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Making Money in Other People’s Closets – Rie Yano

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

Material Wrld has found a way to innovate in online fashion commerce, and that’s no easy task. It’s a crowded market, with tight margins. Rie Yano and her team, however, have found success by going against common wisdom. While their competitors were focused on building platforms and reducing the amount of work required by their staff, Material Wrld went the other way. They began to take on inventory risk and doing some of the most labor intensive parts of the process in house. This is the kind of move that looks foolish on the spreadsheets, but it turned out to be instrumental in enabling Material Wrld to maintain quality, develop lasting relationships with their customers and ultimately control their own brand. It’s an amazing, and somewhat surprising story, and it’s best if you hear it directly from Rie herself. Show Notes for Startups Why people feel guilty throwing out clothes How a credit card provides a physical anchor for an online brand Why traditional recycle shops need to change The need for cross-brand data in fashion commerce How Material Wrld handles inventory risk, and why? What kinds of pieces are easiest to sell online. Why doing things that don't scale pays off when building a brand   Links from the Founder Learn about Material Wrld Check our Rie's articles on Medium Follow her on twitter @rieglobe Friend her on Facebook [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript from Japan Disrupting Japan, episode 58. Welcome to Disrupting Japan - straight talk from Japan's most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for listening. It’s hard to innovate in online commerce today. It seems like everything has been tried before and now we’re just looking at variations on a theme. At first glance, Material Wrld seems like just another online fashion marketplace but that first glance is deceiving. There is something very interesting going on here, but before I tell you what that is, I want you to meet someone. Online marketplaces are usually designed to be low-risk, low-capital organizations that focus on marketing building a technology platform with the buyers and sellers doing as much of the work as possible. Rie Yano, the founder of Material Wrld, however, ended up taking a very different approach. By taking on inventory risk and shifting non-scalable labor requirements onto her own team, they were able to build and scale a unique fashion commerce brand, where so many before have failed. Her reasoning may surprise you a bit, but you know, she tells the story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] [Interview] Tim: So, I’m sitting here with Rie Yano of Material Wrld and thanks for sitting down with me. Rie: Thank you, Tim, for inviting me. Tim: Great to have you here. So, Material Wrld is a fashion trade-in service and, well, rather than have me explain it, why don’t you explain a bit about what material world is and how it works. Rie: Sure thing. Material Wrld is based in New York. We are a service that helps women easily refresh their closets. Often times, we find ourselves waking up, looking into a closet and feeling a sense of guilt or frustration in that what’s in your closet may not be what you want to wear or how you feel that day. We created Material Wrld so that you can constantly evolve your wardrobe. One day you might be feeling like you want to be a powerful woman. Another day, you might feel like you want to dress with some beautiful, emotional colors. Making sure that our service can enable that idea or feeling that you have by making the refresh very simple. Tim: So, usually that’s done by just buying more clothes but Material Wrld has a little bit of a different approach. What are the mechanics? How does it work? Rie: Sure. Everyone thinks about shopping for new clothing when ...

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