Loom Décor founders Nichole Ocepek, Ashley Baker, and Jessa McIntosh
Founder/CEO, Loom Décor
The early threads of Loom Décor, launching next month, were sewn at MIT Sloan.
Ashley Baker began planning the website—where customers can design their own furnishings and virtually plan their rooms, without the hefty price tag—in MIT Sloan classes.
Before attending the School, Baker worked as an interior designer and knew that a designer’s cache of fabrics is inaccessible to the public.
“Regular consumers can’t buy designer fabrics,” Baker said. “They have to buy them through interior designers. As a young professional, I couldn’t afford that. That was the vision for Loom Décor. I wanted an average American with a stylish sense to get a designer look without having to work with a designer.”
“We are essentially using an online platform to allow consumers to design their own home furnishings using designer fabrics,” she said. “Plus, we have stylists available to help and handle the annoying logistics.”
Conceived at MIT Sloan, Baker brought Loom Décor back to the School earlier this year as part of MarketLab, the Marketing Club’s popular action-learning initiative. In MarketLab, students are given the chance to work on real-life marketing projects for companies such as Google, Mercedes-Benz, and smaller startups such as Baker’s.
“I was actively looking for a way to get involved with MIT,” Baker said. “And working with students is a great way to be able to work on the strategic issues that we didn’t have time to work on. Also, they could take a step back and look at the business for us, because we were just ‘in the weeds’ with building the site.”
Baker and her partners devised a project plan for a MarketLab team that included help defining offline channels and go-to-market strategies. The team—MBA ’12 students Jossy Lee, Vanessa Kafka, and Lucy Wang—researched the channels that Loom Décor was considering. They were rewarded with first place at the Spring 2011 Yahoo MarketLab Awards.
“They did an amazing job,” Baker said. “My team was really enthusiastic, energetic, and creative. I was really impressed with their project plan. It allowed us to do research and strategic planning that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.”
The team was thrilled with its first-place reward and the experience of working with Baker.
“Loom Décor was a fantastic company to work with,” Kafka said. “Ashley was actively involved in the process and was really excited to have us working on such a high-priority project. After spending the semester researching channel options they could use to complement their online service, we provided them with a series of recommendations, taking into account best fit, given the pros and cons of each, as well as the company’s short-term constraints and long-term goals.”
The team investigated lower-cost offline retail channels such as trunk shows, pop-up shops, home parties, and in-home consultations. Baker is already planning to implement some of the team’s recommendations, specifically trunk shows, which she began organizing this holiday season.