ShoeDazzle hits 10M members and steps out of its comfort zone

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Less than one year after receiving $30 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, shoe-of-the-month company ShoeDazzle is dropping its subscription payment model and announcing impressive new user-numbers.

When it was founded two-and-a-half years ago by serial entrepreneur Brian Lee, ShoeDazzle set-up shop with a unique payment structure for an online fashion company. Would-be shoppers had to sign up for a $39.95 a month membership, which got them one item a month. If they didn’t buy something during any given month, the credit would roll over like cell-phone minutes.

As of Thursday, ShoeDazzle is dropping the membership requirement so anyone can buy its products. It’s also expanding its selection from just shoes and accessories to include clothes, lingerie, and other fashion items.

“We’re more augmenting what our customers want,” said new chief executive of six months, Bill Strauss, in an interview. “We have to be ready for people who want to buy one-off.”

Dropping barriers to sales is a natural move for a company with a booming customer base. Since the Andreessen-led $40 million round of funding last May, ShoeDazzle has jumped from 3 million to 10 million members. Killing the monthly subscription model could also be a smart move for Strauss whose last company, Provide-Commerce (parent company of ProFlowers), was sued over fraudulent monthly membership fees.

Even with the changes, ShoeDazzle is sticking with some features that have made it stand-out, including the dollar store approach to pricing (everything costs $39.95, mostly), and custom recommendations. After you take a fun survey covering a limited range of fashions (what style of sexy, extremely high-heel shoes do you prefer?), the site begins to recommend products it thinks you will like. All the items on the site are ShoeDazzle brand, made exclusively for the company in the same factories that produce similar brand-name goods, which helps to keep prices low.

Another of ShoeDazzle’s claims to fame is its celebrity connection. “Brian says he loves to take advantage of the natural resources in LA, which is celebrities,” said Strauss. The company brought on reality personality Kim Kardashian as a co-founder, and credits her with being one of the keys to its success early on.

Just how useful is a big name for a small startup? “At the time that it launched, it was very important. It gives a brand, especially a startup brand, credibility,” said Strauss. “If Kim Kardashian is out there talking about it, you open up the brand to her whole audience for relatively low-cost.”

The LA-based company currently has 185 employees. It has raised $60 million in funding to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Polaris Venture Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.