Online Personal Stylist Company Comes To Image-Conscious Dallas

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Being able to shop in your pajamas from the comfort of your living room was supposed to fix all the problems with brick and mortar shopping. Shoppers Avery Heldenfels, Catherine Albrecht and Kelsey Butt talk about their hangups:

“You, I guess you have to get out and go, and find parking, sometimes that’s hard depending on where you go, they can be busy and they don’t always have your size,” Heldenfels says.

“If it’s crowded and also if the salespeople are constantly hounding you then it takes away from the whole aspect of it.” Albrecht says.

“You waste just a whole day sometimes if you’re looking for something specific, so that drives me nuts,” Butt says.

But, these shoppers tell me that online shopping creates its own headaches.

“Online is always difficult because sometimes things look like they’re better quality online or they’re going to fit a certain way and then you get them and they don’t,” Butt says.

“Online, definitely paying for shipping, not being able try on the clothes, not seeing what they look like in person,” Heldenfels says.

While it’s not a life or death problem, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Katrina Lake thought it was one she could solve. And if she could combine the best parts of online shopping with your local mall, she could make a lot of money.

“Part of the ‘a-ha’ moment was when you go into a store you can say like I want something I look awesome on a first date or something like that and it’s so hard to do that in e-commerce,” Lake says. “So you can search for the cheapest black dress or the black dress that’s going to ship to you the fastest, but it’s so hard to be able to say which one am I going to look best in or which black dress is best for me.”

She created a company called Stitch Fix, it’s a personal stylist service that sends you five items of clothing a month chosen just for you. You buy what you keep, and each item costs $50. The service is designed for women who like clothes but are too busy to shop.

That sounds just like everyone Alli Finney knows – she’s a fashion editor at D Magazine in Dallas.

“I definitely think we have a huge executive industry here and we have a lot of women that want to look good,” Finney says. “And I definitely think it’s because the city has a pulse on what’s happening and has a pulse on what’s new and trending and I think we definitely take advantage of that in every way that we can.”

That might be why the company picked Dallas for its third national distribution center.

“Texas is important to us for a couple of reasons,” Lake says. “First and foremost we have many many clients in Texas, and so our Dallas distribution center will serve the vast majority of our clients in Texas, and it’s great to be able to have stylists who are local and who understand Texas culture and what people are looking for.”

The company will hire up to 500 people for the Texas jobs, and, depending on interest, might expand into other image-conscious Texas cities.

It’s not clear whether Stitch Fix is turning a profit, but in its last round of seed funding, investors valued it at over $300 million.

Keeping Up With The Demand For Specialty Eggs

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Two egg giants, Cal-Maine Foods and Rose Acre Farms, have announced they’re teaming up to build a massive shell-egg facility in Red River County, Texas. The facility will house more than two million egg-laying hens. The companies are expanding to meet the growing demand for cage-free eggs, which can fetch a serious premium – sometimes doubling their price at the register.

At the local grocery store, there’s a definite choreography in front of the egg cooler. Customers pace back and between the four refrigerators and browse the selection.

Sangay Sabu is deliberating which type to put in his basket.

“Large eggs, grade A, grade double A, extra large eggs, large organic, extra large organic, pasteurized, extra large grade A, locally produced,” Sabu reads. “And there’s like a whole other aisle of eggs…that’s a lot of eggs.”

Once he picks, he’ll do the same thing everybody else does, without fail.

“I always open them up to make sure they’re not cracked,” shopper Mary Jane Secret says.

But when you’re looking at 15 or more different types of eggs, how do you pick what to put in your cart?

“Because they’re extra large, so I wanted extra large,” Secret says. But everybody has their own preference.

“They’re the cheapest,” says Crystal Mitchell.

“I usually get the organic, cage-free, mainly because I’m a vegetarian so that’s important to me,” Jaime Phelps says.

“I usually buy something that’s cage free vegetarian fed and I like that the label said it’s enhanced with vitamins and other goodies,” says Mark Burns.

“I usually buy the store brand because it’s cheaper and I feel like all eggs are the same,” says Andrew Litwin.

Shoppers all have different tastes, and there’s a type of egg for each of them. Craig Coufal teaches poultry science at Texas A&M.

“Demand for specialty eggs continues to increase every year and now it’s representing probably a good one-fifth of the market for eggs in the United States,” Coufal says.

As long as the market keeps growing, egg suppliers like Cal-Maine Foods will continue supplying specialty eggs. Tim Dawson is a spokesperson for Cal-Maine.

“It’s certainly our job to meet the demand that the consumer has,” Dawson says. “It used to be not to long ago that there wasn’t a very large selection of eggs, but if you go into the egg case today you’ll find a very large selection of eggs.”

Coufal says now is a good time for specialty egg producers.

“Right now egg markets are very good – egg prices are very high, feed costs are reasonable – so egg producers are doing well,” he says.

Dawson says that’s largely because eggs have lost their bad rap. Now, people think of them as healthy food, and the USDA and FDA have adjusted their cholesterol restrictions accordingly.

“There’s more of a recognition that the cholesterol and the diet is not necessarily the issue that creates problems for cholesterol in the blood,” Dawson says.

The federal government will release new dietary guidelines this fall. If the preliminary meetings are an indicator, the nation’s dietitians will recommend people eat one egg per day.