Building An Efficient & Creative Studio

Building An Efficient & Creative Studio

Brand: Nuuly

Vertical: Apparel


Founded: 2019

Pixelz helped with:
Post-production workflows
Win back time for creatives

Alison Gates
When you can combine the two, efficiency and creativity, that's when you get the best results because you're spending money wisely which is always a good thing, at the end of the day.
Alison Gates

Creative Director


As a clothing rental subscription service, Nuuly gives customers a new and sustainable way to “Change Your Clothes”. Launched in 2019 as part of the URBN Group, Nuuly customers can rent 6 items of clothing for a monthly fee.

Nuuly is part of the URBN family of brands, including Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. As a new brand Nuuly had to carve out its own creative identity and implement the studio to bring it to life. We spoke to Alison Gates, Creative Director at Nuuly and Eve S., Head Retoucher, about the challenges of setting up a new studio and how the team integrated Pixelz into their new setup to scale post-production without scaling the team.


Building a Studio from Scratch

The first step for Alison and her team was figuring out how to incorporate existing systems into their vision of an efficient studio with the ability to scale. “There were a lot of existing systems that we knew we had to use in some way but thought that we could use the systems in a smarter way. We just didn't know what that was yet. I had worked with Pixelz in the past and had learned about a new studio operations software system, Creative Force. We brought Creative Force in to show them what we were working with and figure out solutions together. And I think that was incredibly valuable. It also worked well because Pixelz, our retouching service, was already built-in alongside the studio management software.”

The Pixelz side of things could scale as much as we needed it to, which means retouching could grow with us, instead of us needing to guess how many retouchers we needed to hire.

The next obstacle Alison tackled was how to keep the studio agile and on budget. “We didn't have a giant team. There were eight of us when we first started. I knew from working with Pixelz in the past that we could get away with hiring one person who's really good at retouching to our brand's aesthetic,, and could be in charge of the workflow managing and QAing the images worked on by Pixelz. And then as we grew, the Pixelz side of things could scale as much as we needed it to. That was a big deal because that saves a ton of money and headcount.”

A Hybrid Approach to Retouching

Outsourcing all image editing can lead to branding inconsistencies and an in-house team requires a big team and even bigger budgets. Combining an in-house retoucher and Pixelz allows Nuuly to maintain brand standards and scale. As Alison put it, “To build our unique brand, a hybrid approach is really the key thing. If you just send off all your images to a team that doesn't know your aesthetic, even if you have a good specs setup there is going to be some subjectivity that's missed. The little aesthetic things, for example, if the hair is supposed to be kind of messy because that's the look that we're going for; those can be a bit too subjective to put into a brief for a retoucher that isn't on our team.”

Eve worked directly with the Pixelz team to build specifications and retouching guidelines. “I think in the beginning it was kind of trial and error to see what Pixelz could handle. It was about figuring out what can be done and what subjective requirements needed to be handled in-house.”

After the images have been retouched by Pixelz, Eve the retouching manager at Nuuly can review the images and make final subjective edits to ensure all images meet the Nuuly brand standards. For Eve, the biggest gain from working with Pixelz is the time saved in retouching images. “Even if it just saves me one minute of my time per image, when multiplying that across thousands of images, that adds up to many hours. That was surprising and helpful.I didn’t anticipate that saving one minute per image could save many hours of labor.

Reclaiming Creativity in the Studio

Teaming up with Pixelz has also allowed Alison and her team to reclaim time and focus on the creative aspects of their work. “Creatives tend to feel that it's safer to do it all ourselves. But it's actually less safe because you're burning out your team on a lot of the work that they don't need to do. Leaving the automated tasks to a team like Pixelz, where you guys really are the masters at automation. It makes the best use of everyone's skill set”

I think that being able to free up the creatives from repetitive tasks is probably the unspoken thing that everyone greatly appreciates on our team.

As a Creative Director, Pixelz has helped Alison maintain her budget while keeping creativity at the forefront. “We (creative directors) are concerned about budgets. And hopefully, we're also concerned about efficiencies, whether for a growing team, transitioning a team, or thinking about ways to make their process better with their current team. Working with Pixelz has worked so well for me in terms of efficiency and cost. I think that when you can combine the two, efficiency and creativity, that's when you get the best results because you're spending money wisely which is always a good thing, at the end of the day.”

Going Remote During COVID-19

Like everyone else in the past year, the Nuuly team had to figure out how to maintain their studio work while dealing with a pandemic. They knew they could rely on Pixelz and Creative Force to help them transition to a more remote style of work. “None of us knew that COVID would happen when we signed up for this technology. And we did not miss a beat. We were already concerned about the safety of our teams and how we were going to get things done in general. Not worrying about how the system would work was a huge deal.”

Eve was one of many that went full remote during COVID-19 and found that working with Pixelz and Creative Force made the transition easy. “Because Creative Force is all cloud-based, our team didn’t need to worry about a local server where assets are uploaded and downloaded. Hue was relatively easy to run off my personal laptop, even though my personal computer a lot less Ram than an iMac. So we were able to continue processing images even in the midst of the initial lockdown chaos.”

Nuuly X Pixelz

“When we were first starting there was a lot of stuff going on that we didn't exactly know how to set up. And like I mentioned, we were working with some of our internal systems and things that we had to get set up. The fact that the team was there and available and a pleasure to work with honestly makes a huge difference. People don't want to sign up for a service and then feel left behind if they have a question or an issue that arises. And that certainly has never been the case in working with Creative Force or Pixelz.”

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