A love for high-end fashion has led Stephanie Crespin to Singapore to start her own luxury fashion business.
What’s your story?
Born in Japan, I’m a Belgo-French entrepreneur that spent most of my life between Tokyo, Bangkok, Paris and Brussels, shaping my love for fashion. Owner of a double master’s degree in business engineering and creation of SME’s, I grounded my sense of business and luxury products at P&G Brussels where I led the marketing strategies and operations for the fine fragrances brands such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. After 4 years in the corporate world, I took a map of the world and decided to take the leap for the startup life in Singapore. StyleTribute was born out of my vision to create a premium, safe and hassle-free solution for high-end fashion connoisseurs to sell and buy luxury and designer items.
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s fascinating to see how the second hand luxury market is impacting the way women shop first hand luxury fashion. Having the option to sell back items sitting idle in the closet, directly impacts the initial price of the items purchased. On the other side of the spectrum, it allows women whose wallet size is limited, to own a Gucci bag or Hermes scarf at an affordable price. It’s exciting to see these models of shared economies sculpt a more efficient and optimized market, in which people enjoy only what they ‘need’.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Tokyo and lived most of my childhood and teenage years in Asia, between Bangkok and Tokyo. When I took the leap for the startup life, I wanted to come back ‘home’ where opportunities seemed to be flourishing.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’m actually very happy and satisfied with Singapore. Standards of efficiency and organization are overall very high, the city boasts wonderful infrastructures, it could not be easier to start a business and it’s the ideal hub for any start-up targeting the south east Asian market! Singapore is very open about its vision of becoming the Silicon Valley of Asia. Several studies have been released already referencing Singapore amongst startup hubs like the Silicon Valley, New York City or Los Angeles.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
As a young entrepreneur, the best piece of advice probably came from Reid Hoffman, Linkedin founder. His quote has been resonating in my head and truly pushed me to lean forward: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”. I can only recommend other young entrepreneurs to listen to this advice and not lose time and money in cooking and overcooking what they believe is the perfect product before actually testing it in real life with real consumers. It feels very uncomfortable to launch your ‘baby’ out there with the feeling that it’s incomplete and ugly but you have to do it. Don’t wait for the polished version.
Who inspires you?
I admire Manny Pacquiao and the way he relentlessly chased Mayweather in the ring although he was the outsider. I get inspired by whoever shows guts and courage in tough situations. My dad was a car racer and I believe I took some reckless inspiration from him.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Koalas sleep around 18 hours a day. Kind of scary hey?
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t believe in regretting choices. Especially in a startup environment, which is a journey of test and learn. Certainly my mistakes have taught me lessons which have been key to some of the best business decisions. For the least, I have learnt from these and they have made me stronger and more confident, allowing myself to fall down, dust myself and pick myself up again. This being said, if I had to do it all over again, I would find a co-founder to start the adventure with. As an entrepreneur you go through highs and lows. In your low moments, when you think you lose your vision, it’s priceless not to be alone. Having a co-founder that could have brought in new energy would have been useful. Today I’m extremely lucky with the team I’ve built, but in the early days, it was a lonely and challenging journey.
How do you unwind?
Playing with my son on his play mattress. During my time with him, there’s no room for business or my startup preoccupations. It’s pretty amazing how your child can make you forget all the rest in a few seconds. The Aperol Spritz on ice (Prosecco, Aperol, Soda and a slice of orange) also does a good job of helping me unwind!
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, I feel at peace and the calm helps me focus and stimulates my creativity. I can take a step back from the business and it helps clear my mind. There’s nothing like being on a scooter and driving through the rice fields of Bali.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. As they say: “Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to 0, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1.“ The authors challenge you in learning to think for yourself and to approach entrepreneurship and innovation in a new way.
Shameless plug for your business:
Through the nature of our business and the image of our brand, we attract very high budget shoppers – an average basket size over $400 is extremely high for a fashion e-commerce. We are very often approached by other startups that want to partner up. I’m very open to win-win business collaborations, so don’t hesitate to reach out!
How can people connect with you?
I like to see myself as being very accessible. The best place to connect with me is at apero time in a French café, around a glass of white wine. Anyone who would like to connect, can reach me on my email address: [email protected]
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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