By Jon Harris The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) For women in business with an eye on fashion technology, keep your eyes peeled for Stitch Fix. With Stitch Fix, customers fill out an online"Style Profile" and then they are sent 5 items picked out by a Stitch Fix stylist. When the customer gets a shipment, they're charged a $20 styling fee, which can be applied as a credit toward buying one of the five items. Customers can also return the items they don't want by using the Stitch Fix pre-paid mailing bag.
The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
A women's online stylist company is planning to bring hundreds of jobs to the Lehigh Valley, hoping the area's prime location will help it grow its business and better serve its existing clients in the Northeast.
San Francisco-based Stitch Fix opened a 483,990-square-foot distribution center earlier this month at 4770 Hanoverville Road in Lower Nazareth Township. Company spokesman Eric Brown said Wednesday night that Stitch Fix plans to hire more than 500 employees for the facility, but he declined to disclose the timeline for the hiring.
"The Lehigh Valley is known for quality talent in line with the high quality that clients expect from Stitch Fix," Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix, said in an emailed statement. "Our new facility ... will provide better service for our clients in the Northeast and support our own business growth and momentum."
This is the company's fifth distribution center but its first in the Northeast. Brown said Stitch Fix has an office and a stylist network in Pittsburgh and, after a multi-state search, the Lehigh Valley "quickly jumped to the top of the list." The company's other distribution centers are in California, Texas, Arizona and Indiana.
The Lower Nazareth center will carry the company's full line of apparel, accessories and footwear for Stitch Fix Women. Brown noted, however, that the company's distribution centers do have some minor inventory differences for different parts of the country to reflect seasonability and trends.
Founded in 2011, Stitch Fix describes itself as "the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique product to deliver a shopping experience that is truly personalized for you." But what does that mean?
Here's how it works: Customers fill out an extensive "Style Profile" online, which helps Stitch Fix understand your size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. The company then sends the customer a selection of five clothing items and accessories, handpicked by its personal stylists.
When the customer gets a shipment, they're charged a $20 styling fee, which can be applied as a credit toward buying one of the five items. If customers keep the whole box -- all five items -- they get 25 percent off.
The average price is $55 per item and Stitch Fix works with more than 200 labels and brands, including Collective Concepts, Kut From The Kloth and Daniel Rainn.
Customers can return the items they don't want at any United States Postal Service mailbox by using the Stitch Fix pre-paid mailing bag.
The 5-year-old company also continues to grow. In February, it started beta testing a men's styling service it calls Stitch Fix Men.
The company also boasts a large data science team and even has a chief algorithms officer -- that position belongs to Eric Colson, formerly the vice president of data science and engineering at Netflix.
The highly personalized and high-tech company is part of a group of innovative retail firms -- like beauty product subscription service Birchbox, subscription wine club Club W and men's stylist service Trunk Club -- that aims to deliver a better e-commerce experience to the customer.
The growing e-commerce industry has been a boon to the Lehigh Valley, which is attractive to companies due to its proximity to major highways and population centers such as New York and Philadelphia.
For example, in September 2014, online retailer zulily announced it would open a fulfillment center in Bethlehem, creating 1,200 full-time jobs over the next three years. In an email, zulily spokeswoman Lindsay Powers said the 800,250-square-foot center opened in July. Citing company policy, she declined to provide a current employee count, but she did say the company is bringing on additional warehouse associates every month -- a ramp-up that will continue throughout the year.
Also in July, Walmart celebrated the grand opening of its second fulfillment center in Bethlehem. The company expects to employ 1,000 full-time workers at both sites within a few years, as Walmart competes with Internet retailers, such as Amazon.com -- which also has a Lehigh Valley distribution center.
Now, Stitch Fix will add another national name -- and hundreds of employees -- to the local e-commerce industry.
Locally, Brown said most of the positions at the Lower Nazareth facility will be full time and offer benefits, including medical, dental and vision. According to Stitch Fix's website, it offers retail warehouse associates $12.50 per hour.
Those interested in applying can visit www.stitchfix.com/careers for more information.
The facility Stitch Fix is leasing -- Brown declined to disclose the lease terms -- was developed and is owned by industrial real estate company Prologis. Construction of the spec industrial building, which is a single-story, single-loaded warehouse with 4,250 square feet of office space and 75 dock high doors, was completed in the fourth quarter of 2015. The building sits on more than 35 acres of land.
In brokering the single-tenant lease, The Garibaldi Group represented Prologis, while Stitch Fix was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle.