Theoden Janes

Brooklyn Decker found fame in bikinis. Now? The more clothing the better for her new biz.

Best friends Whitney Casey, left, and Matthews native Brooklyn Decker are the women behind Finery, “the world’s first Wardrobe Operating System.”
Best friends Whitney Casey, left, and Matthews native Brooklyn Decker are the women behind Finery, “the world’s first Wardrobe Operating System.” Courtesy of Finery

Brooklyn Decker got famous for gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue in 2010 – and had made a career of being photographed in skimpy outfits long before then.

But that’s the old Brooklyn Decker. The new one – the all-grown-up, married-with-baby, now-on-the-verge-of-30 Brooklyn Decker – is done with those kinds of pictures.

“I mean, I’m a mom. Nobody wants to see that anymore,” says the Matthews native and graduate of Butler High School.

What Decker would rather show you these days is Finery, the startup she launched last week with former television anchor and author Whitney Casey.

Billed as “the world’s first operating system for your wardrobe,” the website (in theory) assembles a virtual inventory of what’s in a woman’s closet. Then, among other clever tricks, it can suggest outfit ideas based on current trends; allow a user to create one master wish list across all retailer websites; give guidance about potential purchases, based on what she already owns; and, once a purchase is made, keep track of specific return policies, or subsequent sales that could make consumers eligible for price-adjustment refunds.

Best of all? It costs nothing to use.

For the moment, Finery makes money only through affiliate links. By the end of the year, though, Decker (the chief design officer) and Casey (the founder) hope to make a lot more by rolling out “an open marketplace” for users to sell, trade or donate unwanted clothing in their wardrobes.

This week, we chatted with Decker about her new professional venture as well as her new(-ish) personal venture – motherhood – and other topics. Here are 10 headlines from the conversation:

1. Her parents moved from Matthews to Lincolnton two Novembers ago. “They wanted farm life. They wanted to raise animals and grow their food. ... My dad has a tractor, and so he brought Hank (her 18-month-old son) on it, and of course Hank loves the tractor,” says Decker, who has been married to former tennis star Andy Roddick since 2009. Hank is the couple’s only child; they live in Austin, Texas.

 

My dad and my baby on a tractor?! Stop it. #farmlife

A post shared by Brooklyn Decker (@brooklyndecker) on

2. She’s planning to visit Lincolnton this weekend, actually.

3. Decker and Casey knew they wanted to go into business together, but struggled to hit on a great idea. “One thought was, ‘Let’s get antiques and sell them to people,’ ” says Decker, who met Casey five years ago through mutual friends during a girls’ weekend in California. “But that was just going to be so expensive. You’re talking about photographing things, warehouse space, shipping heavy goods. ... And then we started talking about how female tech companies, most of them have to do with just selling you more stuff. We were like, ‘Why are we just being taught to consume more? Why aren’t we being taught to shop strategically? Why aren’t we being taught to shop smarter? Why isn’t there a tool that allow us to manage our items?’ That’s when we realized we were onto something.”

4. As celebrities go, she’s incredibly down-to-earth. I often get asked: “So, was (celebrity name here) cool?” Decker, who I’ve spoken to three times now, is one of the coolest. She pronounced my name correctly, which is a feat in and of itself; she engaged me in a discussion about my daughter and her adventures in driving; and it feels like you’re having a conversation with her, as opposed to conducting an interview. This is rare, even when you’re not talking to someone famous.

5. That’s a setup to saying Decker kindly gave me some wardrobe advice to pass along to my wife. I told her my wife often stands in front of her closet and complains about having nothing to wear. Decker’s response: “Well, I think the problem is that women, we tend to only look at the 20 percent of our recent purchases. So your wife probably has a lot more in her closet than she knows, but she’s only looking at the 20 percent that she just bought. She’s not looking at the rest of her clothing that she probably loves, but it just goes unworn, collecting dust, hiding in the back. So that’s why we feel, if we just show you what you have – because, frankly, there’s a reason people buy things. And typically, it’s because they love them. Sometimes it’s out of necessity, but most times it’s because they like it. So we want to show you what you have, and ideally, that’ll make you fall in love with what you have again.”

6. She says she could never be a stay-at-home mom. In addition to her work with Finery, Decker is busy this month promoting the third season of Netflix dramedy “Grace and Frankie,” for which she’s a regular cast member, along with stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. “I’m a workaholic, but also, (having these projects) is a chance to be selfish. It really is. Having a business, being able to come home and talk about something, being able to work my ass off on something outside of my family, is incredibly rewarding.”

7. But she praises stay-at-home moms. “Being a stay-at-home mom is a completely thankless job. They’re working well over 40-hour weeks, they’re making sure that household runs efficiently, they have food on the table when their spouse comes home. They’re the ones who deal with their kid being unhappy by then, because mom is no longer a novelty, because dad’s a novelty ’cause he gets to come home and be a hero. ... Stay-at-home moms ... they don’t get enough credit.”

8. You’ll never see her son Hank’s face on her Instagram (or her other social-media channels). Maybe the back of his head, or maybe a partial profile. But never his whole face. Here’s why: “We just decided like, look, he may be someone who never wants to have his face out there. He may never want to be in the public eye. He might want to be in the FBI, and want his identity to be a secret, and if we’ve ruined that, that’s absolutely horrible. We just felt like that online persona is totally his and his alone, and I didn’t think it was fair to take that from him. That said, I text pictures and videos of him to my friends and family hourly. Like, way too much.”

 

Introducing movie magic to my kid.

A post shared by Brooklyn Decker (@brooklyndecker) on

9. It takes a lot to get her starstruck, but Ron Rivera did it. When Decker met the Carolina Panthers’ coach at the Super Bowl in February, “I was incredibly nervous. To the point where we took a picture together and I was shaking in the picture.” She is, by the way, a die-hard Panthers fan.

 

One of the coolest moments of my day. With Sharita Taylor meeting Stephanie and Ron Rivera. @specialolympics @panthers

A post shared by Brooklyn Decker (@brooklyndecker) on

10. And finally: Seriously, guys – she’s through with swimsuit magazines. “I mean, they’ve done some anniversary covers. Christie Brinkley shot it this year at sixty-something. So, never say never. But ... Hank had his way with my body,” Decker says, laughing, “and I really don’t think anyone wants to see it on the cover of Sports Illustrated.”

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

More on Brooklyn

Born: April 12, 1987.

Education: Matthews Elementary, Crestdale Middle and East Mecklenburg and Butler high schools.

Modeling: Started at 16 in Charlotte, moved to New York at 18. Did shoots for Vogue, Elle, GQ, Glamour, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, PoP Magazine and Teen Vogue. First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was 2006. Five years later, landed on cover and was named Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive.”

Acting: Movies including “Battleship,” “Just Go With It” (starring Adam Sandler), “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Stretch”; TV shows including “Friends With Better Lives” for NBC and “Grace and Frankie,” currently on Netflix.

New gig: Chief design officer for Finery (www.finery.com).

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