Festival-goer favorite Dolls Kill has raised a whopping $40 million in new Series B funding—and has gained the muscle of a former Zappos exec in the process.
The fashion retailer beloved by ravers and Burning Man aficionados alike is lining its coffers with a sizeable cash infusion, bringing the total investment to $60 million. Led by Sequoia Capital, the latest Series B round was spearheaded by Alfred Lin, who previously held the roles of chairman, CFO and COO at Zappos. Lin will join the board at Dolls Kill.
Founded in 2011 by DJ Shaudi “Shoddy” Lynn and Bobby Farahi, the digitally native retailer features an amalgam of fast fashion and streetwear staples that blend a punk, dystopian aesthetic with colorful whimsy. Offerings like graffiti-printed mesh dresses and platform combat boots feature prominently on the so-called “online boutique for misfits and Miss Legits.”
Of the fresh round of funding and partnership with Sequoia’s Lin, Dolls Kill CEO Bobby Farahi told Sourcing Journal that securing the alliance made sense at this juncture in the brand’s ascent to mainstream recognition.
“We were really excited about Sequoia and Alfred Lin, who is now joining our board,” Farahi said, adding that Dolls Kill is eager to replicate some of the “operational capabilities and excellence that they built at Zappos.”
The $40 million windfall will augment some of the company’s existing infrastructure, while exploring new avenues for reaching consumers.
“Continuing to build [the digital] platform comes first and foremost,” Farahi said. “The customer experience is important to us—both from a digital side and a physical logistics side. There’s a big international demand so filling that poses some logistical challenges that we’re going to be investing in,” he added.
Farahi also intimated that the brand is exploring options outside of China for manufacturing as a means of alleviating the tariff burden.
“It’s a level playing field for everybody,” he said of Dolls Kill’s industry peers’ struggles with sourcing. “We source from a number of places, and with some products, obviously, China has a competitive advantage. But we’re going to look at diversifying as much as we can,” he explained.
Right now, though, the company is focused on growth—and growing the right way. Dolls Kill’s fringe following has always been a part of the company’s appeal, he said, and no one is willing to “dilute the brand” in the service of pursuing “artificial growth or a broader market.”
Still, consumers are shirking the status quo more than ever before, and are eagerly embracing self-expression. “There was a macro shift in this idea of conforming, and we’ve always stood for being yourself,” he said. The rise of Instagram and individualistic Gen Zers have also driven the brand’s increasing popularity.
Farahi insisted that the brand’s appeal has little to do with an observance of industry-wide trends.
“We’re always looking at staying ahead of trends, and sometimes when it becomes a trend is when we’ve moved on to the next thing,” he said. “We want to make sure that we continue to do that.”
Sequoia Capital partner Amy Sun told Sourcing Journal that the investment firm was attracted to the brand for precisely the reasons Farahi described.
“The values are extremely strong around individuality and authenticity, and they draw upon customers and various subcultures to build a very authentic portfolio of brands,” Sun said.
The company hires its models through Instagram and its bona fide consumer base, she insisted, and that adherence to values has the potential to play well with increasingly discerning young shoppers.