Jesse Genet is cofounder of Lumi, a Los Angeles startup that makes custom packaging for e-commerce brands, like MeUndies, Parachute, and Tuft & Needle.
Genet started her first company in 2004, at age 16, printing T-shirts in her parents’ basement, and went on to study industrial design at ArtCenter College of Design. After graduating, she and classmate Stephan Ango developed a sunlight-activated fabric dye, Inkodye, that raised more than $270,000 on Kickstarter and formed the backbone of a seven-figure business selling DIY printing kits. Working on Inkodye for five years taught Genet and Ango an important lesson: Packaging is one of the biggest pain points--and opportunities--for e-commerce brands trying to stand out in a fiercely competitive retail environment dominated by Amazon. “There are lots of brands where packaging is the only physical touchpoint they have because there’s no store,” Genet says. “Packaging is the new storefront.”
The pair started Lumi in 2015. One of the company’s earliest clients was MeUndies. Lumi helped the underwear subscription service vary the graphics on its packaging to make each monthly delivery feel unique, without having to retool the printing press and increase costs. For the children’s clothing brand Rockets of Awesome, Lumi helped devise a whimsical, briefcase-shaped box that doubles as a coloring book. “We enjoy when a customer comes in with a crazy idea, and we can produce it,” Genet says.
Lumi has taken on more than 15,000 projects since launch, and has seen meteoric growth in the past year, with 25 million units shipped in 2017, compared with 4.7 million in 2016. In February, the company announced a $9 million Series A led by Spark Capital, Forerunner Ventures, and Homebrew. Looking ahead, Genet hopes to turn Lumi into a full-service “brand engineer” that develops everything about a product except the product itself, from packaging to branded magazines.