Entrepreneur Jackie Morgan Makes Consigment Business a S.I.N.N in the Best Possible Way



Jackie Morgan

After walking into Jackie Morgan's Manhattan-based headquarters for online consignment shop, S.I.N.N, we quickly began to talk more than fashion. We "talked shop" of a different kind: of entrepreneurship, marketing a business and growing it from scratch. Not able to keep her answers to ourselves, we scored an interviewed with Jackie for this #SmallBizSpotlight to show you how she's grown one of the hottest online consignment shops in the country, and to reveal their big plans for the future.  After our chat we don't doubt that "grow an empire" is on this business owner's to do list!

When did you begin dreaming up the concept of S.I.N.N and what inspired it?
I have been in the fashion industry for over 14 years on the manufacturing and merchandising side, and always wanted to start my own company. I came up with S.I.N.N when I was styling clients on the side and realized many clients had items they no longer used, and wanted to sell them. They wanted to use that money to buy something new. We are all fashion victims, but the consumer today is smarter and never wants to pay retail.

What were you doing before you launched S.I.N.N, and how do you think it has impacted your business today?
I worked for a manufacturer in the garment industry for many years.  I led a team of designers where I created numerous private label junior and contemporary lines for most of America’s largest retailers such as Target, Forever 21, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and many more. This experience has made me extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the fashion industry. I always had an eye for fashion and design. Knowing what a consumer wants is a key to the business.

In the beginning days of S.I.N.N, you were working your day job while also trying to finance and start your dream job. Tell us a little about that period of growth and launch...
Yes that was very challenging.  I was actually freelancing for a company to pay for my assistant at the time. We were in a small 8x10 room with clothing hanging above our heads! I am very passionate about what I do so it never feels like work, but juggling many hats is hard to do when you are trying to grow a business. Also, not having capital behind your company makes it even more challenging. I had to figure out a way to get my name out there and build our client base (besides word of mouth) and get my hands on inventory as well. After being in business for a month, I offered a Closet Cleanse to our clients on LifeBooker, LivingSocial, and AmazonLocal. And then after two months in business, we were published on the first page of the fashion section of the NY Post. The business organically grew! I have goals for S.I.N.N and knew to accomplish them I had to leave my day job and focus on my baby!

Did you do research or have any experience in retail before opening S.I.N.N?
I had a lot of wholesale experience on the manufacturing side working with many retailers. Dealing with mass retailers on an everyday basis and selling them amazing product gave me a lot of insight. I knew how to design and merchadise what worked for the consumer. To do this for mass America I feel is a skill.  On the retail side that is very important. I had some experience on the retail side as I had managed two Coach stores when I was in college and also Express. I couldn’t just be a part-timer, I had to always push myself at any job. Plus customer service is key in any business and we love to engage with our customers and listen to what they have to say.

When did you know it was time to “hang your shingle” and put 100% of your effort into S.I.N.N?
I knew it was time when we started working more with many retailers and wholesalers. Plus, our customer base was growing, and I felt that in order to grow the business, I needed to put 100% of my effort and time into it. I started the company in September 2012, but focused on it full time in November 2012. I do not have a partner, so when handling it all, you need to put all your effort into your company. I am very passionate about S.I.N.N and know my hard work will pay off in the future.

What were some surprises you had in terms of running an e-commerce store?
Great Question! There are lots of surprises running an e-commerce business. The whole tech side of the business is everything and never sleeps, so I learn something new every day. I was used to working side by side with my customers. Yet e-commerce completely different. Sometimes it would be nice to meet some of our customers not just over email. Although I am addicted to Instagram, so I get to meet a lot of our customers via social media. Social media today is a job within itself! We have someone just handle that aspect of the company, it is so important to be on top of all of that. We have collaborated with many fashion bloggers and new fashion apps as an outlet to get our name known and sell our product.

What were some game-changing moments that helped propel your brand?
The consignment side of the business is oversaturated in the market, so competing against the big players is very challenging. We are very hands on with our clients and they appreciate that. I could see that the customer did not just want used items but wanted a discount in general. There is so much product out there, it is a matter of getting the right product into your store. I work many retailers and wholesalers as well helping them turn their inventory. The S.I.N.N brand caters to a wide age demographic. I felt there was a need to sell both new and used items on the site. Your average 23 year old college graduate really wants a pair of Louboutin shoes but can’t afford to buy a new pair. Or your 45 year old career woman wants a brand new Chanel Bag but refuses to pay retail. We want to cater to our wide range of clientele.

You’ve done a lot of on-camera work for S.I.N.N, was this planned?  How did it come about and how has it helped you build buzz?
No way this was never planned, I knew nothing about being in front of the camera. My first interview was the scariest experience ever!  It was a Fox Extra segment. The segment went so well that the news reporter asked us to be on Fox Business. They still play our Fox Business segment overseas! Then you start having experience to show to producers that you are comfortable in front of the camera for future interviews. From there, we did a segment on an ABC morning show. The same thing happened when we did a segment for babble.com and the reporter and I got friendly. She asked me to be on her Hallmark Segment for the Better Show. Plus, I have so much past experience in the fashion industry, that you get asked to commentate and give advice for topics that relates to fashion. It was so nerve wrecking at first, but then I got comfortable and really enjoy it! There is one show all my clients tell me to go on, Shark Tank, that would be a dream of mine! Hopefully in the future it could happen.

What’s a “day in the life” like in your business?
Hectic! There are so many aspects of the business that happen in one day. First we must reply to all of our emails and get back to our customers. Make sure all the orders go out that day. Some days we are out in people’s closets and other days I am meeting with wholesalers going over new product. I am overseeing and making sure all product is up on the site in a timely manner. Usually have a meeting twice a week with my editor. We go over our monthly editorial calendars for our sinnstyle blog and make sure we are covering everything. Our days go by very fast at S.I.N.N…never a dull moment. My team and I are always busy!

What is your favorite part of your job?
I love the buying side of the business picking out product. I am a people person, so when we collaborate with bloggers for photo shoots, that is always fun. Believe it or not I happen to love dealing with customer service as well! I can talk forever!

What is your least favorite part of your job?
Hmm, I would say organizing the product in the showroom. We must be very organized to know where everything is at all times. I leave that to Maryanne my office manager, she is very thorough and organized. I also just started meeting with investors and that is very time consuming. I just started that process because I wanted to have a solid year of numbers behind the company. Now that we do its time to go after this process.

Who are a couple of dream customers you’d love to get your brand in front of?

As we grow the business and incorporate the S.I.N.N Brand, I would love to get my products in front of Rachel Zoe. Just meeting her and gaining knowledge would be amazing advice. I really admire Tory Burch how she branded herself and built an empire. I admire Giuliana Rancic fashion style and expertise. That is a hard one but to have a celebrity face behind the brand would be someone like Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, and Christina Hendricks. Love their effortless chic and sophistication. Also I am a big fan of Wendy Williams, she is what a real woman is all about curves! She looks fabulous!

What advice would you give to others thinking of opening a consignment shop or retail e-commerce boutique in general?
I would say be patient, things do not happen overnight. And be dedicated 100% and do not be afraid of your competition!

Where do you see the S.I.N.N brand going in the next five years?
I see S.I.N.N in the next five years growing our inventory and customer base.  My goal is to incorporate the S.I.N.N Brand onto the website slowly. The S.I.N.N Brand will be contemporary fashion at discounted prices. We already started with a S.I.N.N Jewelry line and plan to bring more product as we grow. We are in the early stages without funding behind us. The goal now is to focus on funding to get the business and S.I.N.N brand to the next level. We are also going to transition our website domain from www.sellitnowny.com to www.sinnstyle.com . We always ask our customers to share their #sinnstyle with us. So feel this name suits us better!

What is the most unexpected yet rewarding thing you’ve discovered about being an entrepreneur?
I would have to say you never realize how much you can accomplish when you believe and push yourself. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at the overall picture. It is so rewarding to build a business from nothing and seeing it grow. There is not one college course that can prepare you for the day to day obstacles you come across. Mistakes will be made, and every day you learn something new.

Want more Jackie & S.I.N.N.?  Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook!

Do you love small business interviews like this one? Sign up for weekly stories on our newsletter.