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24 Minutes with Sarah Fung, the founder of HULA

Shopping with a cause

24 Minutes with Sarah Fung, the founder of HULA
Based in Hong Kong, Sarah gives us an insight on how her global marketplace, HULA, differs from other designer resale sites

What better way to justify your shopping than by donating to charities while you're at it? Although only launched in July last year, the Hong Kong-based online site, HULA has already been making waves internationally. Having previously worked with Hong Kong luxury retailer, Lane Crawford for nine years, it wasn't until Sarah noticed a demand for a designer resale platform that her passion for running her own business was reignited. Fast forward to two years later, the online marketplace now stocks an impressive number of brands, such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Saint Laurent and more—up to 90 per cent off its retail price, no less. Each pieces are carefully curated—sourced from by-invitation-only sellers, who are mostly made up of insiders in the fashion industry. Besides that, HULA also aims to give back to the community by donating a minimum of five percent of their profits to charities. Here, the fashion industry veteran tells us more about her HULA journey.

 

How did the name 'Hula' come about?

Dreaming up the name was hard! I purposely didn't want anything fashion inspired and stayed away from names that included words like 'luxe' or 'style' as it was so overused nowadays. I was clear that the name should resemble a circle, sound "friendly and welcoming" and be easy to pronounce for most nationalities. So when I came across the name HULA, derived from 'Hula hoop', it felt perfect!

 

You had a nine-year stint at Lane Crawford Hong Kong. What prompted you to make the switch?

As soon as I graduated from Central St. Martins, I couldn't wait to start my own brand and had a jewellery line for a couple of years, exhibiting at London Fashion Week, before launching an underwear brand that was stocked at stores such as Colette Paris; Selfridges and Browns Focus in London; and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. I eventually found production too challenging and gave it up. When the job at Lane Crawford was offered to me, I decided It would be a good way to gain some corporate fashion experience-I just never realise nine years would pass by so quickly! So the urge to start my own thing again was always there, it was just finding the right idea or business to be involved in that I was waiting for.

 

Where do you source for the pre-loved items on your site?

At first it came from my own contacts such as industry friends and colleagues, and now it has branched outside to their contacts! As we have a by-invite only system to help us alleviate fake goods, this also deliberately allows us to be more edited.

 

What sets Hula apart from other designer resale sites?

Besides the carefully curated selection of womenswear on our site, we shoot all of our own products, which makes the experience of shopping pre-owned better. We're not just an online boutique; we are a social, sharing community, and we care about the environment. 

HULA Alaia

Which charities do HULA partner with, and how did you decide on them?

We believe strongly about the cycle of helping others in the process of helping yourself. Hong Kong (and worldwide) has such a disparity when it comes to wealth, so we decided to donate 5% of our profits to partnered charities. I am mostly passionate about the charities that connect with our industry such as environmental, sustainability and human trafficking (which is often connected with cheap or child labour with low cost production). However, when we started, we wanted to give our sellers and shoppers a range of charities to select from, so there was something for everyone. They include: Liberty Asia against human trafficking, Food Angel—recycling food-waste for the poor and needy, Maggie's Center for Cancer Care, Habitat for Humanity—housing for the needy. One of our main charity partners is Redress, which is an environmental charity against textiles waste, of whom are also the recipients of the items our sellers want to donate to charity.  

How does the donating process works?

At the moment we have kept it quite simple-five per cent of our proceeds of the sale are donated and split evenly between the charities. However, if sellers or buyers want to donate more, we add this on the final total amount.

 

Is there any customer in particular who left a lasting impression?

There are a few; I visited a seller's wardrobe once, and it resembles a (very glamorous) Noah's ark—she religiously purchased two of everything just in case! I also had another seller who once passed me 200 designer pieces from her wardrobe in one go. Besides that, I have a shopper who comes by every week to see our new arrivals first.

 

Where do you source for the pre-loved items on your site?

At first it came from my own contacts such as industry friends and colleagues, and now it has branched outside to their contacts! As we have a by-invite only system to help us alleviate fake goods, this also deliberately allows us to be more edited.

 

What are your favourite trends of the moment?

Apart from the girlie ruffles and flat slides, I love that the topic of sustainability within fashion and that the word 'sustainability' is actually becoming cool!

 

What's next for HULA?

We'll be launching a new service called 'Bid', which is a way for shoppers to be able to make an offer for items that they love but can't afford. Lots of exciting features and services are planned for the future, so stay tuned!

 

In conjunction with #BuroTurnsTwo, shop on HULA and enjoy USD$30 off. Simply enter 'MyBuro2' at check out; the offer is valid until the end of August 2017. Terms and conditions apply. 

 

 

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  • Image: HULA

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