Celebrity Castoffs: Hayley Smith

Hayley Smith reveals how she's making a success of selling unwanted celebrity clothing

Constant discussion about our celebrity obsessed society led Hayley Smith to think there was room for her to cash in on the continued media frenzy. Her website offers us mere mortals the chance to own a little piece celebrity by bidding on their unwanted clothes and items. And what’s in it for the celebs? A tidier wardrobe and a donation to their choice of charity.

Company name: Celebrity Castoffs Ltd Founders: Hayley Smith Age: 35 Years Based: Wokingham, Berkshire Staff Numbers: 3 Date started: December 2006

Tell us what your business doesCelebritycastoffs.co.uk is the UK’s first website dedicated to auctioning clothes and memorabilia owned by celebrities.

Where did the idea for your business come from? I thought of the idea 5 years ago while I was reading through some celebrity magazines and wondered what the celebrities do with items after they have been worn.

How did you know there was a market for it? We are living in a celebrity fuelled world. The general public thrive on celebrity status. We are giving the opportunity for the general public to become part of this celebrity world and up to 70% of the final bid is donated to a charity of the celebrities choice.

What were you doing before starting up? For the past 14 years I worked for my father’s transport business.

What planning did you do before you started up?I put together a business plan with the help of my bankers. Did some market research online and went with my gut instinct.

What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them? The response from celebrities and the charity organisations involved so far has been tremendous. Finding new celebrities has proved a little more difficult, but by ways of networking things are still moving along. Once a level of trust has been reached, and with the right marketing and the right advertising, I am sure celebrities will eventually contact us to sell their items online.

How have you promoted your business? So far, through networking with family and friends. We emailed and telephoned management agencies, contacted local and celebrity newspapers/magazine companies for editorial which has proved successful. We are currently working on opening an EBay shop to gain more traffic to the website.

What was your first big breakthrough?Peter Jones paying an interest in my business idea was a big breakthrough, and being given the chance to audition for his new ITV show, TYCOON.

What would you do differently? I’d source several quotes from different suppliers and not just go with recommendations.

What has your growth been like? Unique visits to the site have steadily increased daily since launching in December. I would anticipate being profitable in the next 12 months depending on the amount of exposure we receive.

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