On a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, I happened to peruse a blog entry on Mashable about a site called StyleOwner. I read about a lot of new sites and apps and always investigate them as possibilities for Creative Concepts and/or our clients and this time was no different. As Mashable explained, you could create your own online boutique drawing from many established and up-and-coming designers the site has negotiated a relationship with and by selling your picks, you could earn 10% of sales. Instantly, I felt that this was a winner which was strictly instinct as I hadn’t even gone to the site yet. And this wouldn’t be for me because I don’t need another business…Creative Concepts and a new sister site being developed is quite enough thank you…but this might be fun as a mother/daughter project for the youngest entrepreneur in my family, Olivia. As a side note, when Olivia was in 2nd grade, she created a store in our family room selling her stuffed animals for hugs and when she decided to hire her older brother to play cello to bring in customers (us), I knew that marketing and doing business were a part of her being even at that young age.
So it didn’t take much to get Olivia on board:
Me: “So, Olivia, do you want to pick out some cool clothes and accessories, sell them to your friends, and make money?”
O: “Sure Mom and can I get an iPad to help grow the business?”
Me: “Oh boy!”
So despite the perceived need for new tech toys from Olivia, I emailed StyleOwner for an invite (they are still in Beta) and within ½ hour we got the OK to build our site and boy what a joy it was and is! Once we got our code, StyleOwner asked us to go through some very simple steps where we got to choose the name of our store and then we had the chance to design all the elements of the store from music that plays on our homepage, to the font and the background design where we had many options and styles to choose from. Some elements we were able to pull from our own archives like the profile picture and a bigger picture that sits on the homepage so the setup of our store ended up being a nice combination of personalized elements and their templates which totally worked for us!
Next step was up to Olivia. She built the store. Styleowner has merchandise from a range of 75 individual brands she could choose from to help create a fashionista’s online dream. From men’s and women’s clothes to categories like hats, scarves, jewelry and more, there was no doubt a store could be built that would provide a solution to everyone’s dressing needs. Olivia took two days to go through every item that the site had laid out perfectly for the “stylist.” While choosing an item to put into her store, she could click on an arrow to add to her store and she could click on a bubble to add a personal note about that item. Other options allowed Olivia to choose from designers, categories of items or items based on pricing…so easy even a 6th grader could set up a store if they have an eye for fashion and a heart for sales.
So here is where the site gets super fun with the social commerce side of the business. They have easy ways to share updates about your store on your Facebook and Twitter profiles (Olivia: “hey look Allie (a good friend), I found the perfect necklace for you!” which posts right to Olivia’s facebook and twitter profiles with a link to that necklace so Allie can see it). Olivia can also create recommendations for her friends and share with them once complete. Maybe Olivia’s sister needs some options for the prom so Olivia, with her “recommend” tool, could grab dresses, jewelry, and shoes so her big sis doesn’t have to go through Olivia’s whole store.
While Olivia was still in set up mode, I found a little something to buy because the item was cool (can’t say what it is because it’s a Christmas gift and others are reading this) and I wanted to test out the site as a shopper. Again super easy. I chose the item I wanted, added it to my shopping cart, bought it, got a confirmation email and within days received the item directly from the designer. We realized that Olivia and other storeowners don’t have to mess with ecommerce and shipping and handling themselves because it’s a built in feature. The ecommerce is managed by StyleOwner and the shipping is handled by the brands.
Other helpful tools provided for the “Stylist” is a forum to share your wishlist and problems (it is in Beta after all), incentives for selling like $25 gift cards after five sales which is big for a 6th grader, a blog for talking more about your fashion know-how, and amazing customer service which might be tested once they get more stores up and running but it works perfectly now. There are some much needed elements like SEO for each store and analytics so you know if anyone is visiting but I am hopeful that those goodies will be provided for down the road.
As an up an coming business person, Olivia couldn’t have it better with this site (she has already made her first commission…ok, it did come from me but still…). She has to be in tune with her potential customer, keep an eye out for new designs provided by Styleowner.com that appeal to her clients and she has to continually market the site to preteens (her group), teens (her sister’s peers) and to the mom’s watching over their kids’ shoulders (do I have to say this is my peer group?).
With high quality products, responsive support on the backend for the store owner, and lots of room for personal expression and style from Olivia, the store owner, I am thinking she might just be paying off the mortgage soon with all that she can earn selling from her store, Liv2Shop. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Founder, Creative Concepts