M’O – MODA OPERANDI: A STORY OF SUCCESS
Flames, there was an interview I had been preparing for a long time now, up to today it has been unreleased, yet it has been the most inspiring conversation with an insider and industry professional I ever had during my past year as a fashion blogger.
Good things sometimes take time and good things certainly may come to those who wait – I always love reading or hearing people’s stories of success, they’d get me through those times when things won’t go so well or wouldn’t go my way. I will never forget the day I met Aslaug Magnusdottir, CEO of Moda Operandi, at the Belgraves Hotel in London during Fashion Week in September, 2012. Not just do her inspiring words and stories still linger in my mind, but I will never forget that joye de vivre and womanliness she exuded while she was taking sips of her red Cabernet, as well as her silvery laugh. Not exactly what you’d expect from a supposed tough business woman…
But let me no longer keep you in suspense and let me cut to the chase, revealing some true insider knowledge and insight into the world of high fashion. Please get inspired and motivated by this interview with Aslaug Magnusdottir, which I think is particularly special, as she reveals quite a bit of her personal life here too.
Aslaug, please tell us what Moda Operandi is about?
Moda Operandi (M’O) is the first of its kind, it is a web site that sells fashion straight off the runway. We work with more than 300 designers from around the world, we feature their collections straight after the runway show before they are available at retail.
How and when did you get the idea for M’O?
I first started thinking about the concept in 2009. I had been working in fashion for a few years already, worked in different roles, as a consultant, in merchandising for another web site in the US. Through that experience I was talking to different designers and kept hearing the same complaints from them, that they would create these beautiful collections and the store would come in and select only a few pieces of their collections. Often the best pieces weren’t being ordered by the stores and the end customer may have a hard time finding what they wanted. So I thought there has got to be a better way to connect the designers with the customer. I realized this has to happen straight after the runway, before the designers decide what they are going to produce. Often the most interesting pieces don’t get made which is a big shame.
So why do women come to your website?
I think it’s because they can shop the full runway collection, at a time when they are most excited about these new pieces. Ten years ago women wouldn’t know what is going down the runway – it was only editors and buyers in the show, and now millions of women from all over the world go on to web sites everyday and see everything that was going down the runway and they get really excited about these pieces and want to secure them then and there. They get to learn now that if they don’t buy them on Moda Operandi, they will never be available at the stores. If there is something you really love, you need to secure it then and there. A lot of our customers actually love that they only have to put 50% down and pay 50% when the item delivers.
In terms of the perfect customer there are two profiles: We have the affluent customer, that typically lives in a big city, loves to shop, has a budget for shopping and values having pieces that are special and their friends aren’t necessarily going to have, they value good design. And then we have the younger fashionista as well, who loves seeing the latest items, she’s actively following our social media as well and seeing the styles our fashion editor team is loving. That type of customer initially was in the US but we now have a growing base of that aspirational fashionista around the world. Australia has become another important market, the UK and rest of Europe as well.
I read in one of your interviews, that you have family, you have a son. I am curious to know how you manage to balance between your family life and business life?
To be honest, I wouldn’t say that it is easy, it’s definitely a difficult balance. I think you have to make sacrifices on both sides. You have to sometimes spend a little less time with your family than you would love and then sometimes have to say ‘this is enough work’. Say, ok, we are here on a beach on holidays and now it’s time for me to turn off my phone and focus on them. But I found particularly since I launched this company that career wise it’s probably one of the busiest times of my life. I really try to spend all my extra time on my family and closest friends and you could say I have become more of a private person since I started this company. I don’t go to social events that much and focus on spending time with those who are dear to me, when I’m able to leave the office.
My son is inspired by the fact that I am following my passion – he has decided to follow his passion and I have always told him ‘just do what you love’. He wants to be a musician. Guitar is his main instrument and then he plays piano a little – he’s into Hard Rock. I’d like to have another child actually. I met my husband, who is originally from New York, during my time in London from 2000-2006. We made a deal that if we’d get married we’d move back to NY. At that time I loved London and I loved my career, so that was another sacrifice I had to make. When I moved to New York I was really sad, I had no job there. Today I’m very happy, it all turned out very well, better really than I could have hoped for. But by the time it was really difficult. New York of course a little further away from home, from Iceland, where my family lives. I try to visit them there as often as I can, but they also come to New York – my brother moved there just recently.
To draw a conclusio : the road to success is a road that will always bear obstacles for anyone who dares to take it. Aslaug has also revealed to me that evening, that Moda Operandi will be co- sponsoring this year’s annual Met- Gala, with it’s focus on punk fashion. Rumours has it that Vivienne Westwood is amongst the designers to create her dress for this special occasion. It is almost superfluous to mention that Moda Operandi has catered some of the breathtaking gowns seen on the red carpet of the recent Oscar’s. I couldn’t imagine any greater success for a company or individual in the fashion industry, like Aslaug Magnusdottir. To take risks and challenges may pay off, provided one also brings the necessary stamina.
But hold on – should you be amongst those fashionistas who couldn’t wait a month or two until your coveted designer piece gets made, Moda Operandi now also offers a boutique, an in-season selection, that is ready to ship immediately – definitely a must stop by for any fashion-forward thinking woman in the world!
I would love to thank Aslaug Magnusdottir for her time and for granting me this interview. Inspired, Flames? Share your thoughts!
xox, the Flamboyante
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