A young Kiwi entrepreneur who grew up in Northland has launched a free online fashion trading platform.
Bridget Thackwray has created Fashbae, a website that allows users to buy and sell pre-loved clothing for men, women, children and babies without incurring a listing or success fee.
The 23-year-old, who lives in Auckland, says her focus was initially on creating the platform exclusively for Kiwis, but it has potential for country-specific sites to be rolled out internationally.
The unique aspect of the site is that it is aimed at tackling the risks and hassles often encountered when buying and selling on other platforms, such as scamming, social media bullying, issues around payment, and problems with usability, she says.
Ms Thackwray says Fashbae allows members to purchase with confidence thanks to Safepay, while sellers know their payment will be received immediately.
"The site is ideal for anyone who is looking to clear their closet for some new purchases, wanting to make some extra cash, create their own business selling online, or for those who simply don't have time to head out to the shops.
"Members can browse a wide range of categories from sports gear, designer items, baby clothes and wedding dresses to cologne and jewellery. The site doesn't take a commission on sales, nor does it charge a listing fee."
The site aims to cover costs by attracting advertisers based on a high number of daily website views.
Ms Thackwray, whose family is still based in Mahinepua (near Matauri Bay), backpacked across the globe while spending time living in London for over four years, all the while working remotely on her website development business.
"Supporting myself financially since I left home at 17, I totally understand the importance of budgeting and how to survive in the modern world. The reality is, selling clothes is a great way to make some extra cash or support your shopping habits."
Knowing the importance of networking and commercial experience, she convinced prominent New Zealand businessman, and family friend, Eric Watson to mentor her.
Ms Thackwray says she was confident she was on to something with Fashbae but achieving 30,000 active users, within a few weeks of it going live, was proof she had found a gap in the market.
"Eric taught me the importance of focusing on what the end user actually wants. Research was vital as it confirmed my hunch that buying and selling on certain online platforms came with risks.
Specifically, the research showed that buyers and sellers were worried about not receiving items following payment, or sales falling through if buyers weren't serious about making the purchase or, worse still, bullying.
To succeed Fashbae had to be a site that would eliminate these issues and importantly had a zero tolerance for online bullying."
Mentoring is something Mr Watson highly recommends, describing it as a win-win.
"It was evident from that first presentation that Bridget was highly knowledgeable, motivated and passionate about Fashbae but what surprised me was just how much I would learn from her particularly about millennial buying habits. That's when I decided to also become an investor.
"Because of her knowledge, Bridget's actually developed a platform that has huge applications, which is why I asked Petrina Advisors to become involved."
Sam Watson, from Petrina Advisors in New York, a company that works closely with Cullen Investments and other family offices, is working with Fashbae to raise capital and take the company to the next level.