As fashion girls, we are all too familiar with the dilemma of owning too much clothes and shoes yet still having nothing to wear. Before we know it, we have hoarded a ton of items that still have their tags on and have kept stuff that we don’t even wear anymore. Add on the desire to stay on trend, and you can find yourself unable to close your closet doors.
This is where The Closet Raiders come in. It’s a Facebook-based business that lets you sell your clothes and shoes to fellow fashionistas. You can even buy from the fashion girls in the group and be assured that you’re getting a great deal out of it! We talk to the duo Erika Aquino and Ingrid Go who will help you declutter your wardrobe with their online business: The Closet Raiders.
What is The Closet Raiders?
“The Closet Raiders was born in September 2016, shortly before Ingrid left for fashion week. Our friend Ram Lopez-Vito Bucoy (of Fleishman Hillard PR) introduced us to Facebook groups when one of us was looking to unload used furniture. Soon after, we began editing our closets and realized we had so much clothing we no longer wore. And that was when the idea of starting our own group came about. The Closet Raiders initially specialized in the resale of personally used clothes and shoes only. It's evolved a lot more since then. Brands have approached us to sell their overstock. We've been fortunate with the group, and have taken The Closet Raiders from being our hobby to running it as a proper fashion portal.”
What inspired you to come up with the idea?
“We were initially thinking of doing a physical garage sale, but based on Ingrid's past experience of having mounted one, it got chaotic and became difficult when there were so many people coming and not enough manpower to help those who had questions and/or wanted to buy the merchandise. Online was the way to go because it was in a more controlled environment. After Ingrid's success with selling some pieces of furniture online, we decided on putting up a curated Facebook group that dealt exclusively with clothes and shoes after being inspired by other buy-and-sell groups that had a wider scope of things for sale (anything from home appliances to furniture, bags and clothes, and even cars). Our problem was the amount of clutter in our closet, so that was how we decided on what we will allow to be sold on our group. And we had clutter that consisted of mostly clothes and shoes.”
Who is your target market?
“We have many people who initially joined to unload their used clothing, but they too have become buyers instead of just initial sellers because they could not resist a good bargain. We have members who religiously check our page at least six times a day because of FOMO (or fear of missing out) on a good deal!”
How do you choose who will be added into the group? What criteria should one meet to be able to join the garage sale arena?
“We are quite particular about this as we don't just allow anyone who requests to join into the group. You will have to be a legit Facebook user—not an account that was created for spamming others. And we have had to decline those. Our members are properly vetted. When you are into the group, you have to abide by our "house rules" and refrain from selling merchandise other than clothes or shoes. We don't allow bags. And we are very, very strict about authenticity issues especially if sellers are posting designer merchandise. We want to keep our community a safe place to buy and sell, so bullying is definitely not tolerated.”
What are the struggles with this online luxury garage sale? What's the greatest adversary you were able to overcome?
“We have never really had struggles—we see obstacles as challenges. The growth of this business is something we did not anticipate and we are grateful for it, but we often find ourselves with our noses and eyes buried deep into our phones, because we want to make sure the community and its members are okay, and that everyone is following the rules. It is time consuming, and oh yes, the struggle is having to look away when there are good bargains! No adversities as of yet, thank goodness!”
What do you find rewarding in this venture?
“There are so many rewarding things about this venture. First, we were able to find new owners for the clothes and shoes we no longer used, and we were able to turn those into money! Second, it's exciting to be both creative and strategic at the same time and running the day-to-day operations has allowed us to that. Third, we've gotten to know some of our members and made new friends—although virtually. We enjoy interacting with them. Fourth, our partnership and dynamic are both interesting—we've been friends for nearly ten years now. But this is the first time we've officially worked together, and we found that our personalities and expertise complement each other. We are both strong communicators: Ingrid is a TV host, a journalist and a blogger, so she is able to bring a certain personality to the brand. As a fashion insider, she also has her eye on ongoing and upcoming trends. Erika is a PR practitioner and a corporate woman (she used to work with US-based startups, as well as some of the big names in the hospitality industry), so she brings that keen eye for operations, detail and efficiency.”
There are many online buy and sell business saturating the market already. What do you think is your edge?
“We define ourselves not just as a buy-and-sell portal, but as a fashion portal and, soon, a brand. Because we have been very specific with what can and cannot be sold in our community, we have become known as the specialized, go-to place to look for clothing and shoe bargains, both new and old.”
What piece of advice would you give to girls who also want to put up their own business?
“Be prepared to put your heart and soul into your business venture. Be passionate, but be practical and set realistic goals as well—know your own limitations. Reach out to people who can help you, and know when to ask for help. We are both busy women: Ingrid is busy with her children, her blog and other writing commitments, her fashion consultancy, and her retail business in Manila. Erika is busy with her PR and consultancy firm, and she's also putting up another startup based in Europe. We are both experienced in juggling several things at once, but we make sure that we also speak at least once a day, or meet up several times a week to help things move forward with The Closet Raiders.”