TARA Nash-King does something most women would find difficult at best, and impossible at worst. She lives in a showroom, and the cascades of bags, shoes and clothes that greet you on entering her mews house in Westbourne Park are not her own. They are the perfectly placed, impeccably hung and ubiquitously photographed desiger items she sells through her new, ingenious and already super-popular website, ChicandSeek.com
Nash-King, a down-to-earth blonde wearing a simple blue Top Shop dress when I meet her, was spurred on to create her business from frustration with eBay. “I found it tacky and time-consuming. Who has time and patience for all that registration and bidding?” Meanwhile, she was working in production, then sales, at uber bag-maker Anya Hindmarch and was constantly wondering at all the unused, lush materials that were going to go to waste.
So, after playing with several business ideas to do with re-selling used or unused (but not brand new) clothes, she hit upon her winner. The way Chic and Seek works is that Nash-King brokers the sale of second hand clothes between owners (sellers) and buyers. The sellers take half the price and she takes the rest. What is remarkable is how quickly clothes – no matter how high-end – lose value. The result is that Nash-King’s house is a women’s paradise of Marni, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Diane von Furstenberg, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Chanel and Burberry, to name just a few of the brands I saw – all at affordable prices. I saw nothing over £300, including dresses by YSL and Chanel. The only item I saw that exceeded this price was a pink Balenciaga motorcycle bag for £320.
All items are made by top designers – with a few niche, super-cool brands – all squeaky clean and often, barely worn. The bargains to be had are therefore staggering – it was all I could do to walk away from a pair of quilted leather Chanel boots that a buyer from Harrods had parted with (they were in the region of £300, sadly, as they were barely worn).
But where Chic and Seek gets interesting is the relationship between the women who buy and sell, and Nash-King. She visits the houses (and wardrobes) of potential sellers, and finds that often they just want to chat because they’re lonely. She often leaves having heard the whole story of a divorce – a major cause of wardrobe clearouts.
Not every seller makes the cut. Items must match the feel, look and calibre of the clientele, who are almost exclusively wealthy, chic businesswomen and Notting Hill yummy mummies. She is used to working with City high-flyers’ PAs – “these women don’t have time to bid on eBay or go shopping or check websites”. And yet these women – no matter how wealthy – love to make a bit of cash out of their clothes. “They don’t need the money, but there’s a huge satisfaction for them in knowing they’ve made a few hundred quid on something they don’t wear,” says Nash- King. The reason? “Everyone loves a bargain.” And, of course, the sense of “redistributing” wealth (Nash-King’s clever term for “recycling”) taps into the zeitgeist.
Buyers often want to know who owned an item they are interested in buying. Good thing Nash-King knows by heart the story of every buyer and seller – it’s that kind of acumen and instinct for people that will send this business, and its impressive helmswoman, soaring into the firmament of must-know fashion sites. www.chicandseek.com