As the founder and owner of PrettyPlease.co.za, Lauren Levi reveals what inspired her to launch the fashion and beauty online shop.
When Joburg fashion lover Lauren Levi shared the news about PrettyPlease.co.za I was elated. Mostly because seeing new ways to shop from the comfort of my home, especially in winter, keeps me feeling at one with fashion. There is nothing more discouraging than bitter cold Gauteng weekend mornings where I feel the urge to update my wardrobe but the weather is forcing me to stay indoors.
“My love of fashion, experiences and exposure both locally and abroad, an entrepreneurial yearning and a personality underpinned by creativity and desire to indulge in my passions, inspired this venture,” she says.
The 26-year-old trainer actress recalls how she first made use of an online shopping site in 2008. The build-up (from seeing it online to believing in its beauty upon receipt) got her inspired to shop online more frequently. “That feeling of anticipation… The next day was my birthday and that was the first opportunity I would have to touch and try on the pieces I had bought.”
Operationally, Levi first became involved by way of a period of employment within an existing local online retailer. It wasn’t long before her entrepreneurial spirit and love for this job took over.
Asked if she believes she is fulfilling a gap in the market, Levi admits that whichever way we look at it, online retailing is still in its infancy in South Africa. “By way of volume, value and relative to historic conventional sales processes, South Africa lags the first world dramatically. For this reason, PrettyPlease.co.za and fellow online stores are pioneers of this industry.”
The saying “the road is long” is true, but it’s exciting to see more such sites providing an additional service to consumers.
“Everyday we make strides towards bridging this gap and unlocking potential,” she notes.
Enough business talk, and more fashion talk, I say. PrettyPlease.co.za stocks a mix of local (Beelee, SilverSpoon, Me.Co) and international (Second Skin and Slick) brands. “We also have the PrettyPlease range of exclusive garments selected from abroad.”
Levi sources her merchandise from the U.S.A., Europe and East Asia. She looks at trends, quality and pricing when making those important purchasing decisions. “I try to bring in at least two sizes per style. The rest is a trade secret,” she says. “It’s important to note that any brand, designer, company or sole proprietor is eligible to be listed on PrettyPlease.co.za, provided they meet our criteria.”
The shopping process, which is ultimately what we want to experience most, is simple. It takes four steps from shopping until delivery. “Existing customers need to sign in or log in as a guest. Browse the site for your coveted pieces, click ‘checkout” to choose your method of payment [eft or credit card], and then my job begins,” says Levi.
Once Levi has received notification of a purchase, and all necessary information is correct and included, she packs the garment with a thank you note and a return card. The ribbon-tied parcel is collected from Levi’s premises by the assigned courier company and is delivered to her customer. If your order is placed before 10am, and you reside in Johannesburg, expect a same-day delivery. If not, your parcel will arrive the following working day. All other national deliveries happen within 48 hours.
“If your order does not arrive we will either send you a new garment or a full refund. Our return policy is such that provided the garment has not been worn and still has the label you will be refunded.” Levi is also expanding into the beautiful world of cosmetics. “You can expect Tweezerman, Denman, Eylure, Elegant Touch and The Make Up Studio, a cool South African make-up brand,” she says.
“When I lived in the States I tested online shopping firsthand. It started with a slim-cut T-shirt with ‘Don’t feed the models’ sprawled across the front. I still wear it today. As my confidence grew so did my purchase choices… I ventured into more sophisticated and bespoke items. When I returned to Johannesburg, I continued to order from my preferred sites abroad but the uncertain transit times and hidden layers of hefty charges levied by customs became unappealing. By localising the service we eliminate such factors. That’s how PrettyPlease became a reality.”