Style Lyrical: Adela Hussain
An ex-management consultant, Hussain had to busily buy her clothes in Heathrow Airport before flying - which gave her an idea for a business...
Tell us what your business does:
We are the first service for women in the UK marrying personal styling with clothing delivery. Our professional stylists handpick three outfits that reflect a customer’s personal style and taste from carefully selected boutique brands and deliver them straight to her door.
The whole process is simple and easy and designed with busy women in mind.
Customers fill in a Style profile and upload photos of their existing outfits along with their measurements. Each customer receives a personal consultation with a stylist on the phone for the price of £19.99. They then receive an eight-item capsule wardrobe of brands put together by a professional stylist.
All pieces are delivered in a beautifully packaged Style Box along with personalised style cards showing how to put each outfit together. The service allows customers to take seven days to try on the clothes, decide what they love, then return what they don’t with free shipping.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Style Lyrical was born out of a desire to help busy women, who feel overwhelmed in the morning whilst wondering what to wear. As a former management consultant in London, I struggled to find the time to shop for beautiful clothes at the weekend or online in my lunchbreaks.
Instead I would grab a few pieces, every Monday morning, from the same store at Terminal 5 in Heathrow on my way flying out to meet clients.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I noticed a new trend emerging in the fashion tech market for personalised clothing delivery services for men and women across the US and the rest of Europe. Menswear personalised clothing delivery services were popping up in the UK but no one had started it for women in UK.
I decided to focus specifically for busy corporate women who lack time to shop due to demanding work and home lives. Whilst still working in my corporate job, I did a proof of concept test and hired a stylist to complete a simple version of the service for a pool of customers. It was a success and that led me to quit my job.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was a management consultant for 13 years focusing on company transformations, mergers, acquisition and outsourcing deals. My last job was at in the strategy team at Sky where I worked on the launch of new products and digital transformation.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’ve had a brilliant consulting career in which I developed a good sense of business acumen but I always wondered if I could start my own company from scratch.
Entering organisations and changing them in some positive way is very exciting, but I wanted to take what I learnt and build my own team and launch a product.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and my parents developed and managed five clothes shops at one point so I spent my teenage years working in their shops and dealing with customers. That’s when I also became fascinated with the power of clothes to change the way people look and feel.
How did you raise the money?
Personal savings, a private investor and a start-up loan.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We charge our customers a styling fee of £19.99 per Style Box and we make money on each item of clothing we sell.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I have come across one or two clothing brands that are still surprisingly wedded to the traditional bricks and mortar channel of selling clothing.
Explaining to them that the fashion tech industry is changing consumer habits is helpful to a point, but I concluded that it’s important to develop long term relationships with flexible suppliers who are passionate about embracing new technologies.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Launching on Facebook via my private network and within three weeks being invited in to style 30 women at Accenture.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and spend as much time as you can with other entrepreneurs either by working for one or working alongside many.
My personal network in London was very corporate-filled which is perfect from a customer perspective, but not great for the entrepreneurial mind-set.
I left London and worked at an entrepreneurial centre called Hubud for three months in Bali. There I developed my business plan, acquired an investor, launched my website, attracted my first supplier and developed my packaging and branding. My productivity soared and I believe this was down to the fact that every day I was surrounded by driven and supportive entrepreneurs.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Running a profitable company that delivers a brilliant customer experience by happy and passionate employees.