It's never been easy to sell clothes. Like with creative writing or the music industry, all of these markets are heavily saturated with aspiring young people trying to make it big. When boutiques know they are competing with the likes of fashion houses and high street stores, they have to find new ways to get noticed, to stand out from the crowd and boy can it be hard. But as we all know, the Internet can be a wonderful thing, and with the rise of social media, some stores have found it much more economical to scrap the traditional model of owning a physical store by moving everything online.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Melissa, owner of Glitters For Dinner, a cute online boutique from Australia that's thirteen months old and operates exclusively through Facebook. Having started her store by herself, with no experience at all, she has come a long way. she has had to do everything from accounts to sourcing to brand building - in fact, she even models her own clothes!
|Melissa Jo, modelling her Digital Sky Crop|
Profile of an owner:
My name is Melissa Jo, I've always had a passion for fashion. I love music, Kate Moss and old Hollywood stars. I'm the mother of four beautiful cats, so when they aren't taking my time I'm blogging, reading fashion magazines or designing!
Glitters For Dinner
Sometimes, we spend ages trying to think of the perfect name for something, but at other times, it just falls into place without you even trying. When asked what the inspiration was behind the name Glitters For Dinner, Melissa says: "Have you ever come home from a shopping trip shaking with excitement? Just itching to model all the new good in front of a mirror? Well every shopping trip makes me feel like that! One day after a particular shopping trip, a friend of mine said, 'Now we've got glitter for dinner!' ...and the name just stuck!"
"GFD launched 13 months ago and we basically started from scratch. We had no prior knowledge of clothing businesses, although we've heard all the stories. We started by sourcing some amazing vintage places. I didn't realize I had an eye for vintage until after the clothes started selling. With a lot of self advertising, inviting different people to check our page out, a LOT of time and effort, we started growing a fan base."
Promotions have played a huge role in the success of GFD too. By holding giveaways with other already well established online brands, GFD have been able to tap into other fan bases and increase their online presence.
|How I first heard about GFD!|
Online versus High Street
|Peter Pan Dress|
You may think that opening a store online would be easier than operating one on the high street. For instance, you don't have to worry about rent, electricity bills, cleaning, or security. You don't have to put clothes back on the railing after customers have tried them on, and you don't have to worry about the layout of the store. In fact, an online store is a completely different experience. Normally, with a website, you'd still have to worry about layout, presentation and server fees, but if you are fine with sacrificing that for wider social access and a free webpage then Facebook is perfect. For Melissa, "The biggest difference is that, I feel, our Facebook store is a more personal experience. I personally speak to everyone of my customers as they were my friends. I message them and I am always in touch with them. Unlike other online stores, I take a personal interest in customers. As we keep growing, I will keep trying to be in touch with everyone!"
Melissa tells me that the most challenging thing about GFD was brand building and gaining loyal customers. "Being an online store, you have to work even harder get yourself out there. Unlike the use of a window display, or the simple presence of an actual store, I have to constantly promote GFD, and keep coming up with fresh new ideas to keep my 'audience'. It's just like entertaining a crowd!"
|Galaxy Sleeve Baseball Tee|
1. What do you love about your work?
I love the girls, I've become good friends with some of them. They are incredibly amazing and supportive. They allow me to do what I love and more importantly to love what I do. I feel so blessed to have these people in my life.
2. Can you tell me about a typical working day for you guys?
If we don't have buying plans or photo shoot at the studio, each day is completely different. But what we do almost everyday is get online and constantly promote the brand. Sharing new photos, comments etc. Responding to the emails that we get regularly, making sure our customers are happy!
Also 2 nights a week, I would go to bed really late, because I will be up all night doing my accounts, which is a very exhausting job. It's my least favourite part haha.
Luckily I have heaps of help from my boyfriend and my wonderful posting staff who are completely supportive of what I do. I actually feel like its more of a team effort now, than just me against the world!
3. I hear you are designing your own line of clothing; do you have any sneak peak photos?
It's been delayed for so long, we have a few patterns completed. One of them is the classic peter pan collared dress with a full skirt, I can't disclose anything else because things are constantly changing...however this design is one of my favourites!
We hand design the garments as well as select the fabric. Besides sewing, we get involved in so much, it's been an incredible learning experience.
|Vintage Black Sleeveless White Collared Mini Dress|
4. What do you think it takes for an online store to become successful?
I just think that you have to milk every moment. There are millions of competitors out there. You have to make sure you are ready. Also it's very important to keep up with news and current trends all the time. Education is the best way to get to know your customers!
5. Do you have any advice or tips for young people who want to start their own online store or fashion line?
My advice is to take time, don't rush through the process. Do not expect overnight success, because it never happens. Also it's so important to stick with things even when it seems like nothing is happening. Be a decent human being and having a loving attitude towards your customers. And for Pete's sake get a decent camera. People come to you for the clothes, NOT for the artistic image!
6. And finally, who do you look up to in the fashion world?
Carrie Bradshaw she's my absolute favourite. She's fictional but I don't care!
Thank you so much Melissa for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give us an insight into your life. If you'd like to visit her store, then follow the links: