Women in Business: Shefali Khanna, Co-Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer, DAILYLOOK

Shefali Khanna brings more than 18 years of fashion industry experience as the Chief Merchandising Office and Co-Founder of DAILYLOOK, a premium online shopping destination that offers contemporary brands and curated looks, providing women with the latest street-style inspired looks that could be shopped from head-to-toe.

Her reverence for Brand Management, Retail Buying, and Merchandising began at the multinational chain Macy's Inc., as a Merchandiser where she partnered with private label and product development teams on strategic direction of the federated division.

She also successfully left her mark at various multi-million dollar fashion brands as a Retail and Merchandising Executive such as Old Navy - Gap, Inc., Lucky Brand Jeans, Free People - URBN, Inc., PacSun where she fully executed buying strategies and conducted strategic planning.

Her current adventure & passion began with co-founding DAILYLOOK with a dream to build an inspiring brand. Founded in 2011, DAILYLOOK was created with the goal to solve a real fashion dilemma many women face - how do you combine different fashion pieces to complete the perfect outfit? Since then, it has evolved to become the premium online shopping destination that inspire confidence through self-expression. Introducing new trends and new looks that will elevate a 25-35 year old on-the-go woman's style effortlessly on her schedule.

DAILYLOOK continues to transform the way women shop, launching ELITE; a personal styling service aimed to make shopping effortless. Powered by an innovative technology platform, our world class styling team delivers items tailored to our clients' needs and lifestyle, saving them time for everything else.

Between perfecting the online shopping experience of the DAILYLOOK woman, expanding the new personal styling experience, DAILYLOOK Elite, Shefali continues to manage & cultivate her team, building an incredible brand and encouraging a creative working environment in the fashion industry.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Since moving to the U.S. from India, I have been very spontaneous with decisions. I have lived in a number of different cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia) and have been fortunate enough to receive amazing opportunities in which I have uprooted my life many times to pursue. Taking these chances has prepared me to take risks and use it to my benefit. I've made great connections and learned a lot along the way. As a leader, and a leader in the fashion industry in particular, you have to keep evolving. My experience over the past 18 years has taught me that nothing is impossible, so stick to what you want to do. I have been told "no" many times and this just pushes me to do more, better. Since launching DAILYLOOK, we've had a lot of changes in the business and it makes me appreciate the small milestones and absorb these moments because it gives you the encouragement to keep moving forward and keep improving.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at DailyLook?
At every level at every company, I have learned a lot. While at Macy's Inc., I learned a lot about product development, quality, and value. At Old Navy, I gained experience in learning to negotiate, work as a team, and how a big ship maneuvers itself to make a shift in business. Everyone at Old Navy had a great time at their jobs and really emphasized the importance of working hard and playing hard. At Free People, I gained knowledge on branding, how to tell a story, and the ins and outs of e-commerce. At Pac Sun, I learned survival and how to never give up, and making changes to solve problems. All these lessons have made me stronger in my position as Co-Founder of DAILYLOOK.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at DailyLook?
There have been a number of exciting moments at DAILYLOOK, but the biggest highlight had to be the first time we doubled our sales goal for the month. It was a high stress time, we were pulling out every resources, and everyone's hard work paid off for that incredible moment. Another big highlight was building a brand and company culture. We have such an outstanding team who are passionate in the DAILYLOOK story and it has been wonderful to receive undying support from the team. Series A fundraising as well as launching DAILYLOOK ELITE were also huge highlights for the business. Some challenges at DAILYLOOK have been retention and lack of budget. Because people believed in us, we had people working for us even though the situation was not economically ideal. We learned to balance everything we did with limited resources and coming up with creative methods to enhance the brand on a tight budget. Without these challenges, the business would not be where it is now.

What advice can you offer to those who want to start their own business?
I think the key thing to keep in mind when starting your own business, would be to really understand the end goal you are trying to achieve. Identify the final mission and be open to the constantly changing process that is involved. "Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try" is the motto I live by. You have to be tenacious and accept that every failure is a step closer to success. Do not let go when it gets tough or mistakes are made, just learn to adapt. Another piece of advice when starting this exciting chapter is to surround yourself with good people that bring different perspectives to your business to create a collaborative team environment.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It has definitely been a journey to balance my personal and work life. Over the years, I have really learned to accept stress and know that there will be moments of high stress and times of flourishing in the successes that come out of this time. I have made it a point to take a holiday every six months. While on vacation, I check my emails for 30 minutes each day and lock my phone up in the safe the rest of the day. Taking this time to reboot and gather my thoughts allows me to come back to the office with a fresh new perspective on how to improve the brand experience and take the business up a notch. Additionally, I always ensure to give myself plenty of time with my family and husband as well as maintaining a healthy active lifestyle.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I personally have never taken gender or being a woman into consideration at work or life in general. I think of me as a strong willed and passionate individual who will not stop striving at it until her goal is achieved. All I focus on is what I set out to do and how to get there with perseverance and excellence. Although during my life experiences I have noticed that women are sometimes not given an opportunity based on their potential, but given based on their performance. This doesn't disappoint me or hold me back but makes me push for my goals even stronger.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I am fortunate to have two very important and influential men in my life, my husband and father. Each offer support and guidance in their own way - My father is my biggest fan and supports me undyingly, while my husband gives it to me straight and gives me the honest advice I need. I am also very grateful to have powerful women in my life who have similar experiences in managing a team and building a brand. Their experience and advice is incredibly valuable. My friend Nadia Allaudin, Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at Merril Lynch, has taught me that every person is unique and can flourish in their own way. Nadia has the philosophy of life down. Another friend of mine, Anjula Acharia-Bath, is a branding queen. She has taught me so much about thinking big and networking. Another person that I look to for guidance is Susan Feldman, Founder of One Kings Lane, who offers great advice on creating a brand that resonates with a customer.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
The President of Pepsi Co., Indra Nooyi, is a role model in all aspects of life in the way she balances family life and flourishing career. It excites me to see such powerful, strategic women at the head of the company. It is encouraging to see other women rise up in these top roles to continue this culture of women in the workplace. Another woman I admire is Oprah Winfrey, who has built a brand that offers followers motivation for self-improvement and evidence that anyone can control their own destiny. She is a strong powerhouse with substance behind what she says and works to make a difference in people's lives.

What do you want DailyLook to accomplish in the next year?
We are on a mission to create an innovative Omni channel platform for the DAILYLOOK ELITE community of professional, metropolitan, on-the-go women where she gets all her inspiration and fashion needs met and receives a personalized curated experience on her schedule and at her convenience. Our goal is to be part of her day-to-day life and continue to be a destination that inspires confidence through self-expression by taking care of her fashion needs so she looks and feels on top of her game. Be the trusted destination that gives her time back to enjoy other life experiences that she thrives on.