Inspirational Woman: Kal Di Paola| Founder and MD of Buymywardrobe.com

KAL-DI-PAOLAFashion designer Kal Di Paola has been a fashion addict since she was a little girl. It is only when she realised how much money she spent on designer clothes – and needed money – that she started to sell her wardrobe through events, as a side business. Realising its potential, Kal decided to find financial backing and take the business online. Buymywardrobe.com launched in August, for the pleasure of fashionistas, who are now able to buy pre-loved designer clothes at an affordable price, from trusted sellers.

Is the fashion industry surfing on the sharing economic trend?

There is a huge movement towards sharing, renting and collaborative consumption in general and I think buying pre-loved fashion is just at the beginning of a huge trend.

Why not use the word vintage?

Vintage is specific to items that are from a certain period of time. The reason we use pre-loved, apart from the fact that it sounds nicer than second-hand, is because we sell items that could be from last season – or could be vintage – which have been bought by somebody and are now ready to be sold to someone else.

How did you start BuyMyWardrobe?

I was already running a fashion label. In 2008 my business was suffering and there came a point when I realised how much I had spent over the years on my wardrobe. So I decided to sell as many of my designer clothes as possible. It was going to be a one-off event. I did not expect to get 17 girls selling their wardrobes when we launched the very first event in February 2008!

How did the business evolve as an online marketplace?

I did a few more events and realised it had potential. I had decided to close my fashion label, which was not online and needed a complete rethink anyway. So I decided to focus on BuyMyWardrobe. Having run my previous business for 12 years, which was self–funded, and always having that cash flow headache, I decided I wanted backing. I was also looking to find an angel investor, who could help me to realise my vision of an online marketplace.

Did you find an investor easily?
I had no idea how to raise money, or how to go about it! Thanks to Google I started to research and signed up with an angel investors’ network. I was lucky enough to have about 12 people interested. I found an investor in June 2011 and buymywardrobe.com launched in August 2012.

My experience was very good and I have been very lucky to land on my feet and find somebody who has helped me an awful lot.

How do you select the sellers?

It is an invitation-only seller system. When I decided to launch the business online, I talked to a lot of people who were already selling clothes online and the trust issue kept coming up, because there are so many fake products out there. So the only way we felt we could control the products was in fact to control the people who were selling.

On buymywardrobe.com, you buy from real people, you can view their profile, you know what they do, so it gives you this added extra trust.

What made you fall into fashion in the first place?

As long as I can remember, I have always loved fashion.

I remember being 6 years old and making clothes for my Sindy dolls.

Later on, I was making my own clothes and people were asking where I got them from, so I was already making some pieces here and there for friends. Their requests increased, so that’s when I knew I had a potential business going.

What is the most outrageous fashion item you have bought?

A three-quarter-length Matthew Williamson brocade coat, with print all over and bright pink sleeves. It
was over the top and I loved it.

A fashion faux-pas to avoid?

I would not tell anybody what to wear – or not – because I think fashion is such creativity for the soul, that it should come from the heart.

Do you have a fashion icon?

Tom Ford. And somebody I aspire to look like is Olivia Palermo.

What is the trend to watch this winter?

I quite like the brocade black and gold. It is a trend that you can buy with pre-loved, because it is not as well copied on the high street.

Links:
www.buymywardrobe.com

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