When Sabrina Sadiq talks about luxury hand bags, she speaks faster than the terms and conditions explicator at the end of a TV commercial.
She can determine the exact owner, location and condition of the world’s most coveted Birkin bags – the over £ 10,000 Hermès handbag named after the actress. Jane birkin – faster and more accurately than most parents can locate their children.
Besides passion, she has expertise – she spent 10 years working in luxury fashion industry as an authenticator, selecting the convincing fakes which the criminals try to sell for huge sums of money.
Turnover: Jan-Dec 2021 £ 15m
And yet, when she approached potential investors about her idea for a luxury bag rental website, “they mostly laughed at me,” Sadiq recalls.
“When you talk to a group of men and try to tell them that handbags are an investment and a real business, they usually don’t take you seriously. “
A pitch ended with the potential investor ‘saying mockingly:’ if I want to invest in this side of luxury, I would invest in [pre-owned watch firm] Watchman’. But now I’m laughing, “says Sadiq, 36,” because the founder of Watchfinder invested in me – and venture capital [Beringea] who invested in her also invested in me.
“But at the time with all these pitches, it was not easy.”
Today, Sadiq can afford to smirk at those who said his Knightsbridge-based business Luxury Promise would never work.
Four years after creating a website where customers can buy and sell luxury handbags (from £ 50 to £ 350,000), as well as have their bags repaired or authenticated, the business now has more than 5,000 bags. in its South Molton Street store, and € 15 million in annual sales.
It all started by accident.
Sadiq was studying at Moorgate Law School “when a very beautiful lady entered the classroom with a green bag. I told her I loved it, and she told me it was a green anise Birkin. I thought, ‘what is Birkin?’ and googled. It opened my eyes to the world of handbags.
Sadiq was “priced” for purchasing this Birkin, but found a pre-loved Hermès Kelly bag for sale in Switzerland and bought it.
She was still in law school when a wealthy client offered to buy her new bag “at great profit.” And that sparked my idea, especially since I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer – it would mean having to fill out forms for a living.
Instead of finishing his law school, Sadiq spent months visiting luxury second-hand stores around the world.
“I realized I had a knack for authentication and started a business as a consultant, training the staff of online resale companies (who are now my rivals) to identify real and fake. hand bags. Then Sadiq decided to create his own.
Today, Luxury Promise has 25 employees, all but two of whom are women: “We are a passionate company and women are generally more interested in handbags. “
AI is now used for authenticity checks and social media has helped create the company’s “live shopping” events.
Like a chic QVC, potential buyers from Asia and the United States as well as Europe watch Luxury Promise staff who have become social media stars “unbox” bags live on their website: “We will sell. almost 60% of what we sell. have it on our website in an hour. It’s programmed TV, for the handbags.
The broadcasts began during the pandemic: “While people were sitting at home they thought ‘there’s money in my wardrobe – I’m not really carrying this bag” and Luxury Promise was also a bitch. -key form for shoppers who could not enter stores due to the foreclosure and were not spending money on meals or vacations. ”
Sadiq, who has three children, started his business raising £ 180,000 through friends and family.
A second cash injection came “from a customer who wanted a Birkin crocodile, then didn’t like the bag, but [did like] deals”.
After raising £ 3million from Beringea last year, she has now raised £ 6million in total and is working on an imminent Series B.
The entrepreneur thinks big.
“I want to build a unicorn,” she says, before adding, “No. There are enough unicorns out there, I want to build a mermaid – a really unique business that I can someday sell or list publicly.
With that, Sadiq holds up a mini Kelly bag that has just arrived in his shop.
“It’s a £ 25,000 bag – you can buy yourself a Range Rover, even if it’s a loved one, at this price or an apartment in Glasgow, or a tiny Kelly . People have that level of confidence to shop with us. I’m proud of it.