Shopping from your phone or computer has been the preferred method of retail therapy for many over the last decade or so, but with the limitations that the pandemic put into place, it was no longer only a leisurely luxury — it was a necessity. So as retail tries to return to a sense of "normal" with the renewed availability of in-person shopping, how does online shopping reinvent itself as a more personalized alternative? Well, that's the niche that L.A.-based Behold is looking to fill.
Created by vets of retail giants like Nordstrom and Barneys New York, Behold is a modern digital shopping platform (an iOS app is also available) that allows users to customize their experience in a few ways — namely with the help of a team of seasoned stylists to offer suggestions based on existing wardrobe favorites, specific outfit needs, and criteria they set for cultivating a more ethical, sustainable, or otherwise conscious closet.
The base of Behold's brilliance is its "Fashion DNA" function, where users input info that helps personalize the process. From there, you can get help by shopping in real-time with the aid of a stylist, leaving them dedicated requests (whether you're in search of one item or a whole look), or booking appointments. Users can also browse from the Daily Feed and Weekly Edit with suggestions based on their preferences, update their current closet, and more.
Styling, shipping, and returns are free, and there are also no additional fees or subscriptions required.
Behold prides itself on a curated list of emerging and established brands and designers, many of which are sustainable, women-owned, and/or POC-owned (like Ethiopian brand LemLem, Sandy Liang, Rwanda's Cesta Collective, and many more), which respond to an increasing desire for shoppers to be more mindful about their purchases. The personalized angle of the platform makes it easier to find pieces that meet those needs.
The platform also offers options from a range of L.A.-based labels, including luxe womenswear by A.L.C., colorful accessories by Clare V., print-happy dresses from Misa, embroidered blouses by St. Roche, Janessa Leoné's minimalist-chic hats, and handmade footwear by Esquivel, to name a few.
We recently chatted with Behold CEO Terry Boyle (formerly of Nordstrom and Trunk Club) to learn more about how his background inspired a different shopping approach, why the story behind a brand is so important, and where he thinks retail is headed next.
Read on below, and shop Behold this weekend to save 20% off U.S.-based brands through June 1 or score 15% off your first purchase with code BEHOLD15.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from your vast retail experience that lead you to create Behold? What problems were you trying to solve?
When I was at Nordstrom and Trunk Club, I saw firsthand how powerful personal styling could be for customers. But there were so many barriers to customers engaging with a stylist and so most never did. And for those that did, most fatigued quickly on the stylist-in-a-box model.
We wanted to find a way to make personal styling more accessible to customers and to offer styling on their terms, whenever they're ready. On Behold, we offer three types of styling. First, stylists make outfits and curate items that are part of the real-time product experience. Second, customers can submit a specific request to our stylists (ie: I need a new outfit for my upcoming vacation to Europe). And third, customers can make a virtual stylist appointment. All of these are free. We think this focus on a stylist-led experience has made Behold more fun and more useful than other e-commerce sites.
For what type of customer was Behold created?
We created Behold to serve two segments of women — we call them time-challenged and idea-challenged. For the time-challenged, she wants to look great but has a lot going on in her life and doesn't have the time to stay current on the latest fashion sites, influencers, and blogs. She wants someone to do some of the work for her and give her great ideas that she can choose from.
The idea-challenged customer is a little different. She wants to look great but doesn't always trust herself to put together great looks for different occasions. She wants someone she can trust to give her good advice and good ideas.
As it turns out, however, we're also serving a third segment. More of our customers are fashionistas than we expected. Our merchants have a history as fashion directors at Barney's and they really know how to identify up and coming talents. Fashionistas appreciate this brand discovery.
Also, our interactive format lets experts take control and make and publish outfits. A customer can create an outfit from any item on our site and they can edit any outfit one of our stylists has made. This gives expert customers a lot of creative license and freedom to experiment.
Behold features so many women and BIPOC-owned brands. Can you talk about why this is so important to Behold?
When considering our brand assortment, we wanted to make sure that the values we hold in high regard as a company are reflected through the brands that we carry. We look for brand story, quality, value, sustainability, diversity, and inclusivity. Not all brands meet these criteria at the same level, but all brands need this aspirational point-of-view.
Aside from values, we also want to make sure that our offering creates a cohesive story from an aesthetic perspective. We're constantly on the lookout for new brands with a distinct style and point of view. To put it simply, values, style, and the stories behind them are all of equal importance.
How does Behold help people shop more sustainably?
Behold has integrated social values directly into the core of the product. In the case of sustainability, we have an icons so that our customers can see in their personalized feed that denotes if a product is sustainable. We also let customers use "sustainability" as a filter in their searches. We make sustainability part of our navigation similar to what other retailers do with categories like shoes.
In addition, our merchants have been very focused on identifying and working with sustainable brands so we have a solid selection that is growing more quickly than any other category on the site.
How do you think the past year has changed how we shop forever?
I think the pandemic accelerated the ongoing shift from stores to online. As a result, I think there will be even fewer stores moving forward. I think this creates a need for online retailers to do more and create a better shopping experience for customers.
It's not enough to just build a large catalog of stuff for the customer to look through on her own — you need to help her with styling tips, personalization, full looks, and different ways to wear items. Often the customer used to get this type of help when they went into a store, but that's no longer the case.