myGemma is an online shopping destination for expertly-authenticated pre-owned luxury and designer items. Founded in 2018 by CEO Andrew Brown, myGemma is trailblazing in the luxury resale industry by committing itself to sustainability. One of the most sustainable ways to shop is of course to buy second-hand.
We sat down with Andrew to find out more about his company, what makes it different, and how the luxury industry has changed.
What inspired you to start myGemma?
We have been buying personal luxury items from consumers since 2012 but were reselling them to jewellery retailers. We started to make the move online in 2014 and started the predecessor to myGemma to create our own circular economy.
What makes your company different?
We are one of the few resale sites that actually owns the product. Most resellers are listing services or marketplaces (à la eBay) and take a fee for introducing the buyer and seller. myGemma buys the product from the consumer, paying them out immediately – there are no 30-day payment terms or anything and no fees deducted.
We authenticate the item and service it. Each watch, for example, is serviced by brand-specific, authorised watchmakers, and only manufacturer-authorised parts are used. As such, we can offer a one-year warranty on all watches. We can do this to the watches or jewellery as we own them and can and will spend money on them, making them as close to ‘as new’ as possible. Marketplaces typically don’t even polish a ring before selling it.
What does a typical day look like running your company?
Not surprisingly, every day is different. We are growing rapidly, so my day can encompass interviewing potential new hires, looking at new products coming in, discussing partnerships with various entities (we just started working with one of the major credit card companies on a marketing initiative), reviewing new marketing materials, discussing team initiatives and goals, meeting with clients and customers, doing interviews and many other matters.
What is one life lesson you have learned from being in this business?
Don’t procrastinate. Make a decision and execute!
How did you create your company’s culture?
I like to lead by example. I come in pretty early, eat lunch at my desk, and rarely leave early, so I definitely promote hard work. However, I am a very fair and fun-loving person, so I do not crack the whip (very often). I think we have created a fun, yet hard-working environment.
During Covid-19, we became a dog-friendly office, and you often see one or two dogs roaming the corridors and offices. They got a lot of attention and definitely raised the mood! The team is motivated. Many work outside of typical work hours, ensuring that the business continues to run smoothly 24/7, not just M-F, 9-5. The internet does not turn off, so we are constantly bombarded with buying opportunities and sales through myGemma.
How has the luxury industry changed and what impact do you hope to make?
Sustainability and resale are two of the hottest topics in luxury these days. We are a rapidly growing player in the resale world, and by buying the items outright from consumers and owning them, we can put work into them to make sure they are as new as possible before reselling them. Marketplaces often don’t even see an item to authenticate it, let alone service or re-polish it. As such, we enjoy an industry-low return rate on our sales and avoid shipping product out, taking back returns, repackaging it, shipping it back out to another customer, and so on.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your company?
Hearing customer feedback on our team. I used to think consumers only leave reviews if they are dissatisfied with a company, meal or product, but I see all the reviews our customers write about the service they received, the great price they achieved with us, how an employee went above and beyond, etc. and it makes me very happy! Consumer-oriented companies like myGemma live and die by consumer reviews, so to get such (constant) amazing feedback makes me know that we are doing it right!
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Building a first-class customer service team to generate a world-class online reputation took a great deal of time and effort. It is the foundation of the company now and enables customers to send their luxury items without doubt that we are a reputable company that will pay them without delay for their items.
One of the biggest challenges was finding the delicate balance between paying the consumer a fair price, whilst not overpaying.
What made you decide to break into the luxury market?
We had been in the diamond business for many years but could see that branded jewellery and fine watches (and later other luxury goods) were becoming an increasingly important factor in consumer demand. Branded jewellery (as opposed to diamond jewellery), watches, and handbags are more of a year-round purchase, rather than the special occasion of a diamond jewellery piece – an engagement ring, an eternity band, and so on.
Handbags might be a seasonal purchase, for example, and as myGemma has expanded into other product categories, we have become a one-stop-shop for consumers looking to sell or trade-in their luxury goods.
Where can readers follow you online and on social media?