Monday, 9 January 2012

Lou Lou Chats with Emma Allen of Style Sequel

When I was reading a recent edition of 'Elle' magazine, one of the staff members mentioned that they sold items that they no longer wanted in their closet on stylesequel.com.  I had never come across this website before, but was keen to check it out, as I know from the weekly 'What Elle Wears' blog posts, that the 'Elle' staff members are a VERY stylish bunch. Once I had, it was serious style website love, with a combination of brilliant pieces from recent seasons together with style classics. I am really pleased with my first purchase from the site: a 'Tucker' leopard print jacket, with a silk rose print lining - with tags and originally retailing for approximately £400 - with a starting price of £25!

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Describe Style Sequel in three words.

Beautiful. Hand-picked. Pre-owned.

stylesequel.com

Please tell us more about yourself.

I have always loved beautiful clothes and have been an avid pre-owned shopper myself for as long as I can remember. I started selling a few of my own piece on eBay around five years ago, moving on to selling for my friends and then for a select group of ladies in Notting Hill. My ‘catchment’ area quickly grew to cover the whole of London and the UK and I also gained many international sellers.

Emma from stylesequel.com

Why did you set up Style Sequel?

By the end of 2010 I had built up a wonderful and extensive list of sellers and buyers around the world but I felt I had taken my business as far as I could alone. I really felt that there was a gap in the market for a truly specialist clothing reselling platform, with a high level of care and service and a 100% authenticity guarantee. I really wanted the experience of selling second hand clothing to be as easy and simple as possible for our sellers and also as much a pleasure for our buyers as buying an item new.

Azzedine Alaia A/W 2010 Black Crackle Leather Corset Boots

What makes Style Sequel different from other websites?

We bring our buyers pieces from the best wardrobes around the world. We create a profile for each of our top sellers – from Laid Back Stylista to Jet Setting Socialite – and we give our buyers the chance to get inside their wardrobes. They can even follow specific wardrobes on the website and we alert them when we get more items. We also work hard to hand select the best pieces from these wardrobes and to offer our buyers a wonderful selection from established brands such as Chanel and Hermes, alongside smaller or more ‘niche’ labels such as Carolina Bucci or Comme Des Garcons.

Another focus is on giving our buyers a second chance to own those key pieces they may have missed out on in the past. We love to give our buyers as much information as possible and we highlight items that we think are ‘Style Icons’, ‘Collectibles’, ‘Limited Editions’ and my own ‘Editor’s Picks’ which are just things that we love.

For our sellers we really do try and make things as easy as possible – we understand how busy they are. We have the option of home collections or we can help them get their items to us in a way that is convenient to them. We aim to sell all items within 6 weeks and we really do try and do each and every piece justice. I have a really passionate interest in ‘recent past’ fashion (I of course keep an eye on current ones too) and I love bringing this knowledge to Style Sequel - it really does help us get the best from each piece we sell.

And we offer a 100% authenticity guarantee on every single item.

Lanvin Spring Summer 2010 Navy Silk Draped Dress

How did you build up your list of sellers?

I was very lucky to bring many wonderful sellers with me from my previous business (these I built up from good old fashioned leafleting and word of mouth) but with Style Sequel we have greatly added to that list via some lovely PR, wonderful word of mouth and directly contacting people we think could really benefit from our services.

Hermes JPG Shoulder Classic Orange Birkin Bag

What has been the most unusual/standout piece that someone has approached you to sell on the site?

There have been so, so many wonderful pieces. From a stunning Hermes Birkin to a super rare Tom Ford for Gucci leather corset. We have sold amazing Chanel Cruise suits and more amazing pairs of Louboutins than I can remember. When we get pieces like this I feel it is our duty to do them absolute justice and I still get excited about handling them. We also love a piece with a story. Recently we sold a beautiful 1950s fur coat that had belonged to the mother of our seller. My seller gave me some wonderful background history which I was able to pass it onto the buyer who loved the story so much she asked if I could put her in touch with the seller to find out more. They are now firm friends. That is the kind of thing that makes my day.

Christian Louboutin Lucifer Bow & Spike Heels

What has been the highlight for you since starting up the business?

Every day is a new challenge and there have been many highlights. Hiring our amazing assistant Novia was a real boost. She does such a wonderful job – we could not manage without her. Getting some wonderful PR in Elle and the Vanity Fair A-List has been amazing, as have been some of the fabulous sellers we have recruited since we launched. For me each new seller is a highlight. Also of course seeing our buyer/customer base grow each and every day, and getting wonderful comments from them when they buy something they love or have wanted for a long time – I will never not find that truly uplifting.

Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I’d have set up Style Sequel sooner. It is sometimes hard to make the jump from working for and by yourself into joining with others but it really is the only way a good little idea can become a good big idea. Admitting I could not do everything alone is something I really wish I’d done earlier.

Prada A/W 2000 Yellow Anemone Print Tea Dress
What advice would you give to people who are looking to start their own fashion business?
I think most new business rules apply regardless of the area you are in. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve but also you can’t be scared to move with new ideas as you go along. Realise and embrace the fact that it will be very hard work and that you will have to wear many different hats – admin, finance, customer service etc. Don't let any little setbacks get you down - all experiences are valuable and most can be turned to your advantage if you think creatively enough. Fashion is full on and fast moving so you need to be prepared to move and react.

What’s in the pipeline for Style Sequel in 2012?

We have so many plans for Style Sequel and lots of new features in the pipeline. We are setting up a 'desperately seeking' service for customers looking for specific rare, sold out etc pieces. We will also be focusing on making the site a really wonderful place to visit in its own right – a real haven for lovers of pre-owned fashion.

What motivates you?

The belief that there really is the need for a truly dedicated, top level designer resale website out there – one where the clothes and the story behind them are key. I really want the experience of buying beautiful clothes second hand to be just as wonderful as buying them new. And I want all ladies with amazing wardrobes to know that there is someone out there who really want to help.

Also every single day.....the pieces we sell, meeting my sellers, talking to my buyers...all of that. It is a joy.

Top Tip

Love what you do! I know it sounds obvious but you won’t get where you want to be if you don’t.




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