Sarah Curran of Women want to see clothes on skinnier models

Sarah Curran, founder of online luxury fashion boutique, explains her best and worst decisions in business, and why she changed her mind about using normal-size models.

by Emma De Vita
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


Releasing control

One of the best decisions I made was going against a founder's initial feeling that they know best and bring in experts to the business. As a founder, you have to release control, be it in PR, buying, technology or marketing to allow others to have ownership. It was a hard decision to make but it was the best one for the business, because I had been building it slowly and on gut feeling. I wasn't an expert in those areas and I wanted mywardrobe to be the best of the best.

Focusing on the family

Mywardrobe is my second child, but you have to allow your children to have external influences, and this period now is the boarding school years. Does that mean I'm not needed any more? No, you're always needed. When starting a business, the child analogy is completely accurate.

Getting investment

Another best decision was when the business was young, and deciding how big I wanted it to be. I always said it was a global brand, and I wanted to bring in external investment relatively early - within 12 months of creating the brand - to set the standard. We were happy to own a small part of a bigger pie.



Making assumptions

My life philosophy is that I believe you don't ever make mistakes - they're all learnings. That might be cheesy but it's what I believe. But if you repeat the same mistake, then that is what the mistake is. My biggest business learning is that sometimes the assumptions you make are not always right. In the early days, I made quite a lot of assumptions around customer insight. I underestimated how high our customers would go in terms of prices.

Getting the layout wrong

I also assumed that when it comes to marketing mywardrobe, editorial content is a positive thing - the more, the better, but not so much that it distracts the customer. But actually, customers prefer pictures, so there's been a change from words to photography.

Misjudging what customers want to see

Another assumption was when we moved from mannequins to real life models in 2009. I wanted to use normal size models - a curvy size 10. But we found that women wanted to see clothes on skinnier models. The clothes horse analogy is accurate - it's about seeing the clothes, not the person.

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