Ecommerce Success Stories / Ecommerce Technology

The WONE Backstory: How GRAYBOX Delivered a Unique Shopping Experience For High-End Fashion

David Hughes / 3 min read

In business today, there are two essential choices.

You can either be “out of the box”—another company using the same platform and strategy everyone else is using…

…or you can be “outside of the box.”

At GRAYBOX, the clients we work with typically fall into the latter.

Helping our clients deliver their products online means more than picking from out-of-the-box templates—especially when our clients have the unique goals and strategies of a company like WONE.

The “Any Color You Like” Approach of WONE

Henry Ford once said that the customer can have any color they like—so long as it’s black.

Turns out that approach can also work in fashion.

Kristin Hildebrand started WONE after racking up seven years’ experience in creative direction at Nike.

But when it came to marketing, she didn’t want to carbon copy Nike’s conquer-the-world strategy.

When she created WONE’s lines of minimalistic, high-end athleisure wear, her strategy went the opposite way:

  • Exclusivity.
  • Limited offerings.

Ambitious-but-simple clothing inspired by stoicism and attention to detail.

The Outside-of-the-Box Strategy of WONE’s Offerings

How exactly do you sell sports bras for $150?


WONE maintained a curated list of customers with limited access to every release. Customers were divided into groups.

Group one received first dibs of new products and received an email that a sale was live—but only for them.

After a few weeks, the sales would open to group two, and so on.

By the end of the list, products had sold out.

WONE might come with Nike experience, but when it comes to marketing, they’re taking a completely different approach.

They’re not importing six million products for mass consumption. WONE’s strategy is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.

Their ecommerce platform had to reflect that.

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Platform Flexibility for Unique, Retail-Altering Business Models

GRAYBOX is an ecommerce agency with more than a decade of experience.

In that time, many of our previous projects went one of two routes.

  • In the first, Magento’s platform gave control over the code, although costs were sometimes prohibitive.
  • The other route: Shopify. As those familiar with BigCommerce already know, Shopify provides a more “out of the box” experience that simply doesn’t work for clients like WONE. Shopify didn’t offer the developer-friendly customization we needed to deliver on WONE’s unique needs.

I would say that even before we started exploring BigCommerce, we really weren’t doing much with Shopify because it often just didn’t meet our clients’ needs.

When Kristin approached GRAYBOX and told us what WONE was trying to do, we knew BigCommerce was the right fit.

Between the customizations, the email integrations, and the ability to bring a team toward the same goals, BigCommerce has made it possible to work “outside” the box.

They’ve also made it possible to:

  • Start from scratch. You wouldn’t think it, but WONE and GRAYBOX started out with a theme and built customizations on top of that. With BigCommerce, we could dig into customized functionality for WONE’s unique product launches and fit it all together.
  • Connect. We integrated email campaigns with MailChimp, enabling WONE to communicate with each specific customer group and execute their strategy of exclusivity.
  • Customize. WONE’s exclusivity isn’t possible without a high degree of customization. The integration with BigCommerce made it possible for certain customers to only see specific items on the site in successive order. It fit WONE’s strategy like a glove.

In short: Without BigCommerce’s ability to deliver a high level of customization, we wouldn’t have been able to make it work.

The BigCommerce platform became essential to WONE’s approach.

It was perfect timing: WONE was in startup mode and we were getting into BigCommerce as a platform—it all fit together.

Outside-of-the-Box with BigCommerce

A lot of the sales opportunities that we see coming through the door (as much as 75% of them, in fact) are a good fit for BigCommerce.

Anyone can dig up a theme from an ecommerce platform and launch an online store. That’s not the issue.

The issue is what makes your store different.

At GRAYBOX, we’ve learned that BigCommerce allows you to be different.

We had a local grocery chain here in the Pacific Northwest approach us with an idea for a holiday reservation site: Reserving a turkey, ordering flowers, etc.

It was a fresh approach, but that also meant we couldn’t exactly find those capabilities within any old ecommerce template.

But we made it work.

And now, we just launched their completely custom reservation site—using BigCommerce as the platform.

Building Ecommerce Like a Developer

BigCommerce is very developer-friendly, and that’s where the rubber meets the road.

As an agency, we don’t choose random ecommerce platforms for the fun of it.

With BigCommerce, we were able to test and view individual elements locally, giving us more of a traditional software development experience.

This makes for a smoother rollout, and an overall experience that’s far better than many SaaS platforms where you have to navigate and edit the live site.

This functionality was essential while working with WONE, as their exclusive products required a live site that works well in advance of their scheduled launches (not after).

Timing was everything.

When that’s the case, your platform has to help in the following ways:

  • Giving you a “box” option—but with enough customization to make a unique offering like WONE’s possible.
  • Building a launch from a developer’s perspective, rather than constantly tinkering with a live site.
  • Integrating third-party tools to increase the functionality of the platform and achieve client goals.

If you’re an agency, make sure you have all of the above from the platform of your choice before you green light that next project.

When it comes to “out” of the box and “outside” the box, four little letters really can make all the difference.

Hire GRAYBOX For Your Next Project

Do you have an outside-the-box business plan to bring to life? GRAYBOX can help.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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    David Hughes

    David Hughes

    David Hughes leads GRAYBOX's ecommerce and marketing practice areas. His holistic background in digital strategy, marketing, and technology, lends a senior consultative voice to marketing engagements and growing ecommerce merchants alike.

    View all posts by David Hughes
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