OFF RUNWAY GOWNS
Off-Runway Gowns is an E-bay store that re-sells luxury evening wear at bargain price for the customer that wants to dress up in Ellie Saab’s layers of chiffon topped with crystals or wants to strut in a sleek geometric Armani Prive silk dress - all at a bargained price.
Growing up, Zarify had always been fixated on how fashion could encapsulate a person's personality and identity. Most young girls adored dressing up but Farishta had a particular intrigue in the allure and wonder lust of the runways. They were captivating and enchanting, almost like a real life fairy-tale and it was when those models strolled in Dior, Valentino and Oscar De Le Renta her intrigue sparked. This love for high-fashion, had made being an expert in couture and fabrics a hobby for Farishta as she grew up to be a teacher in Milton, Ontario. Although initially her passion for avant-garde was merely a hobby, it did eventually turn into a full-time career.
This began in 2012 when she was having difficulty finding a dress for her brother’s wedding. While in Italy, a home to Haute Couture, she purchased a John Galliano dress which was a few sizes too big for her and decided to sell it on Ebay. “When I was trying to sell the dress, I was getting crazy offers left and right and I thought wow, there are a lot of women, just like me, seeking couture evening wear without spending the cost of a car payment. And that’s when I realized there’s a niche market out there and a business opportunity calling my name.” And at last, Off-Runway Gowns was born.
“I began purchasing dresses too big, too small, ruined from anywhere; consignment, retail, online and vintage etc. and I would spend hours fixing them to perfection, just like the runways.” These perfectly altered discounted gowns had become a huge hit on Ebay that she was even awarded Ebay Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. “This award was such an honour. There are millions of people using this site and my small company that I work on in my parent's attic is being acknowledged in such a short amount of time. It gave my company more value, and obviously garnered plenty of attention.”
Farishta’s speed to success was not built over night and it took lots of focus, dedication and effort. Not only in finding and fixing the right pieces but also marketing her company as a reliable luxury consignment shop. “When I first began, I thought great, some extra cash but soon I was making more doing what I love than my day time job.” As Off-Runway gowns became her primary focus, it gained the attention of major publications such as ELLE magazine. “Wow, being featured in ELLE was amazing! I’ve always been an avid reader, so to see a full article in print about me was surreal!” Substantial success over a short period is what every entrepreneur dreams of but it is often a long and bumpy road, so we asked Farishta what she thought made her company stand out. “When I started this, I thought if I am really persistent and hardworking I may be able to turn this to a big business. It was tricky though, I thought this is going to be hard and there’s so many companies re-selling designer – how could I stand out? Then it clicked to me, customize your customer experience. I do this by offering to find dresses my customers want and fixing them to their exact measurements or even adding something to the dress that they feel like is missing.” Altering customer dresses to their desires has paid off for Farishta, as she is now the CEO of a fast-growing EBay business. We asked her to give some advice to those starting out a new business, “Stick to your gut. If you enjoy doing something, it will never feel like work. Remember even if you don’t get the results you want, it does not mean you should stop. It means you should work harder and seek improvement, eventually hard work really does pay off. Also, if you love something and you are good at it, you should pursue it because chances are you will not only be successful but extremely happy. Also, don’t look at money and how fast your company is growing. Focus on the details, and your customers, it’s the little things that matter, everything else will come on its own terms. Quality over quantity.”
Farishta's persistence and motivation is proof you can be successful in your desirable pursuits. This is uplifting to young people in the fashion business, as we all know what a difficult industry it is to be successful in. It shows that if you can be yourself, do your own thing and still work with the likes of high designers and interesting publications.