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How She Did It: Ambika Singh

Updated: May 9, 2023

Woman in a red dress
How She Did It Ambika Singh

Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career reinvention. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their professional journeys!

We're thrilled to introduce Ambika Sing, CEO of Armoire, a wardrobe subscription service that's revolutionizing the way women dress. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School, Ambika works to make women’s lives easier, eliminating the need to waste hours scrolling through retail web pages or clothing racks. For a monthly fee, Armoire members gain access to an unlimited, curated virtual closet of high-end pieces from dresses to sweaters, to jeans, and more.

Learn more about this passionate, success-driven executive and find out How She Did It!

What's your personal mantra, mission, or manifesto? Build a habit around taking risks. It’s important for me to continuously practice taking big swings and betting on big ideas. Sometimes, things don’t work out, and sometimes, the answer is no. But taking risks has helped the team and me become more resilient, confident, and resolute over time.

What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business? I founded Armoire to help women reclaim time. There are so many demands on the time and attention of women in modern society, and there are outsized expectations for women to show up strong in all of their daily roles–whether that’s in their careers, family, or community.

The process of shopping and showing up stylishly is an additional tax on the finite hours of the day. Armoire stands in opposition to the traditional “eternal scroll” e-commerce experience and helps women look and feel great–without requiring them to forfeit valuable time on closet and outfit curation.

What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities? I took a four-month parental leave from work during the birth of my first child in 2021. Perhaps the greatest opportunity that the career pause afforded me is perspective and the ability to better prioritize everything that needs to get done in a day. Early on in my career, I raised my hand for every project, hungry for experience and eager to impress my colleagues.

With more tenure and that dedicated time cultivating family life, I now pick and choose the places to spend my energy and attention–initiatives that will really move the needle. I’m not sure that this ability to prioritize would be as sharp if I hadn’t taken that time away from work at such an important family milestone.

What’s one intention you have for your work this year? Reduce stress. Building a business is hard, but it’s even more difficult when I’m pouring from an empty cup. I know that I show up stronger when I’m eating well, making time to run, getting enough sleep, and spending time with my family.

What are you most passionate about right now? I have a growing passion to live more sustainably and minimally. Renting my clothes over the past six years has helped me pare down my closet, and reflect on how much fast fashion I was buying before Armoire became a wardrobe mainstay.

I’ve started challenging impulse buying in other parts of my life as well and completely opted out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping last year. I’m all in on the experience economy, and I’m really working to challenge personal overconsumption habits.

What does a typical day look like for you? I spend the morning having coffee with my family, and getting my son ready for the day before opening up my laptop to start work. It’s an important grounding ritual before I dive into productivity mode.

Over the past three years, our team has become increasingly distributed, so most of my morning is spent catching up on asynchronous communications via Slack and email. I’ll typically have meetings with functional and team leaders throughout the day to discuss our strategic initiatives–product roadmap decisions, upcoming marketing campaigns, or quarterly inventory buying plans. I regularly meet with advisors as well to tap into their expertise on big decisions, and I’m frequently grabbing coffee with potential hires–always be recruiting!

After the work day, I’ll try to get a run-in before eating dinner. I’m lucky to live close to my parents and my brother and love when the meal turns into a larger family affair.

What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year? This past year, I’ve been hyper-focused on attracting top talent to work at Armoire. Building a strong leadership team and surrounding myself with best-in-class experts has fundamentally up-leveled how I do business. We spend a significant amount of time every day at work, and I’m grateful that I get to learn from functional leaders who have authoritative experience and domain expertise.

"There’s this expectation that our body needs to fit into a specific size, instead of surrendering to the ebb and flow of our bodies, and dressing them for every stage. "

Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support? I’ve very intentionally cultivated my community over the years, and have kept in touch with people who inspire and motivate me from every chapter of my life. I have strong connections with peers from school, my early career working at big tech companies and startups, as well as fellow entrepreneurs who I’ve met since founding Armoire.

The support system is invaluable–whether it’s friends who are renting clothes from Armoire and giving me great feedback, or fellow founders who are in the weeds and can provide just-in-time advice on a strategy question.

And of course, my family is an incredible source of inspiration and support. I’m the child of hard-working immigrant parents, I’m married to an eternally supportive partner, and I want to model the pursuit of passion and career pride for my son.

Favorite book, app, or podcast? My current favorite read is We’re Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris by Hitha Palepu. Hitha is a great supporter of Armoire and a personal mentor of mine. I love that she, as a Southeast Asian woman, used her platform to celebrate and elevate another incredible Southeast Asian woman.

Much of the book focused on harnessing inner strength and confidence. It’s a great resource for me to consult when I’m feeling unfocused or experiencing decision fatigue. The book is filled with critical life hacks on getting back into your flow state and making time for the things that matter.

You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it? I would spend the extra hour with my son. His curiosity and burgeoning personality are an incredible source of joy–and entertainment!--for my husband and me.

The advice I wish I had given to my 20-year-old self is… I would encourage my younger self to really fall in love with the day-to-day work, instead of focusing so intently on desired outcomes. I founded Armoire six years ago, in 2016. Then, and still today, the most prevalent startup narratives are focused on huge fundraising rounds, hockey stick growth, and quick exits. But what I’ve learned is that building something thoughtfully takes time. The day-to-day work needs to fuel you.

The advice that I want to give to my 75-year-old self is... Never stop experimenting with style. With access to Armoire’s closet over the years, I’ve loved trying new trends without the long-term commitment. I get a rush when I’m wearing something that I’ve never worn before, or when a unique piece solicits an unexpected compliment.

And I love telling the stories of the incredible women-, BIPOC-, and queer-owned designer brands that comprise our inventory. Investing in my personal style and trying new looks makes life feel zesty. I want to maintain that pursuit of discovery and creativity well into my old age.

Your theme song that played every time you walked in a room would be? Run the World by Beyonce. I love listening to this song on my workout playlist, and it’s such a great anthem to get pumped up. Supporting women is the inspiration behind Armoire, and so many women leaders are building the company bit by bit, so this is a perfect soundtrack for my life.

Best career advice for other women? Build community constantly. So many aspects of my life–family decisions, career moves, entrepreneurship, fundraising milestones–have been “team sports.” I am lucky to know many smart people and experts in their respective fields, and I appreciate getting input from those who have that first-hand experience.

Brokering connections and building community is the best way for women to meet this pivotal moment when workplace norms are really in flux.

When did you feel you got “you” back? The notion of “getting yourself back” comes up frequently in the apparel industry. Achieving an ideal weight or physical milestone sometimes feels like a “requirement” before people start investing in looking and feeling good with clothing.

There’s this expectation that our body needs to fit into a specific size, instead of surrendering to the ebb and flow of our bodies and dressing them for every stage. I’m proud that Armoire provides a great solution to this reality–you can regularly adjust your fit, size, and style preferences before renting your next set of styles.

With this in mind, I want to challenge this question a bit. There are certainly times in my life when I’ve felt stretched thin or when self-care wasn’t priority #1, but I don’t want to normalize the notion of women losing themselves or thinking of themselves as a means to an end, instead of a worthy human at every phase.

What’s up next? I’m intent on growing Armoire and capitalizing on some great business momentum right now. The global clothing rental market is expected to grow aggressively as consumer fashion norms continue to shift. What’s more, there’s an increasing consumer affinity for sustainable fashion solutions. We have the right team in place to meet the moment, and I’m excited to capitalize on these trends to support more women in their pursuit of reclaiming time.


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