Posted on Leave a comment

3 Things You Should Know About Selling Designer Inspired Fashion

Within the first few years,  Mimi Boutique became a popular online destination for designer inspired handbags.  Although this was exciting at the time, honestly it came as a big surprise. Since then I have concluded and formed some pretty strong opinions about selling designer inspired pieces online.  In this post, I will touch on 3 things you should know about selling designer inspired fashion.


Interpretations vary

To understand what designer inspired means I believe you have to familiarize yourself with what knock offs are. You can’t understand one without the other because according to some the differences can cause a stir. In short, a knock off  is an inferior copy of something; in other words an imitation. Designer inspired refers to an item that has been inspired by a well known designer.

I believe the world we live in is designer inspired; there have been predecessors in all fields that have inspired others to create. Where can we draw the line between designer inspired and replicating?  Most will say, if you seek inspiration just don’t copy and you’ll be OK.  It is a pretty straightforward concept but in the multi billion dollar fashion industry this subject has never been as controversial as it is present day. To understand it you have to understand the landscape. Some argue that modern day technology has presented greater hurdles for designer brands to hold on to their return on investment when images are shared from runways to street view in a blink of an eye. The ‘open source’ reality presents opportunities for similar style items to be manufactured and sold in the public domain for less and provides no financial credit to the originating designer. It’s vicious cycle that carries on season after season.

You may be wondering where does copyright law fit into this? Here in the U.S. if you are a jewelry or fabric designer you are protected under U.S. copyright laws through your entire lifespan plus 70 years thereafter.  Fashion articles at this time are not protected under current U.S. copyright laws.

Beware of the big dogs

On two separate occasions Mimi Boutique was contacted by law offices that represent some of the most renowned global fashion design houses.  Attorneys from each designer were in hot pursuit trying to make a case that we were selling counterfeits. To make matters worse, one of the bags that was being cited as a replica had just received some amazing press in NW Magazine Australia. Nonetheless, when a situation like this presents itself you learn a lot about your business, the industry you are in, marketing and how the big dogs operate.

As legal threats of lawsuits were being made on the heels of cease and desist letters, we got past the fear, stood up, represented ourselves on the phone and via letters to lay the matter to rest quickly.  Let me be clear, this did not come without a huge expense. At that juncture we had to remove the items in question from the website, we took a financial loss on merchandise, and we had to painstakingly explain to our customers why these popular items were no longer being sold. In the end, we had to re asses our marketing, SEO and content strategies all of which were huge contributing factors to the matters at hand.

3 Things You Should Know About Selling Designer Inspired Fashion

Market your items wisely

You don’t know how I cringe every single time I see another retailer hashtagging their items with designer brands while selling an inspired item on social. I always scratch my head when I see a piece of email marketing from the competition promoting their products along with a reference to a designer. In my opinion this is just wrong on so many levels.

Selling a designer inspired item should be marketed on its own merit not in conjunction with a design house or label. These days I find the most effective way to do so is by referencing an ‘iconic look’ or demonstrating it via a celebrity style in an image. As long as it is notated as such you should be in good shape. (Note, if you do this make sure to have a disclaimer on your site.) If you work with other people to market your items, e.g. fashion bloggers you need to make sure that the wording on these instances represent your products in a concise manner as well. You must be vigilant on this front.

To summarize,  in the ecommerce fashion sphere, you need to understand the playing field and take stock of your methodologies of selling online. Finding a winning formula that works for you is key, but fine tuning it on a regular basis is equally as important. If you like what you are reading, make sure to subscribe to the blog.

Posted on Leave a comment

Invaluable Customer Lessons Learned

Ladonna Sequin Bag Black

Running an online boutique has presented me some opportune times to really talk and listen to the person behind the order; during these conversations,  there have been some invaluable customer lessons learned in the process.

I’ve been asked on many occasions ‘what are some of the most impactful lessons learned from dealing with customers’ while running Mimi Boutique. Today I will highlight three that I find to be quintessential.

Have Them Share Their Experience With Your Items

I always try to establish a  good rapport with my customers. I encourage them to check back and let me know what kind of experience they have had with any item from Mimi Boutique.   In some cases I get awesome detailed feedback. This is insightful because it helps solidify the vendors, designers and brands that I carry in the store. If something doesn’t hold up, yet again I want to hear about it.  Having one or two customers share a bad experience spares you from having a group of disgruntled customers. I’ve been in situations where I have pulled a style from the store because one customer had a negative experience. I appreciate the time a customer takes to provide feedback along these lines and most definitely encourage it.

 Handle Any Issue With The Utmost Finesse

I still get a butterfly in my stomach when something goes wrong on an order (I really do!) On the other hand I strongly believe that there can be a lot said about how a  business deals with a customer when something isn’t right. Handling an issue with the utmost finesse (and swiftness) is always top priority.  A mishap that I put every effort into rectifying has often times yielded me long term and loyal customers.  One thing I am certain of is: being human and generous goes a long way in this business and it always comes back two fold.

Talk About Shopping With Your Customer

Sounds too good to be true, right?  What gal doesn’t love to talk about shopping? Whenever the chance arises I love to chat with my customers about other places they shop . Why? The typical shopper that shops at Mimi Boutique is shopping online regularly. They have seen things, experienced things and are on the pulse of what is going on out there on the world wide web. Hearing their experiences with other online retailers is amazing insight! (I will touch on this in an upcoming post, so make sure to subscribe to the blog!)

Invaluable Customer Lessons Learned


Posted on Leave a comment

The Inspiration Of Mimi Boutique

Over the years I have had the pleasure and the pain (let me be serious here, running an online store is a lot of work) of sharing with family, friends, customers and fans some of the ins and outs of running Mimi Boutique.  Along the way there have always been a myriad of questions and this year I’ve decided to start sharing some of the interesting (and maybe some of the mundane) things that go hand in hand with running an ecommerce shop.

While there are many questions, most I won’t get to today, I’ll start out with three and revisit the others in the near future.  My intent with these posts is to bring a voice to the scene and hopefully inspire others in business and get a conversation going.

Behind the inspiration of Mimi Boutique

Logically, the question I get most is ‘what inspired you to start Mimi Boutique?” This is such an open ended question for many reasons but, the better way to approach this question is to set the landscape of what was happening in 2008. First,  I have to point out we were in a recession and a lull period for job contracts surprisingly enough provided me ample opportunity to take on a new venture.  I think many businesses that get started in an economic downturn can attest to having an innate entrepreneurial spirit.

Second, I was also inspired by the beau (whose career has spanned working on the web in many facets) who basically said from the get go ‘we can do this‘ (build a store). I am forever grateful to him and his relentness spirit and dedication. Over the years there have been countless teeth grinding sessions working on a release of a new version of the store, followed by a celebratory round of cold brewskies.  These kind of war stories are what team spirit is all about IMHO.

Finally, I would be silly not to mention fashion! Of course that angle has to blend in somehow,  right? Again, it was the recession and like any frugal girl shopping on the web at that time I was always on the hunt for affordable pieces. Growing up I was the gal that was known to hunt a good deal while refusing to succumb to high end price tags.  I’ve had a love affair with jewelry since falling in love with my mother’s jewelry collection. Her jewelry boxes hold beautiful pieces from around the world and span three generations; many of those pieces still continue to mesmerize me today.   The vision has always been to parlay this affection for pretty things into a fun shop for women around the world.  Easier said than done, but always a passion that has driven me this far.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts. I am working on the next post so any questions are always welcome.

the inspiration of mimi boutique