- Names: Alexis Maybank & Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
- Job Titles: Co-founders of GiltGroupe.com
- Went to Harvard for her undergrad as well as her masters.
- Prior to Gilt Group, she was an early member of the eBay team, where she later launched and ran eBay Canada, and later helped to found eBay motors.
- Went to Harvard for her undergrad as well as her masters.!
- Prior to Gilt Group, she was responsible for the retail operations at luxury retailer Bulgari. She also managed Leather Goods Sales Planning for Louis Vuitton North America.
Alexis and Alexandra were longtime friends from their college days at Harvard, and said that they had always wanted to do a business venture together. They both went into different industries, Alexis to eBay and Alexandra to the world of luxury goods, but never lost their passion to create something of their own. They both had a love for the upscale fashion world, and would often sneak out together during lunch time to hit up sample sales. Tired of waiting in the inevitable long lines, they realized that there has to be a better, more efficient way to do this. And thus, the idea of Gilt Groupe, the online sample sale website, was born.
Gilt Groupe was founded in 2007 by Alexis, Alexandra and Kevin P. Ryan. This membership only site stages online ‘flash’ sales, offering women’s, men’s and children’s designer apparel and accessories, designer home goods and high-end travel destinations at discounted prices in a limited-time sale format, typically 36 to 48 hours. But in 2007, they had only 8 sales lined up with their very first sale being with their personal friend and designer Zac Posen. As they crossed their fingers in hopes that people would be interested, they took a huge sigh of relief when they sold completely out of Zac’s collection in little to no time at all.
In the beginning, they were able to leverage the pre-existing relationships that they had with designers to get them to sell them their leftover samples. Essentially, it’s a win-win for both parties: designers get to sell off their leftover stock and Gilt Groupe gets to make a profit. And in the recession that has struck the fashion industry deeply over the past few years, they have been a god send to many designers that are struggling to stay afloat, offering what they call a “safety net” for designers to take risks again.
Not only are they widely loved by the industry, but their clientele is bringing them in major money. In 2010, their 3rd year of business, they did $500 million in revenue! Now offering multiple sales simultaneously, they’ve successfully created an atmosphere that makes users want to come back and see what’s new today. And because you know that the item you’re desiring won’t be there long, you have to snag it immediately! (Hey, where else are you going to be able to get Pour La Victoire shoes for 50% off?!)
While they started as a women’s shopping site only, they’ve expanded vastly into different markets. They now offer Gilt Man, Gilt Children, Accessories, Gilt Home, Gilt Food and even Jetsetter, a luxury travel service where you’ll be able to find incredible deals for travel around the world. Most recently, they’ve launched Gilt City, which is where you can go to find specific deals per city. (Hey DC friends, they just launched Gilt DC a week ago, you have to make sure you visit the site and sign up– these deals are amazing!)
Have you tried Gilt Groupe? Do you love it as much as we do? If so, what’s the best purchase you’ve made from them? We’re dying to hear!