As part of our “Startup Diaries” series, we’ve caught up with Jessica Thomas, owner of new online fashion boutique Overmybody.com which aims to make Australian and US brands more accessible for UK women. Jessica's story is one of many young entrepreneurially-minded Generation Y's hoping to go it alone and build something rather than sit behind an office desk all day.
Jessica Thomas, Founder of OverMyBody
Many people share her dream of starting a company in a sector completely different from their current day job, but what is it like taking the leap? I sat down with Jessica to hear her story…
Tell us about the company and its brand ethos
OverMyBody.com brings the cream of Australian and US brands to a UK home. There are so many really amazing labels out there which the majority of British women don't know about. And for those that do - they are having to pay an arm and a leg to ship and get them through customs. We've just launched a Europe based site which brings the best of these brands together. We are also very aware of offering fashions that aren't just unique but also affordable - we aren't trying to compete with Net-a-Porter and the likes.
What made you choose the Fashion eCommerce Sector?
My mother owned a women's fashion boutique for 20 years. Even from a young age I used to get involved, helping with the buying and seeking out new designers, so I've always had a strong interest in the area.
I decided to take the plunge and leave my job in PR to launch OverMyBody.com after becoming frustrated with the current fashion E-commerce offering for Europe. I realised that like me, more and more women were being forced to buy from Australian and US sites to get hold of unique and affordable fashions. Of course the fact that the online fashion market is expected to grow 86 per cent between 2011 and 2016 also played a huge factor.
What have been the biggest challenges you have found with launching a tech start up?
I think without doubt the biggest challenge with launching a tech start up is in finding the right suppliers. With it being a relatively new industry, there are a lot of companies out there who, if you're not careful, will take advantage of any gaps in your knowledge and happily rip you off. Doing your research and speaking to a lot of different people - especially those who have nothing to gain from you - is absolutely vital before committing and handing over any money.
What advice would you give to people looking to get out on their own and leave their desk job?
Apart from the obvious, in making sure you have the financial support in place to be able to afford to leave your job, I think personally the best advice is to ensure you have the support of friends and family. Not only is their emotional backing and encouragement vital, but being able to call upon their own expertise and experience at the early stages, when you may well not have a huge amount of money, is a huge asset. Because of the generosity of friends and family we managed to save a significant amount of money in the early stages of setting up.
Overmybody.com has been up and running for several months and we highly recommend this website to anyone with who is looking to refresh their wardrobe. We love OverMyBody’s exceptionally clean site design which boasts a strong focus on imagery and a fantastic range of unique and affordable fashion brands. It’s definitely one to watch!