A Working Woman: Lisa Le Long On Giving Pre-owned Luxury A Second Life
Inspired by her partner Pierre-Antoine Brun, COO and Co-founder of Leflair, Lisa Le Long started her own entrepreneurial venture with RE.LOVED. RE.LOVED is a platform with the mission of connecting buyers and sellers of pre-owned luxury goods, giving these items a second life.
Born and raised in Paris, Lisa, a French-Vietnamese now living in Ho Chi Minh City, arrived in Vietnam to kickstart her career at fashion magazine L’Officiel Vietnam. Before RE.LOVED, she also started Saigon Lifestyle Guide, a zine exploring the neighborhood spots in Saigon.
Today, Lisa still writes for her magazine while running RE.LOVED. She also just welcomed the most recent addition to her family–her firstborn son. We sit down with her to learn her key takeaways after five years of entrepreneurial experience in Saigon.
Who helped support your startup experience when you first began?
I’ve been following the journey of Pierre-Antoine Brun, COO and Co-founder of Leflair for a long time. It’s been watching the growth of Leflair since the company started four years ago. Pierre-Antoine and his co-founder Loic are great examples of successful entrepreneurs in Vietnam.
Pierre is one of the first people who believed in me, he has never judged me for my mistakes. He’s helped to leverage my doubts and fears to turn it into goals and achievements.
As a blogger for several years now on Saigon Lifestyle Guide, can you share with us the formula for successfully building a community?
I don’t think there’s a formula. But I do believe if you do things with passion and love, you’re already halfway there. The reason why Saigon Lifestyle Guide succeeded in building a community was because we’ve answered the questions that most people have when they just moved to Saigon. This speaks to foreigners, but also to locals who have difficulties with keeping up with Saigon’s ever changing scene.
How has Saigon Lifestyle Guide’s community responded to your transition from blogger to entrepreneur?
I don’t think people have even noticed. Most of them don’t even know who is behind Saigon Lifestyle Guide. Even at L’Officiel, where opportunities to present myself to the public were plenty, I kept a low profile. I remained anonymous because I wanted people to follow me for my content.
Those who know of my moves have been endearingly supportive. I have received constant encouraging feedback on my business. Some said my stamina in handling so many changing aspects of life inspired them.
What are some advantages of being a blogger and an entrepreneur at the same time?
When you’ve been blogging for a long time and building a community of followers and partners, you have a voice. People appreciate that voice, as well as how helpful and supportive you have been to them. They want to help you in return.
Because of that community, finding partners and support for our campaigns has been so much easier. I have been able to leverage what I’ve built from my days at Saigon Lifestyle Guide and L’Officiel. For example, I use Saigon Lifestyle Guide as a communication channel to spread the word about RE.LOVED. My experience in public relations has helped me stay relevant on social media.
Can you share with us what RE.LOVED does?
RE.LOVED is currently the only player in the Vietnamese market to offer an exclusive luxury concierge service, from pick-up and drop-off of the products to authentication, photo shoot, content, and sales.
Our three core values are: Excellence, Authenticity and Eco-conscious. Therefore, we only focus on the top luxury brands with the most trendy, iconic and vintage items. We only sell what we have authenticated. Transparency is one of our main keywords when we work with our sellers. Finally, we encourage people to buy used instead of new, offering solutions such as eco-paper packaging. Customers can also return their boxes to us so we can reuse them.
What’s your role at RE.LOVED?
As a founder of an early-stage startup, I get my hands on a little bit of everything, from writing social media content to dealing with customers, and building the strategy to scale the business. What I’m trying to do is build a foundation for my team. As the business grows, it is important to give the team adequate guidelines, objectives and directions.
Who are your sellers and buyers?
Our sellers are mainly influencers and celebrities who have been purchasing luxury goods for many years. They would like to find a new home for the branded handbags and shoes they no longer use.
Our buyers are those who look for authentic pre-owned luxury. They may be young female leaders who cannot afford new luxury goods (yet), who don’t live in cities or have access to stores, or luxury connoisseurs looking for rare pieces.
What problems does RE.LOVED solve?
We have identified three main problems on the Vietnamese resale market. There is a problem of trust due to the counterfeit market, a problem of privacy as people mainly buy and sell from social media, and a problem of security, where the receipt of the sold goods or money isn’t guaranteed.
RE.LOVED solves all three with our quality control process and our delivery services. Sellers and buyers can also remain anonymous and protect their identity.
What does the future look like for the resale market in Vietnam? Where do you see more opportunities to grow?
Indeed, businesses such as Cho tot, Get it, or even groups on social media show the enormous potential of this market. Vietnam’s middle class has grown significantly, and so has demand for luxury goods. There is currently the worldwide environmental awareness so many people prefer buying used.
Taking after the tried-and-true model of Vestiaire Collective and Singapore with Reebonz, RE.LOVED offers a large catalog of pre-loved luxury bags, shoes and accessories. We also have received rental requests and we’re now looking into offering such a service.
Share with us some pro tips every new mom, blogger, and entrepreneur needs to know.
1. Learn to relax
It’s impossible to juggle so many responsibilities when you’re stressed out. That stress may ooze over into your work and your family. Do whatever it takes to calm yourself down first.
2. Stay positive
Prepare for the worst but assume the best. If things go wrong, head straight to the solutions. If you can’t make it right, it helps to make peace with that fact and move on.
3. Be bold
Be proud of the risks you take, and not just the return on investment. Most people are too afraid; taking risks itself is already a big step forward.
4. Be patient
Sometimes, the baby is crying and your phone is ringing and your head is exploding and all you want to do is hide in bed forever. Other times, you haven’t achieved even the smallest quests for two weeks. Your baby finally stops crying all the time, but your products don’t sell either. It is okay. Ups and downs are the facts of life and business. Your patience will pay off in the long run.