Interview with Jill Sherman, CEO of Modalyst – Best Fashion Startup of the Year Nominee

Jill Sherman, Modalyst

We talked to Jill Sherman, CEO & Co-Founder of fashion startup,Modalyst to discuss how Modalyst is leveraging technology to empower emerging accessory designers and boutiques….and well, turning fashionistas into Modalystas.

“I’m just very fortunate for fashion tech to become so important right now and for us to be able to leverage the internet in a way that helps designers and boutique buyers around the world.”

Modalyst, an online wholesale B2B marketplace, is changing the buying game by connecting designers and boutiques through collective buys to test new brands with less restrictive minimums.


With over 11 years experience working within luxury fashion with Prada, Harvey Nichols and Italian Vogue, Modalyst was born from an acute understanding of retail and editorial environments – and a glaring gap in the marketplace. “I took a long hard look at my career to see what I had done and where I could benefit the industry in some way.”

Cut from the same cloth as brilliant fashion tech entrepreneurs like Claire Mazur ofOf A Kind and Erica Bell of Hukkster, Jill and her Co-Founder Alain Miguel, both MIT graduates, have created a business model everyone is gravitating towards.

Recently nominated for Best Fashion Startup of the Year, Modalyst has remarkably spent zero dollars on advertising – it’s all been word of mouth. Jill believes the secret to it all is “satisfying a need in the market amongst both the designers and boutiques in a way that allows people to share the word.” 

So how does Modalyst get buyers to the site? Short lead times, low minimums and an internal affiliate market that offers incentives for both sides. Since January, over 700 designers have asked to be on the platform from over 114 countries, taking an immediate global stance.

Modayst Designer

“We’re a discovery platform representing a more obvious and seamless buying experience for one to buy faster and closer to the trends.” “What we do is expose. We’re an open marketplace that allows boutiques to manage their competitive edge and pull together their purchasing power in a way that couldn’t happen without technology.” Modalyst is creating a way to transform the wholesale model into a continuous buying solution throughout the entire year. We’re about better inventory management and efficiencies within this – this is just one part of it, and you can’t do that without technology.”

Modalyst Products

Modalyst is partnering with another digital player, Boutiika – a complimentary platform servicing the store and helping to find inventory for the customer. Both really are beautiful infrastructures enabling discovery and driving traffic to the stores. Keep your eye out for a few exciting events they’re hosting together next month in San Francisco.

Jill chats candidly how Modalyst is outlined closely to the Lean Startup model. As you all know, I too am a vocal advocate of the Lean methodologies and a recent mentor at a LSM Workshop, so it was pretty exciting to hear yet another Leansuccess story. When asked what advice she’d give herself if she started over tomorrow, she replied “when developing our MVP, we could have been a little bit more minimal…tested and planned a little better to see how we could address certain issues earlier.” 

Extremely humble, Jill ends by telling us “I think we’re only as good as our designers. We make a point to select really high quality designers who are producing awesome goods.”

We’re leaving you all with this teaser from Jill. Expect to see new features rolling out in a few months that no one else is doing and that leverages technology even more.

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