How Garmentory’s Adele Tetangco Founded a Big Community for Shopping Small
She made it possible to bid on last season’s designer items and score them at a fraction of the cost.
Adele Tetangco was doing just fine in fashion marketing even before launching her fast-growing upstart Garmentory. But when her tech veteran co-founder Sunil Gowda approached her to start something online, things really started taking off. Together they came up with a fresh concept for online shopping at boutiques—where shoppers could name their price for sale items. That was 2014. Fast-forward to the present, and Garmentory is revolutionizing the #shopsmall/emerging designer scene with a platform that features more than 400 boutiques and 3,000 designers.
We recently visited Adele in Vancouver and were awestruck by all she’s accomplishing while being a mom of two. During the conversation, we managed to snag some fashion tips (as in button-up + jumpsuit + heels = perfect outfit) and check out her shoes (she wears a different pair every day!). And then we got serious about how she took boutique shopping online in a big way.
Her beginnings in fashion:
“I feel very blessed and lucky to have fallen into fashion. I was a teen mom continuing on with school, always knowing that I wanted to do marketing. In my last year at college, I decided that every school project would be about my passions—fashion and beauty. To find work, I Googled fashion companies and emailed about 50 different people. One clothing line got back to me, and I ended up working at the company for eight years. I just got in there and took on business and marketing responsibilities. I was so inspired by the design aspects and being able to push something that was creative and changed every season.”
How she started Garmentory:
“There were all these things that I got to try at the clothing line—like building the account when Shopify started and building the social media presence when Facebook started. Through these experiences, I made all these connections, and that’s ultimately how Garmentory came to fruition.
“I started helping several other stores with retailing, styling, and PR. That work really gave me a sense of how boutiques functioned and what their needs were. One of the ideas I had been thinking about was how, at the end of the season, store inventory just goes into a box and waits until Boxing Day or Black Friday to be put back out. I thought, ‘Why don’t we give people a platform to sell this inventory year-round?’ And Sunil came up with the ‘make an offer’ idea to differentiate our site. I was able to onboard 25 stores and designers, and Garmentory took off from there.”
The importance of harnessing the community of boutiques:
“Everything we do is community-based. For example, if there’s a Memorial Day sale, every boutique has to share the sale with its community so that everyone is benefiting from everyone else being on the site. Our growth is a true testament to the power of numbers and how a platform like Garmentory was needed. The boutique segment was really being underserved online, not getting much love or awareness. The platform brings everyone together in one place to be a community. I have had stores tell me that we’ve helped save their business. This is the whole passion and foundation for why we started Garmentory.”
Her current favorite designers:
“My number one is Rachel Comey. I go to the store in New York so much that everyone there knows my name. She had the first shoes that I ever fell in love with. When she started, I found her Facebook profile and sent her a message: ‘Hi, I just want to let you know that I really like your shoes!’ Even now when I run into her on the street, I will say, ‘I really like your stuff. I really like you.’ And she’ll be like, ‘Thanks,’ without knowing who I am. There’s no ‘I’m Adele,’ I just know who she is.
“Suzanne Rae has been a favorite for the past year. She came out with shoes this season, and they’re different from what other people are doing. I really like to celebrate that. You know when you see something and it makes you feel something inside? That’s what I get when I look at her stuff. And then there’s this new brand, Common Knowledge in L.A., that does bags. Her shapes are really different from everything I’ve been seeing. Another one would be Maria Dora. She is so talented. She actually does the knitwear for Marvel movies. Everything she does I love.”
On how she juggles motherhood and entrepreneurship:
“My kids are my reality check because they deserve my respect—not for me to be distracted with work. As soon as I get home, I put it away. If I need to, I’ll bring it out later—when my youngest is in bed and my oldest is doing her homework. In this industry, there are a lot of mothers, and everyone is going through the same things. What other industry has so many female entrepreneurs? It’s empowering. We all bring our kids to the trade shows. We’re women who work and women who are mothers—and we get shit done.”
On learning from her mistakes:
“As much as you’re like, ‘Oh shit! That was wrong!’ you learn from your mistakes. That’s the only way that I’ve ever learned, and I think it’s the best way to learn. I think this sets the tone for me not to be disappointed when something goes wrong. A lot of things don’t work, but out of that comes some really amazing things that have!”