Two Yale MBA students are on a mission to style the everyday working woman.
On their quest to empower women in the workplace, Laura Pinkham and Kristine Rivera created SUITED, a company that provides rentable outfit combinations for everything from an interview to the boardroom.
“We both felt that workwear was extremely important to our self-confidence — not just because it’s expected in the workplace,” Pinkham said. “We felt that how we looked and dressing in a way that felt right to us was really important [in order] to feel confident and feel great.”
Pinkham and Rivera both spent time in the working world before enrolling in the Yale School of Management. Between figuring out what was appropriate to wear in the workplace, shopping for workwear and dealing with dry cleaning, they found the fashion process could often be confusing and inconvenient, Pinkham said.
“Laura came to me and asked me to be her cofounder for SUITED, and we decided to figure out if the need really existed among other women,” Rivera said.
The pair then surveyed a total of 200 working women from all across the country. What they found is that not only were most of the women spending roughly $3,000 per year on workwear, but they were also shopping within two or three brands and often struggling in the process.
“SUITED was born out of those pain points to provide a more convenient way to access aspirational brands, more variety and style help so that women can look great for work no matter the occasion,” Rivera said.
Whether a woman is an undergrad going into her first interview, earning a promotion that calls for more formal attire or changing industries entirely, SUITED’s services are aimed at women ages 20–30 who are looking to complement their existing wardrobes to fit any professional occasion.
Through SUITED’s online service, customers can browse the company’s lookbook, which contains styling options customized by industry and formality level. When a customer finds their desired style, they can rent the outfit or pieces for one week. SUITED also covers dry cleaning and shipping both ways.
“It’s just really challenging for women, as individuals, to identify, shop for and organize clothing,” Pinkham said. “We made SUITED to make that process a lot simpler and a lot more straightforward.”
Pinkham and Rivera have been working on the company for about a year. They recently held a pop-up shop for Yale students to try on clothes and offer immediate feedback.
“We found [the pop-up shop] very helpful because most of the women were just beginning their careers and didn’t really know what was appropriate in the workplace,” Rivera said.
In order to fulfill the needs of customers who may have questions about how to dress for an occasion, customers can collaborate online with SUITED’s expert stylists when choosing an outfit.
Pinkham and Rivera also enlisted the help of three Yale undergrads to serve as SUITED’s ambassadors. The ambassadors help spread the word about the company throughout the Yale community by coming up with marketing strategies and running SUITED’s social media accounts.
“It’s been a really exciting, mutual learning experience,” Pinkham said.
While their focus is serving the working women of Yale and the rest of New Haven, the duo plans on exploring the idea of eventually extending the service to New York.
Although they face many challenges as entrepreneurs, sticking to one’s passion is the best advice Pinkham and Rivera have for others who are interested in creating a company.
“Being an entrepreneur is challenging and time-consuming, and it’ll stretch you,” Pinkham said. “So I think it’s important to find something that you are truly passionate about and that you genuinely believe in.”
The pair often circles back to the importance of women feeling empowered in the workplace.
“We’re both genuinely inspired by some of the amazing women who do phenomenal things in their careers, and we’ve also experienced the frustration around workwear,” Pinkham said. “So solving this barrier and empowering women through workwear is something that we both feel passionate about.”
Photos courtesy of SUITED.