How a Tulsa fashionista turned her closet into a business
Samantha Ruble is founder and owner of ShopSamsCloset.com, a web-based clothing consignment shop
Samantha Ruble posted photos of her clothes on her Instagram feed to scratch an itch. She longed to stride out the doors of her favorite boutiques three bags full, but she couldn’t justify such extravagance without a purge. She added a short description of her clothing and a price to her posts and waited. To her surprise, her followers began to call dibs and purchase her pieces. Ruble made $2,000 the first month.
When two friends turned into ten, Ruble launched ShopSamsCloset.com, a Tulsa-based online clothing consignment company. Wares from 30 consigners, both contemporary and vintage, are personally curated by Sam, known for her personal style that’s somewhere between eclectic and Bohemian. It’s a mix of dresses, pants, blouses, accessories, shoes, handbags, and jewelry; there’s lots of BCBG and Loeffler Randall.
“A couple of my friends started calling me and asking to sell their stuff, too. I knew there was a need for this,” Ruble said.
The consignment business model is nothing new but Sam’s spin on it, utilizing an e-commerce website and also her vast social-media network to showcase available items, offers the advantage to customers of perusing and purchasing whenever strikes their fancy.
Consumers shop Sam’s closet like any other online store, ending with a stop at Pay Pal and, finally, a box at the doorstep. Cosigners contact Sam through her website, send photos of clothes or accessories for pre-approval, and arrange a pick-up. Sam photographs the items, loads the images to her site, then cuts a check for 50 percent of the selling price. If an item doesn’t sell, the consigner can donate it or get it back; there are no returns.
Sam hosted clothing swaps in the past, where friends brought clothes to trade with one another—“It’s my golden rule. If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably don’t really need it. Get rid of it,” as Ruble says. But “people are trending more and more towards online shopping,” she said. “You can buy or sell without ever leaving your house, all paid via PayPal online and no one even has to know it’s you.”
Ruble is influenced by fashion on the coasts, she said: “I think women in New York are the most beautiful women in the world; I also love the laid-back bohemian style of San Francisco, the maxi dresses, the middle hair part, Farah Fawcett waves, big sunnies.” She’s from Texas, and she lets the Austin influence show. The one item in her closet no one will ever see on her site is her cowboy boots. “They tie me to my roots,” she said. “Style is a very personal thing.”
Rube’s degree is in advertising, but her passion for beauty and fashion has always pulled. She worked in outside sales with Aveda and Davines, but more than once she was laid off or replaced by a rep based in a big city.
“If I moved to a larger city, I’d have those opportunities. But then I met my love and it’s made me want to stay here in Tulsa,” she said. “I’ve had to get really creative with making my own opportunities to stay in the fields that I’d like to work in and still remain here.”
There are no guarantees for entrepreneurs, but “I’m not punching a clock,” she said. “I’m working long hours, but it’s on my terms. Now I feel like I can pave the way for myself. If anyone lays me off, it’s going to be me. And I can choose love and to also build a career for myself. It isn’t easy, but I love the freedom and the possibilities.”
Sam’s Tips for buying vintage clothing:
• Know your measurements. Vintage sizes are different from today’s sizes.
• Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and just try something. You can always turn around and resell it.
• With vintage, the clothes have a story. It’s also one-of-a-kind. If you’re at a party, you know no one else is going to have it.
Sam’s current style icons:
• Emily Schuman, a blogger for Cupcakes & Cashmere // “She is obsessed with fashion and food, two of my favorite things.”
• Scott Schuman, blogger and creator of The Sartorialist // “I love the photos he takes of everyday people on the street and how they pull things together.”
• Garance Dore // “I find a lot of inspiration in her Instagram page (@StudioDore).”
• Olivia Lee, owner of Edit, 3524 S. Peoria Ave // “She has great style. She’s one of the most fashionable people in Tulsa.”
BCBG Leggings, Vintage Tunics, Vintage Necklace, BCBG Max Azria Cardigan, Cowboy Boots