In this interview, we talk to Beatrix v. Winterfeldt-Heuser, co-founder of My-Fashionary, management consultant and mother of two.

My-Fashionary.com is a fashion platform where you can find independent designers, who design premium fashion you won’t find anywhere on the high street. Since the designers and the brands are not known yet they decided to combine online and offline fashion. For example, did they have a pop-up store in Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse at the beginning of 2018.

My-Fashionary just did a pivot. Before they have been a platform for high-end fashion boutiques, which did not work. They even worked with external developers and had to throw everything into the bin at for a re-launch. Now you can buy high-end fashion form the designers directly via their platform, cutting out the middle (wo)men and enable unknown designers to build up a customer base. They now work with a unique way of social selling they developed.

“People get bored by the always similar high street shopping experience. It is always the same whether you are in London, Singapore, Berlin or Frankfurt”

“If you don’t know it will work, work with bootstrapped stuff, that already exists”

You can learn more about their pop-up store in Düsseldorf here with this behind-the-scenes video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KByEAU73qg
You can learn more about the company here: https://my-fashionary.com/
Or follow their Instagram account for inspirations: https://www.instagram.com/my_fashionary/
https://www.instagram.com/p/-kSCt1ipsU/
Or YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGhQPbP_W3cdhuYIYYwECJA

Fashionary
[00:07] Announcer: Welcome to startuprad.io. Your podcast and YouTube blog, covering the German startup scene with news interviews and live events.

[00:21] Joe: Hello and welcome everybody. This is Joe from startuprad.io your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany. As you can tell. I’m once again outside. I’m here with Beatrice at my Fashionery. Hey, welcome.

[00:36] Beatrice: Hey, thanks for coming.

[00:38] Joe: You’re very welcome. We have this awesome set up here and actually we did a lot of very fancy, very funny instagram stuff I didn’t know existed before. So you can have a check down here how we actually did the set up, but we here because of you. So we might tell the people as they can already guess My Fashionary has something to do with fashion, right?

[01:03] Beatrice: Exactly. My Fashionary is a fashion startup. And we deal with young independent designers actually more independent than necessarily young. Who do premium stuff and really cool fashion that you won’t find anywhere on the high street.

[01:21] Joe: That is pretty interesting. How did you get to this idea?

[01:25] Beatrice: Actually, that’s a long story.

[01:27] Joe: Don’t worry. We have time. I’ve got a full SD card here so we can make a complete. I got to Mt. SD card here so we can make it completely full. Don’t worry about it.

[01:38] Beatrice: Sounds great. So actually that started a couple of years ago. When I actually got a new job. I was between jobs and I decided I wanted to do something else than my usual day job, which is a consulting since 10 years. And I started stylist training and so I was trying as a personal stylist. And then as I’m a computer scientist, I thought that working with paper and all this stuff that you usually do when you’re a stylist.

[02:19] I’m maybe not like state of the art and I thought it might be an interesting thing to digitize this. And so basically first I had the idea to digitize personal styling. But when I started calculating, because I’m a business person, so, I started calculating and very quickly found out that it might not be a business case. So I thought for different ideas. And then first we started an idea, or the first idea of fashion, Harry was to build a platform for small for small boutiques that you can find, you know, like all and hidden somewhere in the cities in the little side streets and all this stuff that you only know when you made aware by somebody else exactly it because the problem of these little boutiques, they have really interesting stuff.

[03:17] They have very skilled people in there or skilled sales people. Because they do it because it’s their passion. But you can’t find them because they are hidden somewhere like off the main streets. Because it’s not, they cannot afford the rents on the main street. So the idea is to really build a finder for these boutiques. And have sort of like early stage of artificial intelligence built in. So the user was able to select what she likes. She, because it only addressed women at that stage. And based on the selections you would be proposed, suitable boutiques and suitable clothes. The problem with this idea was that I still think it’s a great idea, but, the boutique owners weren’t ready at that stage. And that was 2015 I think. And yeah, they, a lot of these small boutique owners, they still are like way behind what we consider normal.

[04:31] Joe: In technology development.

[04:31] Beatrice: Exactly.

[04:33] Joe: For example, like I’m behind on Instagram, right?

[04:36] Beatrice: No, no, no. It’s much worse. And they didn’t really want to spend on marketing, so that wasn’t a main issue. So, yeah, we developed the platform for about a year and a half. And then we started and after I think after three or four months we’ve realized it’s not going to fly. So yeah. Then you’ll always have the question, what do you do? Do you continue and try to make it happen or do you have the feeling that it’s not going to work? And you do something different.

[05:14] Joe: Like it is called in the startup world, you change something drastically.

[05:20] Beatrice: Exactly.

[05:20] Joe: And then you’re at this point right now to change something and immediately this version will only go live after you’ve finished all this stuff.

[05:30] Beatrice: No, actually we already changed a lot of things, right? So we went live with the first version of the platform 2016. And in summer 2016 we decided to stop everything to throw all the development into the bin. And we decided to stop working with the boutiques but directly with the designers.

[05:56] Joe: So you jumped middlemen.

[05:58] Beatrice: Exactly because the thing is the designers they are much more entrepreneurial thinking than boutique owners. This is what our experience was. But what we still do is we combine offline and online experience. So we have an online shop for these young talented or innovative designers, independent fashion designers. And we also have offline events. Like we do pop up stores, we do exclusive fashion events, private shopping, things like that.

[06:38] Joe: So you are already doing what Amazon is trying to do, like connecting online and offline world.

[06:44] Beatrice: Yeah, we started that two years ago. And it proves to be interesting because the thing is people start to get bored by all these always. Yeah always similar high street experience because if you, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in London, in Singapore, in Berlin or in Frankfurt, high street’s always looked the same.

[07:11] Joe: That’s what I realize. It’s always the same brand. The stores look between the prints all the same. And in between the different brands, there is just a tiny difference if they are on the same price level. So they kind of look very similar, right?

[07:29] Beatrice: Absolutely

[07:29] Joe: It does matter where you are in an international shopping setting, you’ll always have the high end brands and always it looks similar. Sometimes you cannot tell if you’re in a shopping mall in Shanghai, in Dubai or in New York.

[07:42] Beatrice: Absolutely. And this is something that basically I started off being bored by this kind of stuff. So this is part of why we developed the idea. And this is what we also see with people outside on the streets. Because we, for example, we had a pop up store in Berlin beginning of this year and that was a great success. It was directly on Fort ridge Plaza you know, like directly next to Max Mara and Medina and stuff like that. So well-known brands. So what we saw as the value for what is with our product, the value for money is exceptionally good.

[08:25] But as the brand itself is not yet known, people are hesitant to buy it online. But if they see it like in the store or like in real life, they love it. So you can have a selection here, like in behind us with some pieces. And for example, let me just pick this piece that’s one of our designers. It’s hard to see maybe. That’s a very special skirt and if you just take a picture, it will not look nice. But the structure of the fabric itself and the quality of it, that’s something you can only really feel in real life. Right? So yeah, this is why the concept really proves to be the right way to combine this online, offline experience.

[09:25] Joe: And you are right now at the point where you prelaunch after scraping all the former development and do it with just the designers with popup stores so people can get familiar with the quality. With the designers and then afterwards can just simply conveniently buy online.

[09:45] Beatrice: We are in the phase of adapting the system again. We do this online-offline experience already since about two years. So in summer 2016 we decided to skip the other way. Then we bought a classical online shopping or webshop. A system, I developed everything on my own. So we don’t do this. We are not dependent on an agency. Which is very important for me because this is a really a learning that I took off this first, I call it kind of disaster. Is never throw a lot of money into something that you do not know will work for sure? It’s better to bootstrap things. So work with existing stuff and improve this step by step. If you don’t have venture capital. Of course if you have VC, it’s a different story. But we didn’t want to have VC and I still really don’t really want to have that.

[10:56] I’d rather look for partner. Or I can do it myself. What do we do now is we will change from a pure webshop with some social media marketing and these offline events. What we will do now is we start and more kind of social selling. We take one piece, for example, let’s say the skirt because this skirt is somewhat special. And sometimes people, especially women, have it hard to imagine how to dress these things. So we take one piece and we will take pictures and short movies and we’ll show an Instagram story and on our website how to style one piece in three different ways.

[11:46] Joe: I see. So I’ve seen some pictures on your computer, like very casual, very elegant. And something in between.

[11:53] Beatrice: Exactly. That’s the idea. Because we have special stuff and we want to show, you don’t always need to go to the opera to take really cool high end skirt, which with a special print, but you can also, dress it down or you can dress it up or you can, you can do different things with it.

[12:15] Joe: I see. And can you tell our viewers just a little bit more how you actually get this working because you are still working in a part-time job? You have two kids, a husband and you make this thing work. How, can you realize that? How do you make it work?

[12:37] Beatrice: Okay. No leisure time and little sleep.

[12:41] Joe: So you cut back on sleep.

[12:44] Beatrice: Yeah basically. I’m used to it because as you said, I have two little kids. And they are almost two and almost four. And yeah, they wake up early. So I’m used to this little sleep stuff and yeah, as I work part-time in my old job as a consultant. And on the other days of the week I’m doing Fashionary. I’m doing that together with my partner and so my husband. And for this new idea. So the social stuff, I also cooperate with the stylist and the model.

[13:25] So, we are now like four people doing this stuff.

[13:29] Joe: And when we came in you’ve been on the phone and then we did all the setup here. And I assume you already have the next emergency coming up as soon as you hit your mailbox, right?

[13:42] Beatrice: Yeah, possibly. So maybe not emergency but because we are kind of doing the shop or redoing the shop now. So we want to achieve a more homogenous appearance of the shop itself of the webshop.

[14:00] Joe: Look and feel.

[14:01] Beatrice: look and feel. Exactly. Because so far we had the designers delivering the images. And what happens then is of course the image one is taken outside, one with a great model. One is with an amateur model. One is all the pictures look different. So the look and feel of the shop itself is kind of messy. And we are going to harmonize this because now we take the pictures and we can like, guarantee or make sure the look and feel of the shop itself. Yeah, it was one image language.

[14:40] Joe: And for every designer out there who are watching this go down in the show notes, you’ll not only find your Instagram account but also the website, your LinkedIn profile. So people reach out to you.

[14:52] Beatrice: Absolutely. We don’t have LinkedIn, I’m sorry.

[14:55] Joe: No LinkedIn sorry.

[14:56] Beatrice: But because in fashion is more Instagram, Facebook stuff because it’s emerged and we have some videos of course. So YouTube, yes. And we are looking for new designers now because we want to be more strictly on the premium side. So far we have like a price range which is like quite wide and we want to be more homogenous and our pricing as well.

[15:26] Joe: Like a more premium level?

[15:28] Beatrice: Exactly. So people should know when they go to Fashionery, they will find really good quality, really cool designers. And our target is to build this trust, to know or that the shopper knows we are the designers we have on display, they are handpicked. They are carefully selected and they all really good quality. So that’s important for us because this is something that really distinguishes us from our competitors.

[16:08] Joe: Very good closing words, if there would be nothing else important I may have forgotten.

[16:15] Beatrice: No, I think. Yeah, I think that’s all you need basically to know.

[16:19] Joe: Thank you very much. And as we said, go down here, Instagram, YouTube, website, everything stair. Thank you very much for the interview. It was my pleasure.

[16:30] Beatrice: Thank you.

[16:39] Announcer: That`s all folks. Find more news, streams, events, and interviews at www.startuprad.io. Remember sharing is caring.