Lauren Wilson Wants to Connect Women With Pre-Owned Luxury Fashion

Tech is the key to bring them together

When creating Dora Maar, Lauren Wilson thought about developing an online destination where consumers could shop directly from the closets of influential women. 

Wilson is the founder and CEO of Dora Maar, developer of an e-commerce platform that organizes sales for pre-owned luxury goods. 

A portrait of Lauren Wilson
Lauren Wilson.

Jackie Martin

Founded in May 2019,  New York-based Dora Maar allows consumers to shop through pre-owned goods broken down into various categories such as designers, influencers' closets, accessories, bags, special curations, and more. The company has an inspection and authentication process to ensure all items in its inventory are true luxuries.  

"Representative of the circular economy of fashion, Dora Maar is a platform for pre-owned luxury fashion where consumers can shop from the curated closets of influential tastemakers," Wilson told Lifewire. "Dora Maar's mission is to share the rich history, stories, and people behind the clothes to create a more intentional and sustainable future for fashion."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Lauren Wilson
  • Age: 31
  • From: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Random delight: "It's a little bit geeky, but I am a huge sci-fi, fantasy, [and] action movie fan. I call them epic tales. Over quarantine, I re-watched all of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Marvel movies."
  • Key quote or motto: "No one ever became a success without taking chances. One must be able to recognize the moment and seize it without delay." – Estee Lauder

Immersed in Luxury Resale

Wilson earned a master's degree in costume studies from New York University, which played an essential role in her interest in fashion and the stories behind each piece. Before launching Dora Maar, Wilson held primarily strategy and growth roles at fashion giants such as Christie's, Moda Operandi, and Gucci. 

"I was immersed in the worlds of luxury and e-commerce," Wilson said. "I also became fascinated with e-commerce and the powerful way it could connect consumers to incredible fashion–and influential women–all over the world."

Wilson left her full-time gig at Moda Operandi to pursue Dora Maar full time, and she said she knew there was no other option than to launch Dora Maar via a tech platform. 

"Resale is growing exponentially faster than traditional retail, but on the luxury end of the spectrum, there is a major lack of trust and curation. I felt strongly that if I was going to create a platform, it had to promote the circular economy of fashion," Wilson told Lifewire. "When I approached building Dora Maar, I was inspired both by the problem and the opportunity that this created within the space."

One of the leading marketing tactics the company has tapped into is gaining a network of influencers. Wilson said she was struck by content creator communities. When she couldn't find a central platform that connects content creators to the luxury fashion creator community, she decided to develop one herself. 

A candid photo of Lauren Wilson.

Jackie Martin

"Influencers play a strong role in fashion's ability to inspire consumers, shape brand identity, and convert to direct sales," Wilson said. "Our influencers give a human element to buying, and without the powers of digitizing their storefronts, our concept would be difficult to bring to life."

Standing Out and Showing Up

Wilson has grown Dora Maar's team to six full-time employees with a team of contractors, interns, and freelancers. As Dora Maar scales to the next level of growth, Wilson said she wants to expand the company's tech and operations teams. 

"When it comes to building a startup, the team is the most crucial aspect of success, and I am so grateful for the collaborative team at Dora Maar. The energy is palpable every day in our studio space in BK," Wilson said. "And to think, we started working together in summer 2020 in our studio space that had no AC at the time–it's amazing to see how far we have come." 

Raising venture capital has been one of Wilson's most significant learning curves as a founder, she said, and trying to do so as a Black woman makes it even harder. Growing up, Wilson would grab every magazine on the newsstand, but she was discouraged to see that all the models looked fairly the same and nothing like her. She spent her first few years in fashion trying to blend in before figuring it's crucial to stand out and show up for minorities. Wilson herself had to change, bringing these lessons into her leadership approach.

I am no longer afraid to stand up for change, and that's a giant leap forward for myself as a founder and CEO in fashion.

"I am happy that I am building Dora Maar in a world that is trying to change. Change doesn't happen overnight, and there are plenty of people and organizations who are quite performative in their willingness to do so," Wilson said. "But today, I am no longer afraid to stand up for change, and that's a giant leap forward for myself as a founder and CEO in fashion."

Outside of raising funding, Wilson is interested in launching new verticals to reach new consumers and diversify Dora Maar's portfolio of offerings. She plans to create a beauty arm because of her firm belief that there's a link between fashion and beauty. 

"My goal was to change consumer shopping habits for the better by bringing provenance to pre-owned clothing, allowing shoppers to find connections and value in the pieces," Wilson said.

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