Elena Fesenko grew up in the fashion industry. Her mother worked as a buyer for Bloomingdale’s, and she herself spent time both as a fashion design student and model. Now Fesenko has translated her experience and passion for fashion into MIKA, a new startup which showcases complete outfits featuring a mix of high-end and contemporary apparel and accessories. Shoppers can buy these looks in whole or in part, sometimes even getting exclusive access to items which aren’t yet available in stores, but are rather pulled from designers’ showrooms directly.
“Putting together outfits for work or for different occasions is hard – usually, no woman dresses head to toe in one designer,” explains Ukraine-born Fesenko, who runs MIKA alongside co-founder (and husband) Sani Sanilevich. “So I had this idea to put together all the designers in one look, and to create a website,” she says.
On MIKA, which officially launches on May 14th with looks that will be swapped out every 24 hours plus support for international shipping, shoppers will be presented with what Fesenko describes as a “visually stunning shopping experience.” What that means is that instead of static images, a short, looping almost “GIF-like” video plays which shows a model in action, wearing the look in question.
Behind-the-scenes videos from the shoot, and interviews with the stylist – often a guest stylist from the industry, like a well-known fashion blogger for example – will also accompany the various looks.
To date, the company has involvement from super model Bar Rafaeli (who has equity in the company), and has worked with photographers Adrian Nina and Fadil Barisha, and bloggers from Fashion Indie and Above the Law. Thirty more bloggers are lined up to work on the new site going live later this month, as well as some celebs and models which MIKA is not yet permitted to name.
Though it’s still in a beta testing period of sorts, thanks to Fesenko’s connections, MIKA has already established relationships with 120 designers, including Cynthia Rowley, Anna Sui, Vince, Norma Kamali, Elie Tahari, Yigal Azrouel, DL1961, Kara Ross, Sigerson Morrison, and Tracy Reese, who have agreed to offer their items for use on the site.
Fesenko explains the designers were happy to work with MIKA, because so much online fashion is offered at discounts, as with excess inventory. “We offer the items at full price,” she says, “and we shoot them in amazing editorial with the best models, and the top photographers in the industry.” Because of this setup, some of the designers have even offered some of their items to MIKA which will have them for sale before they arrive in stores.
In the last month, the company sold over 40 complete looks and over 150 single items, despite not having marketed the site – word got out through those in the industry who heard about what MIKA was up to. Some items even sold out. “We have a few thousand users, but we didn’t expect to have sales since we were focusing on different things, like acquiring designers and building our website,” says Fesenko. (The screenshots show the upcoming website, which is an update from the one that’s live today). MIKA sees a 60 percent margin on the items it sells, and offers free shipping or hand-delivery to NYC-based users.
The company closed on $500,000 in seed funding in June 2012, which included investment from the founders, friends and family, Plug & Play (Saeed Amidi), Ronnie Stern and Allen Peters. In February, MIKA closed a Series A of $1.2 million from Hillsven Capital (Bobby Lent), and Plug & Play.
The updated version of MIKA will launch on Tuesday, May 14th, but you can visit the current site here to register and shop.