Insights on the next generation in retail from Jill Ramsey, CEO, a.k.a. Brands

“I’ve spent my career in e-commerce over the last 20 years and can confidently tell you that that the next 20 will look really different. There’s a whole new generation of brands emerging – they’re born on and fueled by social media, and they are masters at great content and knowing their end customer and building loyal followings and awesome fashion. But on their own these young brands can struggle to scale and that’s where a.k.a. comes in.”


The brand landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. Consumers increasingly transact and engage with brands online, a shift that has given rise to a new generation of digitally native, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. Customers – particularly those in Millennial and Gen Z – want to be a part of the brand creation experience, and we believe the most successful brands understand innately the power of community. Over the years, we’ve spoken with hundreds of founder-led brands who excelled at building direct, authentic relationships with their community but struggled with the operational challenges that come with rapid growth – and from these conversations, the idea for a.k.a. Brands was born.

Together with a team of retail, e-commerce and logistics industry veterans, we founded a.k.a. in 2018 with the acquisition of the company’s first brand, Princess Polly. Over the next three years, the company expanded its platform, adding the Petal & Pup (2019), Rebdolls (2019) and Culture Kings (2021) brands, and building the team, including the additions of CEO Jill Ramsey, CFO Ciarán Long, CIO and SVP Operations Michael Trembley and VP Strategy and M&A John Gonneville. We believe the path to a.k.a.’s IPO highlights the company’s unique, data-driven approach to supporting these founder-led brands and the trends that are driving their growth.

Better Together: Supporting Founder-Led Brands

The a.k.a. concept is simple: a diversified portfolio of digitally-focused brands with a flexible operating model and the shared belief that they’re “better together.” Each a.k.a. brand has a unique style and caters to a distinct audience. Together, we believe they are able reach a broader global audience – but still maintain the authenticity and unique identity of each brand. Led by a team of experienced e-commerce operators, a.k.a. supports its portfolio with strategy and operational expertise, including oversight across finance, IT and supply chain. The platform is designed to create the opportunity to share cross-brand learnings, best practices and key innovations. What accelerates profitable growth for one brand can accelerate profitable growth for others. Key challenges faced by one brand can provide perspective to others. Each brand, in turn, is able to focus on customer-facing priorities – branding, merchandising and maintaining an authentic customer connection. In short, a.k.a. helps with the business of fashion so brand leaders can focus on the art.


Infusing Science into the Art of Fashion

A key part of a.k.a.’s success is its demand-led, data-driven approach to creating next-generation shopping experiences designed to constantly deliver newness, excitement and exclusive styles. A new generation of consumers looks for fashion inspiration on social media, engages with content and styles that resonate, and shops primarily online and via mobile devices. To thrive, brands must leverage all of these channels not only to create inspiring digital content and authentic brand messages but to guide merchandising decisions and deliver high-quality, on-trend fashion. a.k.a. understands well this balance between art and science – between creative fashion and the business of data-driven execution. By applying real-time data and consumer insights to an agile merchandising model, a.k.a. allows brands to test product appeal and react quickly to customer demand – to capitalize on in season trends and minimize inventory risk. This approach – together with the company’s global network of suppliers – has been central to a.k.a.’s ability to create a product lifecycle of 30 to 45 days from design to website and getting trends to customers faster to drive demand, loyalty and higher gross margins.




The a.k.a. story began with the founding of each distinct brand and the vision, talent and tenacity of its brand founders: Princess Polly’s Wez Bryett and Eirin Bryett, Culture King’s Simon Beard and Tah-Nee Beard, Rebdoll’s Grisel Paula and Petal & Pup’s Tiffany Henry. Today, a.k.a.’s brands are collectively serving a community of more than 2.2 million active customers globally and, with the support and resources of the a.k.a. platform, are working to be “better together”.

We are proud to support the growth of founder-led businesses and brands like these. Since our founding, we have partnered with hundreds of founder-led companies, including more than 70 in the last five years alone. To learn more about Summit’s experience supporting founders and their teams, please visit our Growth Company Resource Center.












Supporting Founder-Led Brands

“a.k.a. is led by a team of experienced operators who we believe understand the business of fashion and speak the same language as the founders with whom they partner. The a.k.a. platform was built strategically and creatively to solve the pain points of founder-led brands that are scaling their organization to meet rapidly growing customer demand.”          

Matt Hamilton

Managing Director, Summit Partners

“The rise of e-commerce has changed the way consumers engage with brands and transformed expectations of how brands serve them. Today’s consumers – particularly Millennials and Gen-Z – want to be a part of the brand creation experience and demand a nimble, seamless shopping and shipping experience. The a.k.a. platform is designed to help brands foster the engagement and drive the experience that today’s customers demand.”

Chris Dean

Managing Director, Summit Partners

Stories from the Climb

At Summit, it’s the stories that inspire us – the problems being solved and the different paths each team takes to grow a business. Stories from the Climb is a series dedicated to celebrating and sharing the challenges of building a growth company. For more Stories from the Climb and other Summit perspectives, please visit our Growth Company Resource Center.

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