Like many entrepreneurs, Hiral Zalavadia started his career in an entirely different industry and profession. A Los Angeles and New York-based attorney, he was used to the professional grind—waking up early for long days, every day. He knew he needed to look the part of a professional attorney, but didn’t have the time or desire to do the shopping. As he looked for services that could help maintain a professional wardrobe he found plenty of subscription options, but they were overpriced and didn’t offer the value he wanted. So, he decided to form his own.
In May of 2019, Zalavadia and his wife formed Stately—a stylist-curated subscription service delivering top men’s clothing brands to doorsteps across the country. Stately enables men from all backgrounds to look and dress the part of a modern professional.
In just a year, and with just a handful of employees, Stately has grown its membership to over 10,000. Stately delivers subscriptions to customers in all 50 states and to members of the armed forces around the world. Despite some setbacks, 2020 was looking to be Stately’s year.
Before the onset of the pandemic, Stately’s seed money didn’t come through, and the business was forced out of its first office—complications that alone would have frustrated any business owner. But those disappointments were only the beginning. When COVID-19 took root, California enacted an early and strongly-enforced shutdown.
“We were not able to operate,” said Zalavadia. “We were forced to stay at home and not operate, but we still had vendors, we had to pay rent, bills, and of course payroll.”
The close-knit team was disbanded, putting even more pressure on Zalavadia.
“The closures had a ripple effect on nearly everything,” he said. “It damaged our business, our customers’ experience, our employees’ livelihoods, and the overall outlook of our community.”
“Knowing that I have a team with smiles on their faces pushes me to kick it into gear,” added Zalavadia. “I needed to make sure I was doing everything I could to help them provide for their families.”
Like millions of other small business owners, when news of the Paycheck Protection Program hit, Zalavadia went to his bank to apply. Yet, despite having a great relationship with Stately, the bank proved unable to rise to the occasion. Zaladavia sought other lenders and struggled to find any that would take his application. After a friend referred him to Lendio, he was able to apply, get approved, and secure a PPP loan.
The loan proved to be a true lifeline. Not only was Stately able to keep its staff employed, but it was also able to bring on new employees as demand for clothing being delivered safely to doorsteps has increased during the pandemic.
Once he knew the business would be okay, Zalavadia knew he wanted to give back to the local community. Stately partnered with Clothes the Deal, a non-profit that gives out business attire to men who are looking to get back into the workforce.
“I know that it’s been a challenging time for a lot of people,” said Zalavadia. “A lot of people have lost their jobs, or have been struggling to get food on their table. But everyone deserves an opportunity and deserves a fair shot; so we hope these clothes will give these guys who need it another fighting chance to grab that next opportunity.”
Stately’s charitable efforts, scrappiness, and Zalavadia’s dedication to his team are just a few of the reasons Stately was selected as a $25,000 Lendio Small Business Grant winner. Along with the PPP funds he received, Zalavadia has chosen to allocate the grant money to paying employees and hiring new employees. The grant also allows his team to further its contributions to the community through clothing donations.