Fast trading and instant gratification are on everyone’s lips and the Antwerp, Belgium-based startup AiSPi has sustainably built a discovery platform for fashion boutiques based on a trunk show model. The company claims a a whopping 95 percent of his Customers are in India.
entrepreneur aisha notes that many European designer brands remain hidden from the global fashion scene. The e-commerce platform sources products from unique and lesser-known boutiques and designers across Europe, lists them on the fashion website and makes them available on trunk shows.
also serves as a ‘Michelin Guide’ to shopping, letting people know what’s off the main shopping streets of Europe and currently lists around 20-25 shops in 18 cities each.
While Aisha initially believed anyone traveling to Europe could be the target audience, she’s glad that a focus on the Indian market has organically evolved.
“The greatest value we bring is for my audience back home in India. I saw that they were the most engaged and excited and it was a really nice feeling. And since then we’ve focused on keeping our focus on the Indian market,” she says Your history.
Indian consumers’ appetite for fashion has grown tremendously during the pandemic Online fashion industry with an overall growth of 51 percentaccording to fashion Ecommerce Report published last year.
After earning a BA in Finance and Management from the Wharton School, Aisha worked at Ernst & Young in New York and Belgium, where she now lives with her husband.
In an effort to combine their two passions…fashion and travelAisha spent her weekends scouring unique finds in various boutiques across 14 European cities for two months.
“I would team up with videographers and photographers and actually visit these boutiques to talk to people to understand their concept and learn more,” she says, recalling the early days of building AiSPi in 2017.
Aisha noted that designer brands in India are split into either wear brands like FabIndia and those like Sabyasachi or Abu Jani. While the entry-level price of the latter brands is around Rs 1-2 lakh, AiSPi’s average product price of around Rs 40,000 seems affordable for luxury brands.
It claims to bridge the price gap between FabIndia and Sabyasachi, with prices ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 80,000 – Rs 1 lakh.
After a year of identifying and curating the products and processes, the website was launched in 2018. Aisha successfully juggled the company until she quit her full-time job last November.
As far as Bootstrap, Aisha made the first major initial investment of around €15,000 after identifying market demand and used it to build the website and branding.
How it works?
The platform operates exclusively on a trunk show model, only selling during multi-format experiential trunk shows organized in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Antwerp, as well as virtually during the pandemic.
Aisha explains: “If you visit our website today, we will not sell anything to you. We’ll take your information, note your request and make sure you’re invited when our next trunk show starts, or send a virtual invite link if you can’t make it physically.
In just about 40 to 45 days of sales over the last three years, AiSPi has achieved impressive sales. While running regular online stores like any other e-commerce platform is likely to generate more revenue, Aisha says the current model allows AiSPi to create greater value for customers by curating for a specific clientele and ” doesn’t feel pressured to sell the hell.”
Over the years, the trunk show model has helped build trust and create a sense of exclusivity. The startup now has a network of over 10,000 customers who engage with the brand, actively communicate and participate in its events.
In the future it aims to expand and go beyond Europe to identify boutiques and eventually also deal with menswear.
While the startup has no direct competitors, marketplaces like Ajio Luxe offer luxury products in similar price ranges and beyond.
Donning the entrepreneurial hat meant Aisha got involved with everything from steam ironing the products, to SEO and marketing, website maintenance, public relations, accounting and every step along the way.
In the early days, most boutiques wouldn’t support and appreciate her platform, despite attracting new customers to her, she says.
“I’m the one who came with a photographer and a videographer. All I am asking is if we can take some photos and videos of their products for free promotion and they would say that I am disturbing their customers. And that pinches you because you’re so passionate about talking about their brand on the platform,” she says, adding that the boutiques are listed for free to ensure independence in curating products.
While the e-commerce project has generated a lot of excitement and demand for these boutiques, the biggest challenge for AiSPi today is hiring talent and a good team to keep expanding.
Aisha, who transitioned from a corporate job advising startups to running her own business, best sums up her journey by noting that just like motherhood, entrepreneurship doesn’t come with a guide and you have everything it takes to must do with passion.