A lingerie startup in Waltham has been keeping a low profile, even after raising more than $3 million in venture capital. Peach is quietly assembling a network of commissioned sales agents around the country — the company calls them “stylists” — who will help market the company’s line of bras, underwear, and hosiery. Peach’s emphasis is on better-fitting lingerie, and the stylists will do measurements in customers’ homes and their own, CEO Janet Kraus said.
Peach isn’t exactly a new company; it’s a reinvention of a 2004 vintage startup called Zyrra, which sold $98 bras that were custom-crafted, based on a woman’s exact measurements. Zyrra won $50,000 in the very first MassChallenge startup competition in 2010, and raised roughly $1 million from individual investors. (I covered the company in 2009.)
Kraus was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School who had a seat on Zyrra’s board. “I watched and helped as certain things were really working, and others weren’t working as well,” she says.
One big issue: customers didn’t like waiting six to 10 weeks for their custom-made bras. In 2013, Kraus signed on as CEO, with Zyrra co-founder Derek Ohly staying on as chief operating officer.
They developed the Peach brand, expanded the company’s product offerings to things like tank tops and sleepwear, and stopped producing the made-to-order bras. Peach stylists still visit customer’s homes or hold office hours in their own homes to take measurements. Then, Kraus said, when customers re-order products from the website, they can access their stored sizes.
The company’s target market, Kraus said, are women over 30 who “look at Victoria’s Secret and say, ‘It’s awesome that Heidi Klum is 41 and looks like that, but who really does?'” She adds that many moms “put shopping for this category of clothing below getting a root canal.”
Kraus said that the company has been recruiting stylists around the country. “We’re at about 100 stylists in 20 states,” she said. Peach has also begun holding promotional events in cities where it has clusters of stylists. The events take place in hotels or country clubs, and they offer fittings for Peach products along with manicures and massages. Kraus says the company may do its first one in Boston this May or June.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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