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Fab's Co-Founder Wants a Do-Over With New, Fab-Like Shopping Site Bezar

"I struggled with the idea of doing something different, but then I made peace with the fact that this was my mission in life."

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Bradford Shellhammer knows what you’re thinking, because he thought it first.

“You don’t want to be the guy that just did Fab twice,” Shellhammer remembers thinking early last year as he was contemplating his next career move. Especially considering the way Fab has flamed out after its sky-high hype.

Then, he decided, he didn’t care what you thought.

Shellhammer was the co-founder and creative force behind, the one-time darling of online design that has seen its fortunes plummet at warp speed after a fast start. Now, a little more than a year after he left Fab, Shellhammer is ready to talk about a reincarnation of Fab that he will launch in March. He has raised a $2.25 million investment led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures to fund his new company.

Called Bezar, the goal, as Shellhammer tells it, is to take the good of Fab while learning from the bad, and bring it back to life in an online shop that will focus on telling the story of, and selling goods from, emerging designers and artists. Bezar, which is how “bizarre” and “bazaar” are spelled phonetically, will leave behind Fab’s obsession with super-fast revenue growth.

“I struggled with the idea of doing something different, but then I made peace with the fact that this was my mission in life,” Shellhammer said in an interview over coffee at New York City’s Soho House on Wednesday. “We kind of fucked it up once so the stakes are really high the second time. … I have unfinished business.”

That mission is to simultaneously support emerging designers while making Bezar the go-to shopping destination for urban-minded young professionals who appreciate unique and eclectic design, but want it at relatively affordable prices. Most products on Bezar will sell for under $100, though there will be exceptions.

The site will spotlight products from four designers or emerging brands at one time — one from each of four categories of goods: jewelry; art; home decor and furnishings; and accessories like sunglasses and wallets. The hope is to let designers and artists stand out more easily than on sites like Etsy (or Fab as it expanded), where the breadth of selection can be great for shoppers but challenging for some sellers.

Their sales — or pop-up shops, as Shellhammer calls them — will generally last anywhere from 24 hours to a week, but no longer. In this way, Bezar will carry some of the flash-sale DNA that once was the core of the Fab model. But, unlike how Fab operated in its early days, Bezar won’t focus on discounting goods.

Bezar landing page

Bezar will make money like many retailers do: By buying stuff wholesale and marking it up to a retail price. It won’t hold inventory, which will likely result in slower shipping speeds at a time when most giant retailers are doing everything they can to get stuff to your door in an instant.

Shellhammer says sites like Zulily, whose deliveries often take more than a week to arrive, prove that shoppers are willing to wait for non-commodity purchases. Bezar may even celebrate the fact an order will take time to reach doorstops if it helps showcase the care that goes into its production.

“I don’t want there to be shame in that,” he said.

The site design and color palette, which Shellhammer gave me a sneak peek of, is unmistakably Fab-like. As will be the products. About half of the 50 sellers that Bezar has signed up previously sold on Fab.

Joining Shellhammer on the eight-person team are several former Fab executives. He has also attracted some of Fab’s own investors: Howard Morgan, who sits on Fab’s board thanks to an investment his firm, First Round Capital, made in the company; and Box Group, the investment firm run by former Techstars NYC director David Tisch.

Other investors include Sherpa Ventures; Maveron; Yves Bahar; Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network); Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn; and Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

Shellhammer knows the job of an investor is to get a return on that investment. But he said he has made it clear that while he is committed to building a big business that is profitable (the latter of which he said may happen right away), the world domination that Fab sought — and that perhaps ultimately doomed it — is not what he’s after.

“The mission is not to become the store everyone comes to, or to make these huge numbers in this amount of years,” he said. “We’re going to be the launching pad that enables talented people to get their products out there. Hopefully that becomes a big business, and I think it will. But there’s one mission to the company. I’m the guy guiding it and nothing is going to get in the way of that mission, or let it get diluted or pivoted.”

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