Thomas Rankin remembers the day he lost the deal on a Burberry coat. He was on Pinterest and ready to send his order. But when he clicked on the link, it was dead. The transaction was over.
“It totally interrupted my intended purchase,” Rankin recalls. But that one undone sale led to an idea. He sent a 4 a.m. text to his colleague, Tomasz Niewiarowski, suggesting they talk about a product that could help men who love style access their favourite brands easier. Months later, that one final sale led to the Dash Hudson e-commerce app.
“We realized there was an opportunity to create an experience unique to guys,” says Rankin, now CEO and co-founder, whose previous experience includes working as an investment director with Innovcorp and whose uncle was the first Canadian-born Chief Factor at the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada five generations ago. “We wanted to make the process of finding what they want super efficient. We are so efficiency driven in our purchases. When we want it, we want it.”
Rankin jumped into the project full time last fall and now employs four full-time staff and one part-timer. He handles the fund development while Niewiarowski, who’s finishing his masters in computer science, works on the technology.
The free app is simple to use. After signing on, a user answers questions about lifestyle, budget, social life, work and size. With that information, the app recommends style editors that user can follow. Many of those style editors write for publications such as Esquire, Style Bistro and Details. Others are personal stylists or those who work in fashion merchandising. Those style editors provide recommendations for products and men can browse products from top brands. The app is marketed as a cross between a men’s magazine, which gives the advice, and a haberdashery that provides the products.
Each style editor writes blogs about style. Some of the most recent blogs include “Build you basics for city dwellin’,” “Going bow-tie: Here’s how to make it classy” and “Four quick tips to avoid being a sunglasses douchebag.”
“Their role is the curate the products we have in Dash and create content,” says Rankin. “It’s up to them to decide what they want to talk about…It’s interesting, relevant, up-to-the-moment content. It’s very alive… We have some really fun, cool people writing for us. I love the content that’s being put out there.”
Hélène Heath is one of the style editors for Dash Hudson. The New York-based writer first heard of Dash Hudson when Rankin found her LinkedIn profile and saw that she’s a personal stylist with Keaton Row, an “online shopping experience for women.” She calls Dash Hudson “pioneering,” perfect for a new generation of men who love to shop.
“I was totally on board because I was already doing it for women and there’s nothing like that for men,” Heath says. “[Millennials] are more careful about how they present. And they care more about their appearance.”
Heath, who admits to constantly being on her phone, loves the Dash Hudson app for its accessibility. “It’s fast,” she says. “You can actually help men who need the help or don’t have the time to shop.”
Heath says she tries to write a blog post once a week. She will also get notifications from her followers asking for style advice. “Men don’t take pleasure in the act of shopping,” Heath explains. “The don’t dilly-dally with the details. They are looking for something really specific.”
Curtis MacKenzie found the Dash Hudson app via a tweet Rankin sent out over Twitter three months ago. Since then, he’s used the app to make several purchases including for jeans and shirts. MacKenzie, who lives in Halifax, says the app helps him access items he used to easily get when he was living in Toronto.
“When I moved back to Halifax, I found it was difficult to find the things I was looking for,” he says. “You can find the pieces you are looking for and within seven, maybe eight, days have them delivered to your home.”
Beyond access, MacKenzie says loves the sizing the app uses. “I’ve never had a better luck with fit,” he says. “I attribute that to some well managed elements of the app.”
He follows about six style editors at any given time, and says he loves the ideas and recommendations he receives: “It helps you evolve your style.”
MacKenzie, who admits he’s not a mall shopper, says what he loves about the app is the strategy it allows, eliminating the more “unplanned shopping” he’d face at retail outlets. “It’s definitely going to remain a tool for me in how I manage my wardrobe.”
While local men like MacKenize can use the app, Rankin says for now they are targeting markets in the U.S. in cities like Los Angeles and New York, adding with an app like this the location of your home base doesn’t matter. But eventually, he says wants the company to grow and has considerable interest from both giant retailers and publishers. “It’s been a fun company to build,” says Rankin. “It’s really early, but we’re happy with where the company is going…We want to be a global retailer.”