Suede Lane on its Way to Change the Business of Art and Decor
Founder Yinka Abdu Addresses a Problem of Emerging Artisans by Creating an Online Platform for Art Lovers
Suede Lane, an online eCommerce website which was founded in 2011 is changing how original art, fashion and home décor is discovered and bought. The founder Yinka Abdu told us a little bit more about her company and her career path before creating a platform for design fans to buy unique fine art, fashion and interior décor products.
Abdu, who holds an MBA in International Business from the University of Alberta, Canada and also an MSc in Strategy from EDHEC, France and started off her professional career in roles such as product design, prototyping and technical development. Her “ mix of work experience in design, business and technology” resulted in working in industries such as casino gaming, industrial design as well as consulting. “ I have also had previous entrepreneurial experience in cosmetics (skincare) and design (travel accessories),” she states adding that “having lived across 6 continents also gave [her] an early appreciation for different cultures.”
SuedeLane.com serves a very particular market and when asked how the idea behind the website was created, Abdu responded by saying that she “arrived at this based on her " personal interest in design and the insights gained from past exposure to certain design sectors (fashion, furnishings, etc)". In addition to that, working as a product designer was an “eye opener to the travail involved in marketing a new artist/designer” and as eCommerce platforms started progressing she felt that it was “only natural” to start exploring how she could apply that to the business of design.
Suede Lane is looking for the 800 million + shoppers all over the world who shop at web-only stores and usually purchase products in the fashion category. “Suede Lane's early adopters fall within the subset of design fans that dislike the mainstream” and many times are feeling frustrated by the immense volume and variable quality of products that are currently out there on the market. She also found that traditional retailers such as art galleries can be intimidating and as a result these people “appreciate a single, curated source of high-end design that sells directly” as opposed to websites that only show items without actually selling them. The founder believes in pursuing a " niche strategy and using a combination of online and offline methods” to get in touch and reach Suede Lane's target clientele. As the company is still in its early stages, it is hard to figure out what marketing strategies seem to work best, but what Abdu definitely notices is that “personalization across all outreach is key.”
Suede Lane has come to life by making use of both personal funds and participating in the Startup Chile accelerator program. “The great thing about the program is that a participating startup's business expense is reimbursed without taking any equity from the company.”
When asked about her future plans for the young startup, Abdu says she sees her company becoming more established as a place to find “fresh design-related experiences, not just physical products, and as a valuable source” that can be recognized by experienced art and design collectors and novices alike.
“The pleasure principle is just as important as the oft-cited pain point,” Abdu adds in the end meaning that her company “embraces being surrounded by beauty via great design” simply because it stimulates positivity. “Suede Lane makes it easy and exciting to buy original design. We have started our private beta and urge FashInvest readers to signup at www.suedelane.com to receive access and join us in the design revolution!”
by Melanie Marusic