Our latest Digital Darlings are power duo Katie Nadler and Degelis Tufts of TopShelf Clothes. After graduating from Harvard Business School in 2012, Katie started TopShelf with a vision of making online shopping easier and more efficient for the working girl on-the-go. Degelis joined as the company’s COO in 2013 after spending two years at J.P. Morgan in New York and three years at Sands Capital in D.C. We sat down with them to talk fashion, start-ups and tech.
What is TopShelf Clothes?
TopShelf is a personalized e-commerce site for busy women. It allows you to bring your closet online with a click of a button, and then delivers stylist-created outfit recommendations based on your lifestyle, budget, and existing wardrobe.
Katie, why did you decide to start TopShelf?
I saw an opportunity to solve a real problem with an innovative approach. With 41,000 online options for cocktail dresses, it was clear that women needed help filtering through this selection in a personal way. Our closet technology allows customers to shop alongside the clothes they own and receive truly personalized recommendations. It makes the whole online shopping experience much more manageable, especially for time-starved women.
Degelis, what made you leave your high-paying finance job for TopShelf?
Working long hours in finance, I never had time to shop or keep up with trends — I needed to shop online, and I needed help. I loved the concept of TopShelf and was ready to take an entrepreneurial turn in my career.
What’s a typical day at work for you two?
We have a lean team, so we operate with “all-hands-on-deck” – every day we are working on our site content, partnerships, tech development, finances and managing our stylist network. Never a dull moment! Also, our office is located in WeWork Labs in Soho, which is a co-working space for startups, so we meet new interesting people every day.
What is your advice for young people launching startups?
There are 4 pieces of advice that works in almost any startup environment:
1. Make sure you believe in the business and are passionate about the product or service you are providing.
2. Remember it’s a meritocracy. No role is strictly defined. If you can add more value than your “defined” role, don’t be afraid to be proactive!
3. Be flexible. A startup’s needs change quickly, so the ability to wear many different hats is always appreciated on a small team.
4. Most of all, love the people you’re working with and help each other stay positive and resilient during hard times, because building a company is never without its struggles. However, if you’re lucky you will have more ups than downs!
What is the best advice you were ever given?
Katie: Some of the best advice I was given is actually very simple: “Decide what NOT to do.” At the time, I’m not sure I fully appreciated its importance, but now I believe strongly in this concept. When you are starting a business, there is a lot of background noise and an endless number of ways you can spend your time. Identifying the things that should not consume your time and maintaining focus on what truly matters to your success is a great way to make each day as productive as possible.
Now, let’s talk style. What would be a good outfit for Governor’s Ball?
We are all about the festival look. One of our Rebecca Minkoff favorites is the floral cutout Hawk Dress paired with flats. You should always opt for a crossbody bag so you don’t need to worry about holding onto it. We like the Rebecca Minkoff Mini 5-Zip bag in black.
What are some of your favorite trends for summer?
Katie: My favorite trend for summer is floral everything. Floral dresses, tops, shorts, the list goes on! I wouldn’t recommend wearing them all together, but it’s definitely worth adding some key pieces to your wardrobe.
Degelis: I’m excited that tribal touches are coming back this summer. I would recommend the Gia Tank by Rebecca Minkoff.
What are your style essentials?
A day-to-date dress that’s office appropriate yet flirty enough for an after work date. Katie wrote a great article for women&co on wardrobe essentials. Basically, pick something that works for all seasons, is not overly trendy, and that you can wear comfortably for 10 hours at a time!
Also, a dependable tote is also essential for running around NYC from meetings to coffee dates to the gym, which is why we think the Rebecca Minkoff M.A.B. Tote is a must-have.
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