Susanna Hokkanen is not your average marketplace entrepreneur. Mother of three, Susanna has a steady day job at the public sector, working for the city of Helsinki in Finland. But while being at home with her kids for a long period (thanks to the generous Finnish parental leave policies), she realized she had some time in her hands to work on an idea she had had for a while: a store for pre-owned wedding dresses.
She considered setting up a brick and mortar store, but that seemed too laborious. Instead, she decided to go online. She had seen some US sites for buying second hand wedding dresses directly from other brides, and she felt that was something that was needed in Finland too.
She didn't have experience in building websites, so she wasn't really sure how to go about her project.
She would not be able to build it herself, and hiring someone to build it seemed like an expensive option. Then she discovered Sharetribe.
"With Sharetribe Go, it felt almost as the website created itself", Susanna accounts. Suddenly she was ready to start her business. Häätori was published in late 2014.
Susanna didn't have much of a marketing budget, but she was able to do an initial Facebook ad campaign. Luckily, she had been correct: the idea resonated with women around Finland. Lots of brides were selling their dresses through Finnish classified sites like Tori.fi, but it was difficult to find the exact dress and size you were looking for there.
In a matter of months, the site Susanna had set up all by herself, with a budget of only a few hundred euros, had become the biggest Finnish site for buying and selling pre-owned wedding dresses, with 15,000 to 20,000 users visiting her site every month.
This audience started to be interesting also to professional providers of wedding services. Just like that, Susanna also had a working business model: individuals could list their dresses on the site for free, but professionals who wanted to advertise their services (from photography to wedding planning) needed to pay.
Now Susanna is also expanding to events. She sees Häätori as a bigger brand that does things both online and offline. She has already organized her first "Häätori-sponsored" event and sees this as a good way to make additional income.
Susanna is thankful of Sharetribe's support team. "They are really responsive and always able to solve any issues I have really quickly", she says. "They've also given me lots of useful advice on how to build my site and my business."› Check out Häätori