Being discovered and selling: e-commerce incubators
Shamelessly cribbing from Cathy Horyn (snipped obviously):
In the late 1990s, Cecilia Pagkalinawan had a business advising fashion labels about selling their stuff online. There were actually some people who knew what she was talking about, although there wasn’t really a market… She learned a lot about the inside of the luxury-goods business at a time when those dyed-in-the-wool brands were coming to grips with digital technology. She also began to wonder about emerging talent and if an e-commerce model could be built around those people, one that took advantage of social media…In January, Ms. Pagkalinawan [...] decided it was time to start Styletrek.com, a site for emerging fashion talent from around the globe. Styletrek will start officially on Sept. 7, when 50 designers will have clothing and accessories for sale. Candidates must be in business at least three seasons and submit to a review process. Styletrek will handle the orders and shipping, as well as help with social media.
Of all the e-commerce incubation models, Styletrek looks promising. No it won’t help someone at first launch but having a stringent review and entry process gives the site more credibility. With more credibility, they can get funding to make the project viable. That proceeds from designer sales would be sufficient to pay for itself is three to five years off. The site hasn’t officially launched so there’s no word on commissions and fees.
<soapbox>No grousing. First go round is a cattle call, your goal is to be substantive enough that they’ll consider reviewing you. The program criteria can be immensely educational</soapbox>
I like that non-designers can submit their choices. I have several designers in mind that I plan to submit.
A similar site is Catwalk Genius where designers can raise seed money from visitors for their first collections and or they can sell goods directly. Commissions range between 15-33% which isn’t bad if the site delivers sales, your costs are contained and you have priced well. The commission is higher than Etsy but it’s not as crowded, it’s easier to find goods and is more upscale.
However, caveats are considerable and found with a careful reading of the FAQ. Other than that their math is fuzzier than a newborn bunny (see “How much will I earn from sales of my new collection?”), their prototypical example is an over-sell, implying designers stand to earn much more than they do in real life. This will make you laugh out loud, their example lists a designer selling £50,000 worth of goods of which the costs are £10,000. Ha! 400% profit? Where do I sign up for that? Most designers would consider themselves wildly successful if they got 20% profit (sales: £50,000 less costs of £40,000 leaving £10,000 profit).
Has anybody tried Catwalk Genius? If you used it to sell finished goods, it could be a way to become acclimated to selling in the UK if you’re interested in distribution there. The export market is only going to increase.