ShoptiQues.com, an online aggregator of boutiques, launches today.
Founded by Olga Vidisheva, a May 2011 Harvard Business School graduate who is also chief executive officer of ShoptiQues.com, the site’s premise is to allow consumers to shop their favorite local boutiques online, even though they may be located out of state. Thus, a consumer living in Boston can shop from a local West Village boutique virtually as well as another one in SoHo, and use a single checkout process. ShoptiQues, which is funded via seed money from friends and family, is responsible for the photography of all products on its site.
Consumers can shop by location or by fashion style.
Vidisheva has two heavy hitters advising her. One is Pauline Brown, an investor in and adviser to luxury brands around the world and a former managing director at the Carlyle Group. According to Brown, “When you get behind an early stage concept, it’s always about the people — the strength of their vision and, even more importantly, their ability to execute. The concept of ShoptiQues is relevant and powerful, but the venture’s biggest asset and the reason for my own personal interest is Olga. She understands the next-generation of consumers — what they wear, how they shop, what they’re looking for — and she provides a very valuable service to her boutiques in connecting them to those consumers who otherwise would not have access or even awareness of their stores. ShoptiQues is yet another example of the transformative effect of the Web on the world of fashion.”
The other adviser is Matt Meeker, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded meetup.com and is now entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Polaris Ventures. He said the concept got his attention because “boutiques aren’t naturally online since generally they’re not capable of aggregating a big enough audience for their own site and they also tend not to be used to working with a large base of customers.”
Meeker acknowledged the challenge for ShoptiQues.com will be in building up the number of both boutiques that show on the site and the customers who return as repeat shoppers. “It’s difficult to pull up both parts of the business, but if you do, it can be very lucrative,” he said.
The site is launching with 20 boutiques online, such as Orange Hanger in Arlington, Mass.; Babel Fair in the NoLIta section of Manhattan, and Goldy + Mac in Brooklyn, N.Y. Some items are hand-made, one-of-a-kind or are limited in stock, according to Vidisheva. She declined to specify the percentage in commission her company gets from each sale, but said the “margins are great for the boutique owner as well.”