Samuel Spitz is a used clothing enthusiast, but found that he spent hours searching dozens of resale sites to find certain items and came up short.
“The market is very fragmented with all the sites,” Spitz told gotechbusiness.com. “And once I got to a site, it was really hard to find what I wanted, and you only see a fraction of what’s actually there. Often what I was looking for was not immediately available, in my specific size or in my target price. I just keep searching, searching, searching, every week, for hours on end because I love finding the deals.”
Then he came up with the idea to combine all those second-hand ads under one umbrella. In March 2021, he joined with fellow Rice University graduate Kunai Rai to start Carefullyformerly Wearloom, in what Spitz called “Amazon for second-hand,” which allows users to shop from one place on a variety of sites, including Poshmark, Depop, and eBay.
The company’s original “technology” was a form that people could fill out with the clothes they were looking for, and Spitz and Rai would manually compile the search results and respond via email. By the end of the first month, the couple served 500 to 600 people every day, and by the second month, it grew to thousands.
When all those manual searches became too much to keep track of, they started building the central second-hand online shopping platform that Gently is today.
The company, which now serves tens of thousands of users every day, has partnered with sites like eBay, ThredUp, Cloakroom Collective, Rebag, Grailed, GOAT, StockX and TheLuxuryCloset to allow users to search, filter and get notifications of used clothing sites. Carefully makes a percentage of the sales it sends to those sites.
“It’s similar to how Kayak works for travel,” Spitz said. “We’re also bringing in new customers who may have never shopped with them before.”
In May, ThredUP reported in its Resale Report 2022 that the global second-hand clothing market is expected to grow by 127% by 2026, which is three times faster than the total global clothing market. In the US alone, the second-hand market saw “record growth” of 32% in 2021 and was predicted to more than double over the next four years to be valued at $82 billion.
In addition to those already mentioned, there are plenty of marketplaces and startups working in this space, including Olive, Archive, Curtsy, Rebag, and Treet, all of which have raised some venture capital over the past two years. Spitz considers its closest competitors to be Lyst and ShopStyle, a brand of Rakuten.
Today it was Gently’s turn to announce its new capital injection of $2 million in pre-seed money in a round with more than 20 investors including Jason Calacanis’ Launch, Bloom Tech’s Austen Allred, Shutterstock’s Jon Oringer, RXBar’s Peter Rahal, Dorm Room Fund and V1. VC.
Spitz expects to grow the number of daily users to 1 million by 2024. He plans to use the new capital to develop technology to improve search, launch SMS functionality and create a size function so that users only have to enter their size once. The company is also hiring additional people to bolster its six-person workforce and expand from fashion into other categories, including furniture. He is also looking at a Series A in 2023.
“The reason most people don’t shop second hand online is because it’s super time consuming and causes a lot of friction,” he added. “We can help those businesses generate more sales and get more people shopping.”