MEET NEDA TALEBIAN FUNK, WG’06

Fashion Innovator and Retail Entrepreneur

Neda Talebian Funk, Founder of Woodley + Lowe

Neda Talebian Funk comes from a background in start-ups, fitness and retail companies. She began her career as an equity research analyst for Bear Stearns, covering the retail industry with a focus on teen apparel retailers, then transitioned into direct roles at several retail companies. In 2011, she co-founded FITiST, the first one-stop membership and bookings platform for boutique fitness and created FITiST Labs, a strategic and brand consultancy where she also served as an advisor to lifestyle and ecommerce businesses such as Lively and Jetblack.

In 2019, Neda was introduced to Rachel Thebault. They identified a void in the Gen-Z market, a lack in reliable sizing, and knew it was hard for brands to find a middle ground between teen and adult wardrobe. (BTW — there are about 30 million Gen Z women born between 1997 and 2012.) When Neda and Rachel realized no one was targeting Gen Z directly despite the Gen Z market growing into their spending power, they co-Founded Woodley + Lowe.

Woodley + Lowe is a digitally native clothing company for Gen Z girls that supplies comfy staples with better options on fit, and tries to offer some relief from body image issues. The clothing is sized from A (a size 12–14 girls) to E (a size 10 women’s) with two options for length in pants. The idea is that girls’ growth is not linear — other companies assume when you grow an inch in the waist you grow an inch in length.

To make sure they were creating a brand that girls think is cool, they hired two high school seniors to run a months-long Instagram focus group with 150 teen “ambassadors” scouted from around the country. The teens ended up picking out most of the styles, colors, details — even the name and logo!

Tell us a bit about your company

Woodley + Lowe is an up-and-coming brand of everyday wardrobe essentials that fit right and feel amazing, ethically made in LA. The brand empowers today’s teens, 20 somethings and beyond through a platform that’s all about body positivity, inclusivity, sustainability, social consciousness and community

What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

There is a void in the teen apparel market. Most of what exists falls short on quality, fit and brand messaging, so we set out to create a brand that offers all of that and more.

What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?

I’ve always enjoyed developing concepts and brands that fill a void, but this concept brings me back to the start of my career, where I spent time as an equity analyst covering teen retailers.

Source: Woodley + Lowe

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

  1. We built this business in less than a year during a pandemic, which entailed lots of fittings and factory visits over zoom.
  2. The number one word used by our customers and fans is “obsessed.”

What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?

  1. Having a direct to consumer model is not sufficient today. You need more than just a website. The future of retail is all about an omni channel approach that effectively integrates offline and online experiences.
  2. The Gen Z audience is more devoted to making a change in this world than any other generation right now.

What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?

Apparel businesses are capital intensive, and continuing to fund inventory and marketing to scale the business can be challenging, particularly in the early stages of building a brand and audience.

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Wharton Alumnae Founders & Funders Association (WAFFA) accelerates the success of women in the startup ecosystem. Join us: HelloWaffa.org

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