Damaged designer goods are repaired and find a second home through entrepreneur Françoise Blanchard and It’s our Little Secret Consignment Boutique.
Reduce, reuse, recycle…and return on investment? Toronto entrepreneur Françoise Blanchard sources damaged Chanel handbags and with the help of her partners, restores and resells the couture creations. The high fashion brand is popular around the globe and their iconic quilt-print clutches can retail for over $10,000. The steep price tag was the reason Françoise began searching for used pieces online. After finding specialists in the city who could expertly repair any damages, she began selling them through online retailer It’s our Little Secret Consignment Boutique. Each purse can take weeks of repair and cost hundreds, but the result is a carefully restored creation that can be bought for thousands less than brand new. The biggest challenge for Françoise? Parting with the beautiful bags!
Rogers Business: Tell us a bit about your story and how your business got started.
Françoise: About five years ago I was looking at Chanel purchases online and they were thousands of dollars each. I’d always wanted one but thought, ‘I’ll never be able to afford this.’ I saw a used clutch online for under $1,000 but the inside was a mess. But I knew I could make it work. I bought and began searching for places that could repair the fabric and the metal parts. It ended up looking brand new! I sold it and eventually bought more.
Rogers Business: Why did you decide to work on Chanel bags, specifically?
Françoise: I was drawn to the beauty and quality of a Chanel piece. A Chanel will never go out of style and will maintain or even increase its value over the years.
Rogers Business: How do you know you’ll make a profit after buying, repairing, and shipping a bag?
Françoise: I’ve been burned a few times with that. I look at the price online for that piece or something similar. Last week I saw a great bag, but the handles were broken. I bought it for $300. The fabric repair cost $600 and a jeweller could fix the other components for $250. It’s a lot but the bag could be sold for $2,500. But I once repaired a purse, and the total cost was $2,000 and I could only sell it for $1,000.
Rogers Business: What’s the best part about working on pursues?
Françoise: I get to discover new style each year. It’s always fun to hunt for them and find the cheapest deal online. I usually purchase my purses from Japan because Japan has a strict counterfeit law that prevents the sale of duplicates. I also examine them using a company called LegitGrails, they give me an authenticity certificate after examination. I love the hunt!
Rogers Business: Do you have a favourite product that you’ve repaired?
Françoise: My red caviar shoulder flap. I found this beauty on eBay for $1,000 but negotiated to reduce the price to $500. It was heavily broken inside, but Love my Center did an excellent job at repairing it to brand new. The cost of repairing was around $600 but the retail value of this purse is more than $6,000.
Rogers Business: What’s the hardest part of your job?
Françoise: It’s the biggest trouble to detach myself. You buy them, you repair them, you make them all new and then you want to keep them so much.
Rogers Business: Where can we find your purses online?