Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Trunk Club, a men’s clothing service that makes it easy to find great clothes without any shopping. It was my first experience working at a start-up; when I joined, the company had just hit their first full year of sales, and was growing quickly.
What makes Trunk Club special? For me, the company’s “secret sauce” is in offering guys a better shopping experience, with the added benefit of saving them time.
Watching guys shop through Trunk Club (TC) reminded me of my experience working at a small boutique: TC gives guys a personalized shopping experience featuring curated brands, often locally-based or with limited distribution. It’s a sharp contrast to what I usually see when I co-pilot shopping trips with my boyfriend: occasionally we’ll find a helpful salesperson, but often we’re left to navigate a sea of menswear on our own.
A big piece of what makes this model work is the fact that a focus on the customer permeates all areas of the business. TC’s goal of getting guys in the right clothes translates from the product to the company’s stylists and its operations – and they’re constantly thinking about how to make the experience even better for customers.
As an intern, TC was one of those fun, energizing places to work – the kind of place where everyone believes in what they’re doing, and is excited about it (even before the Kegerator was delivered…).
Trunk Club felt like the cool “start-up environment” I’d always heard about: a beautiful loft space in the art district of Chicago. It was also an exciting time to be working at a start-up in Chicago. “Built in Chicago” was just founded, there was increasing awareness of the entrepreneurial community, and a notable local start-up was preparing to go public.
At the end of the summer, I walked away with some new items in my boyfriend’s closet, a deeper understanding of both retail and start-up operations, and – dare I say it? Is it too cheesy? – a group of new friends.