Sarah McIlroy created FashionPlaytes, the design-your-own clothing website for tweens, after her daughter showed her some mockups for outfits she wanted her mother to help her make. Realizing that she couldn’t help her daughter, but that there should be a way for young girls’ creative clothing designs to become a reality, she started FashionPlaytes.
“It was the convergence of everything I had done up to my career a that point,” McIlroy said of FashionPlaytes.
McIlroy, whose career brought her through Cyrk, Brookstone, Hasbro, and gaming companies Atari and Midway Games before starting out on her own, now has a daughter who is a bit too old for FashionPlaytes. Her new project, Ella Sole, is both a natural progression for the FashionPlaytes demographic and something McIlroy herself has more a personal interest in — jewelry.
Ella Sole will be launching its Kickstarter campaign today to make beautiful jewelry more accessible, specifically pieces that McIlroy called “high-end art, unique, hand-hewn, with beautiful metals and real stones.” The differentiator between Ella Sole and sites like Gemvara is that McIlroy’s company is not “fine jewelry,” she said.
Additionally, Ella Sole will allow users to design their own piece, much like the way that Fashion Playtes’ platform worked. “I think we are going to differentiate ourselves through the design aspect,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy expects the average price for Ella Sole jewelry to be around $150, with a range from about $50 to $500 on all products. However, she said it is possible to make pieces that are much more expensive if a customer selects a high-end metal like platinum for their designs.
The Kickstarter campaign has quite a few different options for backers: Backers who pledge $45 get a simple ring, while those who pledge in the $85 to $95 range can choose from a few styles of earrings, rings, or necklaces.
As far as launching a Kickstarter campaign, McIlroy said, “I think its very personal, because you are going to your network and hoping everyone likes it. If you go the VC route you have all sorts of other people weighing in, with Kickstarter, its your customers.”
Ella Sole will be optimized for mobile, although it will have a Web presence. The site will use CAD technology to give a preview of the customized designs users create on its site.
Marketing itself as a more affordable Gemvara is a smart move for Ella Sole. Online jewelry sales seem to be picking up according to sources close to Gemvara and being a lower-cost alternative to one of the incumbents in the market could really pay off for McIlroy. Appealing to boutique jewelry shoppers instead of high-end jewelry customers is also wise as well.
McIlroy believes that her experiences at FashionPlaytes will be helpful in breaking into the new market. “I’m leveraging so much of what I learned over the last six years,” she said. “If I had not done FashionPlaytes there’s no way I could have done Ella Sole.”