A few months ago, I wrote a post on where to consign designer items (and also where to shop for some second hand bargains!). One of my recommended destinations was Ann’s Fabulous Finds – one of my personal favorite sites on both sides of the fence – selling and buying. I’ve been familiar with AFF for several years now, and thought that it would be interesting to interview the woman behind it all, who has seen thousands of designer items come and go. Enjoy meeting Ann!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I’m Ann of Ann’s Fabulous Finds. I run an online, luxury consignment shop for high-end women’s designer goods, and I live in the suburbs of Detroit.
What made you start your site, Anns Fabulous Finds? How did it all begin?
I first started collecting bags when I was in my early 20’s, while I was traveling and living in Europe. I had no money, but I still found money for bags – usually money that should have been spent on food. In Florence, I spent an entire week’s grocery budget on a Fendi wallet!
So while the love of designer handbags was with me all along, my friends and I later discovered that women were looking for a safe and secure way to buy and sell designer handbags, so I decided to create a space where we could guarantee authenticity, and our customers would feel comfortable.
I have a degree in advertising that I actually never used. Prior to AFF, I worked in architecture and also estate jewelry, traveling to shows and buying selling antique jewelry. I also designed jewelry like wedding sets, and was a manager at a jewelry store.
With a site like yours, you have to have a keen eye for counterfeits. How did you develop your expertise over time? What are some clear signs of an authentic item versus fake?
When we started this site, I personally owned 150 Louis Vuitton bags, so I’m a bit of an expert in Louis Vuitton, but it’s not just me. We are extremely careful to do our due diligence. I have a team of authenticators that we use to authenticate each brand because I can’t be an expert in everything. We have experts in Chanel, Hérmes, Gucci and other brands that we can rely on to guarantee the authenticity of our items before we make them available for sale.
But even though we still use experts, you start to become one yourself. When you see 50 Birkins in a row, you start see how they’re put together, how they smell, and I’ve learned a lot just from the inventory we get in.
Smell is one of the clearest warning signs though. Louis Vuitton has a certain smell. Hérmes has a certain smell. Fake bags cans have a plasticky smell and won’t even smell like leather. That makes you wary – the smell of cheaply manufactured bags.
What are some of the brands that you’ve found have the highest resale value? How about the ones that struggle more?
Hermés and Van Cleef & Arpels are two clear stand outs. Also Chanel, depending on what it is. Not so much “weird” Chanel items that are marked down in the stores, but the classic Chanels. Also Louis Vuitton. They’re all European, and they all increase their prices. So if you have a classic bag in a style that’s been around for five-ten years, and say, Louis Vuitton continues to make it and raise the prices, then it holds its value when its in good condition. Eight years ago, a Speedy was $350, now they’re $800, so the older ones increase in value.
Marc Jacobs, Chloé and Dior struggle. They’ll have a bag that’s a huge hit and everybody wants it, like right now the Celine Mini Luggage is still considered hot, but it’s not as hot as it was two years ago. The current in bag of the season is not necessarily the bag that’s going to hold its value. It’s the classics – Louis Vuitton Speedy, Chanel Classic, Hermés Birkin and Kelly.
Since you’ve been around so many luxury items, surely you must have some advice about building a perfect accessories closet. Can you share some advice?
Have a watch. It doesn’t have to be the fanciest watch, but a watch you can afford that you can wear every day. And I’m big on scarves. Whatever designer you like, for day or night, or even for snow in the winter, have a nice selection of scarves, because you can dress any outfit up or down with a scarf. And they don’t need to be expensive; you don’t have to have a $1,000 shawl. You can go with a less expensive designer, and it can be your signature piece.
For handbags, I think having a selection is important. A great evening bag or a clutch for night. I’m a big fan of the tote for daily use. Work, travel or play, a nice tote helps.
You don’t have to carry everything you carry all day out with you at night. You do need a few choices. I carry a tote every day, but when I go out at night, I switch to a smaller bag. If I go out for cocktails, I carry a Prada Messenger Bag in case someone spills a drink on it.
What do you see people regretting?
People regret not buying a classic from the big designers before they got expensive. I hear people say they could have bought, say, an Hermés bag at one time several years ago, but now they’re out of their reach. There are some great designs that have stood up to the test of time that people regret passing on. I feel that way about jewelry; there were Chanel items I loved that I wish I’d never sold.
What would be your advice for someone looking to downsize their luxury collection? Where should they go, what are some steps they should take?
For handbags, jewelry, and accessories, you should think of us! For clothing, find a good local consignment shop. Most cities have them, and you can take your items in, and they’ll let you know right then and there if they’ll take it.
People ask us about fur coats, and we don’t take them because we don’t have the proper storage for fur, but many local consignment shops will. There are stores that specialize in vintage items, too. So with a little bit of work on the computer or word of mouth you can find the best consignment shops. And that way, you’re also supporting the local economy!
What are some of your favorite items ever?
I often have favorite items of the week or month, but a Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag was an early one. When those came out, I collected them. I have 20 in all the styles, and I still think they’re cool. They’re one of my favorite designs.
My go to bag is a Louis Vuitton Neverfull. I have three. They’re great for everyday.
I have a supercool Chanel Classic Messenger Bag. A Maxi size. It’s really cool and great for hands-free days.
My dream would be from the gray mother-of-pearl Modern Collection by Van Cleef. They don’t make the gray mother-of-pearl anymore in the Modern line, so that’s something I’m looking for.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
Travel, reading, gardening, and shopping. Just shopping for anything. For presents or just puttering around. I like shopping. I would think that it’s not too likely to end up owning a luxury consignment shop with just a passing interest in designer goods. I am really in tune with many of our customers and consignors as I obsess over the items I love – just like they do!
Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!
I have purple hair! Right now anyway.
I really enjoyed interviewing Ann, and hearing her opinion about the “best buys” and common regrets. She was also kind enough to include two coupon codes for use for readers: