You may not have heard of her yet, but Christine Hunsicker has changed the fashion industry. As CEO and founder of Gwynnie Bee, an online clothing rental subscription service for women sizes 10-32. Gwynnie Bee has given the 67 percent of women who wear a size 14 or above the options they always deserved. In only four years and with over 3 million boxes delivered to members, Gwynnie Bee has gone from four people in an East Village apartment to over 350 employees working out of four different offices across America and India.
Hunsicker and team’s establishment of a new business model for the apparel industry marketplace is resulting in less spending per member while affording partners more opportunities to grow alongside this novel distribution model. With recent additions such as a mobile application, prioritization feature, and basics line, Gwynnie Bee remains leading the industry. Most recently, the company partnered with Rachel Antonoff. In addition, Hunsicker will appear on Project Runway: Fashion Startup this fall alongside designer Rebecca Minkoff and Katia Beauchamp, founder of Birchbox.
How did Hunsicker become such an influential customer?
Hunsicker had always been involved in a few tech startups since 2001, including RightMedia- a direct marketing advertising firm purchased for $850 million by Yahoo in 2007. However, she was always looking out for the next big opportunity. After extensive market research, she found that women who fit sizes 10-32 were unsatisfied with their current clothing options and open to a new relationship with a clothing brand. “The rental, or what we like to call the ‘sharing economy model,’ allowed us to not only provide women more access at lower levels of financial commitment but also promoted the idea of having fun with fashion as a function of the ‘try, wear, exchange’ model,” she told Levo.com.
Recently, it appears that plus-size fashion is starting to gain more mainstream traction, with Gwynnie Bee and Ashley Graham paving the way. “We certainly did not pioneer this movement – we are standing on the shoulders of the early bloggers, writers, and feminists who fought for acceptance. We, as a culture, have been on the edge of this movement that is finally taking off for many years. I hope that this time it will become mainstream. After all, the majority of the population is size 14 and up, yet acceptance is still slow. We are proud to be contributing to this movement.” She continued, “The most meaningful thing about my job is the overwhelming amount of emails and messages we get about how the service has impacted women’s lives in some way. We hear most often that they feel more confident in their everyday lives, it is amazing what the right clothes can do.”
Hunsicker is very successful now, but she has had to face a lot of challenges throughout her career journey. “I’m comfortable with risk. I find that the more you invite people into the conversation to question ideas and the more prepared you are for various outcomes, the more comfortable you can be taking risks,” she told Levo.com. As for what she would tell her 24-year-old self, “Maybe to tone down the sharp edges. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more confident. At 24, I wasn’t there yet and that manifested in probably more defensiveness than I would have liked.”
She would like to expand the company’s collection by collaborating with more designers and brands to provide a larger variety of options for our members. She also said that “We want to keep our members feeling confident and stylish while we continue to be a leader in fashion’s sharing economy.”