How did ClosetBarcode.com come about?
I have always had an interest in starting a business. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time playing storekeeper and pretending to manage a restaurant, so being a bit older I decided to take the plunge and experiment with running a small, e-commerce site. There has been a lot of learning involved and there are always new things happening. What amazes me is just the sheer volume of information out there that anyone can use to help them on their path to starting a business. Honestly, starting the business has proven to be the easiest part. What is challenging is getting out there in the world so that people know your company exists and is a trustworthy place to do business.
I view fashion as something that everyone participates in whether they love the industry or they just want to cover themselves up. No matter your viewpoint, you need to find pieces that you like, and you can have liberty in styling them in a way that shows off your own personal brand.
What does an average day look like for you?
I take advantage of any downtime I have to work on material for social media—original content for Instagram.com and Pinterest.com. I spend some time each day looking at competitor sites for website ideas and to see what they are doing on social media and how I can best use those strategies, but more so that it matches the brand of Closet Barcode. I also spend time looking at and responding to emails.
In the evening, I spend a few more hours shipping out orders for customers or to bloggers to review for a post. I also work on graphics, looking at designer’s inventory for purchase, handling new inventory, posting new products to the website, and dealing with any “hot-fires” that may have risen during the day.
How do you decide what to stock?
This is easily the best part of the job. And really there is not any magic involved in what is selected to carry. There are no fancy algorithms, analytics, or any type of fashion science. The key to finding pieces for Closet Barcode is based on two points. The first is discovering labels that consistently produce quality pieces; and the second, is meeting our need of having pieces that include unique details.
As everyone knows, there are tens of thousands of places to buy clothing. So our challenge is making sure that our selection stands out from other places. When we are looking for pieces to buy, we want something that is unique and not easily found in the market today. However, we can’t have too unique of pieces that they don’t sell. So this is a constant challenge to find where that line gets crossed.
Great examples of some of our unique pieces is the Gold Coast Tank Top which has elegant chain details all throughout the piece. Our Arctic Ice Tank top is a piece that highlights an intricate crochet pattern. We always have a soft spot for lace so there are plenty of pieces that incorporate a lace pattern into the pieces.
Do you ever want to run away with the merchandise?
This can definitely be tempting for friends and family members. The question always gets asked, “What new items did you get.” When you show them there is usually a hint of “gifting” the item to them. This is great feedback to get because sometimes family members can be hard to please.
What do you love most about ClosetBarcode.com?
I love the fact that our merchandise is starting to be loved by fashion and style bloggers. It is great to see what these fashionistas do with our pieces and how they incorporate it with stuff that they already own. There have been times when we are surprised to see how they styled a piece. A great example is when a blogger requested our Fringe Benefits White Tee. We figured she would have styled this in a simple way with cut off shorts or torn jeans. When we saw the post, we couldn’t believe that she actually dressed the piece up with slacks. It’s the perfect example of how we want people to embrace our pieces.
There are so many clothing stores that all focus on their brands. A majority of their pieces are blazoned with their logo. When someone wears a piece like that, it becomes more about that brand rather than the person wearing the clothes. Our pieces don’t have flashy logos, just a simple tag that represents the designer and we’ll never carry labels that have a need to flash their logo on an article of clothing. We want our customers to buy a piece from our selection and pair it with what they already have in their closet. We want our customers to be their own brand.
We also love our pro-consumer policies. We offer free shipping with absolutely no minimum purchase or the need to buy a yearly membership or becoming a “V.I.P.”. When we receive inventory, all pieces go through a hand-measuring step so that we can provide accurate measurements for customers.
Because we carry styles from so many different designers, each designer has different measurement guidelines so we don’t want to use just a general size chart. We also are hand checking for quality. We look for stains, pull on seams, test zippers, etc. We don’t just receive the inventory and send it off for storage in a warehouse.
What exciting developments do you have for the future?
We are going to start working on improving our website with more of a focus on the mobile format. Our current site is mobile friendly, but believe that it can be better and easier to use. Most traffic today is coming from mobile devices and we want our visitors and customers to have a great shopping experience.
Once our reformatted site is live, we plan to add to our already pro-consumer policies and help aids. We have free shipping, but we are looking at ways that are affordable to offer free returns as well. More places are dropping out of free returns so we see an opportunity that can help set us apart. We recently started work on styling suggestions to provide customers with ways they can style our pieces.
One great benefit we offer is our size charts for each piece. Every piece we purchase gets hand measured so that customers know exactly what size they should order. We have also been looking at third-party applications where customers can input their measurements and get a visual on how the item will fit.
One major concern people have in shopping for clothing is how the item will fit. We want to provide tools that help customers make a well-informed decision on which size they should order without having to worry about returns.
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