There are a few titles that probably come to mind when you hear the name Brooklyn Decker. Sports Illustrated model may be one. Actress is another one as she stars on the critically lauded Grace & Frankie of Netflix. And now she has another one for you: tech entrepreneur. Decker apparently wanted to sleep even less than she was already was (she has a toddler at home as well.) But her passion for trying to help women with her new app (which is all about getting you out the door faster to pursue your fabulous lives!) is really what drives her.
"I always wanted to do a business and I thought tech was really interesting because there aren't a lot of women in that world. It's the new frontier," she said. Along with her partner Whitney Casey they explored different ideas and industries and though they were interested in E-commerce, they wanted to offer a real service to women instead of just another buying offering. They started looking at management system companies for travel and work and wondered why this didn't exist for wardrobes? "It's a huge stress point for women figuring out what to wear. Women spend two hours a week figuring out what to wear! Think about all the time you spend packing! Now more than ever women are on the go. Being moms running the household and also juggling their careers. We figure there had to be a solution to this problem and shockingly there wasn't one out there," she told Levo.com.
Cue Decker and Casey founding Finery, the app that is going to Marie Kondo your wardrobe and give you back the gift of time (after all 2 hours a week adds up to two years of your life spent looking at that weird skirt you never ever wear, but swear you will.) They have created an operating system for your wardrobe. With the (free) app your wardrobe is completely analyzed, categorized and presented to you in a way that may make you realize you keep buying too many gray sweaters. So how does this magic occur? The software syncs with your email so it automatically accounts for any online wardrobe purchase you've made and then you can manually add items you've bought in brick and mortar stores. They have basically built Cher's computerized closet from Clueless except even better as this one also has a shopping feature.
Now though, Decker has been working in the notoriously gender bias fields of modeling and film and television, she said the tech industry was actually the worst when it came to treatment of women. "You think Hollywood is exclusive to women and then you see tech where we only make up 7 percent of the industry and we're the ones doing the majority of the household spending? It's crazy!" she said.
Decker saw the gender bias first-hand when she met with venture capitalists about her product. Proving the value of a fashion-centric app to a largely male audience was a challenge, but being taken seriously was a bigger hurdle. "A lot of men asked us to set them up on dates," she says.
Apparently, that's a thing. "We know women who have done that to get their companies started because they thought 'if this is what it takes?'"
What it takes, Decker discovered, was the support of other women. "We got really lucky and took the angel route and found a lot of female investors."
Now Decker is building on that lesson, by learning to be more assertive in negotiation. She had a recent experience where Finery had made a deal with another company and they wouldn't hold up their end of the contract. "My first instinct is to not push back because I could piss people off and Whitney, my partner, said, 'Absolutely not. We held up our end.' She sent this curt email, that was correct, but borderline uncomfortable for me. But it was like, why did that make me uncomfortable? You feel pressure to always have to have that sweetness. But she [Casey] stated the facts and it said it was unprofessional if they didn't follow through and there was some pushback, but then they did it.
I feel like that wouldn't have happened if we weren't two women at a startup. We've had a few things happen like that where you really have to push and ask for more."
However, she has noted that the women she has met along the way have been unbelievably supportive. She gave a loud shoutout to Levo 100 honoree and founder of Halogen Ventures, Jesse Draper, for just being a "wonderful human being" and a great connector to other women. Decker said they also had great luck by taking the angel investor route. Looks like she is conquering this new frontier just fine.
Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Refinery29