I had the Pleasure of interviewing Matthew Ruiz, the co-founder of LuxeSwap. LuxeSwap is a premier luxury store located on the North Shore of Long Island. Both Matthew and his wife, Natascha have extensive knowledge and experience in the fashion industry. The store houses a wide and vast collection of designer goods: Versace dresses, Oscar de la Renta gowns, and even Valentino bags. I asked Matthew a few questions on how his business started and evolved into what it is.
Brianna: Your idea for a store which caters to expensive tastes yet still accommodates those who don't want to pay retail is ingenious. How did you come up with the concept of LuxeSwap?
Matthew: Well, I had worked in high-end luxury retail for many years, and had been selling some of the worlds finest and most expensive pieces that I couldn't afford! So I turned to selling some of my pieces on eBay to get some extra money to buy them. I guess I was doing a good job--some of my co-workers had asked me to sell their things too because I was getting quite high prices. Then a few more, then a few more... and now we have over 750 consignors, from all 50 states and 9 different countries, I am proud to say.
Brianna: I think it's really inspiring how your brand evolved from a page on E-bay. So, when did you finally evolve into a store and where did you open the first location?
Matthew: Our first eBay sale was in 1999, so not too much longer after that did the consigning begin. The name though came later. I wish I had a better place/story for this but I was probably on my couch in the living room, haha.
Brianna: That's very funny and interesting, I'm sure that it was exciting to collect all of the pieces that you would soon set up in the physical store. You house so many designer's works, do you have a favorite?
Matthew: It's hard to pick a favorite. I spent about 10 years working for Gianni Versace, so I think I have to say that would be it. I also spent 8 years with Oscar de la Renta so I have a very soft spot for that. But Tom Ford, Supreme, vintage Hermes, and vintage Vuitton always gets my heart pounding.
Brianna: I love vintage Hermes. That's incredible that you have amassed such a resume working for so many yeas of high-end designers. What's the process for obtaining those pieces like?
Matthew: A lot of opening boxes! we get in anywhere from 200-900 pieces every week, so its a lot of sorting. Most of our business is online, but as we grow the retail boutique side of the business, we are figuring out what items our local clients are interested in purchasing and hand pick them from our deliveries every day.
Brianna: I think that appealing to your clientele, first, is always a smart business move. Your store's display windows are always made-up so beautifully--how do you come up with the ideas for putting them together?
Matthew: Thank you! Most of the credit for that goes to my wife, Natascha. She executes some fine compositions for the windows. I guess our combined 40 years in luxury retail (Her at Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Versace - Me at Versace and Oscar de la Renta) some of our talented 5th Avenue window dressers rubbed off on us!
Brianna: So you and Natascha both have, what seems to be, an extensive background in working in the Fashion Industry, can you tell us a little more about your history in working with these designers before going onto Luxe Swap?
Matthew: Yes, of course. My wife had worked for Chanel and I had worked ten years for Versace--we had actually met at a Versace Boutique on Fifth Avenue. I began running a boutique at the Americana Mall and was up for a promotion. I had been promised that as soon as a new manager position had opened up it would go to me--to make a long story short, my boss was fired and when the new management came in they decided to hire someone from outside of the company and make them the new manager. That manager would soon become my wife. I always joke and say that Natascha is still my boss today.
Brianna: Wow, I think that is so interesting. She has exquisite taste. Now, you and Natascha started LuxeSwap together, what was the career path that led you on the path to starting the business?
Matthew: We met at Versace, where she was my boss - and as I like to tell people, she still is! We both have a love of the marriage between art and fashion, and it just naturally spawned from that. It's not common that many husband and wives work together, but we don't know each other any other way, so, for us, it works perfectly. We would always gripe about how things in the stores we worked at should be done differently, and now that we own our own boutique, it's exciting to actually do them differently!
Brianna: That's a very unique and sweet story. I think that I will forever be interested in everything that are stores, such as LuxeSwap, that really put fashion on display and project it in a way most retail stores and malls can not. There's definitely a much more intimate yet still high-end aura which your store exudes and I highly recommend, that anyone, should go take a peek in and appreciate the work of art that is LuxeSwap. Thank you, Matthew, so much for doing this interview, I wish you and Natascha tremendous success with LuxeSwap.