Thursday, July 31, 2014

Leona Thriftola's Thriving Reselling and Thrift Business: Kitsch, Marketing, and Curating Pro

I've admired Leona Thriftola's colorful, kitschy style for years. She's a talented businesswoman with a great eye for design and mind for marketing. Luckily, she's let me pick her brain and share some of her best business and thrifting tips.

1) Hi Leona, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there, my name is Leona Thrift-ola and I’m a designer, maker and vintage enthusiast with a keen eye for
fun design from the 60s to 80s. I moved to London when I was 16 and turned my charity shop obsession
into a career, first selling vintage at Portobello Market, then launching my pop culture jewelry label
Lady Luck Rules OK with an E-commerce platform which pre-dated Etsy and freelancing for the likes of
Wayne Hemingway and opening an indie boutique Superette inbetween.[sic]

2) You have a marketing background and have launched some 
amazing campaigns, did you go to school for marketing, do you have 
a natural knack or is it a little of both? 

I briefly studied Styling & Photography at the London College of Fashion but I struggle in a classroom
environment and tend to flourish more when learning on the go so I decided to quit school and assist a stylist.
I worked for Kenny Ho for a few years before setting up my own businesses and his clients were the
Spice Girls which was so much hard work but lots of fun. I look back at these days and think I learnt a lot
about who I was and what I could achieve in my career, I nurtured my DIY ethos and didn’t feel scared
about trying new things.

3)  What have been your favorite projects thus far?

I set up my first E-commerce website in 2003 to sell my reworked vintage jewelry and eventually my own
designs. Very quickly through this platform my label Lady Luck Rules OK grew from a weekly market stall
at Portobello to being sold in 250 stores worldwide and we hit 10,000 website sales in a few years. It was all
pretty exciting and after 7 years I decided to close it all down including my bricks and mortar store because
for me the sparkle had gone and I didn’t feel excited by doing what so many other people were now also
doing. I wanted a new challenge and I never regret that decision.

4) What are your top three tips for resellers?

1) Try to have a speciality [sic], either by era or style, it will make it easier for you to find and market to your
2) Good photos are essential when selling online. Setting up a basic DIY home studio is inexpensive and
investing in a decent camera is worth it. YouTube is full of tutorials for this kind of thing and buy your
camera second hand on eBay as long as the seller has good feedback.
3) Give excellent customer service. Always. It is a very crowded marketplace these days so ensuring the
customer’s experience with you is memorable (for the right reasons!) will improve your customer retention

5)  How about three more tips for indie business owners in general?

1) Ensure you have a business plan and keep it up-to-date, it’s like the roadmap for your business and an
essential tool for growth and keeping an eye on the overall vision.
2) Always do your maths! Maths is not one of my strong points, so because it’s not I work extra hard at it.
I know what everything costs my business from the 100cm of bakers twine I use to tie my parcels to each
individual cello bag that package my greetings cards.
3) If you’re working from home try to get some kind of morning routine which involves leaving the house,
even if it’s just to get a coffee or a paper. Then arrive back home and go to your desk like you're entering
an office for the day and treat it that way. No doing the washing or allowing friends do drop by for a
catch-up. I work 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, even though I’m working from home on my own businesses,
but it’s this discipline that ensures I hit targets and make deadlines.

6) What are some personal favorites from your collection of vintage 

My ultimate vintage finds are things that look novelty and fun but still have a practical modern use. My two
personal faves in my own collection are my 1970s circus toaster and 1970s owl clock where the eyes move
and it hoots on the hour.

7) Let me mine ya for more tips, you find get stuff, what are your top 
three thrifting tips?

1) When researching what car boot sales and flea markets to buy from, look for the time it asks vendors to
get there and arrive then. This way you can easily peruse the merch as it’s put out instead of arriving when
the rest of the buyers do. 
2) I’m finding a lot of good and well priced vintage finds can now be found in Instagram stores. IG are yet
to set up a shop facility but people are using the platform this way in a ‘first paypal wins’ kind of mode. I’ve
scored some real finds for real good prices from people all over the world this way.
3) Haggle with a smile and never offer less than half because that’s just rude. Haggling is an art form because
of course you want to get the best deal to improve your seller margin but also remember the person you’re
buying from could become a life time supplier who calls you first when they find stuff. So be smart and polite
with the process, it’ll pay off in the end!

Thanks Leona for sharing a peek at your creative and thrifitng processes! Check out her work at Lucky Dip Club and Thriftola!

/Comments Off, you can hit me up via e-mail or instagram where I'm live-grammin' my Puerto Rico trip.
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