Natalie Brossard and Anouchka Bala launched Luxx Lab, an online marketplace for established and emerging independent designers, at the start of London Fashion Week in September 2012. Previously, both enjoyed high-flying careers in different industries: Brossard in finance working for the likes of Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and the New York Stock Exchange; Bala in strategic branding within the music business for companies such as Sony Music and Havas Worldwide.
They spotted a niche within the online fashion market for a highly curated platform, which could offer fashionistas a one-stop shop. Here are their tips for selling to the cool kids:
Build the perfect site
As fashion lovers and luxury online shopping fans, Brossard and Bala already knew what they liked and what they didn't like about shopping online. 'We looked into every single company out there and we were able to identify what we felt was missing and develop our plan from that,' explains Brossard.
Brossard built an exhaustive list of dos and don'ts and created a five-page brief for the web developer to work on. The pair knew that they wanted to build a sticky site that was more that just an e-commerce platform. This meant including a lifestyle section, featuring interviews with some of the designers from the site.
Adding these additional layers helped to build Luxx Lab’s personal brand as a place for fashion connoisseurs as well as giving shoppers more of a reason to stay on site. 'It definitely helps that we are clued up in the fashion world and are well read,' says Brossard. 'You can't launch a restaurant and know nothing about cooking, you have to be passionate
about what you do. Hopefully that comes across on Luxx Lab.'
The look and feel of a website is also very important when catering to the high-end trendies. No glaring, flashy advertising. Fonts and colours need to be understated. The products need to do most of the talking, not the web design. But, most importantly, the site has to make it very easy to buy. ''The infrastructure is complicated with online stores when it comes to the back-end and front-end working well together,' warns Brossard.
Reach the right audience from launch
Is there an exclusive event that could act as a springboard for your business? Partnering with a diamond fair, an art exhibition or a charity ball could be an easy way to reach your target audience.
First-time entrepreneurs Brossard and Bala quit their jobs in January of 2012 but were determined to launch their platform in time for London Fashion Week. They often worked through the night to make sure the site was ready to go and fully functional when LFW swung around nine months later.
'Having built relationships with the 25 designers we launched with, spreading the word around LFW was quite organic,' says Bala. 'There was minimum PR cost to us but it all worked internally within the industry so that when we did launch, many people had already heard of the brand and what we were trying to achieve. This was even more apparent at LFW this February; it was exciting to have so many high-end British designers know who we are.'
Make sure people trust the product line
The Luxx Lab founders don't let anything on the site that hasn't been seen, felt, and - in most cases - tried on by them. 'We are putting our names on these products by letting people know about our curation process,' says Brossard. 'If someone orders something they need to be thrilled with it. It is our job to make sure that anyone, however high-fashion they are, is never going to be disappointed with a Luxx Lab delivery.'
Elite, high-end shoppers are not in the habit of giving second chances. Make sure that you offer consistent quality and great customer service, or they will take their business elsewhere.
The devil's in the detail (and wears Prada)
Since both Brossard and Bala are involved in choosing the items at every step of the way, they are able to offer shoppers even greater insight when it comes to product descriptions. These are called 'Lines from Editors' instead of product descriptions – something which helps to drive home that expert touch.
'We like to give a bit more information than you would generally see on other sites,' says Brossard. 'We want our customers to feel as if they have been able to hold the products before buying by giving them as much detail as they could possibly need.'
If you are selling to the fashionistas online, there's no such thing as too much information. Vintage products need a full description of any wear and tear, for example. The rich may be getting richer but, in a recession, they are more conscious of value for money nevertheless. You'll also save on the cost of returns...