How Rachel Zoe's Former VP Is Revolutionizing the Estate-Sale Model
If you’ve ever been to an estate sale, you know the drill: waking up at the crack of dawn; waiting in line for the doors to open; pushing through other scavenging antique dealers, interior designers, secondhand design buyers, and curious neighbors; and sifting through dusty and overstuffed rooms to score the best hidden gems the home has to offer. Not to mention these sales are often cash-only, and you most likely will need to leave with the item on the spot—easy if it’s a Chanel bag, not so easy when it’s a pair of brass bookcases (trust me—I’ve been there).
This painful process can put off many regular buyers, but the truth is there are some seriously great deals to be made at estate sales. One company has taken it upon itself to turn the entire industry on its head: Everything but the House, an online marketplace for estate sales. Similar to an auction system, each item on EBTH starts at $1, and every sale lasts seven days. Buyers can bid as much as they like, and if won, the item is delivered straight to their door.
We caught up with with EBTH’s chief brand officer, Mandana Dayani, to talk career advice, her favorite vintage scores, and inspirational figures in her life. Read on to hear why this inspirational woman loves the thrill of estate shopping.
MYDOMAINE: Tell us about Everything but the House and what inspired you to join the team.
MANDANA DAYANI: Everything but the House is a digital estate sale platform—we are currently in 20 cities and hosting nearly 200 sales a month on our marketplace. I fell in love with the company because, as an avid vintage collector, I’m now able to shop the greatest estate sales around the country from my own bed (and without having to wait in a line at 5 a.m.)! Our 500-plus employees help sellers maximize the value of their collections and provide a full-service solution by doing all of the work: sorting, marketing, photography, and delivery to buyers.
MYDOMAINE: You were vice president at Rachel Zoe for five years. How has that experience served you in your role at EBTH?
MD: Working at Rachel Zoe was one of the most invaluable experiences of my life! I learned so much from Rachel and Rodger Berman about how to manage a team, and to build and grow a brand. I initially joined RZ to launch its contemporary collection, and then worked to drive the company’s initiatives in business development, digital media, strategic investments, licensing, publishing, endorsements, and television production.
MYDOMAINE: What does a typical day in the life of a chief brand officer look like?
MD: I start work at around 7 a.m., usually on conference calls with my colleagues at our headquarters in Cincinnati. My 1 1/2–year-old wakes up by 8 a.m., and with my husband, we all walk to Starbucks for our morning fix (a blueberry muffin, a double short latte, and a grande decaf drip—I’ll let you guess which one belongs to the toddler). If I don’t have a morning meeting, I’ll meet my brand team at our office in West Hollywood by 9 a.m. We spend the day working through questions and projects that every emerging business faces: everything from what is our content marketing strategy and how we can improve our user experience, to partnerships that can grow our community.
MYDOMAINE: Who is the target customer at Everything But The House?
MD: One of the most interesting parts of working on this brand is that we draw from a really broad audience. Niche collectors, vintage fashion hunters, and anyone looking for a great deal on jewelry, art, tableware, antiques, and mid-century furniture. What they all have in common is the desire to discover unique, one-of-a-kind items.
MYDOMAINE: So, every item on the site really starts at $1?
MD: Really! It’s a bidding structure: Everything starts at $1, lasts for seven days, and there are no reserves. It makes the entire process of buying an item so exciting (and addictive).
MYDOMAINE: What is the most extravagant item you’ve seen for sale on the site?
MD: Well, we’ve sold some amazing items like vintage cars and a Warhol of Mick Jagger, but I get really excited about some of the important furniture, like pieces by Adrian Pearsall and Eero Saarinen or a Hans Wegner Peacock Chair, in perfect condition! We also recently sold a full set of Dansk Jette Flatware by Jens J. Quistgaard.
MYDOMAINE: What sets EBTH apart from other vintage marketplaces?
MD: It’s the only platform in the world that services and sells estate sales on such a large scale. The sense of voyeurism that comes with being able to browse and discover an entire collection, coupled with the competitive experience of an auction, makes our site unique and fun! Every one of our pieces has a personal history, and I am so fascinated by what people have collected and why. We’re also really proud that we are able to provide a trustworthy and seamless service to so many people. You can sell anything: that decorative tray you scored at Barneys, that much-complimented tufted ottoman, your mom’s amazing suede swing coat, even your Vitamix—and we do all the heavy lifting.
MYDOMAINE: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while at Everything but the House?
MD: Being able to prioritize opportunities is always challenging. We’ve built a really compelling company, and there are so many ways that we can continue to grow and evolve. Knowing which opportunities to pursue and when requires a constant gut check, and isn’t without its debates and heated conversations. That’s the challenge at the heart of building a brand that I love the most.
MYDOMAINE: Which inspirational figures or mentors would you invite to your dream dinner party?
MD: If I was limiting this to people I have never met, it would be Lee Alexander McQueen, Christiane Amanpour, Bill Clinton, Christopher Hitchens, Yves Saint Laurent, Frank Sinatra, Bill Gates, and my husband’s mother, Gloria.
MYDOMAINE: EBTH raised an impressive round of funding last year. What’s next?
MD: Thanks! We’re proud of the confidence investors have in our service. Our main focus right now is expanding into more markets. We’re in 20 cities today, with new ones added every month (and we have people bidding from over 70 countries)! We’re also exploring how to really tell the stories behind the people who shop and sell on our site. We have access to incredible collectors, subject matter experts, high-profile clientele, and historical objects that tell us so much about a place or moment in time. We are also constantly innovating our technology and improving our user experience. We have some very exciting updates coming up in the new couple of weeks! I can’t wait for you to see them.
Thonet Style Bent Wood Rocking Chair With Cane Seat ($35 and up)
MYDOMAINE: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
MD: Always coffee.
MYDOMAINE: Which book is currently on your nightstand?
MD: Between the World and Me and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
MYDOMAINE: What is your most treasured vintage possession?
MD: My first Courrèges space age dress.
MYDOMAINE: What’s at the top of your dream vintage wish list?
MD: An original Fortuny dress.
MYDOMAINE: What’s your decorating cheap thrill?
MD: Vintage books and pottery.
MYDOMAINE: Please share your best productivity hack:
MD: Do the least desirable things first in the morning, or they will not get done.
MYDOMAINE: Final words to live by.
MD: Always deliver more than expected.
Have you ever bought from an estate sale? Share your experience with us in the comments below.