The Silicon Review
There was a time when eBay was the only platform for buying and selling used luxury accessories online. Today, eBay is doing an admirable job of seeking out the fakes, but ten plus years ago this was not true. There was always the option of going to a local consignment shop, but in the shop there might be 11 luxury handbags but two turn out to be lookalikes, and you’re left with a sad selection. Sarah Davis had a dream of thousands of authentic luxury handbags and accessories in a fun and easy online format. She imagined a place that was the muffin tops of resale shops- the luxury handbags- but online and consolidated.
As a way to pay the bills, Sarah started Fashionphile when she was in law school. She developed it for a few years and then felt the need of a partner who had strengths where she had weaknesses. She immediately thought of Ben Hemminger, who was starting business school at UCLA - Anderson School of Business. Sarah and Ben teamed up and moved the business to Beverly Hills in 2006. Ben Hemminger evolved the brand by expanding the collection and presenting it to a larger market.
Today, the name ‘Fashionphile’ has become synonymous with trust, competitive value, and unparalleled customer service. Fashionphile offers the largest selection of pre-owned vintage, rare, and limited edition handbags from the most coveted luxury designers. Every item goes through an extensive procedure by the skilled experts, to guarantee 100% authenticity.
Skyrocketing popularity of Fashionphile
Fashionphile started selling on eBay at first and then moved to its own website in 2007. That wasn’t a hard choice. IT was a natural progression. The company sold product mirrored on both eBay and its website for years.
Just like every other startup, money has been an issue for Sarah and Ben during the initial days of Fashionphile. They were buying their inventory outright and ended up with a lot of cash going out on a daily basis. So, they boot strapped it and have grown their business the old fashioned way. The truth is that eBay was great in those early years because the company ran 7 day auctions that started at $.99. They lost some money on some bags, but made money on most. And the most important thing was that, cash was flowing. Everything was getting sold every week.
Sarah and Ben have made the executive decision to keep their niche tight and elevated. They sell only the most exclusive brands and only sell handbags and accessories. Fashionphile has also slowly added additional showrooms- a San Francisco store in 2009, a warehouse in Carlsbad in 2012 and they just signed a lease for a showroom in New York City.
The company has a very loyal, smart, creative, and close team which is a key to their success. It has enabled them to grow at least 50% a year since they started. Fashionphile sells brands that multinational luxury companies spend hundreds of billions of dollars marketing every year. But they do little traditional marketing other than Google Adwords. Instead, Fashionphile relies on good, old fashioned word of mouth and social media to advertise.
Fashionphile has worked hard to earn the trust of their loyal clientele and is maintaining an ever growing network of suppliers. These “fashionphiles” as they call them, are not only looking for a deal or to make some money on a luxury bag, they have become loyal to the Fashionphile brand.
A dream workplace
Some of Fashionphile’s most innovative ideas come from its employees. They are encouraged to make observations through their experience. The company has a door wide open policy for suggestions, feedback and concerns. They also have boxes on the break room counter for anonymous tips and suggestionsthat are read outloud and addressed at a monthly employee lunch.
Bringing out the best of an employee is Fashionphile’s forte. Fashionphile is always interested in putting money into the personal development of employees who will then be more valuable to the company. They do this through sending them to conferences and appropriate training courses and on the job training at Fashionphile University.
At Fashionphile, everyone works hard to maintain the team player attitude. Everyone constantly uses the mission, values and vision as ruler in all that the company does. This keeps everyone working towards a common goal. As Fashionphile has grown, the employees have also grown. Several of the employees started out on the shipping table and now are working in management positions. Authentication and procurement for example are positions that require years of training and Fashionphile loves to make these positions available for anyone with desire, aptitude and attitude to do the job.
The Future sight
Starting the venture is the fun part. For entrepreneurs, ideas flow in their veins. In the early days things are smaller, more nimble and move at an electrifying pace. But it’s those years after, making a plan and following it that ensure real success. That’s a long haul battle and it requires some endurance that not everyone has.
It’s really hard to prophesy what phase of technology will be seen after 10 years. Sarah is imagining a world where instead of going into showrooms, people would set up a VR to have the showroom right in their own homes and packages would be droned to their locations from warehouses around the country.
The company has already had three different versions of its website and is about to launch a fully redesigned mobile app. And the thing Sarah is absolutely confident about is that, Fashionphile in 10 years will look nothing like it does today.
Meet the brilliant minds
Sarah Davis is the Founder of Fashionphile. Sarah is one of the brightest, most energetic, young business leaders in the e-commerce sector. Sarah has extensive knowledge of authentic designer items. Her desire to communicate that knowledge is what sets her apart from her competitors. Sarah completed her BS from Brigham Young University and was awarded her Law degree from University of Maryland School of Law.
Ben Hemminger is the Co-Owner and CEO of Fashionphile. Ben graduated from Brigham Young University and then went on to pursue an MBA from University of California, LA – The Anderson School of Management. Ben is a visionary who is open to creative solutions aimed to accomplish complex goals, and overcome unique obstacles. Ben’s success is well-deserved and absolutely earned.