above: the Smashing Darling homepage
all images courtesy of Smashing Darling
Smashing Darling is a wonderful resource for independent fashion design and, as its homepage says, it is a "megamall of indie fashion... without the food courts... or the evil." The website sells menswear, womenswear, childrens, accessories and more. There's a little bit of indie for a range of tastes and price points. I had an opportunity to meet Trish Ginter and Mo Puia of Smashing Darling over coffee recently, and was impressed by their passion for emerging and independent designers. In fact, at one point during the conversation, while talking about her own path to founding the site, Trish, one of the founders, starting to get a bit teary-eyed and I was moved by her passion and conviction. Please read on to learn more about Smashing Darling from this interview with its amazing founder, Trish Ginter...
Tell us a bit about how you started Smashing Darling. Do you have a business partner? What are your backgrounds (fashion/retail/business experience)?
It all happened so fast, the idea for Smashing Darling came in August 2006, and by February 2007 my partner Julie Rorrer and I had launched the site. It was an amazing six months of non-stop research to try and learn as much as we could while the site was being built. We are both entrepreneurs who had owned businesses before starting work on Smashing Darling. Julie is a photographer and graphic designer, previously owning her own cosmetics company. I design a line of clothing that I sell in my boutique in Chester, CT and on Smashing Darling.
above: a PapuszaCouture dress
above: Dahl dress
above: ZSEGA coat
So your website specializes in emerging and independent designers and there is a mechanism by which people can sign up to be sellers on the site. Do you have any screening criteria for the designers? How do you provide support for your designers?
Signing up to the site is really easy and any independent/emerging designer can become a member of the community and open a boutique. We try to encourage designers to have great photos and and good business practices by being on top of their shipping. We have a blog where we shout out great things that are happening to our designers as well as opportunities that are out there for the designers such as contests and PR opportunities. We get excited with every designer that opens a boutique with Smashing Darling; the possibilities are endless for each and everyone of them.
Do you have any typical customers who shop the site? Can you tell us a bit about who they are?
Our customers are secure in their style and not afraid to wear unknown designer products. Young at heart and professional. We also discovered in our research that our customer is elusive and the hardest kind of woman to target. She does not follow, she leads. Traditional marketing doesn't work because she truly buys items that she likes and that fit her style, not because she saw an ad in Vogue or saw something on the latest it celebrity.
Are there any bestsellers on the site? Any trends you see emerging from this spring/summer season?
It's hard to have a best seller because most of the designers produce very small numbers of any one item. Some items are actually one of a kind. Now that fashion can be designed today and put up for sale tomorrow the line between trends is starting to blur.
It says on the site that you currently only sell to US customers. Will you plan to expand this to include international customers?
I would love to go international and it is something that is on the board for discussion.
What do you think are some of your biggest challenges in serving your designers and your customers?
Biggest challenge is marketing, getting a particular designer's item in front of the exact person you know would love to buy it. It is a big internet and with our unique product and our elusive customer that sometimes proves to be quite challenging. As far as the consumers, the biggest challenge has been helping them understand what it means to be an independent or emerging designer. Not everyone understands that.
above: Yosifa sparkles scarf
above: Ashes and Empires spats
For more information, check out http://smashingdarling.com.
Other Shoptalk interviews on Dream Sequins:
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