David Bowie in 2002fred-wilson)
Very humbled and proud to see my cousin Penny operate as the US Secretary of Commerce. I rarely think about imports, trademarks, customs, etc. which she does every day. So cool to learn about how our country works!
When Jake Schwartz, Matt Brimer, Brad Hargreaves, and I sat down and brainstormed about the global community we hoped to create at General Assembly, we saw an opportunity to provide education for people looking to advance their careers, start new ones, or even build companies. I was incredibly lucky to have stumbled across my partners; building the General Assembly board of directors and team has been one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my life.
In 2013, I began to think more deeply about starting another company and became particularly interested in the intersection of technology, content, and real estate. Having already gone through the process of raising money for an operationally and real-estate intensive business, I was convinced that there were further opportunities to explore and fellow entrepreneurs who shared my interest.
A bit of research soon led me to Chris Ryskiewicz. Chris had built the first website for Bop, a brick-and-mortar retailer in Madison, Wisconsin that sold women’s clothing and CDs. He was the third employee and served as CMO. Bop became Shopbop.com and Chris, alongside the rest of the executive team, shepherded Shopbop through an incredible period of growth that culminated in a sale to Amazon. He worked at Amazon for several years, after which he was recruited by Mickey Drexler to run Direct Commerce for J. Crew. There he and Kate Wendelborn hatched the idea to start an advanced contemporary fashion label called Protagonist.
Around the same time, I met Charlie Cole. Charlie had held various positions spanning the digital and e-commerce worlds, including his most recent role as VP of E-Commerce at Schiff Nutrition. Like Shopbop, Schiff’s story was fascinating. Charlie was recruited by TPG Capital (an investor in Schiff) to help transform the company from a consumer packaged goods wholesaler into a direct-to-consumer retailer. Like Chris, he did an incredible job, and Schiff was acquired two years later for $1.4 billion—the largest multiple ever paid on the public market for a vitamin, mineral, and supplement firm.
Charlie and I spoke at length about starting an enterprise business that would provide a toolkit for designers of consumer goods to get up and running quickly. We found that while many companies provide services to larger consumer goods businesses, the vast majority of emerging creative talent must stitch together production, technology, marketing, and distribution capabilities on their own—often confronting barriers to entry due to the expertise and costs associated with each of these areas. Charlie and I decided to go into business together and Assembled Objects was born to provide back-end services in technology, marketing, and distribution to consumer goods companies. Our first partner is Protagonist.
The magic of an incredible team is that it perpetuates itself. As we were building out Assembled Objects, Chris recommended a former colleague of his for some consulting work. Sarah Timp was also part of Shopbop’s founding team. She developed the fulfillment operations and her accomplishments include managing four moves with no customer interruption—the last and largest recognized by Amazon for operational excellence—and a team of over 100 employees. Sarah decided to join our team on a full-time basis, and we are thrilled to have her round out Assembled Objects’ capabilities and provide superior fulfillment and logistics services to our partners.
Our second partner joined us shortly after Protagonist. While I was developing General Assembly, my childhood friend Vanessa Traina was helping her former classmate Alex to build his eponymous label, Alexander Wang. Soon he was at the helm of a global fashion brand and was named Creative Director of Balenciaga. Vanessa and co-founder Morgan Wendelborn wanted to build an online retail experience called The Line that stemmed from the desire to pare back, strip down, and pull together refined and versatile goods. Vanessa and I spoke about Assembled Objects, and she and Morgan signed on shortly thereafter.
We couldn’t be more excited to serve Protagonist and The Line. If you are a designer who has vision but are seeking the tools to bring your product to life, or a designer selling only through brick-and-mortar stores who needs help making the transition to e-commerce, or a content business that is looking to build direct-to-consumer online sales, please contact us. Our passion and mission is to help transform emerging ideas and promising companies into compelling, design-centric modern brands.
then this environment has to be made human ❞
A day at the offices of Snøhetta. What an inspiring and humbling team doing incredible work. The new Times Square design will change the city.