Kassie Rempel was prepared for the unexpected when she created her own online shoe company.
There was one thing, though, she hadn’t quite foreseen: Having to give customers personal fashion advice.
“A lot of times, people would call and say, ‘I just bought this fabulous sandal — what would you wear with it,’” said Rempel, who founded Simply Soles in 2004.
Demand for style advice grew so much that Rempel began a weekly e-mail newsletter called “What to wear Wednesdays.”
Her new business seeks to answer those questions for a wider audience.
District-based Kassie’s Closet, which went up quietly about a year ago as a market trial, officially launched last week with a marketing effort that includes contests and sweepstakes.
The site’s dozen stylists search through more than 300 online shops — ranging from Nordstrom and Target to Neiman Marcus and Gucci — to put together head-to-toe ensembles for busy women.
“It’s about making online shopping smarter and easier,” Rempel said.
The goal, she added, is to keep entire outfits under $600, although some come in at more than $7,000
“There have been times we have gotten carried away — there are some outlandish, eye-candy outfits,” Rempel, said. “But we try to keep the average consumer in mind.”
The typical user, she said, is a 40-something woman professional who doesn’t necessarily have time to shop.
“She — like me — is raising a family, likes to look good, but doesn’t necessarily have the time to shop for the items she loves,” said Rempel, 40, who also owns the shoe line LillyBee.
Rempel would not disclose start-up costs, except to say they were in the low six-figures. Overhead for the site is relatively low, she said, because there are no costs related to inventory, storage and shipping.
Instead, partner sites pay Kassie’s Closet royalties for every sale.
“This way it doesn’t cost the user any money,” said Rempel, who sold Simply Soles to Bethesda-based Skye Associates last year. “It has become clear that women really respond to this business model.”
The next step for Kassie’s Closet, she said, will be to create software that will allow customers to check out simultaneously at multiple Web sites.
“Like most women, I don’t wear head to toe in one brand,” Rempel said. “The goal is to show women how to shop multiple brands at multiple prices to create their own look.”