When the Dressup Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dressup.accessories) opened for business in April this year, they sold out in two days. “It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since,” says Roshana Rasheed, founder of Dressup.
Roshana’s passion is vintage jewellery, which she defines as pieces made between 1910 and 1990. “Anything older would fall into the antique category. Anything newer would be contemporary,” she says, explaining, “the zeitgeist in me keeps shifting from one era to another through jewellery.” Dressup offers good copies of original vintage jewellery, with the occasional piece with an antique finish thrown in. “Vintage bronze jewellery was something I’ve always loved and each time I travel abroad I go shopping for my stash of vintage jewellery to bring back. And that’s what gave me the idea of starting an online vintage jewellery store.”
The concept for Dressup was born when Roshana found herself looking around for a subject for her MBA thesis. She settled on Digital Marketing even as she thought long and hard in an attempt to find something that would go viral in the Sri Lankan market. One thing she knew was that many of her potential customers were wary of divulging their credit card numbers online – she wanted to find an alternate payment method. “We made it easier by giving our customers our bank account and all they had to do was deposit the relevant amount into the account and the purchases would be mailed/delivered to them.”
She had found a combination that worked. On Facebook, which is Dressup’s retail outlet, their fanbase went from 0 to 200 in a week, and is now at 1784 and growing.”It’s amazing how many emails we get a day from all over Sri Lanka,” says Roshana, explaining that her business isn’t Colombo centric. “We’ve got customers from Kandy, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, New Zealand, Australia, India, New York... just all over!”
The accessories all these buyers are so keen to purchase are imported for most part. “All the items you find in our online store are from South America, Asia and Australia. Nothing is sourced from here as we want to give our customers something you can’t find over here,” says Roshana revealing that prices range from Rs.100 to Rs.1700. Among other things, she sells a variety of rings, chains, earrings, pendants, hair accessories and bracelets. Most are made in bronze or alloy metal (“to give a vintage bronze look and feel”) but there are others in raw brass, silver, pewter, and zinc alloy metal. All their jewellery is lead and nickel free.
Pendants and lockets are among their bestsellers. “The girls just love blue in their jewellery... We’ve introduced a Vintage rocker chic collection which is a big favourite right now.” Another popular collection is the Exclusive vintage collection with a wide selection of intricately designed vintage pocket watches. Dressup has also found some unexpected customers in men buying jewellery for their girlfriends – “guys love the fact that they simply have to order what they want for their girlfriends with just an email and we’ll have it delivered right to their doorstep!”
Despite their success, Roshana says she works at keeping things exciting for her customers. They add new items on a weekly basis – “so that the Dressup community always has something new to look forward to and choose from.” “Every day there’s something new popping up online. So it’s important to keep the page alive and buzzing. We also encourage our customers to write in positive and negative criticism as we are learning on the go,” she says. The latest addition to the website has been a baby accessories section - Baby Dressup. Revealing they’ve had a good response, she says, “Again, it’s something you don’t find over here.”
Roshana is supported by her two sisters who are both accountants and help her manage the business side of things. Dressup isn’t Roshana’s primary occupation – she works in advertising and finds her new business is a good place to channel all that creativity. Dressup has begun to have competition from similar websites, but Roshana is confident she can stay one step ahead. “I’ve got a business plan that’ll hopefully keep the competition guessing as to what comes next.”