Founder & CEO Nejla Matam-Finn talks about what’s next for The Fifth Collection

The Fifth Collection website hit a new stride last year when Nejla and her team secured around S$2 million in seed funding from a group of investors

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Tall and effortlessly chic, Nejla Matam-Finn launched The Fifth Collection – an online retailer peddling quality vintage and pre-loved designer goods – with her husband in 2014. Anyone who’s paid a visit to the site will agree that trawling through the tasteful curate on The Fifth Collection can be likened to taking a trip down fashion’s memory lane; each piece looks as if it has its own story to tell. The website hit a new stride last year when Matam-Finn and her team secured around S$2 million in seed funding from a group of investors, thus flipping the page to another chapter for The Fifth Collection.

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How has The Fifth Collection evolved since its beginnings?

We have been in operation for over three years now, but have been building the business for almost four. We’ve earned the trust of the best collectors in Singapore and won the vote for Best Singapore Digital Startup, and grown from a couple of part-time desks in a co-working space to a team of 11 in our shophouse on Club Street. Has the funding changed something? Yes, but not in the way most people imagine. First, it’s amazing how raising money has raised our profile and given us legitimacy on the market even though we’ve been doing the same job for years. Prior to that, it was not rare for people to ask if that’s the only thing we do, as if it were inconceivable that it’s a real business. We take external investment very seriously—I’d rather lose my own money than lose someone else’s. So the other thing that has changed is that we have a new layer of pressure and expectations that we didn’t have before. Luckily, it also comes with a few new pillars of support and advice from those same investors.

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What does the business offer new and existing customers?

We’ve always worked towards the idea that The Fifth Collection should be an extension of every modern woman’s wardrobe. Collectors buy and sell their items on our site, experiencing more luxury while owning and spending less. We see ourselves powering the modern luxury lifestyle—consume less, experience more. We curate and authenticate everything to make it easy, enjoyable and safe. By extending the life cycle of purchases in this way, we also hope to do our part for the environment by reducing wasteful consumption.

What would you be doing if you hadn’t started The Fifth Collection?

I love strategic branding and I find the new advertising mediums fascinating. I’d probably have ended up working in an agency or luxury group. This is my speciality, after all.

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Photographed by Gan, Styled by Windy Aulia, Assistant stylist: Gracia Phang

Hair and Makeup: Manisa Tan/PaletteInc using La Biosthetique and Urban Decay, Grego using Shu Uemura, Leny/PaletteInc using La Biosthetique

Fashion intern: Abielle Yeo

Story originally appeared on Harper's Bazaar Singapore.

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