I-ELLA currently has more than 50,000 members who can create their own profiles and add photos of the images they want to sell or loan. Members can also post stories about the item.
To push the envelope even more, members can raid the closets of celebrities and style icons during a featured auction. Using her network, Gorgla was able to reach out to some of the hottest names in fashion and entertainment and pitch a partnership by demonstrating that they would be alinging with a solid, emerging brand. Some big names that Gorgla has enlisted the support of thus far include Estelle, La La Vasquez Anthony, Veronica Webb, Whitney Port and celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. But what separates the site more from its competitors is Gorgla’s commitment to philanthropy. Ten percent of each transaction fee on the site is donated to three monthly featured charities or social ventures. So far, I-ELLA has raised $13,000 for various charities. Gorgla is aiming to raise at least $100,000 annually.
“I felt there was a real opportunity to do something different,” said Gorgla. “E-Bay and Craigslist have proven that people enjoy marketplaces, but the resale industry is still untapped. No one was really branding it, if you will, and really catering to women, who are the ones shopping online.”
Gorgla describes I-ELLA as “a great business opportunity in terms of where the market is going.” According to eMarketer—a source for data, analysis and insights on digital marketing, media and commerce—U.S. online shopping dollars (excluding travel, digital downloads and event tickets) exceeded $188.1 billion in 2011. In addition, online sales are expected to rise by over $100 billion from 2010 to 2015.
“We really want people to be a part of the process. Women are driving online retail and we’re not really benefiting in a tangible way,” said Gorgla. “We’re spending our money but we’re not really extracting any real value. I-ELLA allows you to benefit—you’re selling your stuff, your earning money, you’re sharing your clothes with other women—you become the store.”