Online boutique for brides and their wedding parties, Weddington Way, announced today it has closed on $9 million in Series A funding in a round led by Javelin Venture Partners. Existing investors Battery Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Trinity Ventures also participated, bringing the company’s total raise to date to $11.5 million.
Other strategic investors include Bonobos founder Andy Dunn, Nixon’s founder Andy Laats, Lululemon Athletica board member RoAnn Costin and former Gap CEO Bob Fisher.
The San Francisco-based startup, founded in 2011 by Stanford grad and former Bloomingdale’s buyer Ilana Stern, offers a new twist on traditional e-commerce sites by allowing brides and bridesmaids to shop together online. This collaborative and personalized shopping experience makes sense for those who are planning their weddings with an often geographically diverse group of family and friends who can’t meet up to shop together in person.
At Weddington Way, the idea is to translate that offline bridal party shopping outing to an online platform where brides can browse through color palettes and then share the dresses and styles they like with others who can like and comment on them. Each customer is also assigned their own stylist who can help = with color selection, sizes, styles and ordering details.
Meanwhile, the company’s “Try Before You Buy” program lets bridal party members try on the dresses in their own home before committing to purchase.
The business model of social shopping, though having an immediate appeal for those friends who live far apart, also resonates with the millennial shopper, the company believes. Younger customers are looking to do more of their shopping online, aided by social tools. The site itself has an almost Pinterest-esque feel, with an emphasis on browsing and favoriting images of dresses, which can be filtered by shades, prices, length, fabric, designer, season and more.
Since 2012, the company says that over a million brides and bridesmaids have signed up to shop via its website, and it shipped over 25,000 dresses in 2013. As of the first half of this year, Weddington Way topped its 2013 shipments.
“As the 20th century’s last generation, and the first truly digital generation, Millennials present an interesting amalgam of values and habits,” says CEO Stern. “At Weddington Way, we uniquely resonate with this customer by facilitating the traditional social aspects of shopping with friends, while addressing new Millennial problems (e.g. friends geographically dispersed) and preferences (e.g. convenient shopping any time, any where),” she explains. “We satisfy Millennials unique predilection for feedback from friends before making purchases by hosting the shopping experience as a private chat in a showroom.”
The additional funding will be used to grow the Weddington Way team, expand its customer acquisition efforts, and make further improvements to its collaborative shopping platform.