Tech Entrepreneur Lauryn Vaughn Is Changing the Resale Fashion Game
My entire career has been about using technology to sell upscale consignment clothing. But my starting point was in traditional fashion: When I was a commerce student at the University of Calgary, I landed an internship with the designer Paul Hardy. That was my introduction to retail behind the scenes, like sourcing materials and marketing products.
While I was travelling abroad with Paul to show his collections, I fell in love with Paris. I moved there in 2009 when I graduated from university. I lived on savings because my French was never good enough for me to get a job. I didn’t want to compromise on style, so I got into buying vintage clothing. I still have a pair of ivory Chie Mihara pumps from my time there.
After two years in Paris, I ran out of money and came home to Canada. My aunt was working at a consignment store in Calgary, which sparked an idea: I could bring consignment shopping to a wider market by taking it online. I started to build my first company, an online luxury consignment retailer, from my basement while I was working full-time at an insurance company.
I needed products, so I asked friends if I could resell their stuff. It took me six months to gather enough designer clothing and accessories to go live. The Upside launched in 2015 with my aunt as head of retail. We offer resellers up to 80 per cent back on an item’s sale price. I kept my full-time job for the first year and a half, after which I could afford to pay myself. I’d work all day, take care of my daughter until her bedtime and then focus on The Upside.
In 2020, we took over a 427-square-metre space in one of Calgary’s historic buildings. Last year, we rebranded and became The Revente. We’re now Canada’s largest online reseller of authenticated designer goods.
When I first started, “consignment” was a dirty word. You did it because you couldn’t afford to buy new. But consumer perception has shifted, and the resale clothing market in North America is expected to grow eight times faster than the overall apparel market by 2026. People understand that it’s better for their wallet and the environment. That said, selling via consignment is still an afterthought: Consumers think about it well past the time they’ve stopped using something.
When I first started, “consignment” was a dirty word
I realized that if we could let customers know upfront what they could get back for something—before they even purchase it—we could incentivize more people to eventually sell their goods and also engage brands in resale. That’s what my new company, ReUpp Technology, is about. We launched a software last fall that lets customers know what they can sell an item back for right on a retailer’s website. If they choose to “lock in” the guaranteed buy-back price—which is displayed alongside the retail price at the point of sale—we remind them of their buy-back offer within a year. They get cash from ReUpp or a site credit from the brand they originally bought from. Then we sell the item on behalf of the brands on sites like The Revente and eBay and give them a portion of the revenue. We make money in two ways: from the platform fees we receive from brands and the revenues we make from reselling.
We’ve gone live with Canadian labels like Smythe and have investors from Saks Fifth Avenue and Gap. We won the Audience Choice start-up award at Shoptalk 2022, which will help build on the momentum we have after raising $750,000 in pre-seed funding last year. We started in fashion, but I’m excited to see how we can also help other businesses resell goods. I keep joking, “Someone from Peloton, call me!”