Meryl Job is the founder and CEO of Videdressing, a super successful French internet portal for the buying and selling of fashion and luxury items.
A thirty three year old American with Indian roots, Meryl grew up in Minnesota. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and a Masters in communication from ESCP Europe in Paris. After working as a product manager at L’Occitane and Chanel, she founded Videdressing.com and launched it at the end of 2009 with her partner Renaud Guillerm.
Last year they raised 6 million dollars in funding and are expanding continuously. Over the last year the Paris team has grown from 16 to 60 people, they have a new office in Munich, and they will soon expand to the UK and other countries.
I spoke to Meryl about her career, how she found her idea and about the perfect business partner.
Meryl, please describe the concept of Videdressing
Meryl Job: Videdressing is first of all a global community of fashion lovers who come together to buy and sell vintage pieces. Despite this, there are lots and lots of new products because we have many sellers who work in fashion and who have access to private sales.
How was the idea born?
M.J.: When I was working at Chanel I was going to all these private and sample sales. I was buying and buying and I did not have enough room in my closet. I really needed to sell some items, but I didn’t want to do it on Ebay. Then I saw that all these bloggers were opening their own “Videdressing”blogs and I thought that was an amazing idea.
How did you get people from the fashion industry as sellers?
M.J.: I was working at Chanel and at L’Occitane en Provence before. So I did have contacts in the industry. It’s a small world.
Did you have a PR-Strategy at the beginning in 2009?
M.J.: We got a bunch of maybe 15 very good French fashion-bloggers on board. They were promoting the site because they were excited about the concept.
Were you still working at Chanel when you had this idea?
M.J.:Yes. But then I left because I wanted to focus on this project. I just felt that the timing was perfect and I had to do it now.
How long did it take to develop the concept?
M.J.: I stopped at Chanel and I was working for a year on the concept. My partner Renaud Guillerm helped me to raise a very small amount of money.
M.J.: 100.000 Euros from friends and family. That’s small. We invested it in the development of the first version of our site. What you see now is the third version.
What’s new on the site?
M.J.: Now we have started to do those videos “How to”and we are doing a lot of editorials.
Do you have an editorial team?
M.J.: Yes. We have an editorial and style team. It’s really at the heart of what we do. I have a senior stylist, two other stylists, an artistic director, a designer and an editorial content manager. The editorial content manager was working at a fashion magazine before and is now doing all the editorial writing. We are a good team. I’m really proud of the work we do.
You are American. Was it difficult to start a company in France?
M.J.: I had help with administration and financial formalities. I was very fortunate because my partner is French. As a former tax director he has a very solid knowledge of the French legal and business environment. I think that, especially at the beginning, having someone who navigates all that is very helpful.
Was France a good country to found Videdressing?
M.J.: Yes. In France you have such access to amazing quality products. They have all the garments except for the mass market, super luxury brands like Chanel, high-end labels like Barbara Bui, Vanessa Bruno and premium labels like Maje, Sandro or the Kooples.
Any advice for women who would like to set up their own fashion start-up?
M.J.: Get a good partner. I’d say partner with someone who has a complementary skill to you! United you are going to be better.