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How Zelda Arnott Turned Fans Into Customers With Zellyco

Thanks to the digi-sphere, it’s now simpler than ever to set up an online store and start trading. Zelda Arnott from Zellyco turned Facebook into her online fashion store.

Monique Verduyn

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Zelda Arnott reinvented herself – and her life – by taking advantage of the online shopping boom and launching a retail store on Facebook.

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After a 15-year stint in Australia she returned to Johannesburg when her marriage ended, and found herself wondering how she was going to pay the bills.

The one thing she had on her side was a flair for fashion. “Women have always wanted to buy the clothes off my back,” says the 55-year-old entrepreneur.

No stranger to the world of commerce, she won the New South Wales Businesswoman of the Year Award for her resurrection of an ailing hair salon, and also worked as the events manager at a local ad agency.

“I saw women at the office ordering from Zando every day, and I thought, ‘I can do that’.” Knowing that lots of people have no clue how to match items, she put her business savvy and fashion-forward sense to work and began to import carefully selected accessories – scarves, belts, earrings and handbags.

With the help of her daughter Taryn Hatchuel, she set up a Facebook store and Zellyco opened for business just in time for the Christmas rush.

She was blown away by what happened next – everything was sold out in one day. In that first month her turnover was R6 000; by July 2015 it was R55 000.

The store has more than 11 000 ‘likes’, and 85% of sales are repeat business. How did she do it?

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The price is right

Zellyco posts images of on-trend accessories that work well together and sells them as bundled items for an average of R280 a set. The first person to comment ‘sold’ gets to buy the bundle.

“I’ve hit the sweet spot in this current economic climate and I’m making an excellent return. For the cost of a lunch my customers can have a new look.”

The look is on trend

She sources from the UK, Turkey, China and Thailand, and buys according to her own taste. Expect to see bright colours in combinations that will surprise and delight.

“I’m always following trends and making sure we are ahead of the curve. Not only do we make it easy for busy women who have no time to shop, but we also only buy two to four of everything, not thousands, so the look is always exclusive.”

Arnott packages the items beautifully and pays attention to detail, thanking customers personally for shopping with her. This means the items also make perfect gifts, and they are delivered by courier within 24 hours.

She chose the right partner

Zellyco-business

While her daughter runs the back-end of the business, Arnott sources items and spends time interacting with her customers on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

And, because enthusiasm comes naturally to her, she’s made friends with many customers – so much so that a pop-up shop she held in Rosebank in May was sold out in a couple of hours as ‘fans’ came to meet her in person.

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That inspired her to run a makeover workshop in August, the first of many that will create another revenue stream.

Why aren’t you on Facebook?

Arnott says Facebook has made things easier than she ever imagined.

“You can easily create a Facebook store, upload your products, promote them on your wall, or promote your entire store so your fans know it’s there – all for a fee that is affordable for any business. The potential for start-ups is enormous.”

What’s really made a difference is the page insights and advert reports.

“We get all the demographics – who has bought where and when. I know that our audience is between 35 and 50, likes to shop between 8pm and midnight, and that Mondays are big shopping nights. Facebook provides us with all this information, which we use for marketing and selling. We don’t need sponsored posts to grow our audience. Zellyco has built its own momentum. I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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