Sarah Davis is the founder of Fashionphile, an ultra luxury accessory reseller that specializes in bags, shoes, travel goods, and watches. Building upon the consignment shop model, Fashionphile utilizes technology to appeal to a new era of shoppers.
Sarah began her entrepreneurial journey under the eBay username Fashionphile in 1999. To bring in some income while attending University of Maryland School of Law, Sarah sold products online. She started off selling all types of clothing and accessories, but quickly noticed that handbags held onto their value better than any other product. By 2001, she strictly sold handbags.
At the time, she was focused on becoming a lawyer, not a business owner. While studying for the bar post graduation, Sarah continued to sell products online. Before even taking the bar, she had already paid off her law school loans. This is when she realized the potential of the company. After speaking with an accountant, he recommended The E-Myth, a book that defined Sarah’s situation, as it touched upon how entrepreneurs work so hard in the business that they don’t have the time to work on the business.
Shortly after, she took the leap, moving her online business to Beverly Hills in 2006. There, the team rented out a guest house of a Beverly Hills mansion where customers could check out the inventory. They then bought office space off Rodeo Drive, which allowed customers to buy and sell luxury goods at the same time. Eventually, she and her family moved to Carlsbad right here in San Diego, keeping hold of the business with retailers and employees located across Southern California.
The website was launched in 2007, giving Sarah and her team time to slowly wean themselves off of eBay, which they fully separated from in 2010.
Fashionphile only sells the most replicated designer products, with an average sale price of about $1,400. Part of the company’s mission is understanding how to validate the original designer goods being sent to them, and how to validate new products according to customer needs. Users can take photos of their luxury items and ask how much Fashionphile will pay for them. They can redeem their money via online payments, Fashionphile gift cards, or gift cards from Neiman Marcus , which formed a partnership with Fashionphile a few years ago. With many ‘selling studios’ in metropolitan areas across the state (and five more on the way), Fashionphile allows customers to bring their goods in person and receive monetary compensation the same day.
Sarah bootstrapped the funds for the company since day one. Each time she would sell product, she would take the profit to buy more goods, growing organically for 20 years. In 2007, she was in talks with Tech Coast Angels, but didn’t find enough value in giving up a large percentage of the company for capital. The company was profitable then and is profitable now, still posting 50% YoY growth each year.
Sarah is glad that the company did not take on external capital, because it allowed them to grow at an appropriate pace, which allowed them to create a great pricing algorithm and validation process.
Listen in to hear about Sarah’s entrepreneurial journey and what she has in store for Fashionphile in years to come.
Sarah’s Favorite Tacos:
Roberto’s at Ponto Beach, Carlsbad
Connect with Sarah:
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Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.