Meaningful innovation is what transforms an entrepreneur into a successful business leader. Connecting dots, building bridges to fill the gaps, and bringing a different approach is what drives innovation. All of these distinct traits can be easily pointed out in Kristen Miller’s leadership approach. Kristen is a seasoned entrepreneur who has founded four successful companies in the Home Improvement and Retail industry and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Stylyze.
At Stylyze, Kristen’s mission is to provide a platform for retailers that revolutionize the omnichannel shopping experience. Stylyze’s platform synthesizes the elements of the in-store experience previously missing from the virtual and digital space, refining and advancing the online customer journey of the future. Leveraging cloud technology, Stylyze is partnering with some of the largest retailers in the US to transform their customer experiences.
Kristen is an inspirational leader and advisor for the Women in Cloud community, and she also presides as a board member for The Beyond Project. She is an in-demand speaker on retail innovation and entrepreneurship for Techstars Startup Week Seattle.
How it All Started?
Prior to founding Stylyze, Kristen had another business in the home decor space, where she worked with clients and helped them to find and coordinate products for their homes. The work demanded hands-on effort day in and day out, trying to coordinate products and styles for the clients. “We would start our search online as the entire inventory was online, but there was no way to really narrow down the search based on what the client’s style or aesthetic was,” says Kristen. She further adds that after finding a product, it was very challenging to find other products that would coordinate with it to create a specific design aesthetic.
Kristen’s co-founder, Lisa Perrone Cirelli, was an interior designer by trade and had experienced something similar. They connected and saw the opportunity to transform the home and fashion industries through cloud technology. Before starting Stylyze, they spoke with 80 different home decor and apparel retailers and brands to understand the gaps in the space and realized that they were all trying to figure out how to replicate the in-store experience online. Today, the company partners with leading home and fashion retailers to transform their customer experiences. Their Merchandising as-a-Service Platform combines the latest in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with seasoned designers and stylists to equip retailers with the data and content that they need to be successful in an omnichannel environment.
A Change was Required
Thanks to COVID, the retail industry has experienced a rapid transformation and continues to change. One significant change the retail industry is experiencing is accelerating digital transformation and the urgency to offer all of their instore services digitally.
According to Kristen, one of the challenges she has faced as an entrepreneur while serving the enterprise space is that large enterprises often lack the structure or a set of programs to work effectively with start-ups. Given the rapid rate of transformation taking place in the retail industry, and many other industries, she believes that this is a critical moment for enterprises and start-ups to learn how to better work together to keep up with the accelerated pace of change required to be successful in today’s world.
Kristen herself is very passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs who are on the journey. As an advisor to Women in Cloud, she asserts “I’m on a few boards and I would like to continue to support the ecosystem by continuing that work, speaking, writing, providing mentorship and angel investing. This is both an exciting and challenging time to be an entrepreneur and I want to help other entrepreneurs learn from my victories and my mistakes.”
Take the First Step
In her advice to emerging women leaders, Kristen asserts “Get started and just take a step in the direction you want to go. “She believes that so many individuals who are considering the entrepreneurial journey get stuck in analysis paralysis. They want to wait until the stars align perfectly, until either they have all the aspects in their life lined up or until they have the perfect team or the perfect investors. “Entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who take the first step and then continue moving forward with a great group of advisors to support the process so that they can continue moving in the right direction, “says Kristen.
Stepping to New Achievements Everyday
Since graduating from the Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator, Stylyze has grown revenue by 44% year over year and had the opportunity to position its business and management team as thought leaders in retail transformation and women in technology. Stylyze has been featured in several publications including the Puget Sound Business Journal, WWD, Women Of Wearables, Retail Innovation Hub, Authority Magazine, Silicon UK, Forbes, Retail Gazette, Thrive Global, The Next Web, and Tech Round. Additionally, Stylyze closed a $2.8M Series Seed Round and successfully expanded its product offering into new retail verticals.
The Women in Cloud Accelerator provided Kristen and her team with a go-to-market framework that accelerated their time to close enterprise deals and also increased their closing rate. Additionally, Kristen and her team previously had limited PR and exposure. As part of the Women in Cloud Accelerator, Kristen was given the opportunity to share her story and the Stylyze platform with the broader community. This exposure was critical to jumpstarting Stylyze’s PR initiatives which ultimately generated over ten pieces of coverage in the last 6 months alone. The network provided by the Women in Cloud Accelerator has also opened doors with key customers and resources in addition to being a wonderful support system throughout the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.
Women Entrepreneurs in Next Five Years
Kristen believes that organizations such as Women in Cloud are helping to not only educate Fortune 1000 companies about the benefits of creating economic access for women, they are also creating the ecosystem of women entrepreneurs and Fortune 1000 executives to facilitate trusted introductions.
Additionally, Women in Cloud is helping to prepare women entrepreneurs for those opportunities so that when the introductions are made they understand how to successfully navigate the enterprise landscape and position their product and service appropriately.
It is the combination of Fortune 1000 companies adopting inclusive procurement practices, providing the connection between Fortune 1000 executives and women entrepreneurs, and equipping women entrepreneurs to successfully navigate those opportunities that will move the needle in creating economic access for women.
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