In March at Ethical Fashion Bloggers we focussed on ways to monetise a fashion blog whilst sticking to our values and ethics. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Amber Lena of Fashion Bargainista who believes that you do not have to spend money to look good and has her own blog shop selling thrifted clothes and outfits that she has put together.
How did the idea for your blog shop come about?
I had been getting requests from friends to do some bargain shopping for them, and that of course evolved into putting together outfits for them as well. But the main catalyst was that a thrift store opened about 5 minutes from my house. Because I was already looking out for items that weren’t in my own size, I started finding items that I just couldn’t pass up. The blog shop was born!
Do you treat running your blog and shop as a part time or full time career or more of a sideline?
Definitely a sideline. I work full time and I have twin preschoolers. But, I’m compelled to put together outfits – its one of my favorite ways to unwind! I have a whole room in my house (the “guest” room!) devoted to it.
How do the overall goals of your blog and shop fit with your personal values and do you believe that profit and ethics can go hand in hand?
I started FashionBargainista.com to share my love of bargain shopping. I think women pay way too much for beauty, whether that is clothing, jewelry or makeup so I love that I can share bargain shopping with my buyers. Profit and ethics can absolutely go hand in hand! When you are providing a service or a product that is affordable and valuable to people, it is only a matter of finding a price point that is comfortable for you. In my case, I treat this as more of a hobby so I can have “pin” money for my own shopping, so I sell my items with a small profit margin. I feel good contributing to the environmental movement by finding new life for pre-owned clothing.
Does making money from your blog take some of the fun out of it?
In general, I would have to say yes. I have dabbled with “monetizing” my blog with affiliate marketing, ad words, etc. and the time required for SEO is exhausting and totally not worth it! But with the blog shop, its just the opposite! I’m making money doing something that I enjoy; blogging, thrifting and putting together outfits!
It is an interesting idea to sell outfits rather than single pieces of clothing, why did you decide to do this?
I have had a lot of women ask me how to put outfits together – what shirt to pair with a certain skirt or pants, etc. so I just started out matching pieces that I thought would go nicely together. I knew it would be a bit of a stretch because its difficult to find one item that fits, much less 2 or 3! But, in my adult life, I have been a size 8 and I have been a 16, so I know a bit about sizes and I try to put pieces together that are similar in fit – not just by the size on the tag. I have also worked with many different body types, so I try to vary the sizes (ie. smaller on top, larger on bottom or vice versa). And, I provide measurements of each item. I also tell buyers they can purchase just one piece of an outfit. Or, I’m happy to take returns.
How do you find such beautiful clothes second hand clothes?
Anyone that has ever thrifted knows that you have to dig. It just so happens that I love to do just that! However, pieces will sometimes just jump out at me! I like to think that I’ve developed a skill for finding good articles of clothing in a sea of not-so-good ones.
How do you maximise sales through your blog shop?
In addition to posting the outfits on my blog and tweeting, I also list them on other market place sites such as smashion.com, yardsellr.com and style.ly. Yardsellr and Style.ly are both linked with Facebook, so that gives me many more potential buyers! I also do some selling on ebay (not the outfits – I found they didn’t do well on ebay) and whenever I mail an article of clothing, I will throw a business card with my blog address on it into the envelope.
Do you have any more tips for others wanting to set up their own blog shop?
Above all, make it easy for potential buyers to purchase. They don’t want to have to email you and wait for an email back, etc. That’s how I started, and it was frustrating on both ends. Then I tried posting paypal buttons so they could just click and pay, but I spent so much time making sure they were correct that I gave up on that too. I paid to have a personalized blog shop on Big Cartel for awhile, but found that most of my sales came from the online market places. It seems that people are most comfortable buying via a bigger organization/website.
Many thanks to Amber Lena for such this useful insight and tips. You can catch up with her at www.fashionbargainista.com, www.taooftwins.com and @amberlenab on Twitter.
If you are a Fashion Blogger with a conscious and would like to join us at Ethical Fashion Bloggers and be interviewed, please get in touch.
With warmest wishes