We recently chatted with Shira Yoskovitch the Founder and CEO of the personal shopping concierge company Handled. Her job is to handle clients’ day to day shopping needs, mostly pertaining to wardrobe. Here is what she had to say.
What is your business called and what does it do?
My business is called Handled, which is a personal shopping concierge. We take care of shopping tasks so our clients can spend more time living their lives. After an initial meeting to understand their needs, clients submit tasks through our online platform and our Handlers complete them to the client’s specifications. We also help people rebuild their wardrobes, whether that be updating it, downsizing it, or a mix of both. We want to help them build an accessible, organized roster of outfits they can feel their best in.
What made you want to do this work?
I was a tech executive for a number of years, working the ‘standard’ 80+ hours and trying to balance work, family, relationships and friendships. And I was constantly looking for help to take things off my plate, and just couldn’t find the right ones… you know, the help that just takes care of stuff, without me having to follow up. And then I started to look at my friends and colleagues, and we were all struggling with the same thing- taking care of ourselves and our families the way that we want to be able to. Around this time of year, it can be even tougher. We found that more than half of Canadians are motivated to spring clean, so their list of chores becomes even longer come springtime. As someone who has been in a caretaker role, I understand what it feels like when the to-do list keeps getting longer and longer, and I wanted to take that stress away from people. I created Handled to allow people to get everything, big and small, in order, and still have time to devote to the things that matter most to them.
What problem does this solve?
We recently surveyed Canadians and found that 43% of them would love help decluttering their closets and homes, so we know there’s a struggle there. They’re choosing home and closet cleaning over other time savers like transportation and meal delivery, and this isn’t a new problem. Handled’s main goal is to give our clientele back the free time that they’d lose running around, doing these daily tasks and aimlessly shopping for who-knows-what. We focus in on the tasks. When assessing someone’s wardrobe, we’re helping people declutter and find the pieces that they still love, while going through things they may still be holding onto for many reasons. Sometimes it’s an emotional connection, sometimes it’s simply anxiety of getting rid of something. Handlers give them an objective eye that can help them build the most sensible, fashionable, and organized closet possible.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Our main clientele is professional women who are advanced in their respective careers. We see tech entrepreneurs, marketing execs, lawyers and professors, just to name a few. However, our service is helpful for anyone and everyone. We do have regular male clients, and they mainly come from marketing and communications professions, as well as tech manufacturing. We also see a significant uptick in male clients around Christmas time when they’re looking to us to help find the perfect gift or suit for the holiday season.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Handled allows the client to set their budget for their shopping needs. We charge a service of 20% of the purchase value before taxes, or a minimum of $20 per task. And for a wardrobe consultant, we charge a flat $70 an hour rate, no hidden fees or expenses. When shopping for our clients, it’s not about finding the most expensive item, but the one that works best for them. That’s how we build strong relationships with our client roster.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
Handled is an online service, so we can be found at itshandled.ca, and we are available all over the GTA. We come to wherever is most convenient for you, whether it’s your office, your home, or your cottage. We’ve also done our fair share of hotel and airport drop-offs before clients head off on trips!
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
The best question to ask in our profession is “what am I getting for this particular service?” You want to make sure that you know what you’re paying for. The shopping, the consultation, the delivery, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for and what it’s going to cost you. We are very transparent with how we work so there are no surprises. It helps us to connect with the people we work with and allows us to meet their needs effectively.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part is easily the weight we take off our clientele’s shoulders. You can just see all the stress leave their face once we take away the anxiety of shopping, organizing, or just plain running around. The worst part is the temptation I face as a Handler. As a fashion lover, sometimes it’s hard to shop for others without picking up some new pieces for myself. Some might consider that a positive and a negative!
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
When it comes to us shopping for and organizing people’s wardrobe and general fashion, people can think “You think I can’t dress myself?!”
I always find that funny, because the truth is, we aren’t always here for the fashion advice. We’re here to help be our clients’ advocate – we figure out how to make something work specifically for them, in a way that suits them the best. Sometimes that’s about needing to buy something new or tweak a garment, and sometimes that’s about helping to organize a wardrobe so that you don’t have to think too hard when you’re getting ready for your busy day. More than anything, our role is to help you present the best possible version of yourself.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
I’m a big fan of services that make things easier (no big surprise there!), so I’m completely in love with The Nail and Champage Bar – a mobile beauty provider. They bring the nail spa to you (who wouldn’t love that!). We all talk about self care and how important that is, but the truth is, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it. This is a great self care hack that also doubles as indulgence. We’re lucky in Toronto – there are so many cool businesses constantly sprouting up across the city. It’s a business community that really embraces a startup culture and makes sure that- as founders- we have access to resources and support that we need to be successful.