by Chad Lewis
Corrinne Henderson has the leggy stature of a runway model. Most women would be envious—until they tried finding pants that were long enough.
“I remember being so frustrated,” Corrinne says. “I knew I wasn’t the only tall woman out there who had this problem.”
Hard-to-fit women of the world unite; the long-legged and long-on-ideas Henderson is here to help. In December 2006 she launched a Web site that helps women quickly sort through the inventories of top designers and find the perfect pants.
Business is stretching out fast. Sales and site hits are increasing each month, and they’re likely to continue rising since SearchByInseam.com (a name inspired by a phrase she used to Google clothing on the Web) was mentioned recently in Oprah’s popular O Mazagine and InStyle. Corrinne earns a commission with each purchase.
She sacrificed the stability of good jobs at a pair of iconic Northwest companies to be her own boss. Before she even graduated from UPS she had landed a job as a technical recruiter at Microsoft, traveling back and forth to Russia. Four years later she hopped over to Amazon.com, where she managed internal human resources programs.
Yet for all the corporate success Corrinne found herself wanting something different as she finished up an M.B.A. in 2006. She dreamed of starting her own business before age 30 and drafted a business plan, but she couldn’t quite commit.
The final impetus came when she and her husband, Jason Henderson ’01, visited their friend Daniel Davis ’01 in Kenya. After years of grueling, three-hour roundtrip commutes, the simplicity of rural life she observed in Africa was striking by contrast.
“Even though the area we were in was poor economically, the quality of life was so high,” she says. “People take their time. They talk to their neighbors, grow their own food, walk everywhere, and their jobs aren’t all-consuming. I wanted that for myself.”
Corrinne’s Amazon co-workers were envious of her plans to go out on her own, but her parents were apprehensive.
“They were worried it was too risky,” she says, “but Jason and I have always tried to live beneath our means so that one of us can take a chance like this.”
So far that chance has paid off with the anticipated lifestyle benefits. For example, the SearchByInseam corporate headquarters is Corrinne’s Tacoma home, and, with no commute, Corrinne now has time to work with a few other UPS alumni on starting a food cooperative in town.
But there are challenges. Corrinne wants to automate the site to avoid manually adding and deleting items offered by designers, which is time consuming. She’s had no formal technical training, so the learning curve has been steep. And the temptation to fire up her laptop and work at all hours is always there. But overall she’s glad she made the leap; she did find her dream job well before turning 30 in March.