Interview: New Startup I-ELLA Takes on eBay Model for FashionistasBy: Abby Johnson - March 6, 2012
Multiple services put their own spin on eBay and Craigslist, and new startup I-ELLA is no exception. The company is based in New York, and it allows consumers to buy, sell, swap, and borrow designer clothing and accessories.
Ella Gorgla, the CEO of the startup, calls the site “the eBay for fashion insiders.” As she explained to us, most people haven’t worn at least 25 percent of their closets in the past 9 months. For this reason, she wanted to create an outlet for people to “share their closet” with others.
“You have stuff in your closet – it’s just sitting there – and the fact is, you could use the money,” she said.
She went on to say that the resell marketplace is one of the fastest growing areas within the retail industry. The problem though is that there is a stigma associated with wearing second-hand clothing. Gorgla told us that I-ELLA hopes to change this perception and emphasize the green aspect of recycling.
She also points out that users can get great bargains using the service. Items that may not have been affordable before, now have the potential to be.
“You can get Chanel at 75 percent off of retail,” she said. “People are selling things for like 90 percent off of retail.”
What makes I-ELLA really unique, however, is the fact that it focuses on charity. The company keeps 10 percent of every purchase and gives 10 percent of this amount to a charity selected by the buyer.
Celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson explains how the auctions work in this clip:
Through this philanthropic component, the company has raised $10,000 to date for various charitable organizations.
While I-ELLA keeps a portion of the sells, Gorgla also has other plans for profitability. She told us that she would like to incorporate advertising at some point, but in a very targeted way. In addition, she mentioned the possibility of developing a premium service for members.
The company has also received investments from people such as Alan Meckler, the Chairman and CEO of WebMediaBrands.
Although I-ELLA’s primary focus is pre-owned designer items, it also creates an outlet for up and coming designers. Those looking to get into the fashion industry can post their items and potentially get discovered by recognized fashion designers.