Jennie Baik Sends You Into a Virtual Shopping Wonderland With Orchard Mile Jennie Baik Sends You Into a Virtual Shopping Wonderland With Orchard Mile Jennie Baik, co-founder of Orchard Mile sat down with our founder, Iman Oubou to discuss how she has worked to reinvent the online shopping experience as we know it with her creation of Orchard Mile, the ultimate virtual shopping mall. According to Baik, the name Orchard Mile comes from Orchard Road in Singapore, which is similar to 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive in the U.S. and ‘Mile’ refers to the Magnificent Mile in Chicago – the city’s most upscale shopping and dining section. “With retail, as more and more retail doors are closing, people really do want to see the full collection of every designer. The experience that we’re bringing is that you can have all the access to all of the collections.” -Jennie Baik The two names represent what seems like the mall in the sky as Orchard Mile is home to dozens of designers in the luxury, contemporary and athleisure markets that sell their full collections on the site’s marketplace. Orchard Mile sells anything from Tom Ford perfume to Carolina Herrera evening gowns to Paige denim to Giuseppe Zanotti shoes. The best part? Each designer features their full collections on Orchard Mile’s site. The founder goes on to explain that only five to 10 percent of fashion brand’s digital sales are from their own website – the other 90 to 95 percent of their sales come from navigators, wholesalers, specialty stores, and the like. Chandra Leather Mini Chain Clutch. Courtesy of Orchard Mild But with Orchard Mile, the designers that are featured on the site buy into the marketplace, creating a direct consumer transaction, which is “really exciting for brands, and is more economical to be placed in this marketplace environment,” explains Baik. Into You Halter Playsuit. Courtesy of Orchard Mile Baik’s journey to creating Orchard Mile is quite untraditional. While most entrepreneurs will recommend starting a company with people you know on some level, Baik’s co-founders were all essentially strangers when they decided to start the marketplace after meeting at a networking event. “Some people will debate me and say you probably made the wrong decision, but actually, I think what you want in a co-founder is a business skill set.” -Jennie Baik She then explained to Iman that the decision to join her co-founders wasn’t immediate, and that, just like dating, she took about six months to “think about it.” The founder also states that upon going to the networking event where she met her co-founders, that she wasn’t necessarily looking to start a business and enter the world of entrepreneurship. With a very diverse background from working with a friend with a fashion brand startup company in the beginning of her career. to finance, to consulting, and then to heading up the customer experience team at Burberry, Baik did not strategically set out to start Orchard Mile right away. Like most startups, the daily operations at Orchard Mile are not exactly as glamorous as fashion lovers would think. “We’re not building a fashion company – we’re building a really interesting marketplace. About 5 percent of our business is that kind of [fun] stuff,” explains Baik. The fun refers to the runway shows, champagne-filled parties and blogger-like Instagram posts that many believe the fashion industry is like. The founders, which include Jennie Baik, Julia LeClair and Mortimer Singer, started the company in November 2014 and officially launched in November 2015. What we were doing was building the tech product and signing the brands. ”Just signing the first working brands was so difficult,” explains the co-founder, since you can’t have a mall without the merchandise. Baik explained to Iman the difficulties the team faced when meeting with the different designers in the initial stages of contracting brands to be featured on the site and just how much background research had to be done on each prospective client when pitching the Orchard Mile to them – so much research that the Oscar de la Renta team thought that they had been hacked for all their data. To hear more about Jennie’s run down the Orchard Mile, challenges she’s faced along the way, and how she selects her prospective employees, check out the Facebook live video. The Orchard Mile can be found on Instagram at @OrchardMile. Kelsi Zimmerman Kelsi is a digital beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer who resides in New York City. In addition to SWAAY, she also contributes to Teen Vogue, Women's Health and New Beauty.