Ambika Singh is a Seattle-based badass with a passion for sustainability and empowering women. Her company Armoire is changing the way women dress and shop by encouraging them to rent their clothing rather than buy, leaving women with more change in their pocket to live their best lives AND lessen their impact on the planet. Read on to learn more about Ambika and her amazing company!
Hi Ambika! Tell us about Armoire.
Armoire is a “wardrobe as a service” — a virtual, curated closet aimed to make the modern boss lady’s life a little easier. Combining a sophisticated algorithm and high-touch personalized experience, we provide high-end, ready-to-wear garments for women to rent.
What motivated you to create Armoire? What did you notice about shopping/consumer practices that led you to build this platform?
I noticed a gap in fashion while attending MIT’s Sloan School of Business. Fashion is a rapidly changing industry, but by no means a sustainable one. Being from Seattle, I care deeply about the environment and knew there was a better and more convenient way to get dressed. Armoire was created to relieve the pressures the “modern boss lady” feels to help her always dress the part.
What was your mission at the outset? Has it changed as you’ve grown?
Our mission has always been to improve the lives of our inspiring members. I am so inspired by the incredible women who bear the torch for female entrepreneurs. I’m incredibly grateful to have them in my community, and so many of them have paved the way for me.
It is amazing to see women doing all of these amazing things; leading companies, founding companies, getting sh*t done. Being able to find role models and pattern-match myself based on the way other women have accomplished these things has made starting a company much easier. Without these women, I don’t know how I would have been able to start Armoire. I have started seeing leaders in everyone, which has been eye opening, and has driven our mission to give back to our inspiring members.
What advice do you have for fellow would-be entrepreneurs who suffer from self-doubt?
There are unachievable double-standards for female leaders. Women are either looked down upon for their nurturing side, or criticized for being too much of a “cut-throat” business woman. Women can win, so we need to redefine what it means to be a female leader for ourselves. As a CEO, I realized that I needed to be a real person, be myself. An authentic ethos is what drives retention and promotes inclusive environments. We created a culture where it’s okay to fail, to learn, and to grow, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t been myself.
While we’re talking advice, can you give our readers some wisdom you wish you’d been given while starting out?
I don’t always have all the answers, and my answers aren’t always right, but I know I can ask for help when I need it. Nobody knows the answers to everything. Knowing that I can lean on others when I need makes me feel like I can achieve anything and teaches me to be more open to others’ ideas.
How do you stand out against your competitors? What sets you apart?
Unlike our competitors, we offer our members a curated experience with help from our algorithm and personal stylists. Members select from a personalized closet that gets smarter over time. Personalized styling meets unlimited rental — every woman’s dream come true.
What do you attribute to your success?
Definitely all of the amazing humans who work at Armoire. This business has been built by women, for women, and it’s exciting to see the growth. We have built a team comprised of 90% women, but this actually wasn’t intentional. Many companies, especially in tech, don’t foster supporting environments for women. If we can attract these talented women who have been excluded from other spaces, it’s our advantage. Creating a workplace that is supportive for everyone, regardless of gender, color, etc, is what truly shows the capabilities of the women on our team, what allows us to be successful, and what really drives our mission in supporting the powerful women in our community.
How do you promote Armoire? What’s worked for you, and (maybe more importantly) what hasn’t worked for you?
We promote Armoire through numerous channels including digital, our Seattle area boutiques, events, and style parties. Style parties are great because members can share Armoire with their friends, family, and coworkers in one of our boutiques, and receive referral credit for each person that signs up. We provide drinks, snacks, and everyone tries on clothes! We’ve tested sponsoring a few smaller podcasts and haven’t seen great results so far, but it’s something we might revisit on a larger scale later on.
We LOVE that you partner with Dress for Success Seattle – tell our readers a little more about their mission.
The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. We’re honored to help boost the careers of local women by providing them with professional attire that we hope brings them joy!
How can we contribute to Dress for Success Seattle?
Visit their website and join Armoire! By being an Armoire member you’re giving back to their organization, since 100% of our retired garments are donated.
It pays to be a #BlogHer reader! Ambika has graciously offered our community $149 off their first two months of Armoire. Just use the promo code ‘blogher149’ when completing membership and only pay $149 for two months unlimited.
A big thank you to Forbes8 for connecting us with Ambika! What would you do if you had access to a 24/7/365 on-demand brain trust? Improve and thrive, that’s what. That is why new resources for entrepreneurs, like Forbes8, are invaluable. It is an app and platform designed for entrepreneurs and gives you access to original series and streaming content from leaders of industry. Search for what you most need at this stage in your entrepreneurial journey and have it delivered to you. Stay disciplined and informed to get where you want to go.