SPOTLIGHT ON: THE-COLLECTORY FOUNDERS: ADRIANA & SARAH
1.) How did you get started?
Sarah and I (Adriana) went to Fashion School together, and when we graduated we went our separate ways, but still stayed in touch. Sarah worked at Prada and Louis Vuitton, and I worked with influencers at an influencer media agency. At Louis Vuitton and Prada, Sarah felt that a lot her clients were asking for pieces that were really hard to acquire, and/or wasn't available in the states, and only in Europe. Since Sarah is from Paris, she would go out of her way and get her really special clients the bags they really wanted, and in a way, became a personal shopper on the side. A few months later, over lunch celebrating a belated birthday, she started telling me about what she was doing, and how she quit her job to start doing it full-time. With my background in e-commerce and digital marketing, we knew that if we partnered, we could grow her side project into something bigger. The Collectory was born, and the rest is history.
2.) Have you seen any major shifts in the vintage industry throughout the years? If so, what are they?
The biggest shift we've seen is the shift in who the "Vintage" customer is. When only brick-and-mortar shops existed, one had to almost know where the good pieces were, what stores carried the best pieces, and, most importantly, which stores didn't know the true value of the piece, snagging you a great deal on a vintage handbag. The hunt was definitely not for everyone - especially since a lot of time needed to be invested. Now-a-days, not only are consumers more knowledgeable, but they also have access to vintage pieces from all around the world at the click of a button, and in having this new and global library of merchandise, customers who would never touch vintage, now can (and do), especially when the price-points are so appealing. What started as having to dig through piles of clothing at second-hand shops has now turned into a day of shopping down 5th avenue, where you can go into Club Monaco and see a pretty great selection of perfectly kept Chanel bags under a glass vitrine. Access to vintage is what has opened the doors, and in more and more women wanting vintage, more and more niche stores opened delivering just that - completely shifting how and who shops for vintage, and beyond that, completely shifting how luxury is shopped as a whole.
3.) What does your customers look like now vs. when you started?
The great thing is our customers haven't changed. The difference is that now it's just a bigger community of those same, like-minded women. We had a client tell us that what she loved about us was that she felt like she was shopping with girlfriends, and that's what it's been from the start. It's started with a handful of clients we genuinely wanted to help (past clients that shopped with Sarah, for example), and those clients remained genuinely loyal, and they started to tell their girlfriends, and it grew from there. Funny enough, a few weeks back we had a thought-provoking talk with an angel investor, and she said that we should think about shifting our focus to the customers in our own generation. Although interesting, it's something that didn't really resonate because we don't want to branch out into new demographics. Our value is in the intimacy we have created, and we think our change will most likely be in the products sold, not in the customers sold to.
4.) Describe your core customer.
She's smart, she does her research, and she sees the value in spending her money on luxury and quality goods.
5.) For first-time vintage shoppers looking for a good starter piece: what would you recommend to them that would only appreciate in value?
Anything from Hermès or Chanel will be your best bet. Depending on how much money you have to spend, we recommend either a Birkin or a Kelly from Hermès, or a Classic Flap from Chanel. Because Birkins/Kellys, are incredibly hard to get, they can resell for more than 2x their original value. In other words, if you score a Birkin or a Kelly, you will most likely be making money off of your luxury investment. Scarcity is what keeps the demand for Hermès up, which means if you find and invest in one, you have really made a smart financial move with your money. Although Chanel is a little more ubiquitous, what keeps their value up is their high demand, and the fact that the Chanel Flaps go up in price every year - meaning, 3 years from now, you could sell your classic flap and most likely make-back what you bought it for.
6.) How do people usually find The-Collectory now?
Because most of the pieces we have are really unique and special pieces, a lot of people actually find us through a simple google search. They are looking for a particular piece, and we pop-up because we are one of the few places that carry the piece. Other than that, Instagram is a huge driver, and it's been a great way to showcase our voice and identity as a brand. People who find us on google go to our Instagram, and even if it doesn't always turn into a sale, we think it definitely builds trust and an ease in knowing that The Collectory is real.
7.) Top 3 brands you carry?
Hermes, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton - the only three we carry, and here's why: because we strongly believe that handbags can be smart purchases, and even be considered investments, we only want to sell pieces that we know our clients can benefit from in the long run. We have seen and experienced first hand how the right pieces (purchased at the right price) can make you money, and we want to share that empowering "I made money off of a handbag" feeling with all of our clients for them to experience it too. Our inventory, although small, is actually quite powerful, as we are very thoughtful with what we bring on. If it will make you money in the future, be sure you will find it on our site ;)
8.) Describe your day-to-day
On most days, we start every morning with e-mails. Whether it's to clients who have questions about a piece or an influencer wanting to collaborate, we make sure to be respectful of people's time. From there, our day is split between buying (planning what pieces we are going to bring on, researching trends and brands, understanding what's happening in the reselling market) inventory management (making sure our pieces are photographed, edited, and distributed) and branding initiatives (photoshoots with influencers, execution and planning of marketing events, and everything in between). We travel to Paris every 2 months and wear a lot of different hats. Some days can be very brand-heavy, while others can be sewed towards buying. It all depends and that's the beauty of being a small team, no day really ends up being the same exact day.
9.) Why the name The-Collectory?
It took us a good three weeks to come up with a name that stuck, and The Collectory, once we landed on it, felt so right. We wanted something that our clients could identify with; so not only does it allude to a collection (one of our biggest strengths), it also alludes to the women (our clients) who are collectors themselves.
10.) What's the first piece you sold when The-Collectory opened?
A Chanel tennis racket. So different from what we sell today, but it is so aligned with what we believe as a brand. It was the perfect example illustrating the idea that special pieces, that when bought at the right price, can make you money. This piece sold for over 3x its original cost on the reselling market.
11.) What's been the most exciting thing for you to sell since opening?
Our first Hermès Birkin. It was exciting when we got the first one in our store, and it was exciting when we sold it.
12.) Top 5 style icons?
The Hadid sisters, Miroslava Duma, Leandra Medine, Gala Gonzalez, Chiara Ferragn
13.) NYC vs. LA customers: what's the difference?
NYC buy classic. LA buy trends.
14.) What's your favorite place for brunch in San Fran?
15.) There are a lot of celebrities that shop pre-owned luxury. If any celebrities have shopped with you, by far who came as a surprise?
Does an Instagram celebrity count? :) Annabelle Fleur from the blog VivaLuxury shopped with us, and we didn't even know it was her until after she shopped with us because she had an incognito email address! haha. We learned our lesson. Other than that, one of our clients (a personal shopper) bought some of our Louis Vuitton x Supreme pieces, to then give to DJ Khaled.