Working out of their parent’s home with $7500 in start-up capital and a dream to take the fashion world by storm with a size inclusive brand that is actually affordable, sisters Shirin, Shida, and Shideh Kaviani pulled their varying talents together and started fashion label, Naked Wardrobe in 2012—making their first million in profit that same year. Fast-forward to today, and the brand has become a powerhouse as the must-visit e-commerce destination for fashionistas around the globe.
Youngest sister, Shideh, who attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles and is now President of the brand tells me, “I always knew that I wanted to have my own business within the fashion industry. Shirin and I had caught onto online shopping pretty early on and became addicted. The idea of not having to leave your home, being able to shop from an endless online selection, and having it delivered to your doorstep—SIGN US UP! We decided that the best way for us to shop online would be through our very own website. Within weeks, we had decided that we were going to open up shop! I had remembered throughout my entire FIDM career that everyone in my classes wanted to be a ‘high-end couture designer’, but I always knew that I wanted to do something different. Something that was affordable for the masses. Since launching the brand, that is exactly what our mission has been.”
Oldest sister Shirin, who brings her expertise in information technology and is now CEO of the brand adds, “We saw the direction technology was moving towards and the influence it would have on our day to day lives and wanted to take part in it. The ease of ordering online was the way of the future and we wanted in! As a consumer ourselves, we applied our experiences to Naked Wardrobe and created an online shopping experience that we felt was missing in the industry. Most companies that were online were boring and catered to a mature demographic. We wanted to create an aesthetic that appealed to a more fashionable woman.”
When I ask the ladies how long it took from inception to launch, Shideh tells me, “Once we had decided that we wanted to start this business, it took about three months before we had officially launched. The most time consuming factor was the development for our website, as we wanted to ensure that it was very user friendly for our clients.” Shirin adds, “Since I had a background in web development and a penchant for the world-wide-web, the website came together quickly. On October 24, 2012 Naked Wardrobe went live. We started focusing on our social media brand presence early on and getting our name out there.”
One of the many distinguishing characteristics of the brand is that not only do they make clothing that offers something for every woman, but they also utilize women of all shapes, sizes, and color in their marketing. Middle sister Shida, who comes from a communications background and is now Vice President of Naked Wardrobe continues, “From the start, we distinguished ourselves from other brands by casting models that had healthy figures with curves. Before we launched, I had noticed just about every brand casted very slender models to sell their clothes. We knew we were going up against the fashion industry, but as we continued to grow, we would receive emails from clients thanking us for having models that were more relatable to their body shape and size.” Shideh adds, “We are from a Middle Eastern culture and we love our food. We are naturally on the curvier side. It’s always been part of our brand to have curvier models that are relatable and to emphasize that true beauty comes from the inside. We’ve helped break down some of those barriers.”
With a loyal celebrity following including Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashian sisters, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Lady Gaga, I ask the ladies how they garnered the attention of so many notable individuals. Shideh responds, “You know the expression small world? Well, LA is even smaller. Everyone knows somebody, and we’ve been lucky to get in contact with celebrities and their styling teams. We typically send out a package in hopes that they love it. Once they get it in their hands, they become our clients for life.” Shida adds, “There have also been instances in the past where assistants to top celebrities would be wearing Naked Wardrobe, and they would ask, ‘Where did you get that outfit from??’ We just let our clothes speak for themselves.”
Back in 2012, when the brand launched, there were no influencers. But, in a matter of a few years that changed. Shideh tells me, “Users became infatuated with following influencers around, wearing similar clothes, posting similar pictures, keeping up with their lifestyles. As a result, brands started to invest in these influencers and the power that they have within a particular industry. For us, it’s always been our goal to have our product line be the main driving force behind the brand. I will say that in comparison to our competitors, influencers aren’t the leading driving force for our business, being that we don’t pay for posts or promotions. However, a majority of our followers are influencers that have either organically come across our brand or heard about us through someone else. We do appreciate when they generously share with their followers the love they have for our brand and product.” Shida adds, “Influencers who do wear our brand and post, genuinely love our brand and post voluntarily at their own discretion.”
Social media has helped the brand grow, but it has also been a sticking point. Shida tells me, “Social media will always be a challenge for us. We started our brand on social media; as we continued to grow, other brands noticed our success and followed suit by jumping on the platform. Social media platforms began to notice ways to fill their own pockets with online marketing. Algorithm changes definitely made it more challenging for brands, especially newer brands trying to grow. We currently have over 1.2 million followers on a single social media platform, however only tens of thousands of them see each post. We worked hard to build our following and clientele, but when social media holds you back in this way, it’s truly unfortunate.” Shirin continues, “Being one of the first companies to utilize the platform for business, we stood out among everyone and soon others started emulating our vision. The challenge is staying ahead of everyone in the industry and having to constantly reinvent our vision. There is a high saturation of online business trying to compete for the consumer, and you need to stand out if you want a chance.”
While the ladies remain the sole owners of Naked Wardrobe, I was curious if they’ve gotten any interest from investors. Shirin tells me, “We have had offers, but we never want to relinquish the brand over to business men or women that are in it only for the money.” Shideh adds, “We haven’t had the need to bring on investors. I believe once we’ve grown the business to our full capability then we can consider bringing on outside investors. There’s so much more in store for us before we hit that wall.” On whether or not they have any plans for retail locations in the near future, Shida explains, “We will always remain an e-commerce brand, but we have had discussions with large retails stores and we definitely plan to have pop-ups across the country for 2019”.
On what is like to work with your sisters Shideh tells me, “Overall, our dynamic is great. When we need help, we lean on each other. We created this together out of our parent’s home. We are truly lucky. Our parents are so proud.”