Introducing Sarah Appleton – The Founder of Mini Exchange, if anyone is looking for inspiration to follow their passion, then Sarah’s journey from a successful, high earning Banker to starting up a Business that was not only risky but the concept itself was foreign to the region has got to give you a shock of Adrenaline needed for starting up a business of your own.
My senses light up every time I hear about young entrepreneurs successfully turning their Passion to Business; I heard about Mini Exchange through a colleague at work, the concept itself was fresh and unique, offering affordability and access to otherwise unattainable brands; and in turn conserving the environment by recycling; I thought it was brilliant; and then my colleague mentioned Sarah, her eyes glistened while talking about her passion & work ethics within 5 minutes of our conversation, I requested an introductory meeting with Sarah; I wanted to meet this young businesswoman taking the region by storm. Not only has Mini Exchange been on every major publication since its launch, but the number of Brands it represents have grown expediently over the few months since the Business started up in February of 2014, to have such a reputation with less than a year under your belt is an incredible feat.
Like every success story, there is a visionary behind it, and this one has Sarah Appleton, on meeting Sarah for the first time, I saw a very young & fearless woman, someone who took the risks and grabbed the opportunities; even though she now works twice the hours, her energy seems infinite, and her welcoming smile led our conversation to an interview with ease, and since I love to share the good things in life, here is Sarah’s story, adding a dash of inspiration for us all to savor.
The Birth of Mini Exchange
I grew up in the UK and graduated from Edinburgh University in 2009 with a degree in Economics. During my University years I dipped my toe into the consignment world by running an online store on eBay, which was a lot of fun, however after graduating I thought that I should get a proper job so left the fun of buying and selling clothes to join Deloitte in London in Mergers & Acquisition Advisory. I seconded to Deloitte in Dubai after two years and then after a further two years in Dubai, I left Deloitte to start Mini Exchange. Working in finance, I was always working for other people, advising inspiring entrepreneurs how to grow and sell their companies and I was always envious when they left the room. I wanted to be on the other side of the table! So one day, I took the leap and now I’m here, absolutely loving my new role back in the consignment world and am excited by all the new challenges that lie ahead.
Dubai as a city for Business
Mini Exchange is something that’s never been done before in Dubai or in the region; we’ve built an online platform for parents to buy and sell new and like-new kids’ clothing, accessories, fancy dress and school uniform and also created a site for brands and retailers to sell their end-of-season items. The same concept works very well in other parts of the world so it made sense that I should try and make a success of it in this region too.
Mini Exchange’s Customers
Parents around the world or anyone who need to shop for little ones!
The brands themselves love Mini Exchange as there really are limited options for them to clear their stock once the season is over. They love the convenience, as we do all the hard work for them, and the smaller brands love the exposure that they get on the site.
Challenges for Mini Exchange
Getting the first designs on the website. That was a good day. Seeing the site start to materialize from a concept into a product, and to see the Mini Exchange branding develop, I really enjoyed that.
Behind the Scenes
Mini’s team is growing rapidly. It started with just me and then quickly started to grow. Now we have a content manager, a full time photographer, graphic designer and social media expert, and that’s just in Dubai. Then in Turkey we have our digital marketing team, in London we have our web development team and in India we have our photo editing team, so it’s a growing operation!
Mini Exchange in the Future
Mini Exchange is planning to be the ‘go to’ place for kidswear in the region. The feedback so far has been incredible with mums, dads and stores already loving it so we’re hoping that we can keep that up. Next steps are therefore spreading the word to more people in the UAE and then hopefully launching the site in a number of other neighboring markets, which I have no doubt will bring us lots of new and exciting challenges.
TOP 5 tips for Startups
- Hire good people. The investment will be worth it in the long run.
- Be healthy. Sleep, eat well and exercise. It’s very easy to get all consumed by your new venture but you need to take time out for yourself or you’ll stop being productive.
- Marketing. You can never do enough.
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