Stellar is a luxury couture concierge service dedicated to delivering a high fashion showroom right to your home. It is the only online shopping destination that brings its showroom and exclusive new designers to you before you make a purchase. Founders Julia MacDonald and Anna Royall-Smith co-founded Stellar to help their VIP clientele whose busy lifestyles don’t allow them the time to visit the boutiques as often as they would like. And as there’s so many black-tie events, glam gala dinners and cocktail receptions in the region, Julia and Anna understand that online shopping can become risky when you haven’t got enough time to make any exchanges in size or style if the dress doesn’t fit when delivered. Stellar helps you to overcome online shopping fears by eliminating the stress of searching for that statement style, by delivering a selection of dresses tailored to your taste and size, so that there’s no more worries about material or quality or even fit.
Dubai Fashion Tour got the fabulous opportunity to understand the amazing concept of Stellar Couture from the founders themselves.
DFT – Can you give us a small introduction about yourself and Stellar Couture?
Stellar – We are Anna and Julia and we came up with the concept “Stellar couture concierge” which is an evening wear that comes to your home to be tried on in your own room. Stellar provides a very unique service catering the showroom to your convenience, providing you with a new wardrobe for every glamorous occasion.
DFT – When did you become interested in fashion? Did you study fashion?
Julia – Well myself, I have a company of luxurious swimwear which I bring from Brazil and Columbia. This company has been existing in Dubai for the past eight years. I had met several Brazilian designers in fashion weeks whenever I travel to Rio. Then I spoke to Anna who was working in corporate world at the time as she wanted to step out and start a business of her own. We then collaborated and came up with “Stellar couture concierge” which is a service of shopping in the comfort of your own home.
Anna – The idea was to create something which wasn’t already there.
DFT – How did you get your start in the fashion industry? How did you come up with the name?
Anna – The ground work regarding licensing was already in place thanks to Julia. We went to Rio and met up with Patricia Bonaldi, saw how the dresses are made, the new collections and they were very keen to come on board with us. We spent around twelve months piecing it all together -finding the right companies, designers and rails. For the name we had friends come up with lists and lists of names, shortlist it to ten and come up with logos for each. That’s how the name stellar was chosen as it depicted reaching for the stars.
Julia – There were no external investors. We invested our own money into this. From purchasing a suitable van to converting it into a luxurious and beautiful piece of work. In regards of the name we wanted to make sure that it was easy to pronounce in Arabic as most of our clientele were Arab – speaking. We wanted to make sure that it was easy to read, look and pronounce in both Arabic and English.
DFT- What problem do you solve for your customers?
Julia – In online shopping you face issues like return of goods, dresses may be unsuitable, too big or small and so on. We wanted to be a part of the online shopping platform but selling such evening wear is difficult in E- commerce. To make it easier for the customers we came up with the concept of online shopping where you can purchase the dresses only after you have tried them on in the comfort of your own home.
Anna – Supposedly if you like seven dresses while shopping online you are forced to drop your selections and choose one. Stellar gives you the power to try all the seven dresses without any hassle of returns and damages before choosing your desired dress.
DFT- Could you explain the concept of your store?
Anna – The concept is simple. Usually you go to the website and choose dresses which will go to the cart where you pay but with stellar the dresses chosen goes to the rail. You will be then contacted by our customer service team who asks you whether you require a stylist or not. All these services are complimentary. The driver then drops the detachable dresses from the rails to your home and pick it up later when you have tried them and made a purchase.
DFT – How do you choose the designers and pieces that you showcase?
Julia – The designers were chosen in Rio. Patricia Bonaldi was a very young designer at the time who was very passionate about her business and who took over north and South America like a storm in two years. She created wonderful gowns and opened up around 200 stores in a short period of time. She is very hardworking that she takes up to 10 days to make just one dress. We wanted to introduce this here as women here love to dress up for all the high end occasions here.
Anna – To widen the range for our customers we also collaborated with designers like Javani, Scarla and Terani couture as they are subtle with a twist and slightly more affordable than Patricia.
DFT- Do you plan to work with some local fashion brands in your store?
Anna – We are looking for local designers at the moment. We have a possibility of collaboration in the pipeline which is coming up in the next month. We believe Stellar can be used as a platform for showcasing a collection of new designers and promote them through us like how we have collaborated with Loulz at the moment.
Julia – We have noticed that there are a lot of talented designers who doesn’t have enough investment to start their own boutique. They are very creative and we want them to showcase them to our customers.
DFT-What are some setbacks that you’ve had in this particular business with your customers that you had to overcome?
Anna – It was mostly with the sizes of the dresses. We never had any major catastrophe. Sometimes the customer follow a certain style which they might not find in the dresses and we try to convince them to give the new style a try.
Julia – We never had any returns or refunds as the customer is given the freedom to try the dresses and get the opinion of their family members and friends. In this way they are assured before purchasing.
DFT – What types of marketing and promotions have worked best for you?
Julia – We work with a good PR company for which we get PR and social media coverage. Initially when we started it was mostly based on word of mouth. Ladies began to enjoy the concept and convenience of it which gave way for more people to come in. We got collaborations with Sharjah ladies club, Sharjah women business council and we are trying to work with such organizations which help women to grow. We are working with them to come up with small events to introduce and promote our service
Anna – We get customers from social media as well – Instagram and Facebook. We are trying to make people understand the concept as it’s new. People think that they have to pay for the service. We are trying to market how you can use the complimentary service and this is slowly growing. Word of mouth has definitely helped us out in this.
DFT- Could you share some insight about your upcoming project?
Julia – Generally on pipeline we bring in bigger designers and bigger selection of styles. We want to make sure that we have a unique piece for every customer. We will be collaborating with local designers and working with a lot of collections. We are very excited about this. We are also going to the Paris week in July to pick up new collections from new designers.
Anna – We are hopefully going to bring in more trend set prints which can be worn in weddings and red carpets. Many exciting things will be put in the table by august. We are searching for something new and exciting for stellar at the moment.
DFT- Tell us a bit about your customers, their preferences and the occasions you catered to?
Julia – They are mostly Arab speaking ladies between the age group of 25 to 55 based in Dubai. Dresses from Patricia Bonaldi are best suitable for weddings of any nationality as they are very glamorous. The other designer dresses like Javani and Trehani are more of a brunch or birthday party kind of wear. We are very careful when we select any collection as we make sure we have dresses for both the younger and older women with all suitable sizes. We always kept conservative styles in line prior to ordering and we have very few revealing dresses in our collection and rest of the dresses are suitable for any nationality and culture
Anna – We cater to family parties, weddings, gatherings, engagement parties, ex patriots. The cocktail dresses seems to be the choice for wedding parties in Italy and Spain, charity balls and red carpet events. Stellar is good for very busy women or mothers as well who doesn’t have the time as shopping such dresses takes a lot of time and stellar makes it easier for them. We also promote group bookings where you can have a party and we can provide you a larger section to choose from.
DFT- Are you looking to provide an accessory selection service along with stellar dress service so that customers can shop the complete look?
Stellar – We definitely have a plan to provide that in the future. We are currently working on the idea.
DFT- What do you think about Dubai fashion industry? Do you think it will become the next global fashion capital?
Julia – Dubai fashion industry is constantly growing and exploring limits. The wonderful part is you can find anything in Dubai from the high street to expensive exquisite designers. The ladies in Dubai are extremely fashionable and this is definitely a fashion hub.
Anna – Dubai has opened up even more now. Before there were only high and luxury garments but now there is a lot more of high end street trend with different styles. They are creating their own styles and not just what you see in the magazines. This is interesting as this doesn’t exist in other countries.
Dubai Fashion Tour had a lovely time with these amazing ladies. We wish them more success in their future ventures. You can check out their glamorous collection at – www.stellar-me.com