LCF’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise is working with six new fashion technology businesses as part of a project called Fashion and Technology Emerging Futures, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The project vision is to support the new eco-system emerging in London, recognising the convergence of fashion and technology SMEs. We talked to Tamsin Ivy of jewellery subscription service Glitzbox about her business, how rental fashion will be the next big thing and Generation Y changing their shopping habits.
What does Glitzbox do?
Glitzbox is the UK’s first jewellery rental subscription service. For £39 a month, we give our members the luxury of borrowing £200-300 worth of jewellery from independent designers. They can wear the jewellery throughout the month and if there is something they fall in love with they keep it at a discounted price. The rest of the items they simply send back with our pre-paid returns slips.
What’s your mission statement?
We aim to make wearing quality jewellery an everyday luxury and encouraging customers to buy less, but buy better! Glitzbox is a way to bridge the gap between buying online and offline, making the jewellery discovery experience more exciting. The service also allows designers to connect with people who may never have discovered their brand otherwise.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to develop this kind of business idea? Both the tech side of it but also running a small company?
I am a non-technical founder so my tech knowledge is very limited. However, I am a fast learner and in my old role at notonthehighstreet.com, I worked closely with the tech team, helping implement projects and improve the backend of the website. I studied graphic design, so am comfortable learning computer software and have self-taught myself the basics of web design. Luckily nowadays platforms like Shopify are very user-friendly and there are plenty of add-ons to make the website you envision. I plan to test my model and website for a while before investing in a bespoke coded version to make it exactly what Glitzbox needs. In terms of running a small company, my previous role entailed working with small businesses so I was lucky enough to have some insights beforehand. I find areas like branding and curating jewellery easier than the finance and delivery sides of things but I am learning something new every day and trying not to get disheartened when I realise I’m not good at everything!
Is there someone you always go to for advice or mentorship?
I have been able to grow a great network around me of other businesses and entrepreneurs so I often go to them for help. I also have previous managers and bosses who I have a lot of respect for and who have been very supportive. My family and boyfriend also hear a lot about my complaints and “low” moments and have been offering so much support from day one! No one person, in particular, I tend to have certain people I seek advice from depending on what issue I am tackling.
What kind of support did you get – from CFE but also outside of it?
The CFE has been so supportive offering really practical and applicable advice for business in general but also more specifically to the fashion world which has been great. I was a little overwhelmed at the end of last year as I was part of three programmes all at once as well as working part-time so found myself dropping balls all over the place. These were: Huckletree Alpha Programme (a co-working space who offer three months free office space and an incubator programme for promising start-ups), CFE and Entrepreneurial Spark which is another accelerator which I started in November and offers office space as well as lots of workshops and team exercises to take your business to the next level. If you search there are so many supportive organisations but my advice would be to pass yourself and make sure you make the most out of everything rather than doing everything at once. I just felt like I had so much to learn that I joined everything, but ended up not having enough time to actually implement my learnings. So I am taking things a little slower this year!
What would be your key piece of advice for people who want to set up their own business?
Get ready to feel uncomfortable. I was told time and time again how hard starting a business would be but I didn’t really understand in what ways. I’ve always been a hard worker and don’t struggle to get things done but I hadn’t anticipated how many uncomfortable situations I’d be pushing myself into to try and succeed. You continuously have to put yourself out of your comfort zone and try things that scare you. There is never a moment where everything feels in control (at least not yet) and the best thing you can do is be alright with that. Once I realised it’s okay to feel unsure and uncomfortable it was a lot easier to take risks. And each time you do it you feel a little more comfortable! I hope that makes some sense…
What do you think is going to be a big fashion and/or tech trend in 2018?
I obviously think the access economy and rental fashion will be a big part! But trying to steer clear of my own business, I’d say there will be a lot more 3D experiences to try on and test fashion. There will be lots of trends appearing in connecting the retail experience to online and making both shopping experiences more personalised and tailored to the individual. Excited to see what happens there!
Who do you admire in this arena – who is doing it well?
I’m obsessed with ‘Rent-the-Runway’ in America! I love what they have created and the collaborations they have done with older department stores, they have such a cool way to connect millennial consumers to these spaces.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing young businesses today?
Fast fashion – I am trying to offer an alternative to the influences we face to buy items that aren’t great quality and only last a season. I’m constantly shocked at how consumerist/wasteful fashion has become and it’s hard to compete and show value compared to these low prices, especially with Gen Y consumers who are so price driven. I think there will be an anti-trend for people valuing quality over quantity and reinvesting in items that last. That’s why I think the rental and access economy will grow loads in the next few years allowing consumers to borrow items for when they need then and then only buy basics and core items.
Where do you see Glitzbox in the future?
In the next year – Based on customer feedback we are hoping to launch Glitzbox luxe this year, which will be a higher-end box containing up to £3000 worth of jewellery. It’s been great trialling the model in the first year and we are confident that this is what consumers want. We also want to make our content clearer and more about sustainability and minimalist living as a whole not just within jewellery as that is the ethos behind the brand.
In the next 5 years – We’d like to have a small team and studio with a showroom for clients to come and borrow jewellery. We will also have an in-house photo studio and take 360° footage of jewellery, making the online buying experience more enjoyable. We’d like to become a merge between a marketplace and a PR firm providing designers with a platform to sell and earn from renting their jewellery, but also help them promote their brand by organising sending items to influencers and press. I’d like to have a mix of established designers as well as up and coming brands.
In the next 10 years – to be honest, I can’t even imagine that far ahead at this stage! So many outside influences will affect the direction we go that I don’t want to have too much of a concrete plan just yet.
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