Aiming to make the selling of your preowned goods as simple and pain free as possible, Timpanys is an online marketplace where fashion conscious women can buy and sell preowned designer handbags, shoes, clothes and accessories. Their flagship store in Berkshire was opened in 2009 by Antonia Timpany. Taking the leap, Antonia started her business during the recession, showing huge bravery in going it alone.
What does your business do?
Sells preowned luxury designers handbags, clothes & shoes – online and in store
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I wanted to help democratise luxury fashion as well as do something to address the increasing consumption of fast fashion.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I started my business during the recession and people suddenly started looking for ways to make their budgets stretch that bit further. Stores like TK Maxx started to do well and buying preowned was beginning to lose its stigma. People still wanted beautiful things but their budgets had changed and I was able to fill that niche. Even when times are good there will always be a market for premium products if you are offering them at a significantly reduced price in as new condition.
Furthermore… recently there has been a movement towards sustainable fashion – for example the trending hashtag #greencarpet – people are buying more consciously as they are starting to see how the production of fast fashion is polluting our world.
How did you raise funding, and why?
My grandparents died and left me a small amount of money. I invested that and borrowed £10,000 from my parents. Other than that I just started the business on a complete shoe string. I always knew I wanted to run my own business and if I had spent the money on things / holidays I would have always regretted it. It’s a rare opportunity in life when you have just left university as you have no real responsibilities. Later in life I believe it becomes harder to invest money as you have so many more ‘what ifs’.
Describe your business model in brief.
Essentially Timpanys is an agent: People bring / send in items to sell to our store, we authenticate them and then advertise them in the boutique & online. Once the item sells we pay our selling clients. We offer other services such as home collections and sourcing services for hard to buy handbags.
Your lowest point was…
The first year, working six days a week in a quiet boutique on my own. If I did not have a more positive mental attitude I think I could have closed the store after year one.
Your highest point was…
Selling our first Birkin bag – they sell for over £11,000!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Just start. Start the thing on your list you’re avoiding first in the day. Also surround yourself with wise council – people who have succeeded in their businesses in the past and have your best interests at heart. EVERYONE likes to give you advice – be careful who you listen to.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I would like to have a large online business and a bigger premises and for Timpanys to be a recognised name in trusted, luxury re-sale.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
I would definitely work in the health and fitness space. I workout religiously 6 days a week.
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
Of course – many things – hindsight is 20/20. The biggest thing that stands out to me is that I wasted a lot of money and time building the first website that we had made, paid for it, used it for a month and realised it was completely wrong for our business.
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
This is hard I don’t have a signal thing but ultimately I think it’s important to be able to hold your head up high in life. So in a nutshell: be honest, take a breath before responding and look out for others.
Do you/ have you ever felt at a disadvantage or discriminated in the business world because of your age?
I am not sure about disadvantaged but definitely people kept asking “How is it going?” with a funny look on their face – expecting that I would fail because I was so young. Even today 8 years later I still constantly get asked “Where is the owner?” and “How old are you?” – which I feel someone wouldn’t ask an older lady. Also my first PR agent said that she couldn’t find anyone that wanted to feature me until I was over 30.