The Ladies Of SNOBSWAP Give Us Major Closet Envy

Some of us treat shopping like it's our job — and then there are those who actually turn their love of a great fashion score into a full-time gig. Sisters Emily Dang and Elise Whang, the cofounders of e-commerce concept SNOBSWAP, fall into the latter category. Their online retail platform, which they operate out of D.C. tech incubator 1776, connects design-obsessed shoppers, consigners, and retailers so users can buy, sell, and swap high-end luxury goods with the click of a mouse. We got to spend some time with the brainy, stylish duo, along with their inaugural employee, Vera Wen, and had a blast playing dress-up and getting the inside scoop on this promising startup. Ahead, your all-access pass to SNOBSWAP.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Tell us about the beginnings of SNOBSWAP. How did the idea come about? How did you get started?
Elise: "We’ve been 'snobswapping' since we could drive. Consignment shopping has always been one of our favorite things to do. We would plan 'sister day' around bargain-hunting for designer and trendy goodies. When we got tired of things in our closet, we’d swap them out with each other and our friends.

The idea was inspired by a combination of us moving to different cities and the frustration of wasting time browsing on general marketplaces and not being able to find anything. One day, it hit me — why not bring the fun online by sharing closets on the web and digitizing consignment boutiques? I shared the idea with Emily, she loved it, and voilà! SNOBSWAP was set in motion."

Elise Whang wears a BCBG top and skirt from SNOBSWAP, Sergio Rossi boots; Emily Dang wears a Sincerely, Jules t-shirt, Tibi skirt, Christian Louboutin heels; Vera Wen wears an IRO top, Zara skirt, rag & bone boots.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
What are your respective professional backgrounds? Have you always been interested in fashion, tech, or both?
Emily: "After graduating from Virginia Tech undergrad, I went into strategy consulting at Accenture. After a few years, I realized my passion was fashion, and I decided to move to New York to pursue my dream at Columbia University Business School. There, I focused on luxury retail, working part-time at fashion houses [including] Chanel and Hermès. After business school, I went back to consulting, but this time focusing on retail and working with some great brands. After a few years, I moved to San Francisco to work for Gap.

I have always been interested in fashion and tech! SNOBSWAP is the perfect combination of both, giving members nationwide access to some pretty amazing pre-loved designers through technology."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Elise: "I was a D.C. attorney with an addiction to fashion. I’ve always loved fashion and consignment shopping for designer gems. When I was put on demanding litigation cases, there wasn’t much time to make it into stores. Thank goodness for technology and the Internet making everything accessible anytime, anywhere. When I was burning the midnight oil and the stores were closed, I’d get my retail or 'resale' therapy online. So, SNOBSWAP is our happy place — bringing our love for fashion, bargains, accessibility, and convenience online at anyone’s fingertips."

Elise wears a Stella & Dot necklace.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
A closer look at that delicious YSL clutch.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
How has the company grown and changed in the time since you started?
Elise: "The company has grown faster than we ever imagined. Headquarters started in our kitchen, where we built SNOBSWAP and started buying, selling, and swapping with our friends. Now, there are thousands of amazing closets online, from members across the country. And, we are so excited to have some of the best consignment, vintage, and specialty boutiques online [on our platform]! Now, we can shop our favorite boutiques that are thousands of miles away at anytime."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
We love how SNOBSWAP gives users the option to swap items with each other. Is that something you two do often? Or used to do, since you live on opposite coasts now?
Emily: "Yes! We've been swapping since we were teenagers and still do to this day, whether it's an in-person swap during an East Coast visit or a three-way swap between all the sisters. Swapping has been part of our lives since we learned to dress ourselves."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Describe your own individual style in a few words — then switch places and describe your sister's style.
Emily: "I would describe my style as modern, trendy, and completely girly. When it comes to fashion, I say 'Never say never!' (Probably much to the dismay of my boyfriend — hello, slouchy pants and boyfriend jeans.) I love trying new trends; mixing prints, shapes, and colors; and adding a classic, girly twist. My style icons would be Kate Moss, Olivia Palermo — and lately, I'm digging Miranda Kerr's street style.

I would describe Elise's style as eclectic. One day, she's bohemian, the next day, she's a glamazon. I love her style! Elise takes risks and has fun with her outfits. Her style is a combo of Rachel Zoe meets Gwen Stefani."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Elise: "My style depends on my mood. Yes, I’m a Pisces. It’s always fun getting glammed up, but on a day-to-day basis, I love casual luxury in my closet and in my home. This fall, I’m into the urban-rocker look, and mixing feminine pieces such as a leather jacket, distressed jeans, and a sheer tank or metallic sweatshirt. This crisp fall weather is stirring nostalgia for the '90s plaid flannel shirts and big boots. I’m also excited about the oversized-coat trend this winter. Comfy-chic is the best!

Emily is a natural fashion maven. Her style inspires me and our entire team! I would describe her style as classic, feminine, and on trend. She is the girl who walks into a room and all the girls fall in love with her outfit. If Olivia Palermo and Song of Style had a baby, it’d be Emily’s closet."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Wen, the startup's first employee, strikes a pose inside 1776's multi-purpose area.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Is there a piece in each other's closet you'd like to swap for?
Emily: "Yes! Elise has this beautiful Chanel wallet on chain in a gorgeous pewter color."

Elise: "I’m not ready to swap that beauty yet! I’d love to raid Emily’s gorgeous shoe collection, [which has] Lanvin flats, Manolo Blahnik pumps, and stunning Brian Atwood cutout sandals. She’s lucky we [wear] different shoe sizes; otherwise, half her shoes would be sitting in my closet. I love her vintage Louis Vuitton backpack that she snagged on SNOBSWAP before me. I’m waiting for her to let me borrow it."

David Yurman ring, Lanvin bracelet, Proenza Schouler clutch.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Anything in particular on the site right now that you're lusting after?
Emily:"Where do I begin? I'm obsessed over this gorgeous red Hermès Evelyne bag. There are these fabulous suede over-the-knee Valentino boots that I'd kill for. And, this pair of Gucci Victoire strappy sandals that I love! Finally, [a] red vintage Yves Saint Laurent dress that is stunning."

What about your favorite offline places to shop — anywhere in D.C. you like to browse?
Elise: "I love shopping D.C.-area consignment stores, of course. Some of my favorites are Ella Rue, Tari, Chic to Chic, Reddz, and Georgetown Emporium. I’ve gotten some amazing pieces from these D.C. gems. CUSP, Hu’s Wear, Zara, and Intermix in Georgetown are always fun to browse."

Emily wears a Zara skirt and top, Brian Atwood heels. Elise wears an Elizabeth and James vest and skirt, Chanel heels.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
What's the day-to-day business like at SNOBSWAP? What do you spend most of your workday doing?
Elise: "Every day is different! One day, we are testing new features for the site, and the next we’re doing a photo shoot with Refinery29! We typically have our daily team touch-base meetings in the mornings to talk about [each day's] goals. After our meetings, we’re ready to jam and kick butt."
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Emily steals a moment in one of 1776's old-school phone booths.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
You got started with 1776, a startup incubator here in Washington. What's it like working in an incubator? How has that helped your business? Elise: "Being a part of the 1776 campus has accelerated our growth. Working in an incubator energizes and inspires you like no other workplace. Being able to mindshare with other founders and experts in various fields is a huge resource, and so much better than spinning my wheels at home. And, where else on any given day could you find Steve Case, Paul Singh, or the gorgeous Queen Rania of Jordan walking the floors and interacting with entrepreneurs? All in all, it’s been awesome."

Givenchy clutch, Louis Vuitton ring from SNOBSWAP.
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Photographed by Yvonne Rock.
Give us a short list of famous closets you'd love to see on SNOBSWAP.
Emily: "Short list? In addition to our style icons mentioned earlier (Kate Moss, Olivia Palermo, Miranda Kerr, Rachel Zoe, Gwen Stefani), it would be amazing if we could have access to the closets of Kerry Washington, Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne, Jessica Alba, Kate Bosworth, Jamie Chung, and any of the Kardashian sisters! Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask for our long list?"
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