Susan started ModCloth with the help of her then-boyfriend Eric in 2002 while they were attending college at Carnegie Mellon University. Susan has always loved anything vintage, and would go to local thrift stores and browse for hours on end so much so that she would end up buying clothes even if they wouldn’t fit her or even if they weren’t her style. Her collection became huge that Eric convinced her one day to set up a site where she can sell some of her vintage finds. Thus, came the birth of ModCloth.
Like most business success stories that started from scratch, Eric and Susan launched ModCloth in January 2003 during winter break. They operated the site from Susan’s dorm room, with Susan personally fulfilling orders and maintaining a full course load at the same time. Eric, with his web hosting and designing experiences, provided the technical support for the site. As Susan’s graduation approached in 2006, she and Eric decided to run the site full-time, and expanded their merchandise from one-of-a-kind frocks to multiple vintage and retro-inspired pieces from independent designers.
This business success tale gets better and better. Eric and Susan married later that same year and moved into a house in Pittsburgh that doubled as their company’s headquarters – until they outgrew it. They moved into a converted steel mill in Pittsburgh’s Strip District the following year after Eric earned his MBA from Carnegie Mellon back in 2007 and joined as CEO full-time. Since then, ModCloth continued growing, from personnel of 16 to more than 138 employees ranging from fashion stylists and writers to web developers and fulfillment staff. They have also diversified from vintage and vintage inspired clothing to indie accessories and décor. They also carry indie labels such as Tulle, Stop Staring, Gentle Fawn, and Jeffrey Dakota Shoes.
What sets ModCloth apart from the rest is that most of the employees, including the founder, are women in their 20’s – the company’s target demographic. They have inside knowledge to what women their age want and what the current trends are. One major contributor to their business success endeavor was enlisting customer involvement and participation by launching contests through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and the company’s blog for new names of indie labels and submission of photos of fashion ensembles that are stylish.
The Kogers do not stop here. They envision a ModCloth in the future that will imitate the feel of combing through racks of clothing in search of the perfect outfit. This concept has attracted investment backers – which makes this vintage clothing company an even bigger force to be reckoned with. After all, the customers are their priority, and when that is the guiding principle of a company, the rest will surely fall into place – just like love. Truly an inspiring business success story!