Inspired by the opportunity to create a truly personalized online shopping experience by blending the best of brick-and-mortar retail with an innovative approach to data and technology, Katrina Lake founded Stitch Fix in 2011 while she was a student at Harvard Business School. She has since grown the company to more than 2,000 employees across the country.

2015-09-30-1443582670-4577358-KatrinaLake.jpgPrior to founding Stitch Fix, Lake honed her skill set at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology at social commerce company Polyvore; she also consulted with a variety of e-commerce and traditional retailers during her time at The Parthenon Group. Lake holds a B.S. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Lake recently participated in our “4 Questions for Marketing Innovators” series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?

I’m most passionate about personalization. I firmly believe that personalized experiences with brands will most drive loyalty and relevance for customers in the future.

2. Why is this so important?

Personalization is a popular word in retail, and people often misuse it to describe simple marketing tactics, like segmenting emails or using big data to identify the likely gender of a visitor to their websites. But the true art of personalization at a one-to-one human level is what I consider true personalization–and I see very little of that happening today in the online world. Figuring out how to scale the very human art of personalization is difficult, but I believe that it is also the key to building a lasting connection with customers for the long term.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?

Fundamentally, personalization is bringing focus back to customer centricity–really being able to understand what it is that your customer loves about your brand and how you can better serve her. Today’s customer is less about the “it trend” or the “must-have jeans.” What is more important to her is feeling like an individual and how what she is wearing or doing reflects her as an individual. Brands that are successful will help each customer feel like she is the best version of herself.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?

Delivering a service that consumers feel truly connected to and providing an experience that people love and love to organically share and talk about is the most effective form of marketing I know. Just as people who have an amazing meal naturally tell friends about the dining experience, we find that personalization can create amazing experiences that people love to talk about.

Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?

Outside of work, I love running, cooking, and eating with family and friends.