INSPIRATION AND ADVICE
THREE MARKETPLACE BOUTIQUES TO KNOW
By Ebony-Renee Baker, 8 July 2020
If you're a true fashion fan, by now you’ve probably shopped at our sister site, ASOS Marketplace. Over there, you'll find hundreds of small brands that sell everything from vintage clothes and one-of-a-kind garms to top-shelf accessories 🙌💫 It’s more important than ever to support small businesses right now – so we’re spotlighting three of the site’s entrepreneurs to learn more about their brands and how we can support them during this time. And, if you fancy setting up your own business on ASOS Marketplace, check out the video down below for the deets on how to do it.
RYAN, NATALIE AND LEANNE, ELSIE & FRED
Elsie & Fred is a sibling-owned festival brand that’s been part of ASOS Marketplace since 2013. Their tagline is ‘empowering the fiercest version of you’ – which shines through in the brand’s bold fits and sweet patterns. And, if you’re wondering where the name comes from, it’s after the siblings’ grandparents – cute, right?
ASOS: What’s the vision behind Elsie & Fred?
Leanne: You know what, I could’ve answered that question this time last year, but that changed after coronavirus hit. It’s made us reassess our priorities. And now it’s changed even more because we're Black business owners. [It's been] an absolute 360. I think what still remains is authenticity. We really do want people to feel good, and wearing the clothes is a by-product of feeling self-love.
Being Black entrepreneurs in our current climate, how has business changed?
Leanne: The only way it's changed for us in the past few weeks is everyone else is starting to care more. Obviously, the colour of our skin isn't new to us. We didn’t start this business with the limitations of our ethnicity in mind – it was the limitations of our whole life. We're working class, we're from the Midlands and this has all been random for us to achieve, so I'm pleased that everyone is interested. I just want to make sure that people don't have a couple of moments of wanting to shop with Black businesses and not really care about the cause in the long term.
How does it feel to work with your siblings?
Ryan: We're still trying to navigate things, and there’s definitely a grey area where we've struggled to separate being family vs. work colleagues. We speak to each other like three siblings too much, but I wouldn't change it, because it’s part of our life journey as well. We're growing together outside and inside of work.
What are your goals for the future?
Natalie: Before coronavirus set in, we were at the stage where we were really able to start branching out into different areas. We were planning to have an event this year and develop our Riotgurls influencer strategy, while doing it all under the umbrella of ‘empowering the fiercest version of you’. We've still got lots of things that we're working on right now, but hopefully next year we can really get going on some of those things.
ANNIE HOBSON, SOCIAL SCRUNCHIES
Annie Hobson, a youth sports coach from Glasgow, created her brand last summer to support Glasgow Children’s Hospital and has been making her scrunchies ever since. New to ASOS Marketplace this year, she now gives 50% of her business’s profits to different charities, including Age UK and Women’s Aid.
How did you come up with the name Social Scrunchies?
I'm dyslexic, so Glasgow Children's Hospital played a big part in my life, diagnosing me and getting me the right support when I was younger. Last summer, I started creating scrunchies as a wee hobby and giving the profits to the hospital. That's how I ended up with the name… because of the positive social impact of supporting charities.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, it wasn't always a dream of mine, but it's been really good for me. I’ve gone through anxiety and had issues with my mental health and the minute I started creating the scrunchies, everything just got better for me. Having something to work towards and something that's just yours and that you're proud of… it changes everything for you.
What would you like for the future of Social Scrunchies?
I’d always like to keep on adding and creating more scrunchies and supporting charities that I know will relate to people. For example, as we were coming into the lockdown phase, I created scrunchies for Age UK because I knew that older people were feeling a lot lonelier during lockdown. I just wanted to create what I knew means a lot to people.
SAM RALPHS, RALPHSSS VINTAGE
How has being on Marketplace changed your business?
It’s changed the direction quite a lot. I’ve felt the need to change the stock and create more of an identity. Before, I was sort of selling anything and everything, but now my focus is what I want it to be known for. It’s about making sure that I stand out and have something unique.
What would you say makes Ralphsss unique?
I try and only get the best bits. In the vintage wholesale world, there’s a lot of rubbish out there. So, I try to avoid that all together and only take that top 10% of any category that I carry. I only have the best things and the most unique things that stand out from the crowd.
What advice would you give to an aspiring boutique owner?
Knowledge and research [are most important] above all. I see so many people start out not knowing what they’re doing. They’ll have all these items but don’t know how to date them, or whether they’re genuine or not. There’s so much more out there in the vintage world that’s super exciting and really interesting to look at that just gets overlooked completely because people think vintage is just sportswear, basically. But there’s so much more to it.
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