When Shayan Zadeh left Iran to attend the University of Maryland, his parents hoped he would become a doctor. Zadeh never made it to medical school, but he has become a healer of sorts, fixing broken brick-and-mortar retailers.
The former CEO of New Jersey-based clothier Dressbarn is now at the helm of the new e-commerce iteration of Pier 1, which recently moved its headquarters from Fort Worth to Dallas.
Zadeh was a program manager and software engineer for Microsoft before co-founding dating app Zoosk (which Sparks Networks acquired for $258 million in 2019) with his grad school roommate, Alex Mehr.
Now, Zadeh has joined Mehr’s latest enterprise, Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), a holding company that reinvents struggling retail brands as online enterprises. Along with Dressbarn and Pier 1, its acquisitions include Linens ’N Things, Franklin Mint, RadioShack, and, most recently, Stein Mart. A sounding board for Mehr during REV’s ideation phase, Zadeh says he revels in explosive growth opportunities. “What I’ve found is that I gravitate towards that steep rise,” he says.
“What I’ve found is I gravitate toward that steep rise.”
He initially invested in REV’s acquisition of Dressbarn, then became the brand’s CEO. Mehr and his business partner, Tai Lopez, “kind of roped me into running the company,” Zadeh says.
Dressbarn, which had 650 brick-and-mortar stores and an online presence that accounted for 20 percent of sales at the time of its acquisition, has experienced 100 percent quarterly growth since its relaunch this past spring.
REV purchased Pier 1 after it filed for bankruptcy.
Following his Dressbarn success, Zadeh will now work his magic at the popular home décor brand. He says Pier 1’s customer loyalty and quality products are what attracted him and the REV team.
“It’s a brand that the customer has an emotional attachment to, and that’s very valuable,” Zadeh says.
That affinity helps REV achieve the consumer conversion needed to shift acquired brands to a fully e-commerce model. It is not as simple as moving old inventory online. Converting to e-commerce opens up Pier 1 to an expanded inventory—what Zadeh calls “an endless aisle.” The back of that digital aisle, where the new, quirky, one-off pieces lie, offers an opportunity to broaden the brand’s audience, and online data enables personalized experiences.
“Now, we can show you a Pier 1 specially made for you,” Zadeh says.
He believes the reinvented company will perform well.
“We are in the early innings,” he says, “but from what it looks like, I think Pier 1 is going to blow [previous REV successes] out of the water.” If that pans out, augmented reality shopping and new inventory subcategories, such as home appliances, may be on tap as the relaunch gains steam. “Really, the sky’s the limit,” Zadeh says.