Sidney: Back in 2013, my wife, Nadine, was searching online for a personal shopper. She complained that every personal shopper was way too pricey *and* too fancy for a regular woman.
We wondered if others felt the same way when they searched for a personal shopper. If so, there was probably a market for a fun and affordable personalized styling service. We envision a service where customers would get a personalized surprise outfit, keeping only what they love, and sending the rest back.
I reached out to my entrepreneurial buddy Ben for some help. Ben was in medical school, studying to become a neurosurgeon, but he agreed to help.
Ben: I thought the idea was very odd. Original, but odd. And maybe genius. We named the company after Sidney’s wife Nadine, registered a domain name, and then created a logo. We built the first web site in a weekend, on WordPress and, just like that, Nadine West was born.
Sidney: Customers started signing up right away. They loved the concept. Every time a customer would sign up, I would drive to the mall and buy them an outfit. For almost the entire first year, we did everything manually. Nadine and I would buy every outfit at the mall, write welcome letters, attach stamps, and drop off packages at the post office.
Nadine West was a hit right away. The customers loved it!
Ben: I was spending so much time on Nadine West (and also a nonprofit that I started) that I decided to leave halfway through medical school to join Sidney in Austin and build Nadine West. I packed up all my things into my truck and moved to Austin.
We didn’t have any capital or a formal business plan for Nadine West, but we had a great concept and an iron-willed determination to see Nadine West succeed.
Sidney: Our first warehouse was a 10×10 shed in a friend’s backyard. Ben slept on the floor of the warehouse for six months so that we could spend what little revenue we made on inventory and advertising.
Ben: We were able to move into a bigger warehouse in the summer of 2014. Later that year, we hired our first employee to help out in the warehouse.
We raised a little capital from friends and family. Our goal was to think about the long-term. We wanted to get profitability as fast as possible, so that we could focus on customers and employees, and create a company that was built to last.