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BY INVITATION ONLY by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson


How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop

by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson & Alexis Maybank

Pub Date: April 12th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59184-463-1
Publisher: Portfolio

The founders of Gilt Groupe chronicle the rise of their smashingly successful fashion business.

The authors met when they were undergraduates at Harvard, where they reunited for business school in 2002. Maybank had worked at eBay, where she was instrumental in launching the company's Canadian and automobile branches, and Wilson had established a solid career in the fashion business. In 2007, at the age of 30, Maybank and Wilson (with a third partner, Kevin Ryan) launched, an online sample sale of top-tier designer clothes at greatly reduced prices. "If shopping had traditionally been a slow, leisurely activity,” they write, “it would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling.” The authors describe in minute detail every decision that contributed to the launch of their business. Part of what set Gilt apart from other websites selling designer clothes was its exclusivity and, for the first time, online access to high-end brands like Zac Posen. is only accessible to members, who are required to give their e-mail addresses. Every day brings a new sale, and each sale lasts only 36 hours. The authors predicted, optimistically, that the company would generate $6 million in revenue its first year; it cleared $25 million. In addition to a description of their business model, the authors offer a fine combination of personal stories and direct advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. The writing is clear, but most impressive is the authors' confidence and exacting attention to every detail.

Well-suited to aspiring fashionistas, entrepreneurs and those interested in the wildfire popularity of this online business.