Esther Feder, a transplant from Johannesburg, South Africa and FIDM alum recently launched Curated, an e-commerce site that offers clothing and accessories from around the world. Each piece—a necklace from Ireland, a lace tee from Greece, a sweater from Prague—is hand picked by Feder herself. We can only imagine the miles she’s racked up stocking the site. We sat down with the jet-setting entrepreneur to find out more.
What inspired you to launch this site?
Fashion is a competitive business. There are so many options offered at all price points. However, I kept hearing from women who were looking for special, unique pieces at affordable prices and couldn’t find them.
How did you start out?
I launched my business with a small studio as well as local trunk shows, relying solely on word of mouth. I was immediately overwhelmed by the extraordinary response. But I felt limited by the amount of people I could reach and wanted to have a global impact. Hence the Web site. My customers inspire me daily. They make me want to build my business. I receive phone calls from my customers all the time. They tell me how a certain item bought from the site made their day.
What was the most interesting phone call you received?
Recently, a divorced high-powered executive called me from a powder room in a restaurant to tell me that a man had approached her to comment on her necklace. He said that it was the most beautiful necklace he had ever seen.
How do you source your products?
I buy every single piece of merchandise on the Web site myself. I visit stores and showrooms around the world sourcing incredible sweaters, blouses, jewelry, and bags. I try to find unique, fashionable pieces that transform a woman’s energy regardless of age. When my daughter, my sister, and my mother all love wearing the same necklace or sweater, I know that I’m doing something right. I always keep my customers in mind on my buying trips, but also like to introduce new European looks. This is all very personal for me.
Are there countries or cities you visit most frequently?
To me, Paris is still the epicenter of fashion, so I would say I visit France the most. However, I am seeing incredible quality and trends coming out of Montreal, Canada, so stay tuned for extraordinary fall pieces from there.
Which is your favorite city?
Buenos Aires, Argentina. The combination of amazing food, wine, and fashion is hard to beat. Not to mention, the leather is absolutely spectacular! Plus, it has the most hospitable people I have ever met.
Where was the most unusual place you found an item?
I think you can find unique merchandise everywhere in the world. South Africa is still a place where fashion is connected to economic and social impact. When I first launched this business, I carried a beaded necklace collection that women had made by hand. This was powerful, because they worked as they walked their children to school in an area of the country plagued with unimaginable poverty. But I am always looking for hidden treasures—you just have to keep your eyes and ears open.