Alfred Lin, the Sequoia VC and former Zappos COO, thinks this retail startup could be a generation-defining brand
When the storied enterprise agency Sequoia likes a deal, it is going to generally not solely lead considered one of its financing rounds however fund it solely — irrespective of how that impacts earlier buyers. Given the agency’s highly effective brand, it’s laborious to complain (an excessive amount of), even when it implies that earlier backers see their stakes diluted.
Such appears to be like to be the case with Dolls Kill, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based on-line boutique for “misfits” and “miss legits,” that started promoting platform footwear and different club-type clothes and has apparently grown like a weed, alongside the festivals that its prospects attend, from Burning Man to Coachella.
The firm has simply raised $40 million in Series B funding from Sequoia, and once we talked yesterday with cofounder and CEO Bobby Farahi about the deal — which brings Dolls Kill’s funding to roughly $60 million — he mentioned there was “no room” for earlier backers, together with the consumer-focused enterprise agency Maveron.
He rapidly added that the firm’s board members — particularly Maveron accomplice Jason Stoffer, together with former Hot Topic CEO Betsy McLaughlin — have been instrumental in serving to the firm “think through growth while maintaining authenticity.”
It’s simple to understand enthusiasm round the brand, which employs round 400 individuals, has retail shops in each San Francisco and L.A., and sells its personal garments below an array of various labels, in addition to sells the clothes of third events whose aesthetic occurs to suit that of Dolls Kill at any explicit second in time.
As says Farahi, “Right now there’s a resurgence in ’90s fashion, but in another year, we could move on to other third-party brands that we believe will resonate with our customers.”
Fahari doesn’t get away how a lot of the firm’s clothes is made by the startup itself — in China and the U.S., amongst different “international” places, in accordance with Fahari. He shies from sharing many metrics in any respect, in truth. But the firm, whose counter tradition strategy started at the fringes of society, has seemingly gone mainstream as younger consumers more and more ditch logos and look to specific who they’re by means of what Farahi calls their “inner IDGF.”
Adds Farahi, “The macro world changed a lot to give us a lot of tailwinds.”
Dolls Kill additionally has — for now, no less than — a deep connection to its prospects, thanks partly to its inventive strategy. When the firm informed its three million Instagram followers earlier this yr that it will drive an ice cream truck crammed with a explicit fight boot referred to as the Billionaire Bling Boot to dozens of U.S. cities, prospects “four blocks long” waited in line to purchase them, says Fahari.
In one other creative twist, it opened its L.A. location — which appears to be like extra like a nightclub — to consumers at midnight on Black Friday and it stayed open the following 24 hours.
Sequoia — which reached out to the firm immediately — informed Farahi that it had checked out a lot of style manufacturers and “they said we believe you’re the next generation-defining brand, the way The Gap was in the ’80s,” recounts Fahari. “I think they see the company not just as a brand but also a movement.”
Certainly, Sequoia’s Alfred Lin — who as Zappos’s COO helped develop the firm into the big that Amazon acquired in 2009 — understands such issues given the famously robust early emphasis at Zappos on firm tradition and rising whereas remaining true to its early staff and prospects.
As for the title Dolls Kill, the brand was the thought of Fahari’s spouse and cofounder Shoddy Lynn, who favored the “dichotomous words, one very soft and one very hard,” says Fahari, explaining that whereas “the brand is very girly, these girls aren’t taking shit from anybody.”
Adds Fahari, “And the domain was available.”