Smart Boutique Ltd: Mitko Machev
A retail site offering unique designer clothing
Tell us what your business does:
Theclassywardrobe.com is an exclusive retailer for one-off designer collections. With our selection of unique fashionable brands from across Europe, our clients can be assured that their working wardrobe is as unique as they are and a cut above the competition.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My business partner works in an office environment, often having meetings with clients and juggling the need to look professional and confident all the time. I wanted to offer busy professional women a hassle free way to shop for high quality corporate clothing that will see them from the office through to the evening.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We did market research into what type of clothing women spend their money on. I personally know professional women who were frustrated with how much time they spent finding suitable outfits. It can be impossible to find a unique outfit without the danger of bumping into a colleague wearing the same dress!
What were you doing before starting up?
I worked as a marketing manager in a fashion company for a couple of years and then I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Management in London. During this course I had to prepare a dissertation on the topic Setup and Management of a Clothing website. I later put this into practice when I founded Theclassywardrobe.com.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, this is my second start-up and I have had many ideas, some of which require substantial funding. I like the flexibility and freedom of running my own business although it is very challenging.
How did you raise the money?
I found that banks require a high level of security to support loans, so I chose to use my own capital and borrow from friends and family.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The rise of low-cost goods from Asia, resulting in high competition in the fashion sector provides the biggest challenge. We try to overcome this by using different marketing channels to get to our customers, relying a lot on social media and blogging to get our message across. I just don’t accept ‘No’ for an answer, with bigger challenges simply pushing me to succeed.
How much do you charge?
Our product prices range from £29 for accessories to £500 for coats.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The first hurdle was attracting the right customers – gaining their trust and ensuring their satisfaction. We aim to provide excellent customer service and we take feedback very seriously.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Be knowledgeable about the market – learn the admin part of the business before you register your company. It is important that entrepreneurs are ready to accept constructive criticism and prepared adapt to the market quickly.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I would like to see Theclassywardrobe.com as a leading shopping destination in Europe for working women.