Orchard-Mile_Window-ShoppingIf you could shop the entirety of your favorite designers collections online, without having to leave your seat, you would. But most e-commerce don’t create worlds through the eyes of the designer. They create worlds through the eyes of their buyer. Which is ideal if their buyer spoke for the untapped demographics the marketing team reminds them they need to reach every quarter, but they don’t. They speak for what they know and understand.

Orchard Mile, a new e-commerce that is changing the way we shop online, is putting power back into the designer’s hands. Founded by three dynamic, brilliant, yet very different women – Jennie Baik, Georgie Benardete, and Julia Wetherell – they have created a platform that’s fun to use, personalize to your liking, yet styled the way the designer intended each piece to be.

Could you give a brief history of your background?
Julia: I went to Georgetown Business School, I worked on the business side of the fashion industry – marketing at ELLE Magazine, advertising at Glamour Magazine. In 2011, I started a fashion technology company that was an automative personal shopper. In 2014, I met these lovely ladies and we came together to start Orchard Mile.
Georgie: I am also a Georgetown alum, I began my career in Foreign Service and then I went into investment banking. I entered technology as an investor, in a previous company, that is still amazingly going on. Through that company I found the idea, people and then the team to put together Orchard Mile.
Jennie: I grew up in Texas, I moved out to New York when I was 22 and also started in my career in finance. I co-founded a start-up in 2004, and then attended Harvard Business School.  Upon graduation I went to work in digital marketing and strategy at Omnicom for four years. Then I was recruited to run strategy at Burberry for the Americas which I did for about two years. I met these lovely ladies and the rest is history.

What missing link in the e-commerce world did you see that made you want to create Orchard Mile?
Julia: We all kind of came at it, we had different backgrounds, different demographics, but we all were tired of searching online. E-commerce sites were starting to feel cluttered and busy. Before Orchard Mile, trying to buy a specific bag or dress you saw in a magazine often seemed like an endless search online. We thought rather than having to go from brand website to brand website in search of that bag or dress, we would offer one digital destination that offers the brands full collections and one seamless checkout.  We wanted to create a digital space that is brand first. Orchard Mile brings the control back into the creator’s hands. When you go to a typical multi-brand e-commerce site, it’s just a product list. It’s beautiful, but they style it their own way.

On Orchard Mile, it’s the way the brands have styled it. It’s the way they’ve envisioned their collection. We bring to life and amplify their advertising and marketing campaigns. Orchard Mile immerses you into that brand’s collection and vision. The aim is to translate the offline experience of walking down Rodeo Drive or Madison Avenue online. Brands online shops on Orchard Mile are reflective of their digital flagships in every way.
Jennie: From the brand’s perspective, Orchard Mile is incredible because it’s one of the only platforms where a brand can show the full collection, the way that the creator wants it viewed. If you’re doing these incredible runway shows, you have your own models, your own styling. Often times other e-commerce platforms don’t show it that way because they re-shoot it, and it loses the creator’s touch. Which is something consumers want to see.
Julia: Orchard Mile is authentic to the brands, our site is all about authenticity.
Georgie: I’m going back to the authenticity, I think also the third layer, is that as women we’re over editorialized. Every site you go to is telling you what to do and what to wear, because we don’t carry any inventory, we’re here to present the collections. We trust that the Orchard Mile woman knows what she wants, and she wants to find it in the easiest way possible and keep living her beautiful life. We of course have content, we editorialize though we’re not telling you what you should be wearing because we’re running out of stock of a certain item and we need to move that inventory. We are telling you about an item because we love it. There’s that authenticity and that transparency that we’re here to connected you to the brands but we know that you know what you want and Orchard Mile is an easy accessible place to get it.

48FB0021-9390-4029-BF91-C310DA796F19Yes, of course. Over time you’ll be adding more brands. Do you ever think there will be a point where you’re like, “Okay, we’re at 150, we can’t add anymore.”
Julia: The beauty of online is that there’s endless real estate. It’s not like you’re confined to what’s in the mall. We are adding brands right now and will continue to add brands that we feel are relevant to our user. The largest criteria we look when deciding on adding a brand is, is this a brand we want to wear. We are three very different individuals with different lives, and we choose the brands that resonate with us.
Georgie: With any one of us.
Jennie: We all have unique styles and its interesting that this platform can adapt so quickly to Julia’s, Georgie’s and my style. You can create your own personal shopping mile by clicking which categories you want to see from different designers. So for us, it’s not about telling people, “Here’s the top ten bags, or here’s what’s in or out every season.” We want to show what’s relevant to our consumer, and we would never try to push something on our site that we would never wear ourselves.

That actually leads into my next question. What is the vetting process? Do they have to be well-known? Do they have to be established? Will there ever be a point where you’d be interested in emerging designers? Just things like that.
Julia: We first decide if the brand feels authentic to the site, we ask ourselves if we would wear the designer. Right now, I think it’s the perfect mix of the well-known, larger heritage brands, and a lot of up-and-coming emerging designers. We feel like the Orchard Mile woman has her own unique style. Like us, we want to not look like everyone else. We love up-and-coming designers, we also love our classics. It’s not just super luxury, it’s that mix between modern-luxury contemporary, and luxury brands.
Georgie: The one requirement that we have for brands is that they need to have an existing e-commerce site. That’s right now one of the technical requirements. We’re always on the lookout for new emerging brands. Women tell us, I can come to your site and find known brands and for the brands that I don’t know who they are, I trust they were chosen for a reason.  The trust comes from the fact that we keep the site authentic to who we are, as three women entrepreneurs, we make sure that Orchard Mile is not anonymous, big, abstract e-commerce.
 Just building upon a point that Georgie had mentioned earlier, because we show an incredibly wide assortment and are not tied to inventory investment, we’re not pushing items or brands based on our margins. We genuinely vet and ultimately pick the designers, brands, and products that we love, and that’s important. I think that sense of authenticity has been really lost online and our goal is to bring it back with Orchard Mile.

Definitely. What are some of your favorite collections on the site?
Georgie: I’ll start. My two obsessions are Roland Mouret, which I really love, I appreciate it. It’s fits me perfectly. I’m petite, so sometimes things are too big and this fits me perfectly. There is South African accessory collection called Okapi. I love it because it’d built by local artisans. It’s like a sense of history, helping the economy with exotic, like ostrich, sustainable, full-cycle. It appeals to my environmental side. 
 We all have of our favorites. I love the streamlined nature of Derek Lam’s collection. I think the pieces are really versatile and refined.  I also love the mix at Bandier and the athleisure trend. I don’t know if I could necessarily get away with something really bohemian, but it’s fun to to be inspired and dream about the woman I could be should the mood strike, even if it’s not necessarily “me” on a day-to-day basis.
Julia: My two favorites for sure are Matthew Williamson and Temperley London. Having their full collections and bringing in the history of the brand, their look books, their runway shows, I’ve become so much more immersed in them. Orchard Mile gives you a different appreciation and that connection to the designer and the brand. For example, I always liked Temperley in the past but because of the way Orchard Mile has fully immersed me into the world of that brand, I have become obsessed in a way that I wasn’t before.

Orchard-Mile_Brand-StoreAre there any lines that you’d love to have on Orchard Mile?
Jennie: I think we have been working really hard, and so we’re thinking a little bit about our holiday breaks. I’m thinking about Mexico, and I think resort wear, I personally would love to have a Zimmermann on the site. I think it’s really beautiful and fills the niche.
Julia: Jonathan Simkhai. We love his collection. He’s doing so well. Now that we’re heading into resort, we’re focusing a lot more on resort collections and swimwear, travel.

Can you talk a little bit about My Mile?
Julia: My Mile is definitely one of Orchard Mile’s most unique features that differentiates us from the other sites because it allows you to create your own editorial. We’re saying check out the brands full collections and choose the categories you love from your favorite designers and personalize your own shopping street.  Rather than following a brand, or just adding individual products to your wishlist. You’re able to actually choose what you want to see from that brand and those specific product categories are updated in real time.
Georgie: My Mile is terrific because it continues to populate itself. It’s basically like you’re landing in your own homepage. If you said I like Roland Mouret tops, every time you go to My Mile you will see all the new from the tops from Roland Mouret. My Mile is fantastic because it is not static and it will always show you exactly what you want to see.
Jennie: This is a dynamically updated stream of your likes. Imagine if you were a buyer at “X” department store, what would you have in your store? My Mile on Orchard Mile allows the consumer to have that experience in real time.

Quickly back to Miss Pop [we discussed Miss Pop before we started recording], you mentioned featuring her, is that something that you guys have already starting doing or looking to do more so in the future? Like featuring creative talents like that?
Julia: Yes, there are three ways to shop on the site. The main core feature is going from brand store to brand store. We feel that people like to also see all the dresses at once, so you can still shop by categories. If you want to see all of the red dresses, you can do that through the search function. Then we have our editorial section, where we feature style icons, it’s called “Walk the Mile.” The Walk the Mile participant will choose a destination that is reflective of her style or that influences her style. There’s a little interview, pictures, and then products she has chosen from the site that are reflective of her style. Then we also do other trend stories and occasion stories.
Georgie: It’s also varied, I think it goes back to the idea of authenticity, the women who “Walk the Mile” are people that have a strong sense of who they are and what their style is all about. They are diverse and interesting women who appreciate and surround themselves with beauty. 
 Editorially we really want to be featuring women who are just different. Who are very strong powerhouses in themselves.

So the focus, would be women? Basically.
Georgie: For now, we are only asking women and our featured roster of designers to participate in the “Walk the Mile” feature but as we remain true to who we are and how Orchard Mile evolves, we are open to including anyone who feels authentic to the site and that feature.