When Co-Founders Adele Tetangco and Sunil Gowda started Garmentory in 2014 it was with the intention of creating a tool to help designers thrive, not just survive. Almost four years later they've succeeded in doing just that.
What began solely as a 'Make An Offer' purchasing model, has since evolved into a Managed Marketplace allowing 400+ boutiques and designers to sell via their site with a 50/50 split. Their community-focused approach and mutual respect, admiration and support for the boutiques and designers they work with has resulted in a sales growth of 400% year-over-year for three years running along with a growing team of now 16 staff members and two headquarters located in Vancouver and Seattle.
Inspired by their growth and their commitment to helping indie designers succeed, we caught up with Garmentory's Co-Founder and VP of Merchandise + Brand, Adele Tetangco to learn more about how Garmentory is helping emerging designers and her advice on building a successful fashion brand.
LAPTOPS & SMALLTALK: TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH AND WHAT LEAD YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? WERE YOU ALWAYS IN FASHION?
ADELE TETANGCO: Yes! I’ve been working in the fashion industry for 14+ years now. I worked with a Canadian clothing designer for over 8 years. I developed the business side of the business, growing sales, the brand, marketing, e-comm, etc. This was during a time when Facebook didn’t exist and there was no Shopify. Those things came during the last three years that I was there. Working there and building that brand gave me all of the framework to start Garmentory with Sunil (my co-founder).
Sunil and I had worked on an iPhone app for this same designer. This was back in 2009, it was the very first iPhone. Sunil was creating apps before it was a thing.
L&S: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT GARMENTORY IS?
ADELE: We’re an online platform that is dedicated to emerging and contemporary fashion and lifestyle. We’ve built a community of indie boutiques and designers where you can shop hundreds of them from all over the world in one place. Every purchase you make goes through the designer or boutique directly. We've also come up with a new way to shop the sale stock year-round with 'Make An Offer' where customers can make an offer on sale items by picking their own price.
L&S: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START GARMENTORY? WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
ADELE: We wanted to first build a tool to help designers thrive, not just survive, without compromising on their own business values, so they could do them and we could do all the rest for them. Sunil and I wanted to create something that was really a service to this segment of fashion, the segment led by boutiques. Boutiques are fragmented; by bringing them together in one place there is power in numbers. That’s how they will thrive in an e-commerce world.
L&S: WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO SPECIFICALLY FOCUS ON EMERGING AND INDIE DESIGNERS?
ADELE: This is the segment that I had loved and grown my whole career. I know it like the back of my hand and have so much passion for it. It's also a segment that is really underserved in the competitive world of e-commerce, so it's exciting to help them reach a larger audience.
L&S: HOW DO YOU PICK DESIGNERS TO WORK WITH? IS THERE CERTAIN CRITERIA YOU LOOK FOR?
ADELE: Just like a buyer approaches their store, that’s how we approach our community. I make sure we carry the brands we love in this segment and new ones to be discovered. For stores, I look at their physical brick and mortar, which brands they carry and how they style their imagery. Their unique and creative point of view is very important to me.
L&S: DO YOU TAKE A DESIGNERS ONLINE PRESENCE (SOCIAL MEDIA, WEBSITE, ETC) INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN YOU CHOOSE DESIGNERS?
ADELE: Nope! Not at all! I would say that imagery is important, but it doesn’t matter how big of a following they have. For those that don’t have a large following, our goal is to help grow it.
L&S: DO YOU RECOMMEND EMERGING DESIGNERS SEEK CONSIGNMENT OR WHOLESALE ACCOUNTS WHEN FIRST STARTING OUT?
ADELE: I think that it’s up to the designer with what they can afford to do and what will bring them greater opportunity. There’s no right or wrong answer.
L&S: HOW DO YOU PREFER DESIGNERS CONTACT YOU IF THEY'RE INTERESTED IN SELLING AT GARMENTORY?
ADELE: All they would have to do is apply to sign up via garmentory.com. Just that by joining Garmentory they will be part of a growing and supportive community.
L&S: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PEOPLE CONTACTING YOU VIA SOCIAL MEDIA (SPECIFICALLY INSTAGRAM)? IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?
ADELE: Of course! We function as a community and are always open to discussion.
L&S: YOU SEE A LOT OF EMERGING/INDIE DESIGNERS, WHAT ARE SOME TRAITS YOU'VE NOTICED IN THE BRANDS THAT ARE SUCCESSFUL?
ADELE: Gorgeous imagery and amazing quality.
L&S: CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE TO DESIGNERS LOOKING FOR WHOLESALE ACCOUNTS OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOME TOWN?
ADELE: Do your research. Look to brands that you aspire to be and that you think you would sit well next to on a rack in any store. See who they sell to and use this to help you come up with a prospect list. Garmentory is also a great resource for this. Before you spend a lot of money to invest in a tradeshow , take season to visit the show first. Determine if it’s a good fit for you.
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