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Business with Purpose


Mar 11, 2020

Please tell me I’m not the only one who loves the movie Clueless?! Now, I realize how ridiculous of a movie it is, but in a “I love how ridiculous this movie is” kind of way, right? It is what began my love affair for Jeep Wranglers, and I longed for Cher Horowitz’s infamous closet with the computerized system that dressed her every day. My guest today was not in the movie Clueless, but she did create an App called Cladwell that is basically the 2020 version of Cher’s closet dressing system. Erin Flynn is the CEO of Cladwell, a personal styling app that transforms your closet into one where you love and wear everything you own and makes getting dressed easy every morning with daily outfit recommendations. It does so much more than that, and you’ll hear how when you tune in and listen to how Erin is making a positive impact with her career. Cladwell has been featured on Good Morning America, and even did a partnership with Marie Kondo! Cladwell isn’t Erin’s first startup, and she has so many startup stories to tell. Listen now to hear about my love of the Cladwell App and Erin’s vision for creating personal style with ease.

3:30 – The Erin 101

  • Erin grew up in Indiana and received a full ride scholarship to play Division II Basketball in Memphis, TN. She played for all four years of college, and very soon after graduating, got married, moved to Pennsylvania, started a new job, and got a dog!
  • This was 2009, the economy was tanking, and Erin could not find a viable job in marketing. She tried for three months to work no-pay internships and as her frustration and grew and her bank account dwindled, Erin decided it was time to take control of her career and her future.
  • Erin started a fashion blog when influencer marketing was just taking off. Erin grew her blog into a small business, working with brands and attending fashion week. Erin noticed a disconnect in communication between brands and bloggers even though it was clear the two markets desired to work together.
  • Erin’s first startup was a business called Canopy. She transitioned her blog into an influencer network and jumped into her first startup experience. She continued to work at it for three years, but it was difficult for consumers to understand this new world of influencer marketing. In 2011, she closed the startup and she and her husband moved back to the Midwest.
  • Erin soon took a job with EW Scripps. EW Scripps owns over 35 television stations over the country. Erin was able to work in an entrepreneurial role there and learned more about starting something new within a company.
  • As Erin felt a desire to get back into the startup world, she also had some angst about it, knowing first-hand the risks, sacrifices, and inevitable failures involved.. She decided to meet with the founder of a company similar to Cladwell, but for men. Erin thought she would try her hand at taking that market to women, and from there Cladwell was born.

8:08 – What Am I Going to Wear Today?

  • When Cladwell first started, it was a platform for men to solve their personal shopping needs, a way to help them figure out what to buy next for their wardrobe. Erin came on board in 2015 when their products were changing and talks about expanding the market to women had just begun.
  • Cladwell became interested in a capsule wardrobe, specifically helping women love and wear every piece of clothing in their closet. Erin’s personal experienced gave more shape to the idea because she’d wake up every morning, open her closet, and have no idea what to wear.
  • Erin didn’t understand how it was possible to “not have anything to wear” when she owned 450 pieces of clothing. She had too many clothes but was still completely unsatisfied with the clothing she already had. She didn’t understand how she’d gotten to that point.
  • Cladwell wanted to approaching personal style with capsule wardrobes to help women become more content with their clothing choices and less overwhelmed with continual shopping and overcrowded closets.
  • The app was developed two and a half years ago to help women with an easy getting ready experience. It helps transform closets over 30, 60, 90 days, etc., to help you narrow down what you actually love and wear most often.
  • The app also helps you declutter, hone-in on your personal style, and shop smarter while inspiring new and creative outfit combinations so that you can continue to wear what you already own in new ways. Cladwell helps you become mindful and thoughtful about what you truly love, which helps reveal your own personal style.
  • Capsule wardrobes also help those who want to shop ethically and reduce waste!

15:16 - Declutter Without Overwhelm

  • You don’t have to add every single piece of clothing you own to the app. You can add your favorite 10 items to start. Cladwell will match that to the 17,000 items they already have in their database. You can also take a photo of your own items and add them to your app.
  • Holding onto things can keep us stuck in the past after we’ve gone through big life experiences and transitions. It can feel like a fresh start to walk into a space that represents how you look and feel in the present as well as how you want to approach the future.
  • A lot of emotional baggage can be held onto in our closets whether because of fear, nostalgia, or a little of both.
  • We are also constantly bombarded with messages to buy more. We shop way too fast and feel pressure to continue acquiring new things.
  • We’re already wearing 20% of what’s in our closets and fall into cycles of thinking we need to start over from scratch when we no longer love our closets. We are tempted to buy more pieces thinking we’ll like something new more that what we already have.

22:33 - Shop Your Own Closet

  • Right before the 1980s, Americans only bought 12 new items per year on average. Today, we are buying 68 items per year.
  • Cladwell offers encouragement to shop what you already have with daily outfit suggestions and recommendations of what to add to your closet to help you create a greater number of outfits with fewer pieces of clothing.
  • Since the app helps you feel like you have a brand-new wardrobe with what you already own, you can be more intentional with your choices when you shop.
  • When you start to narrow down the items you wear most, your personal style starts to appear. It also makes styling and getting ready in the morning a much more simple and enjoyable process.
  • You can also build different capsules for different occasions. This is especially helpful for travel because you can determine 5-7 items to pack that will allow you to combine pieces to create enough looks for 14 days.
  • Sometimes we even shop when we’re bored. Creating capsules and exploring your closet through the Cladwell app can help you stay creative and interested in what you have so it’s literally as if you get to go shopping, but without spending money or adding clutter to your life.
  • Cladwell even has a social media feature to follow other people for ideas, inspiration, and community. You can even cultivate your own style by looking at your friend’s outfits! The app will give you suggestions from your closet based on what your friend is wearing.

34:56 - On the Cladwell Horizon

  • In August, Erin and her husband bought the company. Originally Cladwell was an investor-backed, fast-growth tech startup. They still want to grow, but more importantly, they want to stay loyal to their brand roots and share the mission that people’s clothes and closets matter.
  • The app will be redesigned with a new look and feel this summer. Cladwell is also working on an app for Android phones that they hope to launch soon.

37:24 – Getting to Know Our Guest

  • Tune in as Erin’s answers fun questions like what her hype song would be, what style she thinks people will be nostalgic for in 40 years, and more! Most importantly, hear from Erin about what it means to her to run a business with purpose.

Memorable Quotes:

9:42 – “Not being satisfied with my closet kept me on this perpetual cycle of continually shopping, which actually only made the problem worse. “

11:11 – “It’s a personal styling app that transforms your closet into one you’ll love. We make getting dressed easy every morning with daily outfit recommendations using the clothes in your closet.”

11:51 – “Most people only wear 20% of their closet and hold on to 80% of clutter.”

16:48 – “If you know what you like and you know who you are, you can make so many better decisions. I really believe the closet is representative of your head. If you have a messy closet, you may have a messy head. From there you can really transform the rest of your life.”

About Erin Flynn:

Erin is the CEO of Cladwell, a personal styling app that transforms your closet into one where you love and wear everything you own and makes getting dressed easy every morning with daily outfit recommendations. Cladwell's been featured on Good Morning America and even done a partnership with Marie Kondo. This is not her first startup and as a self-proclaimed reluctant entrepreneur, she has many startup stories to tell. Erin and her husband Colin reside in Cincinnati with 1 super Irish sounding kid (Rooney) and a very formal puggle named Mr. Pug.