Jade Huang built StyleSage on a unique story of self-education and strategic networking.
StyleSage delivers data-driven insights to help fashion retailers and brands become faster and smarter in line planning, in-season steering and international expansion. StyleSage collects, analyzes and visualizes eCommerce activity across 1000 retailers, 53,000 brands and 100M products in over 200 countries using their proprietary machine learning algorithms and technology. In less than two years of operating, Jade has been profiled as a top innovator by Glamour Magazine, Vogue, The Financial Times and The Economist.
Jade moved to New York City at age 17 to study fashion design at Parson's School of Design. By the end of the year she had dropped out of Parson's and was teaching herself graphic design and programming. Later, she enrolled at FIT and then to INSEAD for an MBA. It was at INSEAD that inspiration struck. She examined a Zara case study about the company's use of data in decision-making . Jade knew that 99% of businesses were not utilizing data and data analysis in the way that Zara was. This is where the idea for StyleSage started. Jade knew she could democratize the whole process and needed a high-level executive to validate the idea.
While living in France, Jade and her partner scheduled a two-hour sit down with the CEO of a huge European retailer by cold emailing him from a university alumni directory. The executive essentially told them that the world wasn't ready for their product and it needed some adjustments, which ultimately pivoted their idea into what StyleSage is today.
The same cold email strategy was true for Jade when she reached out to the candidates for her board of advisors. Jade and her partner knew that they had lack in domain expertise and needed to make up for it in board members. Not only was Jade looking for well rounded people, but someone who could really bring domain expertise in fashion and b2b sales.
When Dignitas asked Jade how she reached out to those people she said, "I essentially stalked them. Ha but, most of them were from my MPA and MBA network and I met with them to discuss it."
Not all of the people she spoke with made a decision right away. Some conversations would take place after Jade invested time in meeting with them regularly over coffee or discussing the business at a greater length, asking for feedback and getting to know them before an offer was made.
What is inspired about Jade's story is the importance she put on activating her network when it came to looking for candidates. Looking in your own network with an innovative and unique perspective gives you the opportunity to meet people through a network you already have.
When thinking about what she wish she had done differently, the only regrets she has are personal obstacles. "I wish I would have been more strategic about what types of jobs and opportunities I took. I wasn't strategic enough about what I wanted to do," she said. When asked about advice that she has for other entrepreneurs, Jade's answer reflected the importance of strategy again.
Can you relate to Jade's story or have questions about governance or board structure? We encourage you to take our Governance Readiness Assessment below to give you a personalized idea of what governance structure works best for your business.