Last week we spoke to Dr. Cat Stone about her quest to define beauty. This week we speak to someone who is helping make kiwi women beautiful by giving us access to designer threads at non-designer prices!
Invitation only fashion site, ONCE'IT founder Jay Goodey describes the company's history, life inside the NZ fashion scene's best-kept secret, and what we can expect from them next...
(...oh and the ONCE'IT team have created a special Chelsey invite for you here: www.onceit.co.nz/invite/chelsey, aren't they lovely?)
Tell us how the concept for ONCE’IT came about?
At the time we saw that a high percentage of designers were having physical sample sales, and we also noticed that consumers in NZ were becoming far more open to shopping online.
We thought ONCE'IT would be a convenient way for shoppers to have access to these designer sales from the comfort of their computers, without going through the trauma of being caught in the usual sale stampedes. Also, from a designer's perspective we would provide an easy, cost effective solution to moving stock, while retaining their brand integrity and image.
Was the initial start-up difficult?
I think about 90% of the designers we had on the site in the first couple of months said "no" to the concept initially - so it was a lot of meetings, phone calls and emails in an attempt to convince them to trust us with their brand and image, which was understandably very important to them.
From a company perspective we certainly did have very humble beginnings. I would be answering all of our customer emails and phone calls, while juggling liaising with brands, and we didn't have a dispatch team then either, so in the early months my wife Cat and I spent many late nights and early mornings packing orders out as well. So it was definitely grass roots. But at the same time I was really grateful for that period as it allowed us to get to know our brand, customers and business inside out.
You recently celebrated ONCE’IT’s first birthday. Have you been surprised by the level of success you’ve achieved in such a short time?
Being an invitation-only site we have been quite overwhelmed by how quickly it has spread. We now have over 20,000 members and it's growing all the time. We have also been really happy with the number and calibre of quality brands we have fostered relationships with, which has enabled us to present the best designer sales to our members.
What demographic do you reach? Is it a broad age/gender client base?
We were never trying to target everyone with ONCE'IT - I think we fit into a niche market, for people who invest in quality fashion products, and also like being delivered a handpicked selection of what we think the best designer sales are. The majority of our member base is female, and the age group is relatively broad which reflects the wide range of products we offer, from fashion-forward garments to home decor. We do however cater for some menswear sales as well, and we are focused on growing this aspect of the business.
Any favourite customer stories or experiences?
Ha - yes one comes to mind: we had only recently launched, and I was talking to a customer on the phone as it was midday when a sale had just gone live and she was asking something about her order. All of a sudden the line went dead. About 10 minutes later she rang back apologising, explaining she'd hung up on me because her boss had just walked past - from that I can only assume she wasn't meant to be shopping at the time! I thought this was quite a funny mental image; I think a lot of our members are guilty of logging on at work at 12 to check out the sales.
What’s your vision for the future of the company?
We are basically looking to expand our ONCE"IT offering to a broader range of products in the same luxury market. Think home decor, accessories, maybe even boutique travel. We are also looking to launch another website to sit alongside ONCE'IT that we think could be really successful - details to come on this one, so watch this space.
What have been the featured brands’ experiences selling through your site?
We have had some really positive feedback - just the other day the WORLD designers came in after a successful sale to personally thank us for the opportunity, which I thought was really cool. It's nice to have a great response from the brands we feature. We are really focused on delivering the best service and results for those we represent, and I think that is how we will keep being able to deliver the best designer sales to our member base.
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