Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake on investing in bodywear startup Nude Barre

February 27, 2022, 1:00 PM UTC

Since founding popular personal styling service Stitch Fix in 2011, Katrina Lake knows what works when it comes to predicting what consumers want from their online retail purchases based on their respective budgets and style.

Nude Barre was founded in 2009 by CEO Erin Carpenter with the mission to update nude bodywear options for consumers who have been historically overlooked and underrepresented.

Lake, who moved from the CEO role to executive chairperson at Stitch Fix last summer, recently shared more with Fortune about why she invested in the brand.

Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake.
Eric McCandless—ABC/Getty Images
  • Startup: Nude Barre
  • Location: New York City
  • Year founded: 2009
  • Valuation: Declined to disclose
  • Investment level: Seed
  • Number of employees: Seven employees, four contractors
  • Other major investors: Serena Ventures, Bumble Fund, and Freestyle Capital

Why she invested, in her own words

I decided to invest in Nude Barre after its founder and CEO followed up on a time that we met in person, reconnecting through Instagram [direct messages]. I had been taken by her vision and how passionate she was about the mission of redefining the shade of nude in bodywear. Erin founded Nude Barre based on her personal experience as a woman of color within the professional dance industry where nude had only been defined as a singular shade: beige. It was such an obvious and overlooked problem in the category, and Erin, with her drive, passion, and smarts, was the perfect entrepreneur to take it on.

With my experience in fashion, I see a lot of concepts and ideas in the space and, quite frankly, end up investing in very few of them. One particularly compelling element of Nude Barre was that the brand not only had proof of concept, but real traction. Erin already had a base of built-in loyalists in the dance and athlete community, some of whom literally do high kicks in tights every day as part of their profession. These dancers and athletes know the shapewear category best and really put the product to the test. To me, having these brand ambassadors in the toughest to serve segment was such a compelling testament to the quality of the product and the meaning behind the brand. As a Nude Barre customer now myself, I love the high-quality craftsmanship of the product; the tights go from boardroom to night out, and the bralettes are among the most comfortable I’ve tried.

Most importantly, Nude Barre was the first brand to fight colorism in the category by championing for inclusivity in both skin color and size. They offer inclusive sizing and 12 unique shades that are intentionally and thoughtfully created to realistically match every shape and shade of skin. Erin continues to be an inspiration to many including myself, and I’m very proud to play a small role in helping her pave the way for a more inclusive future.

This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.