Feeling “guilty” about your closet? Want to show up in style for work and life and want to shop sustainably? Ambika Singh of Armoire has the solution to make you look and FEEL great. When Ambika was in business school at MIT, her interviews with 500 women revealed that there was a need for a new way to dress for our careers that fits our bank accounts, our hectic schedules, and our desire live more sustainably. Based on this research and her passion for entrepreneurship, the clothing rental company, Armoire was born.
I shop for food and drink and home goods on The WMarketplace -- it's one of my favorite destinations for great gift ideas.
How did you hear about The WMarketplace?
I’m proud to call Kate Isler a friend and former colleague, and have followed her career for years now. I have been a fan of The WMarketplace since its inception as an avid supporter of Kate! I shop for food and drink and home goods on The WMarketplace–it’s one of my favorite destinations for great gift ideas.
(Thank you, Ambika!)
What inspired you to start your business?
I started Armoire while I was in business school at MIT. At the time, we interviewed 500 women about their relationship with their closet, and a key theme that bubbled up was around feeling “guilty.” There are great expectations on women to show up strong and stylishly–whether it’s at work or at a weekend wedding. But that burden leaves women feeling negatively about the time and money that they’re spending at traditional retailers, and grappling with the environmental impact of overconsumption. I felt inspired to help women reclaim their time and show up in style–without forfeiting a lot of money or a commitment to sustainability.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
I founded Armoire six years ago now–in 2016. At the time and to this day, the startup narratives that are most prevalent in the media are focused on huge fundraising rounds, rocket ship growth, and quick exits. For a while, I thought that would be my startup experience as well! But over the years, I’ve learned that building thoughtfully takes time, and it’s important to fall in love with the process. The day-to-day work needs to fuel you more than any potential flashy outcome.
Why did you decide to join The Wmarketplace?
At Armoire, we take a lot of pride in sourcing and promoting great inventory partners–we are a platform for upcoming brand discovery. Our members love to wear values-aligned brands, whether they’re sustainably sourced; locally-owned; or founded by great women, BIPOC, or queer designers. Similarly, The WMarketplace has an incredible mission: shop your values and change the world! Because this ethos has driven so much of our member loyalty, The WMarketplace seemed like a great partner through which we could identify new customers.
Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?
We’re lucky to have incredible customers who are willing to provide very valuable user experience anecdotes, as well as brilliant advisors who dispense critical advice. I have “AHA!” moments on a near-daily basis because we’ve cultivated such a rich feedback loop, and I’m really grateful for all of the support in helping us get better. The real challenge is discerning where to tune in and what to prioritize. Points of view are plentiful, but the biggest opportunity we have as a startup leadership team is determining the right insights to focus on that will really move the business. It’s a great spot to be in–too many “AHA!” moments..
Build a habit around taking risks–even if they’re really small at first, like asking a connection for a mentoring call. The answer will sometimesbe ‘no,’ and you’ll develop resilience over time, as well as the confidence to take bigger swings.
Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?
Family photos inspire me. As the child of hardworking immigrants, my parents modeled for me at a young age that risk-taking is to be celebrated, and that home is the place to get extra encouragement to tackle your fears. My husband is an incredible partner, and constantly motivates me to show up strong even when I’m not at my best. We were thrilled to welcome our first child–a son–last year. My goal is to demonstrate to my son that I’ve built something that I’m really proud of in Armoire. Looking at photos of all of these incredible humans keeps me going!.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
My advice is threefold: 1. Surround yourself with inspiring people and role models who are taking chances and betting on themselves. That energy is contagious, and this is the community that you need to pursue entrepreneurship aggressively. 2. Build a habit around taking risks–even if they’re really small at first, like asking a connection for a mentoring call. The answer will sometimes be ‘no,’ and you’ll develop resilience over time, as well as the confidence to take bigger swings. 3. Reduce your stress. It’s difficult to build a business when you’re harried and exhausted. Eat well, get enough sleep, and take care of yourself so that you’re building from a place of power and not pouring from an empty cup.
If a journalist were to write a headline about you/your business, what would it be?
Armoire empowers working women to reclaim time with fashion on demand and smart styling services.
Thank you, Ambika for your incredibly wise and encouraging words – and that is the headline we definitely would write for you!.
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.