Nicola McClafferty, CEO and Co-Founder of Covetique
Could you give us a brief background into your career before starting Covetique?
I’m from Dublin in Ireland so studied at University College Dublin and then moved to London straight after I graduated. I started my career in Investment Banking, with a US bank called Jefferies where I worked in the Technology M&A team, focusing on Internet and Digital Media.
From there I moved into Venture Capital working with Balderton Capital – investing in high growth start-ups around Europe – companies like Yoox, Betfair, Lovefilm and My-wardrobe. I loved working in VC as it was so inspiring watching and supporting such great companies being built.
I think if you spend enough time around inspiring Entrepreneurs eventually you think you can do it yourself so I left VC to start Covetique about 3 years ago.
Nicola wears The Mercer Dress in Plum and Black
Tell us a bit about Covetique and what inspired you to start the business?
Covetique is an online consignment retailer of pre-owned luxury fashion. Think Net a Porter meets Ebay. We offer women a simple, hassle-free way of selling on great designer pieces.
Like many women I had splashed out on a few great designer pieces that had ended up sitting in my wardrobe – but I was far too busy to ever consider using Ebay. I felt like there had to be a better solution. There are so many great pieces sitting in wardrobes across the UK – so I wanted to take the traditional consignment/second-hand model and create proper, well curated fashion brand around that.
We have a team of experts that curate, price and authenticate every piece that we receive. We professionally photograph everything and do all the hard work for seller. We have sellers from all over the UK selling their wardrobes with us – a lot of it never even worn!
What has been your biggest milestone since starting Covetique?
There are so many great things that feel like significant milestones. Each time we have a record sales month it’s a mini celebration. But a really key milestone for us was when we received investment from ASOS in October 2012. To have the support and backing of one of the leading fashion ecommerce players in the world has been incredible and invaluable as we grow our business.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business?
Before jumping in I do advise people to really think through what it will mean. Starting a business is not a job, it’s a life. Everything will take more money and more time than you think it will. Once you are comfortable with that then I say just make the leap – the hardest thing is making that decision to leave the security of a paying job!
And don’t be afraid to talk to lots of people. Entrepreneurs tend to get very protective over their ideas but you will be amazed at how helpful people can be. The risk of your idea being taken is so much smaller than the help you could receive.
Do you have a mentor or role model that you talk to about your career? If so, what key advice have they given you?
I have a small network of mentors/colleagues that I talk to. I am lucky that with a background in Venture Capital many of my former bosses or colleagues have been there, done that when it comes to starting or growing companies. So I keep in close contact with a few of them. And then of course there is my poor husband who hears no end of me talking about work but whose advice I always really value.
For our shoot, we featured some of Covetique’s beautiful accessories. What would be your top tips for styling your work wardrobe?
Accessories really are the perfect way to inject some personality and individuality to any outfit – particularly if you work in a more conservative office environment. A statement necklace is a perfect way to jazz up a suit or a silk blouse. For bags, go for something that is both practical but also reflects your style. And I personally always wear heels in work, It makes me feel more professional and look more polished (Although I always carry my flats for the commute!)
Which Covetique pieces are you coveting right now that we should snap up?
Where do I start? I am always keeping my eye out for great investment bag. We currently have a fantastic Balenciaga City Bag in Red. Its an iconic bag that will brighten up any outfit.
Our Bags and shoes do tend to sell very quickly.
We get fantastic party dresses in also so I am always keeping an eye out for a good bargain!
Which item from The Fold would feature in your working wardrobe?
I have the Wilton Coat in Blush Pink which I absolutely love. It’s a really unique cut and the perfect cover up coming into Spring.
I also love the “Le Marais” silk blouses and tunics. I wear a lot of skinny jeans to work so would dress them up with one of these blouses, a blazer and some great accessories!
Nicola wears The Hatton Jacket in Black and White Tweed