Dress for Success
This Once Broke CBO Cleverly Took an Unknown Online Fashion Brand to Billion Dollar Status
For this IPO power player, patience, perseverance, plus a perfect pair of pretty pumps make all the difference.
Ten years ago, online start-up fashion phenomenon Revolve was virtually unknown, aimlessly floating in cyber shopping space looking to make its mark on the competitive e-commerce circuit. Today, the trendy shopping destination boasts a staggering net worth of roughly $1.2 billion and is also synonymous with one of the biggest concert-carnival festivals of the year. Revolve Fest attracts social media’s most in-demand stars, Hollywood elites, A listers, and VIP movers and shakers. Raissa Gerona, Revolve’s resident Chief Brand Officer, took the start-up to star status with her savvy social media skills, keen fashion sense, and the gift of gab with Wall Street power players. But, the journey to IPO prestige was a grueling, ten years-in-the-making for the popular fashion powerhouse.
The Art of The Hustle
Gerona, a woman (and one of color), determinedly attended years of back-to-back Wall Street meetings donned in designer duds only offered by the stylish site. So, it wasn’t surprising that her 10-year dedication to building the billion-dollar brand culminated in one of the most monumental moments in start-up history. Although the company started by founders Mike Karanikolas and Michael Mente had been fully functioning for nearly 16 years, it was only during the past few that put the fashion marketplace on the map. Thanks in part to Gerona’s unique, “out of-the-box” building and emboldening strategies, the brand’s stagnant social media presence suddenly blew up, becoming the ultimate collab goal for fashion bloggers and beauty influencers.
That was the “easy” part.
Explaining to older Wall Street male investors about “influencers” and social media strategies was a whole other uphill battle for the burgeoning, chic CBO. Decidedly, she broke her pitch down in the most digestible way possible – that young people need cute clothes to attend music festivals like Coachella – all while wearing full Revolve regalia to each and every investor meeting. Gerona felt what better way to hook potential investors than to physically “rep” the brand and play the part.
Without a formal marketing or business degree and being borderline broke before coming on board with Revolve, Gerona often had to contend with the unnerving negative Nancy’s that continually plagued her daily thought processes, taking up rent in her head. Constantly questioning herself, her skills, her talents, her capabilities, etc, she eventually came to realize her indispensable worth as being the true expert in the room because it was only she who could so eloquently explain exactly what it was she did for the brand. And, she did so indelibly and effectively.
Broke, But Not Broken
Prior to joining Revolve, Gerona ran her own fashion brand back in 2007 and Revolve was her biggest wholesaler, hence how she came to know Mike and Michael. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, she exhausted her brand’s funding and had to pull the plug for good. But, as cliché as it sounds, when one door closes, another really does open. That’s when she met with Michael and he suggested they begin a brand together. And, Friends + Lovers was born. In just a few years, rising Revolve would purchase the hip, curated fashion site.
The Making of a Brand-Builder
Never having imagined she would be engaged in this sort of “businessy” aspect of the billion-dollar-plus fashion industry, Gerona just rolled with the punches, went with the flow, and just kept showing up and trying new things. “It’s so important to believe in yourself. Yeah, there are times when you are going to fail, but if it’s something you want to do and accomplish, you continually have to get yourself back up and believe you can do it.”
A child of Filipino parents who immigrated to the United States when she was only seven, Gerona was incessantly inspired by her hardworking parents’ unwavering commitment to drive, determination, and unrelenting resolve. Gerona also admires all her innovative and creative social media influencers who really took Revolve from ground zero on up, as they continue to wear many hats for the company – collaborators, content creators, stylists, hair and makeup artists, editorial directors, etc.
The Secrets to Succeeding in Style
Stick to it. Revolve wasn’t an overnight sensation by any means. Nothing was ever “over” for Gerona. She witnessed her parents move their entire family from a very familiar place to a very unfamiliar one and made it work – every day! Mike and Michael started a fashion company with only 50K of their own money and built it to $70-80 million. Confidence and believing in oneself are essential for achieving long-term success and career happiness. Lastly, loving what you do will get you out of bed every morning and fuel your drive and determination. “I love the people I work with. I love what I do. I love what the company stands for, and I’m just so happy to be a part of it.”
Not to mention, a closet overflowing with cute, chic outfits sure doesn’t hurt.