While Brazil-born Valeryana Allemand is beginning to change the fashion scene in Ireland, can her budding business stand up to the heavy competition of indie designer e-commerce?
When Valeryana Allemand’s husband relocated to Ireland to work for Google, she found herself without a job and with spare time on her hands. So she enlisted the help of a developer friend and launched SAXA, a platform she had been dreaming about for years.
Originally from Brazil, Allemand studied fashion in her home country and then worked for several fashion designers in France. While at her job, she encountered many talented designers at trade shows who did not have the infrastructure to market themselves the way famous brands could.
At the same time, as a consumer, she found it difficult to find high quality, fashionable clothing that suited her tastes. Items were either cheap and mass-produced, or exorbitantly expensive brand names. With SAXA, she hoped to create a platform that would address both issues at once: It would provide a platform for talented, smaller designers to sell original, high quality clothing to a discerning clientele.
Launched in 2014, and bootstrapped with advice and help from friends and family, SAXA currently registers 30,000 customers – reached primarily through celebrity endorsements and fashion bloggers – with an average shopping cart value of €680. Items listed range from €49 to €2,000, and SAXA takes a 30% commission on all orders, which are fulfilled by the designers themselves.
SAXA currently carries the works of 77 designers from 22 countries, who must conform to quality and production standards – they only carry clothing created in the designer’s home country, and in suitable factory conditions; Allemand usually makes a personal visit to the production line.
“SAXA is about buying with conscience, and caring about quality,” Allemand told Geektime. “It’s for women who are not attached to labels, and just want to go for their own look. It’s tacky to be attached to labels.”
Notable early achievements
Enterprise Ireland is currently supporting their push for investments and has provided some finding directly, the goal is to expand the number of staff, to turn the platform into an interactive community, and to launch a sister site geared towards men’s fashion. The company was selected to present at the upcoming 2015 Web Summit, where they were selected as one of the event’s 15 “high potential startups.”
The designer market competition
There are various, similar “designer market” platforms online today. Not Just a Label combines editorial articles with an online store for independent designers. Us Trendy, founded in the United States, provides an open-store platform similar to Etsy.com where anyone can join, but with a focus solely on fashion. However, SAXA’s closest competitors are sites like the French Carnet De Mode, which also curates independent designers who fulfill their orders directly, and Aha Life, which focuses primarily on accessories and jewelry.
To continue to grow in a diverse and competitive marketplace, SAXA must continue to emphasize its key distinctions: It selectively curates small yet established designers, as opposed to sites like Nineteenth Amendment, which helps budding designers fund and manufacture their designs. A sleek, user-friendly interface and strong commitment to quality and ethics also set it apart.
If it continues to express these points in a clear and engaging way, SAXA can be expected to continue to attract a committed and loyal customer base (45% of whom are return buyers) that believes in its vision, values, and style.
Featured Image Credit: SAXA