then also how many brides can one stylist manage but it’s still feeling like a very, very high touch experience? And so in the beginning in the early days, everything was very, very non-automated, unoptimized.

People were . . . So we sent fabric swatches to our customer and the story that we like to tell us back in the old days it was me and the original three stylists cutting, with pinking shears, cutting out little pieces of fabric and putting them in envelopes and sending them to the customer. Where somewhere in the middle of that ideally, you know, in six months or a year we’re going to have a drop ship factory somewhere that a warehouse that can manage the [inaudible 00:42:34]

Andrew: You’re just saying . . . And I guess it’s because the margins are so big that you do have enough money to do customer service at that high end, and you’re going to continue to do it. And then at what point . . . How do you know what you’re going to automate like this drop ship sample example?

Leslie: Yeah, yeah. Well, that has not been done yet because I don’t think that’s going to earn back dollars for us at this point. I think, I mean, we subscribe to the Y Combinator kind of approach, which is do things that don’t scale. Just focus on customer management and having a really, really strong connection with that. And by just our accelerated growth, we’ve squeezed out efficiencies. And I think it’s where do you spend the least amount of engineering resources for the biggest wins?

Andrew: Like what? What’s an example of some place where you did spend some resource?

Leslie: Like automated messaging. So brides are asking the same questions at the same time about the same thing. And so we have canned responses. We use FreshDesk for our communication with our customers. And there are canned responses that you can just click a button and it says, “Hi Bride?” Like, “These are the answers to your questions.” Like, “Looking forward to connect,” and then it types out the whole email for you and you can just send that. So rather than taking 20 minutes, 30 minutes to type out this detailed email [inaudible 00:43:53]

Andrew: That’s so basic.

Leslie: . . . every single time, you just click a button and cuts the time, you know, almost 100%. And there’s so many. I mean, anyone that started a startup knows that there’s just opportunities all over the place, low hanging fruit everywhere and it’s just about choosing where are you going to get the most bang for your buck right now?

Andrew: You know, I became a limited partner in a fund called Hustle Fund. Their whole thing is we’re going to get data from all of our portfolio companies, and we’re going to analyze it, and we’re going to pick the ones that are doing really well. And I thought, “There’s going to be this intense data gathering operation. How did they do it?” I was at the party to announce it. And it was, “Here’s the intern,” and I talked to the intern. I said, “How are you getting all this data? She said, “I pull it in from Zapier.

We get it from GitHub because we understand that people have more commits in GitHub are much better, they’re much better iterating their product. People who iterate fast are much more likely to do well. And so that’s one way that we do and we put in a Spreadsheet from Google Docs.” I’m like, “This is it? I thought it was like more magic, more custom,” and that’s what you’re telling me too. Freshdesk is one way that you automate?

Leslie: Oh, we have so many Google Docs. I mean all of our production . . .

Andrew: So it’s Freshdesk, Google Docs and I’m guessing Zapier?

Leslie: Yeah. We don’t use Zapier, but we love Domo too. We use Domo for a lot of our data visualization. I mean it’s, yeah, it’s very manual to start, but the idea is . . .

Andrew: So how are you a tech company? What makes you and I feel like you are, but how? Or maybe I’m wrong?

Leslie: Yeah, I know. We definitely see ourselves as a tech company, and I think it’s preparing for scale. And just because things we’re using, you know, these simple products like Google Docs to manage our production schedule, we have to be, I mean, we have limited resources. Just because we’re not bootstrapping anymore and we have venture capital funding doesn’t mean we still need to be really, really careful with our engineering resources and focus them on the most important projects. And if you can get along okay with the current solutions, I think that’s good. It also helps you refine like what’s working, what’s not, rather than spending a bunch of time and resources on developing a product that you don’t really know what . . .

Andrew: Like what? Where did you finally actually put in more development resources to allow you to go from customer to factory?

Leslie: Yeah, so our customer dashboard was pretty bare bones for a very, very long time. The customer signs up on our website and then gets dropped into this dashboard that was really, really simple and there were almost no features. And the idea is we can muscle it through with just having this not beautiful interface, and we’re really, really focused on growth and getting people into the funnel.

And what we’ve seen by just in the last month, we rolled out a hearting feature so you can like heart photos to automatically upload photos into your dashboard, into your lookbook. It looks like Pinterest. And before less than 1% of women were doing that immediately when they got dropped into their dashboard. And we saw that when a woman uploads a photo, they’re 90% more likely to buy a dress. So we’re like, how do we make it much easier to upload a photo.

And so we threw all the engineering resources at it, made this hearting feature and now close to 50% of women when they sign up and get dropped into our site, upload a photo. So it’s like wins like that need like 10x kind of wins to devote engineering resources, or else it’s just kind of going through with these clunky Google Sheets to figure it out.

Andrew: Okay. All right. That makes a lot of sense. I like that specific example. You know, speaking of things that don’t scale. You had the situation where a dress was . . . Do you use the word constructed for dress?

Leslie: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Okay, so a dress was constructed. It actually was wrong. There was a mistake and it arrived, I guess . . . Well, here’s what you did. Do you know the story that I’m talking about?

Leslie: Not sure.

Andrew: Okay. Here’s what you did.

Leslie: Probably it’s going to involve me getting on a plane?

Andrew: Yes. You got on a plane. You flew to China. You fixed the dress to get it out to them.

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: This was with the idea that I’m going to go to China and I’ll do something else anyway, so I might as well be there.

Leslie: No, no. It was for this particular dress.

Andrew: It was one customer.

Leslie: Yeah. Well, the crazy thing, it’s a double-edged sword working with brides, right? Like this is a very, very important event for a lot of women. And we think of our business as zero failure. We can’t we can’t ever miss a wedding. We can’t ever let down a customer.

Andrew: But you’re running the business. Do you in the back of your head think what’s the math behind this? Do you think in the back of your head how much time am I missing at the office versus flying out? Do you do that?

Leslie: No. Oh a little bit but it doesn’t it doesn’t matter because we are, every single customer, we have to absolutely like delight her because we know that she’s going to tell 10 other people and there’s this crazy [inaudible 00:49:04]

Andrew: So you don’t need the math behind it. You just know if I do this and please the customer, we’re going to get more. By the way, speaking of, I’m the kind of person who still you’re a nice person. I like you, we’re only having you on here because I want to learn from you and still I tried to find people who are angry at you, hated your company. I did a search for Anomalie sucks, and then I ended up with like all these random people who misspelled Anomalie, and they’re talking about something else. And I said dresses Anomalie suck. And you know what I ended up with?

Everything that’s like totally positive for you. Like here’s one. This is a Reddit post which is usually just full of anger, which I like. I want that [inaudible 00:49:38] prepared for my guest. And it was, “I’m a smaller petite woman. I cannot imagine what dress shopping is like. If you don’t fit into a size 10 sample, I have very good idea of what I want.” This is perfect for you, right? “V front and back, full lace, long sleeve, chunkier boho lace,” I don’t even know what that means. “I can’t find it anywhere. Okay, I found one but I’m worried that the lace design on the one about the one that I found and I’ve been to five stores and everywhere.”

Turns out the response was, “Hey, guess what? There’s this place called Anomalie. Go check them out.” And that’s how they came up in my search result. There was another person who says, “Wedding dress sucks if you’re a bigger woman, a plus size woman.” And then the response was, “Well, here’s how we do it.” So I get it. I get that people are resonating with this and that I can’t find any negativity which is hard.

Leslie: Yeah, we, I mean, we take this seriously. And I think I hate the word culture. I think culture is overused. But if you were to bottle up the culture at Anomalie, it is extreme customer empathy. And we are doing whatever it takes to make sure that we’re delivering a product that people are really, really excited about. And that’s how you become a big company. It’s not lots and lots of apathetic customers. It’s a smaller group of really, really passionate customers, and we’ve seen that grow so, so quickly just within the last year.

And yeah, we want our customers to know we’ll do whatever it takes and sometimes that does involve less than less. I don’t remember the last time I hopped on a plane to go fix a dress. But the idea is again, we’re like, you know, plane engines or heart-rate monitors, like, we can’t . . . It’s a very, very important item and we’re going to do what it takes to make sure that people are excited about it.

Andrew: By the way, the way that she ends her post here, I just saw it. I think this is from two days ago. She says I’ve had two glasses of wine after going to two shops today. “I’m obviously frustrated with the process at this point . . . ” And here’s the phrase that stuck out for me. “At this point, I think I’m going to just take a chance and go with Anomalie.” And so it takes a chance. There’s still a take a chance and go with your company, Leslie, right?

Leslie: Yeah, yeah. That was . . .

Andrew: You know that everyone who’s coming in is they’re scared. They’re taking a risk?

Leslie: Yeah. I think, well, one part of it is it just shows how broken the industry is.

Andrew: How painful it is. That’s the thing. That the fact that they’re coming to you with it, they’re willing to take a chance on their wedding day shows that the rest of the options just suck that badly.

Leslie: Yeah. And then the second part is like a call to action for me as a CEO. It’s like, how do we make this experience feel less of a risk?

Andrew: What do you think you’re going to do?

Leslie: I mean, keep posting the photos. We have more weddings this summer than we have in the entire history of the company. And so keep showing our product and our happy customers. I think the social community of that is really, really important. And then I think there are ways that we can do things in person plus online that we haven’t really explored yet. We are unapologetically like a digital company and the process is online. But we’ve seen really great success with San Francisco brides just coming into our office. We never like planned on having people come over, but they’ll DMS on Instagram. Like, “Hey, can we come over to the office? I want to meet my stylist.” And the stylists love it. And I think . . .

Andrew: That’s what happened with Warby Parker. The founder told me people would just come into their office where they had a set of glasses and then they realized, “You know what? Let’s open up stores.”

Leslie: Yeah. And I think we can do that profitably. We’ve got great concentration in bigger cities like San Francisco and New York, and Chicago and Seattle and we don’t need expensive foot traffic retail space. So first floor kind of thing, we can have it be on the fifth floor, people make appointments, and I think we could have samples and do it in an inexpensive way that could reassure customers a little bit more. Because if so many women are coming to us and going through the process even with a completely digital experience, I think we can just add and grow this even more with like a pop-up concept.

Andrew: All right. What about this? There’s another thing I’ve highlighted this in my notes to come back to you. At one point, you said, “If you want to spend significant quality time with your family, children, friends or spouse, you shouldn’t do it, meaning entrepreneurship.” This is the advice given by Y Combinator and I think it’s true. I don’t think there are any, or I don’t think there are many successful companies where the founders weren’t obsessed with success to an unhealthy degree? You got married, how many nights a week would you say you’re spending with your husband on average?

Leslie: I mean, so our situation is a little bit crazy because I’m married to my co-founder.

Andrew: And you’re working with him?

Leslie: Yeah. And I’m working with him, which I would also not recommend for everyone. It’s funny because people say, like, “How has it been being married to your founder?” And it’s like, “Well, that’s the entirety of our marriage, so we don’t really know what a normal marriage looks like anyway. But I also don’t understand how people do it without their partner because it is so all-encompassing in a way that I can’t even really describe. And so it’s really cool that we get to hang out all day every day together and, like, work on this work on this together.

But, I mean, for people that aren’t doing this with their significant other, it is hard. And I think it’s the most fulfilling thing that I’ve ever done, but I don’t . . . I also don’t want to sugarcoat it in that it is just completely all-consuming all day every day. We’ve, I think, are really lucky with our friends and family who are super supportive, but we don’t do really anything else except this. There’s no work-life balance.

Andrew: Before I knew that Mixergy’s focus would be on tech companies, I remember interviewing a woman, I can’t think of her name right now, who had a retail collection of stores that did really well. And I asked her about how she, like, what she had to sacrifice to get there. And she said, “Well, if you look at me, you see,” I’m paraphrasing. It was something like, “You see photos of me and my dogs a lot. You don’t see kids, I had to give that up.” And she didn’t say it with any kind of regret but I wondered if I was a better interviewer, I would have asked her that, but I wasn’t back then. Would you regret it? Would you, do think looking back that you’re postponing kids because of this, regretting something because of this?

Leslie: Postponing kids for sure, yeah. This is not a good time to have kids right now, but Anomalie is our baby. It’s like it is we’ve made it and nurtured it and grown it. So regret? I mean, ask me in five years if it’s successful [inaudible 00:56:12] or not.

Andrew: I feel like I, because of my work, sacrificed friendships and I do regret that. And then I spend more time with my kids than I do with work. And there’s a guilt that I have around that. I don’t have guilt the way many people do about spending more time at work than with their kids. But when I’m with my kids, and I enjoy it so much I think back. And I was talking to Ryan Holiday about this, the writer, on a run. I said, “I find myself sometimes when I run not thinking about work the way I used to but thinking about how cool it would be to take my kids out for something that we’re not supposed to do like ice cream. And I feel like I’m a failure as an entrepreneur, as a business person for thinking that way but I can’t help it.”

Leslie: Yeah, I think it is the right approach to go in with a healthy understanding that there’s not going to be a lot of balance. That being said, like, I’m, like, I chose this life and I love it and I would not do anything differently up to now. It’s just very, very . . . It’s a very different lifestyle than any other career.

Andrew: It is a definite sacrifice. And you know what? When things are going great, it’s worth the sacrifice. And man, things are going great for you. I’m telling you, I did a search. Anyone out there could listening and go try it themselves. Go do a search for the word sucks and see what comes up. Here’s what came up that I didn’t even get to talk about. You hired this woman, Trish Lee, I think. Am I thinking of her name right?

Leslie: Yeah.

Andrew: Right? She’s like a brand onto herself, isn’t she?

Leslie: Yeah, she’s a very successful entrepreneur in wedding dress, custom wedding dress designer in San Francisco, so a lot of San Francisco brides know her. You can look her up on Yelp. She has hundreds of five-star reviews. She’s just . . .

Andrew: If anything, she might have a bigger brand name than you do.

Leslie: I think so. Yeah. I’m happy to admit [inaudible 00:57:54]

Andrew: Yeah. And you hired her. Did you [inaudible 00:57:55]

Leslie: It’s a crazy set of circumstances. So she’s a very savvy businesswoman and I think understands very well the limits of a brick and mortar kind of business model. And she wants to grow and expand and sees a partnership with us as a way to, you know, take advantage of our international supply chain and our . . .

Andrew: You’ll be producing her designs?

Leslie: No. She is shutting down Trish Lee Bridal the brand.

Andrew: And designing for you.

Leslie: And, yes. Shutting down her shop, she’s closing her store, which is in Union Square in San Francisco, is joining our team to create custom Anomalie gowns, which we’re super excited about it. And I wonder if more will follow, which is this idea that the mom-and-pop boutiques are struggling. And it’s a tough business, and I think we’re the ones that see, again, that this Netflix versus Blockbuster idea of [neutralizing 00:59:01] low inventory and asset lite version of the typical bridal boutique.

Andrew: I like her . . . there’s something about her sensibility that I really like. I’m not shopping for wedding dresses, but I just admire people who have really good design sense. Everything about her including when she takes you from her Instagram. Where is that? Instagram to her contact page. It’s thought out. It’s not just designed for beauty. It’s designed for someone’s coming from my Instagram page to my contact page, what are they thinking? How do I make the experience of contact me? It’s these little touches like that, that I really admire about her family.

Leslie: Totally. And she understands the customer. She’s done custom for a long time, and so she understands interpreting what the customer is asking for and creating something that’s uniquely the bride versus . . . We like to, at Anomalie, we like to think of ourselves as standing for operational ability, not like a brand aesthetic, which I think she does even better than us. This is like what’s so cool. She explains the vision, and the market, and the opportunity better than I even can, which is why I was so excited to bring her on. Because people, again, this is a market that people really don’t totally understand and she really, really gets the customer and gets the opportunity.

Andrew: All right. The website Anomalie. It’s a tough name, right? And you picked it because I read that you want to expand beyond dresses. You’re going to start with dresses, huge market, you understand it and then you can imagine that. Well, why shouldn’t the husband, why shouldn’t the groom also get a jacket that comes from there? And if we’re going to buy jackets and we want them custom made, why shouldn’t we just go to Anomalie. I get that Anomalie is a little tough to spell, don’t you think?

Leslie: It is, yeah. We’ve done really well with SEO, though I don’t know if many people are just going to like typing in the URL at this point.

Andrew: Because you have a French spelling on it.

Leslie: And so we’re working to get a domain name but no, it’s like custom [inaudible 01:01:03] usually will result in and so it’s like the first or second hit. And, yeah we wanted something that sounded a little bit fancy that wasn’t a typical bridal name, which is usually like a name of a person and . . .

Andrew: Like Leslie dresses?

Leslie: Yeah, no. I didn’t stick and then idea that it’s unique and different and something a little bit special.

Andrew: You want to know something. So Anomalie in the U.S. is spelled, isn’t it? Tell me if I’ve got terrible spelling so tell me if I’m wrong. It’s A-N-O-M-A-L-Y, right?

Leslie: Yep.

Andrew: And you guys are Dress Anomalie with the French spelling. Dress Anomaly with the American spelling is still available. I think before this publish, you should go spend the nine bucks and get it.

Leslie: Maybe we should. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. I really like your business. It’s interesting to see how you’re able to grow it to this point. Thank you so much for being on here guys. If you want to go check it out. They do have great SEO so just search for address Anomalie, and frankly, I think the best place to start is probably on their Instagram because they do the designs there. I want to thank my two sponsors for making this interview happen. The first is the website company that will help you host an unlimited number of domains. It’s called hostgator.com/mixergy. If you want to hire a developer, go to toptal.com/mixergy.

And if you want to get together with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, you’re probably going to want to come out to San Francisco. Don’t do it, you’re not going to get to meet enough of them. And if you do, you’re going to be unlike in between meetings for them. If they even give you an hour, it’s tough. Here’s what I recommend you to do. Go to Fireside Conf where people like Jason Calacanis are just going to be there on a campground just hanging out, sitting in front of a fire, having a drink, eating breakfast at the barbecue. There’s no getting away from each other. You’re going to live with each other, frankly, and a little bit of mud, a little bit of dirt and really getting to know each other by the end of the weekend.

I went there, I freaking love it. Jason Calacanis is going to the next one. I urge you to go meet him and other people by going to firesideconf.com/mixergy. And really, if you want the best testimonial, see the look on my face as I’m about to jump into the lake at Fireside Conf in the video that they put up there. That is true enjoyment, true pleasure, and that’s the way that you should be enjoying yourself. Go to firesideconf.com/mixergy. They’re not even a sponsor anymore. I just love them, and I think that when they were a sponsor, I didn’t promote it well enough, and so I said got to get more. All right. Thanks so much, Leslie.

Leslie: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Bye. Bye everyone.


Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

x