Inside Vanessa Jacob's fashion repair pioneer The Restory
What is The Restory?
The Restory is the world’s first aftercare platform for consumers who want access to and brands who want to offer easy and trusted repair and restoration services of the highest standard.
In addition to our 10K direct customers, we are the official global aftercare partner for Farfetch, Nicholas Kirkwood and Manolo Blahnik. We also have embedded UK partnerships with Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Browns Fashion.
What is the origin story?
The business was originally born of my personal frustration. I feel that I have always been a ‘mindful consumer’ and I felt trapped between untrustworthy old-school mass market options and brands and retailers who couldn’t or wouldn’t help me access the level of aftercare that I wanted.
We initially tapped into pent up demand from those who felt the same and this coincided with all of our ever-increasing awareness of fashion’s disproportionate impact on our climate situation.
Now EU regulators and $53T worth of ESG seeking capital have joined the consumer chorus to make this an even bigger movement than we could have ever envisioned at the start.
Who are your craftspeople?
We are not the “Deliveroo of” or the “Uber of”. Trust and therefore quality are paramount. As such we operate and manage an elite marketplace of partners, some of which we own.
Our artisans range from cobblers who’ve inherited the business from their parents (but have maintained the passion), to young designers out of University of the Arts London (who are passionate about sustainability), to very specific artists such as fine art restorationists (who can apply skills from one field to another).
We come from all over the world and from a range of backgrounds. Consumers and brands can rest easy that their personal items and their customer relationships are in the most capable and passionate hands.
How do you market The Restory?
We use a mix of digital advertising, press and social media. Occasionally we will invest in direct mail in key areas. We also partner with our brand and retail partners and our influencer fans.
The website and branding is gorgeous. Who did it?
Hugh Morse of Morse Studio helped me name and brand the company from the start. We were introduced through Toby Wilkinson of AUFI (Ask Us For Ideas). He is still our art director and oversees the branding aspects.
What is the hardest thing about running The Restory?
Over the course of four years and 50K repairs we have cracked the complexity of a number of challenges, including: the variability of repair; the ability to physically track thousands of items; the need to manage client communications (and expectations); and ability to manage and operate an ecosystem of teams.
We have, lesson-by-lesson, built and codified into proprietary technology, our unique operating knowledge. What started as our greatest weakness is now our greatest strength. We are using it to not only scale our consumer business but also to empower brands and retailers with easy plug and play solutions.
Tell us about the business model
We offer repair and restoration services for leather goods, clothing and soon jewellery and watches. We have also been global since day one.
We have a direct-to-consumer business which is transaction based and we have a B2B business model which is a mix of managed services and technology licensing.
We have a mid-single 7-digit business. We have doubled revenues every year since inception, the unit economics of our core services are positive and our repeat rates at double that of luxury brands.
We have 40+ full time staff. Less than 10 of us are non-revenue generating but we will more than triple our in-house technology team over the next year.
How is fundraising going?
The old concerns about whether people really wanted aftercare, whether people with means to invest in fashion would engage with aftercare, whether circularity was a fad or here to stay are all gone. Thank goodness!
The main concerns from investors are whether we are able to control quality at scale. Our partnerships, and their willingness to trust us with their most valuable relationships, speak for themselves.
We have built an A-Team of executives and advisors hailing from LVMH, Farfetch, Deliveroo and Net-a-Porter which reduces execution risk.
Finally, we have raised over £3m, lead by John Ayton (Links of London, Orlebar Brown) and followed by Magnus Rausing (Lick, Appear Here, Flowebx), Founders Factory, Pierre Denis (Jimmy Choo, John Galliano, Reflaunt), Achim Berg (McKinsey) and Michael Storakers (Acne Studios, Rodebjer, Bukowskis).
All a long way to say it's far easier today than it ever has been.
How easy is it to scale a physical business like yours?
It was incredibly difficult but as I mentioned, we have, lesson-by-lesson, built and codified into proprietary technology, our unique operating knowledge. And while it is still challenging, it’s easier than ever.
We want to make sure that no brand has to go through the pain that we did and that’s why we have built an easy and flexible solution for brands to use our technology and wisdom to introduce an aftercare solution that works with their business.
What is the five-year vision for The Restory?
Our aim is to make easy and trusted aftercare available to consumers, brands and retailers worldwide.
In five years’ we will be powering aftercare for the $300bn global luxury fashion industry and we will be the number one consumer brand across Europe and the USA.