Face Time: Elise Whang

Snobswap co-founder, Passion Pursuer

D.C. native Elise Whang spent 10 years as a fashionista masquerading as an attorney. In April, she traded in her stuffy gig for a more fitting role: Together with her sister, Emily Dang, she founded Snobswap.com, an online marketplace of preowned designer clothing. Similar to eBay — minus the bidding model and subpar selection — the website puts discounted Louboutins and Birkin bags into the right hands.

How does Snobswap work?
Basically, you look in your closet and see clothing and accessories you want to clean out. So you take a picture of an item, describe it and price it. You can also choose to list your item for swap so people can say, “Oh I have this pair of jeans or this shirt to swap [for your item].” You’ll find contemporary brands like Alice + Olivia and Alexander Wang plus classics like Chanel, Hermes and Gucci.

Does it cost anything?
There is a 10 percent seller’s fee. That’s very low compared to consignment stores, which take anything from 40 to 50 percent. This is a nice alternative, and you can get more cash back. And it’s only one dollar to swap something. We wanted to keep this very user-friendly and community-oriented.

Do you control what ends up for sale on the site?
We believe in letting the marketplace decide what’s posted. We started out selling high-end designer items that my sister and I posted. And then people started posting similar items. It’s been pretty consistent.

What are some clothing items that might not sell very well?
Probably fast-fashion items from H&M or Forever 21. Not to say they aren’t cute, but they probably wouldn’t fit in as well. Most people that come to the site are looking for designer names but are trying to save money. So if you were thinking of stores, I would say Nordstrom or higher would be a safe guideline.

Describe the Snobswap community.
We have thousands of users, and it’s growing every day. I’m focusing my outreach in D.C., but my sister is in California, so she’s got the San Francisco market covered. We do plan on going into the New York market more aggressively in the next few months.

Do you notice different types of items from different areas?
I see a lot more funky items coming from New York. And in California, I would say maybe more trendy dresses. In D.C., it’s actually pretty diverse, which is cool to see. It seems like people here are posting a lot of luxury items.

What else will people find on the site?
We’re really proud of our stylist blog. We’ve featured nationally known bloggers and [spotlighted] street style in D.C.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@wpost.com.
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