On the Job: Jincheng Li Th’12, Cofounder of CottonBrew
When he first tried on custom-fit clothing while traveling abroad, Jincheng Li was sold on bespoke tailoring. However, when he returned to California and his job as a product manager at Credit Karma, he struggled to find the perfect fit through several online tailoring services. Now he and partners George Li at the firm’s base in Palo Alto, Calif., and Yicai Bao Th’13 in Shanghai, China are bringing a scientific approach to making custom suits.
Can you explain CottonBrew’s unique fitting technique?
Every year, Americans spend $11 billion on suits and shirts, yet 30 percent of men can’t find clothing that fits. Most online tailors take multiple tries before delivering a perfect fit because they ask the customer for the measurements, and significant training is required to take body measurements accurately. CottonBrew uses high-fidelity data—three photos and one’s height and weight—and runs the data through an imaging process to get the perfect fit. As a result, we have an almost perfect first-try satisfaction rate, significantly better than what’s seen by industry leaders.
What is your production process?
After generating 15 exact measurements, such as stomach and bicep, we send them over to our partner tailors in Shanghai, who make the garment manually. When the garment is ready, Yicai and his team conduct a thorough quality check to make sure that all measurements and details are correct and made according to what the customer wants. He then ships the garment to our customer directly from Shanghai. Typically, it takes less than four weeks to deliver a custom-tailored suit (starting at $449) or shirt (starting at $79).
What resources have you been drawing on since you opened in spring 2015?
CottonBrew was part of Stanford StartX’s spring 2016 program and has benefitted greatly from it. Being one of the top startup accelerators, StartX has a network of great entrepreneurs who have done it before and are willing to answer any question that we might have, from fundraising to marketing to R&D. Also, I think Thayer’s MEM program is a great preparation for starting a company. The engineering projects help you understand how to get things done as a team, while the courses at Tuck enable you to see things on the business side, such as financial projection and marketing, which are equally important when starting a company.