So, what does Kwaleö do?
Kwaleö is a curated marketplace for shopping unique clothing, homeware and art from independent designers.
What’s behind the business idea?
I always wanted to create a platform for championing emerging talents. There were so many cool platforms out there that I had to find a good and untapped niche market with customers that I really understand. At the same time, I’m a bit crazy about online shopping and slowly became frustrated with the complexity of finding unique products online that matched my interests and preferences. Thus, I thought about developing a single platform that helps emerging designers to gain exposure on the one hand and that provides eclectic people with a curated online shopping experience on the other.
Was there a breakthrough moment?
Hum … we’ve been working for almost 5 months on a proprietary filter enabling people to find products based on their personal preferences (including style, occasion and weather). So we all freaked out when it was finally working. Besides that, we were really happy after making our first sale.
How is the company doing?
The company is slowly taking off. We achieved a lot of things in only 7 months and are working hard to provide more value to our customers and independent designers.
Do you have any regrets?
Having focused too much on adding features to the platform instead of starting by building a community first. However, I’ve been lucky enough to adjust the balance later. For anyone reading this interview, always keep in mind that there’s no point in having a super tech and well-designed platform if you don’t have anyone to use it. Start by building a community (with a great landing page, for example) and develop your platform progressively based on your community’s needs and feedback. Don’t put the cart before the horse.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
I would say our unique and curated selection of independent designers. We spend a lot of time handpicking products that are not accessible anywhere else which makes our store a sort of Ali Baba’s cave. Also, our engaging and easy to use platform provide our users with a shopping experience tailored to their preferences and needs.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
Well, it varies depending on the type of business and customers you’re looking for. In our case, meeting the expectations and gaining the loyalty of our online shoppers is a combination of offering an engaging and user-friendly way to shop, being reliable, getting back as quick as possible to our customers’ enquiries and last but not least, making sure they receive their products on time and can return them hassle-free should they not be satisfied with their order. Usually, when you meet all those conditions, the customer comes back to your store on a regular basis, the cherry on top is when we see our customers posting the products they bought from us on their Instagram with a nice caption saying they loved their experience.
What advice would you give yourself now if you were starting a business?
That sleep is a key element for being productive and that it’s not good to assume that there are more than 24 hours in a day.
Finally, Laurent what is your favourite biscuit?!
Well, I’m vegetarian and don’t really have time to cook so I always have a pack of BelVita cranberry orange crunchy biscuits on me.