Offering a second life to luxury goods

Sustainability is in!  Consumers are looking for sustainability and have shifted to thrift buying.  We sat down with Shari Roosens who jumped right into the trend and started her own online business this year selling vintage luxury products (clothes, shoes, bags, accessories (jewellery, scarves, shoes) and even Louis Vuitton travel books for women.  For men, the current assortment is limited to ties, shoes and bags.

Here’s what Shari had to say about becoming an entrepreneur and launching her own business.

How did the idea for your business come about?
I remember the date, 16 January 2020, I was on my phone looking for second-hand items to purchase for myself as I had done for the past 2 years. That day, I decided to start my own business.  One week later, I had a name, transformed my spare room into a small showroom and friends and family came to see what I was doing.  At the same time, I launched social media.  

Where did your passion for second-hand luxury come from?
My grandmother took me to a second-hand shop 20 years ago and that’s how my interest in second-hand started.  She used to bring her old clothes there and I was always looking at what they were selling in these stores. The interest into buying second-hand fashion has been a real interest since I was 15 when I started buying 2nd hand fashion for myself.  The older I got, the more budget I had and went from buying 2nd hand H&M to luxury brands.  I’m all for fashion becoming sustainable, stopping the abundant fashion production and giving your wardrobe a second life.

How did you come up with the name for your company?
That was not easy.  I first wanted an English name and my first idea was “Vintage Pearl” as everyone has a hidden gem in their closet.  Since the domain name was already taken, I then choose for a Dutch name; luxury + pearl became Luxeparel.

How did you build a successful customer base?
Luxeparel was launched on Instagram and through flyers that I put in mailboxes.  I had 1000 flyers printed professionally on luxurious thick paper and on a Sunday afternoon I went for a walk with my boyfriend and we put these in the mailboxes of my target group’s neighbourhoods.  By the time I launched my Instagram page, I already had visibility from the flyering and to this day people still contact me as they kept my flyer.  I then did a giveaway on Instagram with a Louis Vuitton bag which I purchased from a family member. I saw this as an advertising investment and with this, I gained 800 Instagram followers in 1 week.  For people to participate, they had to follow my page, like my post, tag 2 other people & share the post on their story.

How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
Paid advertising on Facebook & Instagram work best to get more followers.  I speak about my business to everyone I know and meet, and they then speak about it to their friends.  I did a pop-up store this past July and paid for an article in a local newspaper and will be doing another pop-up store November 3 to 16 in Antwerp, Belgium.  Further to the paid article, I was then featured on local TV which has given me great exposure.

What motivates you?
I love to have happy clients, buyers that find special luxury products that they can afford and sellers that want to give a second life to their products.  This allows me to do my part for a better, sustainability world.  I also discovered that I had a passion for taking pictures and staging products.

How do you generate new ideas?
I always put myself in the shoes of my clients and think about the customer experience and how to improve it.

What are your growth goals for your company?
I would love to have a retail store combined with a professionally run webshop.  For the moment I’m focusing on launching my webshop and keep looking for pop-up store opportunities.  

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
My greatest fear, as with most entrepreneurs, is ensuring that my business is financially sustainable.  

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When I did my first pop-up, I opened the doors at 12:00 and there was a waiting queue as of 11:30.  

How did you make your first sale?
A day I will never forget, it was a vintage Dior monogram bag.  I had bought it as part of my initial 10 pieces collection.  I paid an advert on Instagram and someone bought it.  I was so focused on selling that I had not thought about shipping or pickup of the products.  This customer happened to live close by and asked to meet at a restaurant where she needed to be.  She was late and then when she arrived, I gave her the bag and she gave me the money, it felt like I was selling something illegally.  From then on, the selling processing was smoother, haha.

How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
When customers go on Instagram, I like to keep my page very professional.  I’m also professional in my communication and I offer great customer service.  I focus my posts on products that are on consignment so that they get sold quickly.  I also have great reviews on Instagram.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My grandmother was my biggest inspiration and my boyfriend has been my biggest support.

What business-related book / podcast has inspired you the most? 
“Little Black Book” by Otegha Uwagba about tips for working women.

If you could rule the world, which are the three things you would change in the world?
I feel this is a question for Miss Belgium, ha ha!  Here are my 3 things:
1. I’m an animal lover – make animal abuse disappear and have animals live in their natural habitat
2. Education should be more accessible around the world like in Belgium
3. Make climate change a priority for leaders and not underestimate the impact in the world. Buying second hand should be the new way of thinking.

Webshop: opening soon after pop-up