Business Plus

A Passion For Fashion Takes Sarah Online

Style-savvy Sarah Rickard-Lantry tells George Morahan how her Instagram side hustle developed into a full-blown online business


For many years, Sarah RickardLan­try’s Instagram account was largely made up of family pictures and behindthe-scenes shots from her work as a fashion stylist for glossy magazines. The Castleknoc­k woman has worked in the fashion business for nearly two decades, starting out as an assistant stylist for Macy’s in New York, then as a chief stylist for Tatler and a buyer in Penneys before leaving to have a family in 2014. She is now married and mother to two boys, aged six and eight.

Returning to work in 2016, Rickard was taken aback by how important social media had become to the industry during her maternity leave and realised she had to make her online profile “useful and authentic” to stay relevant. She developed a niche posting videos in which she tried on clothes a talked through the positive and negative aspects of the apparel, building a following of over 20,000 “like-minded frazzled mums”.

“It was very much a side hustle at the start but I knew there was something there,” Rickard adds. “I started doing my videos weekly, promoted with the hashtag #tryontuesd­ay. At first I was doing the try-ons for free but soon brands started asking me to do paid tryons. As soon as Covid hit, the fashion industry came to an absolute standstill. I continued the try-ons all through Covid as brands were crying out for platforms to showcase their clothing.

“I was also teaching boutique owners how to use Instagram and guiding them on social media strategies. My audience grew and my followers looked forward to their #tryontuesd­ay fix. I enjoyed it too, as it gave me a routine and connection during such a bizarre time.”

One follower who got in touch with Rickard was business coach Sheelagh Mulcair, who offered to talk her through the process of setting up a business. The pair engaged and in September 2021 the Styled By: Sarah Rickard online boutique was launched.

“We talked through about how I felt I was just stretched in multiple directions and how I was looking to take ownership of something, and she gave me really practical advice,” says Rickard of her conversati­ons with Mulcair. “She helped me with timelines and helped me to prioritise. I had the first two chats with Sheelagh and in between I was working away on the homework side of it, and then it just kind of came to me. By the third session, I basically told her that I wanted to start Styled By and how it just made sense and how it had all fallen into place during that time.”

For the start-up venture, Rickard had assistance from her father, Dermot Rickard, who is in his 70s and decided to exit the motor factor business he had run for decades in July 2020. After selling two commercial units and clearing outstandin­g debt, he split the remaining funds between his three daughters, giving Rickard the liquidity she required to start Styled By.

For her boutique, Rickard sources clothing through agents representi­ng Danish and French brands that are “tried and tested” by her audience. She says the online boutique generated turnover of six figures in its first six months of trading, though Rickard is learning fast about cashflow challenges. “I did exactly what everyone warned me

‘I did exactly what everyone warned me not to do, and I over-bought’

not to do, and I over-bought,” she says. “I have to scale back my stock.”

The digital shopfront, built on the Shopify platform, is an excellent fashion website. The clothes style is ‘pretty Boho’ for the under-40s, and the pricing is not cheap but not overly expensive either. In a bricks and mortar setting, StyledBy’s competitio­n would be other shops in the locality. On the internet, StyledBy is competing directly with Zara, COS, Oasis, Whistles and many more online vendors.

However, Rickard believes customer trust in her fashion sense is a key selling point for the online boutique. “It’s more for the woman who doesn’t see herself as fashionabl­e but is using my expertise and trusting me to pick something that I feel will work for her,” she explains. “It’s just using all of my resources, as in all of me, every bit of it, and trying to do something a bit different.

“With my StyledBy edit, you can have wearabilit­y and sophistica­tion at your fingertips, because what you don’t want is to head into a store and be overwhelme­d as you try to navigate the kinds of clothes you’re not used to buying. Styled By presents you with the pieces you need and the styling ideas you want.”

To supplement and promote the online shop, Rickard also does personal fashion consultati­ons and live ticketed events and showcases for outlets such as Kildare Village. In the pipeline are ‘styling boxes’, which will contain a pair a jeans, an organic T-shirt, a piece of knitwear and a blouse for €250 – targeting busy customers who want to step up their day-to-day wardrobe.

 ?? ?? Sarah Rickard-Lantry’s targets the under-40 age group
Sarah Rickard-Lantry’s targets the under-40 age group
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