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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
My name is Amy Eamrungroj and I'm a Northwestern student. A group of Northwestern students and I currently have an idea to make a website that sells fashion items that are made from small-time designers. Our website will aggregate many different small-time designers and fashion boutique owners and allow them to set up an online store on our website (just like on Ebay). Our website will be very trendy looking, and have plenty of features that allow our sellers to flex their creativity in displaying their product. Mainly we'll have a drawing board feature, where our sellers can drag and drop multiple pictures and mix and match several items to create a whole "look" picture. Our sellers will be able to reach a larger customer base without much physical effort. Customers would use our website as a central place to find boutique store products where they can browse a variety products from their homes.
Our questions are: is there a market for this? Would you be interested in using our website? Do you think it’s a good idea and why? Is it right to make an assumption that there are many boutique store owners, student fashion designers, small-time fashion designers who want to sell their products online? Would people come and buy from our website?
Please help a group of Northwestern students who are trying to go forward with this idea by messaging me back! Please message me back and tell us any comments at all about our website idea. Personal opinions, general comments, excited comments, not so-optimistic comments are all welcome!
 

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You've got my vote!

I think you have what could be a very good vehicle for break out designers and entrepreneurs. Naturally, you would have to have a very effective marketing strategy to attract interest in your site, which is what the users would be looking for and which they would be willing to to pay something for. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Our presentation is for next week

My team and I are currently taking an entrepreneurship class at Northwestern and our final presentation for the class is next week. Not only that our professor will be there to hear our presentation, VCs and angel investors will be there to comment and ask tough questions as well. So we're busy doing the research and depending on the feedback that we get, we might continue with our business and start looking for funding!
 

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*Note to self: steal Amy's idea* :icon_smile_big:

Make sure to have biography blurbs or something similar for the designers. A little background information will go a long way in gaining the trust of shoppers.

Sell stock and I'm in!
 

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Good luck on your presentation.

I read that the chap who started Fed Express, which changed the whole small package delivery industry, presented his idea in a paper in grad school and recieved a grade of 'C'. So if your instructor is not fond of your idea, he might be right, but might be way wrong too.

Cheers, Jim.
 

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Good luck on your presentation.

I read that the chap who started Fed Express, which changed the whole small package delivery industry, presented his idea in a paper in grad school and recieved a grade of 'C'. So if your instructor is not fond of your idea, he might be right, but might be way wrong too.

Cheers, Jim.
This is true. He was told his plan wasn't feasible.
 

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Interesting. My girlfriend is a small-time designer (purses and home accents) and does a thriving business at trade shows. Her online vehicle is not mainly for advertising, but rather a method where established customers can view materiel and examine products, sometimes before they are produced.

I suppose a fashion website advertising small time designers is more useful than others in one way:

It gets the product in front of a large number of people for the same cost as a small number of people.

Provided the site is a purchasing mechanism, it would probably succeed. If it becomes another fashion-friendly, "fun" site for an elite few, it doesn't seem to be viable.

Good luck, and I'd say you sound like you're heading for a 4.0.

Thomas
 

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I like the idea. With that said, you have some real challenges ahead of you. I run the European Internet business for a major Worldwide Bank and we sell financial products that have no real tangible ties to the Customer other than brand loyalty and it is still a hard sell. The hard part is the effective marketing to increase your pool of prospect customers, filtering them down your acquisition funnel and closing your sale online. This is easier for selling credit card, books etc...

Clothing and new designers is a challenge. You are going to have to create an expereince that replicates a great shopping expereince, builds trust between the designer and customer and allows you to create the sense of shopping. A big part of exploring new designers and shops is feeling the fabrics, getting a sense of the style and the collection, trying on different pieces, etc.. Once you have built this getting repeat customers is easier.

I think the idea has merit, the hard part is going to be chossing the right designers, figuring out the selection criteria and replicating a shopping experience for customers that are not familiar with your designers and offerings, clothing is the difficult part. As an example, I feel comfortable ordering a Barbour jacket online or a pair of John Lobb shoes online because I know that if they don´t fit or just don´t work, I can exchange them at a brick and mortar establishment. It allows me to hedge my bets and take the chance of placing online orders, especially at high price points without any inherent risks. It is all going to depend on your products and your designers.

I am more than happy to help if you want to PM me and beig from Chicago I like to help area students.

Good luck.
 

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This sounds like an online version of the consignment shops you see in NYC. Small time designers will put their goods up for sale, and the store owner takes a cut of the sales.

Seems logical to take it to the next step online, I'd imagine this was thought of before at some point.

My concern is this -- small time designers = small production runs. In a physical store, if an item is sold out, it's just gone and no one sees it. On a website, you will have to be very frequent with updates to make sure the site isn't full of items that are out of stock.

Otherwise, good luck, sounds like a good idea.
 

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Nothing much to offer but to limit your time in The Keg.
 

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I like the idea. The most important thing will be:

1. Get designers to buy in and sign up for your service
2. Get traffic to your site.

I wouldn't charge designers (at least at first) to sign up and create a virtual storefront. Since it is free the idea might spread much faster through word of mouth - kind of like the viral marketing idea from hotmail back in the day.

You really need to market your site!!! Because without traffic to your site, your designers won't be able to sell anything.

How are you going to do this?

1. Have the designers spread the word for you (they want traffic just as much as you do and will have to do some advertising, and/or spreading their work)

2. Write Press Releases (check prweb.com for example). The PR is distributed and people will contact you about your idea if they are interested. Getting written about by established online news agencies is key to generate organic traffic.

These are just a few ideas...

By the way, check out: https://www.fashionindustrynetwork.com/ They have a forum section where you can post your idea and see if there is a demand for it.

Hope this helps!
 

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Central to the marketing strategy is determining what will be your "brand differentiator", what will make your site different than anyone, either already in existence, or who might try and copy your idea? Here's a suggestion: if you're sourcing out up-and-coming designers, make sure you sign them to exclusivity agreements, so you can drive traffic specifically to your site, and not someone elses. Just a thought. Good luck.
 
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