Fashion resale is a booming market! That’s a fact on an international level, and on the local market with the newly formed company and Pop Up shop Double Life! Founded by Diane and Lena Lautenberg and Julie Philogène, the company has the perfect recipe for brands and consumers who wish to move away from fast fashion and invest in expanding the lifespan of clothes and items! In this issue of Investor’s Mag, we’re speaking with Diane Lautenberg about Double Life, sustainable fashion and women entrepreneurship!
Featured in Investor’s Mag, 19th Edition, Dec 21 – March 22
To start off, can you tell us more about your company Double Life and what it stands for?
Double Life was founded in November 2021 by 3 childhood friends, Lena Lautenberg, Julie Philogène and myself. It’s a Pop-Up shop in St Pierre where you can buy and sell women curated second-hand fashion items at discounted prices!
We operate through a consignment store business model. We resell on behalf of selected individuals and brands their best unsold and unworn items. For each item sold, we take a commission. Otherwise, all unsold items are either given back to their owner or donated to charity, for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Every month, we use our Pop Up shop in St Pierre for a resale event: it lasts between 5 to 10 days! The rest of the month, we are busy organising the following Pop Up. Each month it’s a new pre-loved collection displayed.
With Double Life, our purpose is clear: to extend the lifespan of these beautiful pieces by bringing them back into circulation! Double Life exists to help reduce textile waste and to write a new fashion narrative in Mauritius. One which is inclusive, authentic, and circular. We want to democratise the fashion world so that anybody can afford high-quality fashion clothes at a reduced price.
We work only with local partners and brands to support their work and mission. For example, we donate our unsold items to The Good Shop or other charity shops and we resell iced teas and juices from Rejuice by Foodwise in our in-store bar.
How do you choose which item to resale? What happens to those you do not consider suitable for resale?
We only accept high quality! We go for good conditions fashion items such as clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories. We take tailor-made, branded and unbranded items of all sizes: XS – XXXL. We try to be as inclusive as possible in terms of product diversity and sizes. I would like to point out that we resell international as well as local brands during our Pop-Ups.
As for the unselected items, they can either be returned back to its owner or donated.
Why and how did this project come to life? Was it a childhood dream or more of an opportunity you chose to pursue based on what the market needed?
3 years ago, Lena and I created the project D&L to raise awareness about the fashion’s environmental and social impact, and to introduce sustainable fashion. It was a premiere here in Mauritius! We did several awareness talks (in schools, universities, businesses, banks), press articles and interviews (TV, national newspapers and magazines, etc.) to educate the market.
In parallel, Julie was doing her Master’s Degree in Australia. There she discovered mainstream sustainable fashion and got familiar with different fashion alternatives.
When she came back, we met up, shared our findings and came up with one question: “Why do so many fashion pieces lay unused in our closet while so many people struggle to find high-quality apparel at affordable prices? What if we could bridge the gap between those looking to buy and those who could sell their unworn pieces?” This is how Double Life was born!
With the desire to answer a personal need first, we decided to take action and bring in a new fashion shopping alternative to Mauritius. One which is convenient, affordable and attractive for the buyer, while generating revenue for the seller.
Since you started, how was the response?
Since the launch of our 1st Pop-Up event one year ago, the response has been very positive and encouraging. The Wakashio catastrophe and the COVID lockdown, highly motivated Mauritian people to shift their consumption habits towards a more sustainable, local and affordable one. And that’s exactly what we are offering: locally sourced second-hand fashion at affordable prices.
What’s beautiful is that our consumers come from different backgrounds and cultures.
As a young female entrepreneur, was it hard to launch this new and unique business in Mauritius?
Being a young entrepreneur has been a plus I must admit. People were very generous and supportive because we were young and willing to make a change.
However, at the very beginning, our challenges were more dealing with people’s judgements and critics and also getting the right information and support in setting up and registering our company.
It’s sad that most people only value your worth and project when you start to make a certain amount of money. We used to hear this all the time, and still now actually, “why and when will you get a real job?”, “you won’t be making a living by reselling second-hand clothes”, “anyway she is just having fun with her little project”, “is it your full-time job or are you making a side hustle at the same time to live?” It does take a lot of courage and self-confidence to continue moving forward when you hear this from family members, relatives or business people.
Moreover, when we set up our first company D&L, we did not know anything about company registration and compliance. We made some big mistakes, so it was safer to close the company. Learning from this experience, setting up Double Life was easier but still challenging. Until you can afford to pay someone or a company to help you do it the right way, we had to figure it out by ourselves! Well, you better do it the right way at the beginning because you don’t want to get familiar with penalties and sanctions, believe me.
But I must admit that we have been very fortunate compared to others. We had the help of our families and friends to get the necessary equipment to set up our 1st Pop Up. Since then, Double Life has been profitable. Of course, the lockdown situation got us in a very challenging situation as we were just getting started, but we managed to keep going by finding solutions to each popping problem..
Would you recommend other women to start their own business here in Mauritius?
I do encourage other women to start their own business, but I want them to know that it’s not going to be easy and to be ready for this adventure!
We tend to only highlight the benefits of being your own boss and having our own business. But we also need to emphasise the fact that it is going to be hard. There will be times where they will want to quit and there is going to be self-doubt also. However, if they offer real value, keep consistent and are confident, surround themselves with the right persons and focus on solutions rather than problems, there is no reason why they cannot achieve what they want. Especially here in Mauritius.
More and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, which makes it easier to reach out and ask for tips and help if needed.
What I like the most about my entrepreneurial journey is that I get the chance every single day to get better both professionally and personally. For me, it’s like attending the school of life where you get to discover who you are, what you like and what you are capable of.
What’s next for Double Life?
The second-hand market is booming. It is expected to grow more than two times in the next 10 years and is on track to make up to ⅓ of closets by 2033. The least I can say is that we are just getting started! We wish to increase the number of Pop Ups to reach new target markets, to diversify our products offering and why not to franchise our concept in some years?