Entrepreneur Jessica Thomas is hoping to follow in her mother’s footsteps after setting up a specialist fashion website.
Until just a few months ago, Miss Thomas had been a PR consultant and former journalist working in London.
Now, however, the 29-year-old has returned to her native North East to establish OverMyBody.com, a website concocted after spotting a gap in the market for designer international labels.
Headquartered in Low Fell, Gateshead, the website brings together the cream of Australian and Californian designers as well as UK brands, with customers not having to pay high shipping costs usually associated with importing goods from abroad.
Miss Thomas said: “I’ve worked as a journalist and in PR until now, but I’ve always had a inkling what I really wanted to do was run my own business, do my own thing.
“And what I really wanted to do was work in the fashion trade and follow in my mum’s footsteps. She owned and ran the North East’s first designer womenswear boutique, Sisters in Newcastle.
“I love to shop online but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy on websites, so I’ve been going onto Australian and American sites, where they have the brands I like.
“But I was getting sick of all the costs I had to pay. Importing my favourite things cost so much in shipping and customs’ fees.
“I found that my options would end up being limited to expensive designer products, or items from Australian or American sites which would cost an arm and a leg to get to London and take forever to ship.
“But it got me thinking how we could try to fill a gap in the market for others who want to buy these brands like me.”
Miss Thomas found European distributors of some of the brands, many of whom were actually based in Scandinavia, to buy from direct.
The majority of the agents bulk buy from Australia and the US, so have already absorbed high shipping costs which won’t then be passed on to customers shopping on her website.
“There are times when I have to go to brands direct but by ordering in bulk the costs are kept down, whereas before I was paying huge amounts just for one or two items.
“We’ve bought together only the most unique and affordable hard-to-get international brands so they can now all be found on one UK based site.”
“There are just so many amazing yet affordable Antipodean and American labels which British women shouldn’t have to miss out on.”
With up-and-coming labels like Finders Keepers, Cameo, The Fifth and For Love and Lemons, combined with Antipodean favourites such as One Teaspoon and Minkpink, the site creates a UK home for international brands.
The venture was only set up last month but is already proving popular.
Miss Thomas added: “It’s early days yet. There are only three of us working in the business at the moment and I’m flitting between London, where I have been living, and Gateshead where the company has a unit in Low Fell.
“We store all the products and distribute them directly from there.
“At the moment we want to keep growing but we’re not looking to be the next ASOS. We want to be a brand where young people can go to find beautiful clothes and bags.”