In a memo sent to stylists Thursday, Stitch Fix Chief Operating Officer Minesh Shah defended recent changes to the apparel box service's scheduling requirements as "a complex business decision," but apologized for the "confusion and frustration" that the announcement caused. "We can and must do better," he wrote.
The company will evaluate its new requirements over the next three to six months and might adjust them "based on data and client & stylist feedback," according to the memo, which was sent to Retail Dive by multiple stylists and verified by a Stitch Fix spokesperson.
Stylists speaking to Retail Dive in the three weeks since they were given the changes have been upset about a loss of flexibility and new requirements that interfered with parenting, other work or other aspects of their life. Wells Fargo analysts have warned the company likely underestimated how many stylists would take its offer to leave with a $1,000 exit payment.
Stitch Fix unveiled its new expectations of stylists just as Elizabeth Spaulding, a consultant from Bain & Co. who has been at the subscription service since early last year, took the reins as CEO.
Several stylists, who spoke to Retail Dive on condition of anonymity out of concern for their jobs, said they would have liked to hear from her rather than the COO. Stylists also think the new policies will likely remain for the most part. While Shah said in his memo that the policies would be reevaluated, he also told stylists that they were forged "to better align with when and how we see clients wanting to connect with you, now and in the future, as we expand and evolve our portfolio of styling services alongside our much loved Fix experience."
This could be a reference to live styling, which Spaulding described on a conference call with analysts in March as 30-minute video call sessions that over time would "improve client retention and deepen client trust."
The way it works now, customers and stylists communicate via "Fix Request Notes." The company's algorithms play a role in what is suggested to the client and what the stylist sees as available inventory for that client.
Shah in his memo also said that the new "approach also better aligns stylist hours to real-time inventory availability and enables stronger and more seamless collaboration between leaders, team and central functions, like tech support."
Stylsts have also noted that while they were given two weeks to comply with the scheduling changes, the company has yet to issue its official policy on them. Shah on Thursday promised "clear written policies in accordance with these changes" by 5 p.m. PST Sept. 3, the Friday before Labor Day.
The company hasn't responded to several questions regarding how many stylists have already left in light of the changes.
"I appreciate that they’re at least hearing us, but honestly these kinds of changes that impact so many people needed to be run by us first," one stylist said by email. "It feels like they made all these decisions in a vacuum — which is probably why it took them so long to get back to us."