BuyMyWardrobe: Kal Di Paola

A trusted social shopping site with real people behind real profiles,buying and selling pre-owned fashion

Name: Kal Di Paola
Age: 42
Company: BuyMyWardrobe
Staff numbers: 7
Company description: A trusted social shopping site with real people behind real profiles,buying and selling pre-owned fashion
Tell us what your business does:

BuyMyWardrobe is devoted to making the experience of buying and selling pre-owned fashion exciting, stylish, inspirational and fun. A trusted social shopping site with real people behind real profiles, including some of the country’s most stylish women, it is a place to browse and be inspired as well as to buy and sell pre-loved designer fashion.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

A few years ago I decided to sell my own wardrobe and realised that existing options were limited. eBay’s trust model is flawed and their reputation is tarnished by fraud. Consignment stores often only serve small local communities and can be picky when selecting products.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I spent three years seeding an offline community, hosting regular upmarket fashion events where 15-20 stylish women (new line-ups at each event) sold their desirable designer wardrobes to discerning members of the public. The events were a sell out. Sellers were a range of fashion industry insiders, self confessed shopaholics, ladies who lunched and high flying professionals, including the likes of celebrity stylist Zoe Lem, former publishing director of Elle Magazine, Elaine Foran and Gucci Group EVP of global communications, Mimma Viglezio. After hosting around 12 events I realised that there was an audience for pre-loved fashion and the audience were hungry! It was also clear that there was no shortage of ladies with wardrobes bursting at the seams, desperate to find a fun way to re-house their loved and cherished but no longer worn fashion pieces.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, pretty much. I ran a fashion label for 12 years before I launched BuyMyWardrobe.

How did you raise the money?

Angel investment from my co-founder Richard Thwaites.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

So far the process hasn’t been too bad – I suspect our biggest challenges are yet to come.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

What we really wanted to do was translate the success of the events to an online marketplace and make it exciting, stylish, inspirational and fun. We wanted it to be a social network, a place to browse and be inspired as well as buy and sell. BuyMyWardrobe’s seller memberships are only given out to approved sellers either through application or via referrals. Custom built from the ground up the site it is a stylish easy to use web application with functionality to love, follow, share and message.   We offer three levels of seller service: VIP (35% commission + VAT). Full service consignment offering. Individual (15% commission + VAT). Sellers manage their own account. Business (12% commission + VAT). Business sellers manage their own account.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Receiving the initial investment and also Mimma Viglezio, former EVP of Global Communications at the Gucci Group, joining the board as a shareholder.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Have a plan but meet challenge with change, be open to learning and remember you’ve got what it takes BUT it will take everything you’ve got!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Hopefully successful enough with BuyMyWardrobe to be involved in another start-up!

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