In the latest in ECA’s interview series with founder and CEOs of innovative ecommerce brands, we speak to Elinor Pitt, Co-Founder, Stitched.
Can you tell us a little about Stitched?
Stitched is transforming the way people buy curtains and blinds online with a simple process. No home visits and haggling. Our 3D and Artificial Intelligence (AR) tech makes it easy to get the best fit and the perfect fabric at the right price.
What are the USPs?
We have three pillars to the business: Design, whereby we strive for great design and quality curtains and blinds; Sustainability, where we have a commitment to providing the most eco-conscious fabrics at the best price; and technology, as we’ve built an easy to use website with clever visualisation tools using 3D customisation and AR.
What were the key drivers for creating the company?
I worked as an interior designer for six years before setting up Stitched and became aware of the complexity of how customers/clients could order made-to-measure products like curtains and blinds. The two biggest pain points were measuring and visualization, which is why we started to work with 3D and Augmented Reality (Visualisation) technologies.
How do you design/create a product – what’s the process?
Customers order free samples through our website (www.stitched.co.uk), once they’ve chosen their fabric they can configure their unique design with our online studio. Once they checkout, customers receive their bespoke curtains and blinds in as little as two weeks.
What is the opportunity to expand the range, categories, and range of materials?
We currently offer over 300 eco-conscious fabrics, and this allows infinite configuration possibilities for our customers. We don’t hold inventory of finished products as all of our curtains and blinds are made unique to our customers’ specifications by our UK ‘sewistas’. With that in mind, we have no immediate need to add huge ranges of other products. The UK curtain and blind market is a £1.5 billion industry, so we have a lot still to conquer just in the window treatment vertical.
In terms of our range of materials, we are focused on eco-conscious fabrics. Forty two million tonnes of textile waste is produced every year, and for that reason we only sell natural or recycled fibres. Our customers are becoming increasingly interested in this, and a large number of them have come to us specifically for this reason. It’s a complicated subject and so we use a variety of metrics to rate our fabrics and publish these freely on our website. Specifically we look at the following areas in fabric lifecycle: natural fibres, recycled fibres, locally milled fabrics, rapidly renewable fibres, and low waste and low toxin production processes.
All our curtains and blinds are made here in the UK, with 75% of our fabrics milled in the UK and every fabric we import from abroad is made up of natural fibres.
What type of customers do you attract?
Our customers are eco-conscious and looking for high quality, long lasting sustainable products via a convenient, low contact, digital service.
Is there an opportunity to sell through retailers alongside your DTC? And would you open physical shops?
We already have partnerships with online retailers Swoon and Made.com and we continue to explore other opportunities in the digital space. We don’t have plans to open physical stores, as we believe the best place for our customers to shop for their home is in their home, which is why we have a big emphasis on 3D and AR technologies.
Can you share some numbers – sales, average spend etc…?
Our average order value is around £1,000 which is typically a couple of items. Basket size ranges vary from £150 to over £5,000 so customers’ decisions vary on their stage/requirements. We have around 25% repeat rate, with the average home having over eight windows, it’s quite common for our customers to buy curtains and blinds for one room and then come back a couple of months later for their next room.
What challenges have you faced and what elements have you had to adapt?
The pandemic has been pivotal for us. Not only were people spending more time at home (and therefore more money on home interiors) but we were forced to change our supply chain as our major workshops were making PPE for the NHS.
We had to think outside of the box on how to get curtains and blinds delivered to our customers and in doing so we discovered local makers (our sewistas) who produce curtains and blinds to an exceptionally high standard for the same price as our largest workshops in half the time. It’s sort of what Deliveroo did for people with bicycles but we did it with master makers with sewing machines and giving seamstresses access to the digital market.
What is the greatest opportunity for the business?
The Covid-19 effect: the pandemic has accelerated retail digital transformation. Despite the headwinds of increased inflation and consumer uncertainty we have always been focused on the long term vision of the business and continue to strive to offer high quality products to our customers in the easiest way possible.