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Avenue 32 Roberta Benteler—How to start an online fashion business

. Posted in London

Avenue32 1
ROBERTA BENTELER
FOUNDER AVENUE 32
LONDON

Founded by Roberta Benteler, Avenue 32 is a new luxury retail concept that flung open its virtual doors in late November
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Online shopping just got a tad more exciting. Roberta Benteler and Co-founder Juri von Randow have recently launched an exciting new online business model, Avenue 32. With Erin Mullaney, previously Buying Director at Browns, who has joined as Fashion & Brand Director, and Rebecca Guinness, now Editor-in-Chief, an experienced team has been assembled to drive the start-up to success. We had the chance to chat with Roberta Benteler about her new business venture, entrepreneurship, and pick her brains about all things beauty and style.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF LAUNCHING AVENUE 32? AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON IT BEFORE LAUNCHING IT IN NOVEMBER?
I came up with the concept for Avenue 32 in July 2010 and started working on it full time in August 2010. I’ve been a passionate online shopper for the past 7 or 8 years, since the beginning almost, so I’ve really seen and experienced the market from a customer’s point of view. Today’s online customer has evolved a lot and is much more educated and considerably more demanding with respect to the experience that an online retailer has to offer. I became increasingly frustrated not only with respect to the selection on many sites but also how they were not engaging enough.

Originally having worked in finance I decided to take time off to pursue my interest in the fashion industry. In 2010 I worked for a young designer, a key experience that enabled me to see the market from a designer’s point of view. I realised how many of them struggle to control the way that their brand is portrayed online and to communicate what their brand is about. Avenue 32 was born out of the desire to create a platform that caters to and supports customers’ and designers’ needs alike. 

wallpin RBI HEAR YOU HAVE SELECTED THE UP-AND-COMING AUSTRALIAN LABEL ELLERY FOR AVENUE32. WHAT ARE YOUR CRITERIA FOR LABEL SELECTION AND WHY DID YOU PICK THIS PARTICULAR LABEL?
We choose things that are exciting and new but also have great quality. Ellery really stood out from the other Australian designers as she has a real edge to her compared to most other Australian brands that are more bohemian. It’s almost like a young Australian Celine..

HOW IS AVENUE 32 DIFFERENT TO SHOPPING DESTINATIONS SUCH AS NET-A-PORTER.COM OR MYTHERESA.COM?
Avenue 32 is an ecommerce retailer that provides designers with a platform to operate in a multi–brand environment, but where they are able to curate their very own shop in shops within our e-store. Designers are in control of their content, from how their collections are presented to adding different elements such as video content, images, catwalk material, inspirational pictures and text. We give them the possibility of commissioning online content with our editorial team, enabling them to directly communicate to their customers and build a loyal relationship.

At the beginning of the season, we will sit down with the designers and suggest to them the styles and ranges we love and think would work. The designers then select the styles they want to go with and produce them for us. We take care of the rest, such as the photography, warehousing, packaging, shipping and marketing. So instead of buying for wholesale we take a commission on retail, which means designers can earn up to twice as much as with the traditional wholesale model.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE BUSINESS FOR NEXT YEAR?
To open more warehouses to be able to offer faster shipping and same day delivery in more places. Continuously adding interesting names to our brand mix.

WHAT’S YOUR LITTLE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR WOMEN WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Always aim high and believe in your ideas.
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IF YOU START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
YOU HAVE TO BE READY FOR WORK TAKING OVER
YOUR LIFE FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST COUPLE YEARS.
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WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People with an entrepreneurial spirit who believe in their ideas and are passionate about what they do.

WHY DID YOU PICK LONDON AS YOUR HOME BASE?
I have lived in London for almost 15 years and feel like a Londoner more than anything else. I absolutely love the city for its cultural diversity, quality of life and that it is both beautifully traditional and amazingly creative.

WITH AVENUE 32 JUST KICKING OFF NOW, I WOULD THINK YOU HAVE A MILLION THINGS TO DO, WORK-LIFE BALANCE, HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE IT?
I absolutely love what I do and I look forward to going to work every day. I think if you start up your own business you have to be ready for work taking over your life for at least the first couple years, but it is incredibly rewarding.

In my free time I go and see my horses in the country side, which helps me to clear my head and see everything much more objectively.

YOUR LAST BEAUTY PURCHASE WAS..             
Anything by Dermalogica and Make up by Bare Minerals.

DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY SALON YOU GO TO REGULARLY, WAX, NAILS, MASSAGE... AND WHY DO U PICK THEM OVER OTHERS?
I regularly have facials with Jaqueline Parker who is based in the Soma center in the Kensington Garden Hotel. She is absolutely amazing and the best facial I have ever had by a long way. She only uses Dermalogica products. (Phone +44 2070001903)

For nails I go to Marcella’s Nails on Holland Street, the best manicure and pedicure in town.

YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO HANG OUT AT THE MOMENT..
The Cow in Notting Hill

Essenza Italian Restaurant in Notting Hill

The Petersham Nurseries


IF YOUR BEST FRIEND CAME TO TOWN WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE HER SHOPPING?
Dover Street Market is great, especially the jewellery section. I also love Notthing Hill for Vintage finds.

TELL ME, IF YOU HAD TO RECOMMEND ONE BEAUTY PRODUCT – WHAT WOULD I NEED TO GET IMMEDIATELY?
Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster is amazing especially in winter and for people like me who travel a lot. It always keeps your skin radiant.




—Interview by LOCALSPOTTER

Photos: Courtesy of Avenue 32

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