In this episode of Ecommerce Experts Talk, Marc Bishop interviewed Rachel Erickson, who is the inventor of an online platform which teaches and helps people achieve apparel business success. Rachel reveals how she got inspired, what were the initial challenges she faced and how she uses digital marketing strategies to upkeep her Ecommerce business. Watch now for some profound insights.
I’m great. Thanks for having me. Marc, this is awesome.
Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Rachel Erickson. I have been a member of the apparel industry for the last 20 years of my career. I graduated with a degree in fashion design from the University of Cincinnati. Many, many years ago. We won’t talk about that. And I have been able to take my career through technical design, creative design, development, fit engineering, pattern engineering, and ultimately also really learned a lot about the product management side of the apparel business over the last 20 years of my really strong career. And just last year, in October of 2021, we actually just had our very first anniversary. I decided to launch on Unmarket Street, which is built around currently built around consulting and client work. We kind of give time back to teams who are really struggling to fill a full-time headcount or who just need someone to kind of come in and take work off of people’s plates so that we can move forward at a more rapid pace. Just with my experience and my background, I’m a very fast and efficient worker. And so a lot of people will bring me into a kind of just launch them forward.
Currently, yes. A lot of parts lot of what I do right now is consulting in one on one work with my clients. I do have a team who works with me with other very experienced, wonderful technical designers and developers who kind of come in and help me with the work that we do with our clients.
We are offering online courses, yes.
So go ahead. So great.
Sure. There’s a very large hole in the apparel industry that comes around in education, where we as an industry tend to really silo ourselves into the single role or the single company that we’re working with. And I really saw an opportunity for us to be able to build more community by sharing information across different companies and across different roles and being able to offer each other advice and kind of just a sounding board on the processes that we were putting in place. What was working and what wasn’t, so that we could share that knowledge and kind of bring it back to the roles that we’re in. So we’re building that out right now. We are offering a couple of live weekly classes, and we’re also building a course right now that we’re hoping to offer in 2023 that people can kind of do at their own pace.
That’ll be a part of the course. Essentially what the entire course will be if you bought the entire package and went from, you know, all the way through year one, all the way through like that, what we’re going to call the graduate course of it. You would be learning how to build your own apparel line. So all the way from like mindset of being an entrepreneur and are really ready to start your own business all the way up through how to do the development, how to work with a factory, how to fit your own garments, and then you know how to produce and sell and market.
I think my background in the industry, and the 20 years of experience that I’ve had has really set me apart from some of the other courses and some of the other offerings that are out there. In my last role in corporate, one of the big triggers made me feel like I could go out and teach other people and help them really excel in their businesses. We took our business from a $24 million business to a $60 million business in just one year. And the lessons that I learned and the processes that I learned by doing that.
Yeah. Yeah. It was a massive learning. And we did that through what we call SKU rationalization processes. So we were able to kind of tear down the line, figure out what was making us money and what wasn’t and what we really needed to focus on. And so what I’m offering and able to offer now is really based around that and teaching other people that process.
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s exciting. People take this and be able to run with it. And what we’re also seeing as a brand is that when people put these practices in place, not only are they seeing their revenue growth, but we’re also seeing a lot of team stress come down and team burnout come down because they’re not focusing on so much work. They’re focusing on what’s really important.
Yeah, we’re working a lot right now on social media, kind of doing a lot of videos. We started a YouTube channel. We’re on Instagram almost every single day. But the main way that I kind of get out and meet clients and make acquaintances is by reaching out to people that I’ve known in the industry for so many years. I have so many great connections and I worked at several different amazing companies and all of those people are kind of helping to get me that business right now, and they’re reaching back out to me and saying, Oh, I know someone who’s starting a business or I know someone who needs a role filled. And, so they’re reaching back out to me now that they know I’m doing this consulting work.
I totally agree. Yeah. So it’s a very good way to reconnect with those people then, too. Yeah, it’s awesome.
I totally agree. I think there’s a trust that comes with a referral like that, like when someone can really stand up and say, you know, this is the person that you need on your team. There’s like less time that you have to use to build that trust. Then with that client, it’s great.
Totally. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a great way to say it. While we’re building out a lot of the other programs, our best program right now is still like individualised work for clients. So one thing I’m really proud of is that while a lot of other people are kind of offering, you know, blanket programs or just one note things, and it’s of a fixed price. What I’ve been able to do is work really directly with every single client in a unique way. So when I call, get on a connect, call with someone or I’ll get on a consult call and really figure out what it is that they need, what’s their budget, what’s their timeline like, and how do we fit that all into an individualized program for them instead of trying to just pigeonhole everybody into a single program? So make sense if people want to work with us. Right now, we’re just taking calls and figuring out how they would meet us and then we work backwards into that.
Yeah, definitely. So we’re also going to be offering a lot of like one on one work for the people who are kind of graduating from the programs. So as they start to build out their own line or as they start to really hone in on these processes that we’re teaching and talking about, they’ll get more time with me individually so that they can amplify that work, ask a lot of really pointed questions, and we can start to dig deeper into what it is that they need to do.
It is. It’s one of my biggest missions. Starting this company was to teach and spend a lot of time taking what I’ve learned and giving it to others. So that’s been a huge coup for me. And it’s the favourite part of my day. I love when I get the chance to do all of that.
I do. Yeah, I do.
Yes. Yeah, yeah, love doing that.
Yes, yes, I will. I’ve been sewing since I was seven years old. My mother taught me how to sew in high school. I was a little bit, I figure oddball out. I made a lot of my own clothes and were very weird outfits and which really excelled me.
Yeah, definitely. So it’s been really interesting, like this journey that I’ve been on and I do still. So now when I need a little bit of relief, then I’m actually working on my own apparel line, kind of in the background too. So there’s a lot of what I’m learning as a, as a, a builder of my own apparel line is what I’m trying to then teach as well because I’m learning every single day about it.
Yeah, I always found it a way to be really unique. Like instead of wearing what everybody else was wearing, I had something that nobody else could get because I made it so.
Yeah. You know, my best advice right now, when I really started thinking about starting my own business, I put together a really small business plan and I started thinking about all of the tasks that I was going to be doing. And as I really got started and started getting advice from other people, the best piece of advice I can send forward is to ask for help. Like, I’m in a couple of different coaching programs. I have an amazing couple of team members working with me now, and I would not be anywhere close to where I am today without all of those people who have been helping me along the way. If I had been trying to do it all myself, I would probably still be here, you know, trying to get everything off of the ground. So. So ask for help. Don’t be afraid to. To bring in someone to guide you, to mentor you. And don’t be afraid to ask other people to come in and help you with the tasks that are at your zone of genius. It’s really important to make sure that you’re giving opportunities to other people and not trying to do it all yourself. It’s just not possible.
It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me.