Sharing Paul Secret (And Wardrobe) with Berlin

By Toni Ellis |

It may be unlucky for some, but the last Friday the 13th proved to be a great day for Paul Secret. The Berlin-based style startup, which was founded by ex-Rocket employees Anna Alex and Julia Bösch in January, is an online retail platform designed for men who don’t like to shop which launched on the superstition-filled day.

The process takes the choosing, and – as they describe it – the agony out of men’s shopping. Instead customers fill out a short picture-based questionnaire to determine their personal style and tastes, and are then put in contact with one of Paul Secret’s personal style experts via telephone or email.

Julia said: “The style expert analyses the preferences and clothing needs of the customer, and will really go into detail about what you want or like. If you need clothes for a special occasion, or if you tell your stylist you need new trousers, then she will get to know exactly what style, colour and cut to send. Then our stylists personally puts together a box of outfits for the customer.” The personal shopper service is free, with customers only paying the retail price for the clothing they choose to keep.

She also explained why they chose to build a service aimed at guys rather than girls: “Men who don’t enjoy shopping tend to buy clothing in bulk, buy multiple pairs of one piece of clothing, or buy one item, like a shirt, in three different colours. They just go in to a store, spend a few hundred euros, and are happy it’s done for another six months. Girls tend to enjoy shopping, and generally do it way more often than men.”

Paul Secret founders Julia Bösch and Anna Alex

The initial idea for Paul Secret came to Julia when she was studying abroad in New York: “ My friend Philip, he is one of those guys who is really lazy when it comes to going shopping. He had a personal stylist, and he was really happy with the service, so thats the first moment of inspiration for Paul Secret. And he’s actually our biggest power-user now!”

Julia later meet co-founder Anna while the pair were working for Rocket online retail store Zalando. While Anna moved on to other Rocket startups such as Groupon, Julia headed up the internationalization of Zalando in Europe. After two years in the position, Julia said she wanted to  take on a project of her own, and Paul Secret officially came out of its six-week beta testing phase last Friday.

There is already plenty of competition in the online curated shopping space, including Modomoto and Modemeister, two similar services also based in Germany. Julia explained how they will set themselves apart: “Our differentiation from them, and of course from the existing huge e-commerce shops, is our 100 percent individual service approach and the personal contact with the stylist.”

The competition hasn’t deterred customers though, with Julia saying that orders have flooded in in the past week, so much so that they’re already looking to expand their team of stylists.

However Julia chose to remain tight lipped about the how Paul Secret source their clothing, but did state that they provided brands that would appeal to every man’s tastes, and suit their customers the best.

And when asked what she thought of how startup guys dress, Julia laughed and said: “I think they dress pretty well. I mean, it’s all the sort of standard jeans, tee shirt and a jumper, but I like it.”