CollegeFashionista X Shoptiques: Up Close and Personal With Olga Vidisheva

This fall, CollegeFashionista invaded several campuses, hosting panels with young, successful entrepreneurs sharing their stories and dispensing advice.

Among those speakers was Olga Vidisheva, the brains behind one of my newest favorite sites, Shoptiques. This Harvard business school graduate’s story began were many fashion stories begin: Paris. What started as a quest to find a pair of a shoes from Paris developed into Shoptiques, a one-stop place to shop the world’s most exquisite local boutiques.

For those of you who were not fortunate enough to hear Olga speak at our University of Pennsylvania panel, don’t fret! We caught up with Olga and asked her again to share her story, advice and some of the amazing fall trends you may find right now on Shoptiques!

To celebrate our new found love for Shoptiques we have teamed up to give away $1000 for one reader. For more details enter here

CollegeFashionista: What inspired you to create such a unique experience like Shoptiques?

Olga Vidisheva: It all started with a shoe in Paris….

Walking down the streets of Paris, you can’t help but be fascinated by the fashion, architecture, style and… boutiques! That was really my first exposure to a tiny boutique with the friendliest, most stylish owner. It was years ago, but I remember stumbling upon it as if it was yesterday—and once the owner pointed out a pair of shoes by Phoebe Cham Pour Schu, I knew I couldn’t leave empty-handed! Sitting in their beautiful box with a handcrafted bow, they became the perfect memory to take from Paris.… And take I did!

Upon my return, all of my friends wanted these shoes. The perfect combination of comfort and high fashion – they were in high demand. Unfortunately, the boutique owner weren’t receptive to commerce over the phone insisting on my friends flying to Paris to get the shoes. I was shocked! In the 21st century, my friends weren’t able to get shoes from Paris! I knew I needed to change that!

While attending Harvard Business School, my girlfriends and I would drive to New York almost every weekend to go boutique shopping in Soho or Lower East Side.  I again was shocked that we had to drive 4 hours to find these items and couldn’t just purchase them online. These stores didn’t have online presence. Boutique shopping brings amazing experience: beautiful hard-to-find, hand-selected fashion and knowledgeable style advice from the owners who know how to make you look beautiful and unique.

This is how the idea for Shoptiques.com came about: how could we grant women immediate access to the most stylish boutiques and bring them the same intimate experience and curated pieces online. If you live far away, are time-starved, or simply want to discover new boutiques, Shoptiques.com is your one-stop destination for the best boutiques online.

CF: How do you choose which boutiques to sell via your site?

OV: My team and I are constantly out and about finding the local gems. I often travel myself or have my team visit local places. We speak to local trendsetters on which stores they shop at, read local publications to find out which boutiques are being featured and ask our customers which boutiques they absolutely must have on Shoptiques. We also have a high number of inbound boutique submissions that we carefully evaluate and consider. This fall, I spent almost two weeks traveling Paris by foot, searching for the perfect 20 boutiques to feature on the site. Boutiques have to possess three main qualities that we look for: 1. Uniqueness of clothing: if you go to that store in person or online on shoptiques.com, all pieces need to ensure you will stand out in the crown in. All of them unique and can only be found at that store, and hence only on shoptiques.com online; 2. Ambience: we want to make sure that if you choose to “pick-up in store” option on our site (buy online on shoptiques.com, pick-up the item in store on your way home); 3. Kind personnel & owner: we want to ensure if you call the boutique or visit them in person, the personnel and the owner is helpful, kind, and supportive.

CF: What is it about Shoptiques do you think sets your business apart from other online retailers?

OV: We really haven’t found anyone that does what we do. Shoptiques brings 1. Unique experience of shopping neighborhoods of local cities (for example, if you live in Kansas, you might have always dreamt of shopping like Carrie Bradshaw in Paris, but weren’t able to travel, now you can! Virtually!), 2. Editorial integration of advice + item – as you shop you are able to see how to style this item 3 different ways and it might help you in making your purchasing decision, and 3. Unique and limited-quantity designs that no other places carry. We reject boutiques if they carry the same brands that Saks or Shopbop carries. We’re focused on boutiques that offer unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, so every woman can stand out in the crown and never walk into a room dressed like someone else. We live Shoptiques’ motto – Be yourself. Be different – every day!

CF: Are there any trends that you're looking to carry right now?

OV: This fall, it is all about power dressing. Think menswear styled in feminine way. We carry lots of this trend already, and I always look to bring more boutiques that carry powerful pieces.

I absolutely love simple blouses & tops. They are perfect from the college-wear to internship/office-wear and make you look polished and sophisticated whether your styles is formal or casual. 

A black leather jacket—the quintessential fall look goes great over everything and is an absolute must for every closet.  Pair it with leather pants for rocker chic look or lingerie piece for a riskier party attire. Check out how to style my favorite motorcycle jacket in 3 different ways.

Vests are a must-have. Any outfit will look trendier and chicer (and will keep you warmer) with a vest over. 

CF: What is the most challenging part of maintaining Shoptiques?

OV: For me, the most challenging part is that I don't code myself. I will definitely learn eventually. Sometimes, I just want to make a little tweak to the website, and not being able to immediately do it yourself is challenging sometimes. Having an amazing strong tech team around you (my co-founder is techy) is key!

CF: What skill or characteristic have you found to be most valuable throughout your entrepreneurial endeavors?

OV: Thinking big and never giving up are definitely the most valuable characteristics. If you and your employees have “can do” attitude nothing is impossible; you will always find a way to accomplish any task or goal!

CF: How do you strive to recreate the personal shopping experience of a boutique in an online platform?

OV: I love boutique shopping and whenever I travel I always try to stop by amazing local stores to score unique pieces that noone else will have. We want Shoptiques.com online experience to have the same feel. We love boutique shopping for their unique pieces – check! We have all of the best pieces from the most extraordinary stores from all over US and Paris on Shoptiques! We love boutique shopping because boutique owners can provide you with style, size and fit advice and be incredibly helpful along the way – check! On Shoptiques.com, you get both boutique's attention and our personal shoppers/stylists attention as you shop. You can email our stylist at stylist@shoptiques.com to get personal recommendations, style advice or any other questions you might have. You can also read through THE EDIT, our online magazine that features style inspiration, advice on how to wear different pieces and how to videos. The last great thing about offline boutique shopping is cardio you are getting while walking store to store and socializing – well, at Shoptiques, we constantly host fun events like Yoga on the beach, free hugs, or Boutique Chic fashion Shows that allow you to meet incredible people, work out, have fun and enjoy boutique shopping!

CF: What part of maintaining Shoptiques is most exciting for you?

OV: Working with my amazing team, being inspired by them and by their personal growth and interacting with our customers are definitely at the top of my list. When you read an email or meet with a woman whose life got just a little bit happier and brighter because she felt amazing in clothing she bought through Shoptiques.com, it just makes everything worth it! Or when a girl scored the hottest date because she was so unique and stylish thanks to Shoptiques, it just lights up my heart! I always encourage our customers to stop by and send in their pictures or stories, because it is definitely a huge motivator to keep bringing more and more amazing boutiques onto the site!

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