Behind the Seams with Armoire’s Ambika Singh
Learn about how Ambika Singh transformed her passion for wardrobe sharing into Armoire, a service that stands out as unique among the sea of popular shopping and clothing rental options.
“I’ve been sharing clothes with the women in my life since as long as I can remember,” says Armoire’s founder Ambika Singh, who has transformed her passion for wardrobe sharing into Armoire, a unique service among the sea of popular shopping and clothing rental options. For $149 a month, Armoire provides clients with a set of clothing that suits their style and fit preferences, allowing them to keep them as long as they want. Clients can swap out pieces whenever they like and cleaning and shipping are both free. We had a chance to speak with Ambika about the past, present and future of her revolutionary product.
Inspiration hit when we realized that we could do the same thing with clothes that Netflix was doing with movies and Spotify was doing with music: learn your preferences and then customize your recommendations.
What inspired you to start your company Armoire?
I had fostered a love/hate relationship with other clothing rental services. I loved getting an unlimited rotating wardrobe with new pieces for any situation, but I hated the time it took to find the items to rent. Inspiration hit when we realized that we could do the same thing with clothes that Netflix was doing with movies and Spotify was doing with music: learn your preferences and then customize your recommendations… and as a result, make getting clothes a more delightful and seamless experience. I know how busy life is for the modern woman, and I was excited to give her a new, smarter and all around better way to get clothes.
How did you go from the initial idea to reality?
Luckily wrapping up my last year at Sloan Business school was a great resource (read: forcing function) for the necessary legwork to turn an idea into a reality. We had access to individuals who were eager to help – whether it was surveying over 500 women to test/refine the idea or beta testing the service with a close audience. We were also surrounded by an amazing group of professors and mentors – reminding us to stop making updates to our deck and instead go out there and get our first customer… because that’s when the real fun starts from there. And they were right.
What was it like to be selected by the MIT accelerator program? (and Sandbox Innovation Fund)
It was incredibly exciting to be accepted to MIT’s Delta V program and a recipient of the Sandbox Innovation Fund. Our service is powered by smart tech, and to be selected alongside the best of the best in this space was very humbling. MIT’s accelerator was game-changing for us and was pivotal to getting Armoire started. We were given funds to purchase inventory and access to mentors and professors with a wealth of knowledge. The energy, passion and overall smarts from this program is infused into our culture today.
Tell us more about Armoire and what makes it so unique?
In the simplest form, Armoire is the dream closet for the busy woman. It’s endless, but personalized just for you. It’s easy on your time, your wallet, and the environment. It lets you experiment and express yourself, on your terms and reactive to your constant personal evolution.
But how? Our rented closet married with an algorithmically-driven curation service allows us to keep up with your style and schedule. Unlike other rental services where you find yourself browsing the website for hours at end, we recommend a limited set of items to choose from that match your style and fit. We make those recommendations using a combination of algorithms and highly skilled human stylists. Our rotating closet gives you the excitement of unlimited variety and newness on demand, without the lingering purchase regret or cluttered closet. With Armoire – you get all the polished looks your busy life demands with minimal time and effort.
What are your clients loving most?
We started with the notion that women hate to shop… and quickly learned this was not the case. Sure, many of us dislike the BS of shopping (lines, endless browsing, those things…), but women actually love getting new items. It quickly became clear that our Armoire members truly love that thrill you get will throwing on that perfect piece, or debuting a new outfit to work. There is this endorphin rush that is real — our members love that we are constantly delivering that to them whenever they want it (really, you should try it… getting that new-item-thrill feeling on demand feels darn good).
What is trending now among your customer base?
March is one of the toughest months for us women to get dressed. The trees are starting to bloom one day and we get hit with a snowstorm the next, so versatility and layers are key. Our members love a good statement blazer in a spring floral print that she can put over her silk blouse in the office. For a night on the town a feminine dress with sleeves is a must. We’ve also seen requests for lightweight sweaters in pops like lilac and yellow to move her through her casual weekend days in style.
With a presence in over 35 States what is next for Armoire?
We are continuously in awe of the company we have built and more so the incredible community we have cultivated around us. We of course have our eye on other areas to expand (jewelry, shoes, and yes, men, we hear your requests too). For now, we’re focused on building out the best experience for our current and future customers, but we know this is just the beginning and have our eye on a lot of other exciting expansions for there.
Carly is a freelance designer and creative professional in NYC. Her fine arts degree allows her to channel her creative intuition into everything she does from work with artist Jeremyville and designing at VH1 to writing for BWB.