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Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitch Fix. (Credit: Fortune Brainstorm TECH, Flickr)
Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitch Fix. (Credit: Fortune Brainstorm TECH, Flickr)

On Friday, the world — including women-led companies — will celebrate International Women’s Day. And woman-run public company Stitch Fix is getting its staff involved in the festivities on Twitter.

On Monday, the online styling company used the social network to ask female employees a variety of questions on topics ranging from workplace motivation to how their relationships with colleagues make them feel empowered, using the hashtag #IWD2019.

Founder and CEO Katrina Lake kicked off the Twitter series by commenting on her role model status. “I didn’t want to just be a female CEO. I wanted to be a successful CEO regardless of gender,” she said.

How She Started

Lake founded the company in 2011 while finishing her MBA at Harvard, and from the beginning, she was passionate about creating a space in which women could feel confident in the clothing they wear.

It became a hit among its female clientele. In 2016, she expanded her brand from exclusively offering women’s clothing to include men and children. Those changes brought more success, and she became the youngest female CEO to take a company public in 2017. Stitch Fix then expanded its services to the U.K. in October 2018.

Stitch Fix’s business model is now emulated by many rising, trendy online companies looking to disrupt the shopping experience. Yet despite its success and trailblazing mission, not everything has been smooth sailing for Lake and Stitch Fix. She told Forbes that in the early days, trying to balance graduate school and starting a business was no easy task. And many male investors could not understand her business model.

[Related: A Panel of The Story Exchange’s Favorite Experts Discusses Work/Life Balance]

Eventually, Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Investors realized that Lake could be onto something, and invested in Stitch Fix. Liew has told The Story Exchange that he believes investing in women-run companies is a good business practice, as women seem to be the driving factor behind consumer trends. Companies started by women tend to have insight into what women consumers want, and many of them become highly successful by leveraging that shared understanding.

A Focus on the Workplace

It’s perhaps no surprise that Stitch Fix is focusing on the workplace for International Women’s Day, as the company has a reputation for being women-centric and women-friendly. Its ranking on Fairygodboss, a site that rates companies based on how they treat female employees, is a 4.5 out of 5.

Lake has already inspired other young women to take the leap and start their own businesses. Interior designer Ilana Seid, for example, started her own home goods business after watching Lake balance owning a company and managing a family. “[She’s] my role model,” Seid told us. “She is a young woman who built a business and a family and took a company public.”

As Stitch Fix grows in popularity, Lake will likely influence other women — including the many who work for her. Some are taking to Twitter to applaud how female managers at the company instill confidence and motivate staff to take calculated risks.

And that is something worth celebrating.

[Related: International Women’s Day and the Mothers of Invention]

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