The Lnk unveils site for several independent fashion and beauty brands – WWD

TORONTO — The Lnk is looking to carve a niche for itself as the first global online fashion and beauty marketplace to represent only ethnically diverse independent brands.

“The Lnk stands for affordable luxury with a strong cultural component,” said Sonya Gill, CEO and founder of the platform, which debuts with more than 300 merchants from India and is expanding into Indonesia, Dubai, Turkey, Lithuania, Vietnam and the African continent. The platform specializes in women’s and men’s fashion, cultural fashion, beauty, skincare and accessories.

The Lnk – which is valued at C$10 million, or $7.4 million – plans to have 3,000 to 5,000 brands on its site by the end of 2023.

“The Southeast Asian market alone is worth $900 billion. Lnk will take brands beyond that, so there’s huge potential,” said Gill, who founded digital marketing agency Youzus in 2010 and later sold it in 2015. He began consulting with mom and pop outfits, who invariably asked, “Help me with brand recognition. Help me refer customers.”

“It was the same thing over and over,” she told WWD.

Such personal observations have had a major impact on the development of The Lnk, which is supported by an advisory board that includes, among others, Richard McMahon, former chief sales officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, and Alvina Patel, former vice president of marketing at Farfetch .

“I have noticed a clear disconnect in the world of e-commerce and brands owned by ethnically diverse people [while shopping online for years]said Gill, an Indian-born woman who has successfully fundraised in a world of venture capitalists where women of color are drastically underrepresented.

“It was impossible to find high-quality products from traders overseas and, if that were possible, it would take months to ship. That’s where the idea of ​​The Lnk came from. We wanted to fill this gap and give these overseas brands the exposure and tools they need through this portal to reach new audiences.”

Lnk helps simplify the challenges of shipping, returns, taxes and duties, which impact sellers and often prevent consumers from shopping internationally.

Once a brand is selected, Gill and company integrate its pre-existing web content into the platform’s backend. During this process, checks are carried out on the size of the brand, the quality of the product and the photography. Customers are then given a password and username which connects them to The Lnk’s pre-existing portal.

“People also have the ability to go to the website and fill out an application page,” Gill said. A Zoom meeting follows, and if approved, the brand would then be integrated into The Lnk’s platform.

“What makes it so unique is that we can run advertising campaigns for these brands from here. They just click a button that says ‘Increase my profit or my product’ and that’s it,” Gill said.

Lnk doesn’t make money until it sells the product. It is able to do this thanks to some partnerships that the start-up has signed in recent months. Brands pay a monthly fee for the “ecosystem” border, which helps The Lnk deal with any surprise costs of running the site.

However, through its partnership with Canadian company E-Shipper, The Lnk moves its warehouses around the world. With this more cost-effective approach, brands can send orders through The Lnk’s portal to a warehouse. Customers therefore pay a portion of the duties that exceeds 125 Canadian dollars.

Next Lnk will venture to Indonesia and Dubai in the next 4-6 weeks. He is also working on Tanzania and Kenya for the launch of the brand.

According to Gill, all of this comes just in time to meet the growing demand from North American consumers who identify as non-white and are looking for a reliable source to purchase luxury goods from overseas. “As immigration to North America increases, people are looking for everyday clothes that reflect their roots and culture,” said Gill.

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