The Trendsetter of Vintage Fashion
Photo credit: Newcastle Startup Week.
For all the vintage lovers out there, meet Louisa Rogers, creator of Trendlistr, an online marketplace that sells "vintage clothes for modern closets". Louisa, who graduated from London College of Fashion and earned her Master’s Degree in Newcastle University, was first inspired to create Trendlistr due to the lack of a dedicated platform for curated vintage clothing with a modern twist.
While there is an abundance of online shopping platforms, they are either flooded with listings that makes it hard to source for quality vintage pieces, or do not provide a satisfactory shopping experience due to lacklustre product photography or stock. This led to her taking action to transform her passion for vintage clothing, leading to the birth of Trendlistr, a curated marketplace where the sellers are specially selected in order to ensure that buyers are guaranteed quality vintage pieces and upholding the brand image of the site.
Overcoming challenges in building a startup
The path towards establishing Trendlistr was not one without challenges and obstacles, especially since Louisa had lacked the technical expertise. She was initially stumped by the technical aspects of building a marketplace, after trying her hand at adopting a mixed approach between an existing software solution and custom coding.
She later discovered Arcadier, which amazingly allowed her to set up a fully functional marketplace with a seamless payment integration system, and a sleek layout aesthetic that fits the look and feel of the marketplace she had in mind. Thereafter, Trendlistr was up and running within a day.
Photo credit: https://trendlistr.arcadier.io
To potential marketplace entrepreneurs, Louisa has the following advice: “Go out there and get sellers on board before you launch! If you can’t offer any initial product, make sure you have people standing by who can. There is nothing that looks less credible than a marketplace that has no products."
In addition, she highlighted that as the process behind establishing a marketplace can be tricky, one must be prepared to be in this for the long haul. Nonetheless, this process is necessary in order to gain traction.
"Trendlistr's social media reach grows everyday and so does the brand awareness of what we do. As we gain trust and credibility in the eyes of consumers, these relationships will eventually convert into sales."
A solid social media strategy is key to Trendlistr’s growth
Prior to setting up Trendlistr, Louisa was an avid fashion blogger since 2004 and she is currently amassing a growing, impressive fanbase on social media. The realization of the importance of cultivating a personal brand within the creative sector was what that motivated her to seek to establish an active online presence, through content marketing and social media maintenance.
"I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it was going to be around fashion or the arts, so I decided that blogging was a way to make me stand out next to other candidates. When I founded Trendlistr I realised that my blog could be a tool for positioning myself as an authority in an area!"
With regards to her huge following on social media, she attributes it to "pretty standard stuff but things that people rarely stick to" — consistency, using high quality images on a clean blog layout, and making the site personable enough so that users can feel some sort of connection with the business.
"If they don’t feel like they are getting an inside look into your life, people are unlikely to want to keep reading," she says. "I think the main thing that people forget is that it always takes times to build traction. It is much more authentic when you are the one crafting the posts."
Photo credit: Trendlistr.
In addition, Louisa advocates an authentic and hands-on approach for social media. While it may be deemed by some as a trivial or unproductive way to spend time for a start-up business, she realizes that outsourcing the task to agencies promising a 'quick fix' social media plan cannot be compared to personally investing time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Instead of adopting the same strategy across all social media platforms, Louisa adopts platform-specific approaches. For Instagram, she recommends that images must be of high quality and aesthetically pleasing; for Pinterest, it must be constantly updated and in large quantities to see a difference, but the effort pays off as you can get a lot of valuable, highly targeted traffic; and for Facebook, it is a necessary evil: although you probably won’t get much from it, but you have to have a presence on it or risk appearing suspicious and not credible.
Increasing earned media reach
Although Trendlistr was only founded last year, the venture has already received much attention since its establishment, amidst the highly competitive fashion sector. Trendlist has gotten much press coverage and publications in North of England, and is highlighted as an "impressive, emerging North East start-up" people should know about. In fact, Louisa has been invited to go on BBC Radio to discuss sustainable fashion - a personal highlight for her and a big ‘tick’ off her lifelong wishlist. You can read more about articles about Trendlistr from BDaily and Business Quarter.
This invitation stemmed from Louisa's interesting insights and expertise regarding sustainable fashion, also known as eco fashion, which is in line with the growing design philosophy and trend of creating a sustainable system to reduce human eco footprint. She often shares relevant articles with her followers on her LinkedIn and Facebook. To her, sustainable fashion is likely to become less of a niche in the coming future, given that the current ecologically engaged generation has been demanding greater transparency and advocating for ethical practices in the clothing manufacturing process.
Technology too has no doubt facilitated such trends, allowing eco-friendly clothing lines to become more accessible and production processes to be more efficient. Louisa also predicts that bespoke and small, curated collections will see an uptake in popularity.
Louisa explains, "These are approaches that maximise value for businesses, which can position these items as luxury pieces, but also reduce unnecessary waste, thereby keeping cost of sales low and waste even lower."
In the long run, Louisa hopes that Trendlistr can become more than an online shopping platform, but transform into an established physical presence, in-house brand, and a business development branch geared at helping small independent retailers who are encouraging the preservation of vintage style and decor to maximise their profits and business performance.
Photo credit: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/
Note: After trying a marketplace business model, Louisa decided to return to being an online store. Trendlistr.com is now on Shopify.