Laura Doherty returned home to Ireland in 2014 after a few years in Australia and New Zealand, and like many others, she had no plan for what was next.
All she did know was that her collection of vintage clothing had grown so big, even her boyfriend was concerned. ‘I’ve always loved vintage clothing and would have sold bits and pieces over the years on eBay. While I was travelling in Australia and New Zealand I collected so many bits and pieces of vintage I had to ship a lot of it home.’
Laura (28) started her online vintage store ‘Florrie-Janes’ Vintage’ just over a year ago and she is now listed as a boutique with one of the world’s biggest online stores Asos.com and cannot keep up with the demand for her vintage pieces. She operates her store from her home in Dunfanaghy in north west Donegal. Surprisingly, the majority of her clothing goes to the UK and she’s only sold around 10 pieces in Ireland so far.
She trained as a hairdresser initially and then worked for a company called Spin Vox in Gweedore Business Park, Co. Donegal before taking the pilgrimage so many others have taken to Australia and New Zealand for a few years of working and travelling.
She worked in a clothes shop in Broome, Australia and that is where she really got the bug for clothing and the initial idea for her own place. ‘That’s where my wages were all going, on buying vintage clothes.’
When she returned home it was her boyfriend who prompted her to take her hobby to a business level.’I had no real plan in my head. I was figuring things out but I did continue hunting for vintage pieces in charity shops.
‘My boyfriend asked me what I was going to do with all of this stuff so I set up a page on the online store etsy.com. That was good but sales were quite small and mainly to the U.S. Then I applied to be one of the boutiques on asos.com (they feature hundreds on their website), their criteria is extremely strict on photography but I was lucky enough to get listed. Etsy was fine but it went to another level when I got onto asos.com as they have a lot more traffic and I noticed the immediate increase in sales. I was invited over to visit ASOS HQ in London which was incredible.’ ASOS do a top ten ranking every week of their listed boutique and Florries Vintage featured quite recently.
The name Florrie-Jane’s comes from her Granny Florrie and her Aunt Florence. After arriving home she discovered her Aunt was going to throw out a lot of clothes she had kept in the attic for 20 years. ‘They were in perfect condition and it was a really important moment in deciding to go ahead with the online business and we sold a lot of them.’
Laura says that running an online business means you are never really ‘off.’ But you can tell this is no bad thing as she is clearly passionate about vintage clothing and doing what she loves to do. She has learned some lessons along the way though.
‘For my first photo shoot I booked a photographer and a model and had a studio set up so it was very expensive. But I suppose I’ve learned a lot since then and I knew I couldn’t keep affording that. So I got a camera, learned how to edit the photos myself and now I model and my boyfriend models the men’s clothes.’
So between altering clothing, modelling, shooting and editing photographs, marketing, promotions, packaging and posting parcels she has been very busy and the business continues to grow.
She gets the majority of her stock from London which are mainly Italian garments and she scours the best of the north west for everything else. ‘I only buy whatever I like and I’m getting a much better idea of what sells and what doesn’t.’ What is selling at the minute are Levi 501s, Doc Martens, 70s suede items and fringed garments.
Her advice if you are thinking of starting an online business? ‘Do it. It is so much easier than I thought. Yes, it is a lot of hours but if you love what you do then you don’t count the hours. You do it because you love it.’
Visit Florrie-Jane’s Vintage on Asos.com
Visit Florrie-Jane’s Vintage on Facebook
This article was originally published on Darren Kennedy’s ‘Help My Style’
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