65 - Raissa Gerona, Revolve

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This is a podcast episode titled, 65 - Raissa Gerona, Revolve. The summary for this episode is: <p>In our first episode of the new year, we sit down with Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer of fashion retailer and influencer marketing powerhouse Revolve. We start by learning how Raissa was a pioneer in the influencer marketing space, leveraging the then-new blogosphere in 2008 to promote her own Lovers and Friends clothing brand. Raissa shares her advice to marketers who question whether influencer marketing is “worth it,” emphasizing that it should be viewed as top-of-funnel marketing (like a billboard), and that marketers shouldn’t try to equate every single influencer post to a sale. We then take a step back to explore Raissa’s unique career journey. Raissa reveals how she was originally on track to become an attorney, but a trip to Italy led her to pursue the entrepreneurial path and start her own clothing brand, which later connected her to Revolve founders Michael Mente &amp; Mike Karanikolas. To close the show, we learn about the successes and challenges involved with scaling Revolve 10x in 10 years to achieve $1B in revenue, before hearing what’s in store for Raissa and Revolve over the next decade.</p>

Conor Begley: I've been waiting to do this one for a long time. Raissa is one of the OGs when it comes to influencer marketing and the proof is in the pudding. I think Revolve at recent or most recently was valued over$ 2 billion on the public markets. And really I think influencers were a huge driver of that success. Enjoy today's show, guys. Remember, tell a friend that's the best way that you can help, if you liked it.

Intro: Explore the minds and marketing strategies behind today's winning brands and businesses. Tap into the Power of the creative economy with Earned by CreatorIQ, here's Conor Begley.

Conor Begley: Hi everyone, and welcome to Earned. Today, I have Raissa Gerona on the show today, Chief Brand Officer at the everybody knows influencer brand, Revolve. Welcome to the show.

Raissa Gerona: Thanks so much, Conor. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to finally sit down with you. I know we had to move this a few times. I really appreciate you just thinking of about me for the show and also accommodating my schedule.

Conor Begley: No, of course. You're the type of person that your schedule gets accommodated.

Raissa Gerona: I appreciate it.

Conor Begley: And normally I have to make these kind of long introductions to guests to help people understand who they are and what their brand is and how they contribute. But I feel like with you, it's kind of no introduction necessary.

Raissa Gerona: Really? I don't know. I'm honestly flattered, but thank you. Yeah, thanks.

Conor Begley: Well, for the few people that may not know you, so you've been at Revolve for I believe over eight years, right?

Raissa Gerona: Yes-

Conor Begley: And during that time when you started, it was really still pretty small and now, it's a publicly listed stock that's become, I think synonymous with influencers and influencer marketing. And I know that in the last year or two you've tried to accelerate other areas, the marketing funnel, but I think you were one of the originals, one of the real kind of pioneers in the space, so I'm really excited for today.

Raissa Gerona: Thank you. I appreciate that. Those are all very kind words, I think. I can't believe also how fast it's been at Revolve. It feels like... It's same thing. I feel like I've been there for such a short amount of time and I've done so much, but I also feel like I've been there forever and have seen so much developed, not just of course in the retail space, obviously in the marketing space. So it's just been phenomenal to really be a part of it and also just to watch so much of it change over time.

Conor Begley: For sure. And I think as I think about it, we started Tribe about 11 years ago, now CreatorIQ. And you really got into the influencer space with Lovers and Friends, before Revolve. So we probably got into the space about the same time.

Raissa Gerona: Yeah. I launched Lovers and Friends, which was the second brand actually that I had. My first clothing brand was called Brigid Catiis and it went underwater after two years of launching it in 2008 or 2007. And with Lovers and Friends, we launched it in 2010 and I think that was the very beginning of the blog sphere. I think blogs kind of started to bubble up in 2007, 2008. So it was again, kind of very beginning before Instagram. So we were able to use and leverage bloggers to help promote Lovers and Friends. And that was again, the second brand that I had. And that quickly grew and I think that was such a great case study of how brands can be really nimble, really creative, also with having zero budget and also just pure luck. Luck of being a brand during a time where that space was really kind of front and center, and not all the way kind of there yet. So when people ask me about that, I'm like I think it's really, we got so lucky. And then when Revolve acquired... Eventually we had three companies that Revolve acquired. That's when it was like, okay, go time. Because we had that case study of okay, bloggers want to work with brands and they're able to promote it on their different platforms. So obviously now it feels very like, duh. Yeah, that's what people do. But in 2010, 2009, it wasn't the most important thing by any means to any brand to market in that way.

Conor Begley: Well, it's funny, I think, you say it's duh today, but I think even a lot of the people that we talked to today, some of the largest brands, luxury brands, fast fashion brands in the world, they'll have one or two people dedicated to it, like big brands that you would know, and it's shocking to see the success of you guys and others that have multi- billion dollar outcomes, and still to be so under- invested. So it feels duh to you, but it's still not duh to everybody. Not in the same way. Not in the same way.

Raissa Gerona: Yeah, you know what, you're right. I should actually take that back. I was at dinner last night with actually Michael who's the co- founder, co- CEO of Revolve, and then Mitch Moseley. So the three of us, along with another person, Candace actually started Lovers and Friends and the two other brands. And we were having dinner with a woman named Jenny who was from the private equity firm that invested in Revolve. So we were just kind of wanted to see each other after a long time. But she was reminiscing about how in 2019 when we were on the road to take the company public, that she distinctly remembers one of the questions that the investors asked, which was, " Can you please explain influencer marketing?" And this was in 2019, this was three years ago.

Conor Begley: Not that long ago.

Raissa Gerona: Not that long ago that somebody... Or actually again when we were on... You're right with that comment of I shouldn't be saying like duh, because just three years ago that was really my primary purpose, was to educate investors on influencer marketing and the way it works for the fundamentals of it, and then of course getting more granular of the posts and what does it really work, and top of funnel marketing, and the payment structure, all these things. But I think just even the general idea of how it works and why it's important, was absolutely the number one question I got in 2019. And I was reminded of that last night. I was like, " Oh yeah, that's right," that it felt like so long ago, but it really wasn't.

Conor Begley: No. And those investors, they're not thinking about it every day like you are or like I am. And so for them, they've probably had a discussion around it two or three times in the last three years. So it's still not something that they understand kind of deeply in their bones like, " Oh, there's a brand that does it that's been really successful, but does it mean it's supposed to be done everywhere, at what scale?" All these questions. So I think you guys are still... And going back to your, we got lucky comment, I think everybody had access to the same information back then. So everybody knew.

Raissa Gerona: Conor, Thank you mean. Yeah, we had that, I guess the same kind of playing field in a way of having access to that same information, but it is kind of also instinct of course. And I think having really great partners that are very open- minded, I always also think that that's essential in a business. I think sometimes somebody might be a trailblazer, but there's just so much red tape to get things done. So it's really hard to move the needle when you have someone that's forward thinking, but the rest of the organization is not as collaborative, or more skeptical, or just very set in their ways. I think that's one thing that I definitely give Revolve and it's leadership team so much credit, because it's not just about the marketing. I really think that being digitally native that launched almost 20 years ago, 20 years will be next year, which is crazy, also. Yeah, I know. It's crazy. That mentality, it's so alive in the company and that's honestly why I love being a part of it, is again, it's beyond marketing, but just operations, or just how to expand globally. Just really thinking about how to put more independent brands on the website. I think it's just really nimble and open thinkers in that way and I love it.

Conor Begley: Yeah, no. I think having that kind of alignment at an executive level, especially over such a long period of time and buy- in, because there are signals, we help to provide signals, other people help to provide signals that you're working, that influencer marketing is working, but it's very hard to connect directly like this Instagram post to how much value it got for you. That's a very tough thing to do. So to have a CFO, a CEO, or co- CEOs that are supportive of something that's not necessarily perfect, like it's not an Instagram ad where we go, "Oh, I ran this ad and generated X dollars." That's tough to come by, for sure.

Raissa Gerona: For sure. And I think that's one of the things that I try to remind other marketers that ask, is influencer marketing worth it? Is influencer marketing an investment that we should be really looking at? And I think what a lot of people forget is that, or not forget, maybe their approach is not what it should be, is that they want to equate every single post to drive revenue or a sale. And I think that that's just fundamentally from the start, a wrong way to look at it, I think it's absolutely top of funnel marketing and there's also different people that can do different things. I really look at a post as a billboard and I think if you post a billboard, you can't go to the advertiser and say, " How much did I convert from this?" It's all very high level impressions and where's the CPM on that? And so I think for us, that was one of the things that we got, just the fundamentals of what influencers can do, I think has been such a, what we kind of got right, I guess, is that let's try to broadcast what the brand is about and then see what happens. And also see what happens is not just one post, it's taken a long time to really figure out what that is. And then of course now there's so many different tools, whether it's of course before we tried tribe dynamics of what is the EMV on something, to of course impressions and traffic, but now of course we can track better on sales. But I think approaching it from that perspective, from the start is the wrong way... I think is not the right approach.

Conor Begley: And a lot of people have done that and it doesn't work and they go, influencer don't work. Now, I do want to get into your background, so I want to hop back there in a second, but I want to dive into one other kind of topic there that you're talking about, which is over the last call it year and a half, two years, you know obviously have the kind of creator/ influencer engine going, but it seems like you've started to invest more heavily in the kind of customer marketing, in marketing your partners, the brands that are on Revolve, which I think you've got close to a thousand brands and the vast majority of them are small, independent brands. What was the thinking behind investing in those activities while the influencer engine is still kind of running?

Raissa Gerona: I think after our first true influencer partnership was in 2013, that's when we first did a Revolver on the world trip, and really kind of kicked things off in a big way where there was figuring out which influencers to work with, et cetera. So it has been a while, it's been 10 years. And so I think for us really figuring out that we need to continue to connect with our consumer is first and foremost. And I think being in the pandemic, it really opened my eyes that we were so event and influencer driven, which is amazing and it's always going to be a part of our strategy, but to be a little bit more diverse, especially when you're told to stay home and you can't do anything. How else could we, could we message what the brand is about, without having these kind of events and trips that we're known for? And so that was very eye- opening for me as a marketer to figure out strategy that's, I guess I'm calling just at home, Evergreen and then also the program that we've been running with influencers. So that was kind of just a, we have to figure this out, because we had no choice during the pandemic. But it was also such a great lesson and a blessing, because we were able to build out that program pretty significantly. And then knowing that we can always pull the lever when we're able to travel again and do these things. And then on the brand side, I felt like that was again another lever that hasn't been really pulled in a long time, because we have been so influencer focused, that people forget that we're a retailer. I think I'm really happy that people think about Revolve as a true brand, but with that they think almost that it's a mono brand, that it's one brand. But it's not, like you said, there's a thousand sometimes 1200 brands on the website, close to 80% of them are owned by females, small businesses, or young designers from all over the world. And I think that we need to be able to tell that story significantly more, because these products, they're really hard to find, which is another kind of pillar of Revolve's aside from influencers, that we carry so many brands that you can't really find anywhere else. Our buyers do such a phenomenal job scouring the internet and of course going on these appointments to find the best products for our customers. And so that was just a big part that I think has been missing, because we've been so influencer focused. So that's really been my goal the last couple of years, is to tell a more holistic story about Revolve, and to also really set us apart from a lot of the digitally native guys, a lot of DTC brands that came up in the last couple of years that Revolve is one, not a mono brand. Two, it's so robust and the product offering. And three, there's so many more ways that we can connect to the consumer aside from just these trips, events and influencers.

Conor Begley: That makes sense. You've also done a lot of the more traditional fashion events, like the Met Gala, Fashion Week, is it weird to kind of... Because at first I feel like influencers were shunned from those events and you guys obviously were kind of counterculture. You went against that grain. Is it weird now to come back full circle on it?

Raissa Gerona: It is, but it's also again comes back to just how do we set ourselves apart? How do we keep the brand aspirational? And I think that seeing so many companies, which is so amazing for the influencer economy to use influencers in every single segment, whether it's obviously fashion, beauty, cars, home, I mean you name it, I think a lot of brands are working with influencers. It was important for us to also pivot and say like, " Hey, yes there's a ton of influencers that you can work with, but it's really also a whole other set of activities that you have to do to be a true kind of fashion brand. And that's fundamentally what I always think about when I go to bed and wake up is like, how do we stay relevant? How do we stay aspirational? How do we stay a lifestyle brand? Because that was always the goal from the beginning. And so I think being integrated into all the segments of fashion, whether it's the Met, or New York Fashion Week, or Coachella, or obviously social media is just, it's table stakes for any brand. And so for us, we have to be everywhere and that's really stressful, honestly. Not only do you have to be everywhere, you have to be good at everything. You have to be good on TikTok, you have to be good on Instagram, you have to be good at influencer marketing, you have to be good at your... I could go on and on. You have to be good at everything to be relevant to the consumer, because they have so many choices, you know what I mean? They have so many options. And I think for us, what I do is very, and what the team does, it's very... It's what you see. But the other part that's not sexy and not as cool, but I think is so cool, it's just fundamentals of our business. Whether it's the free return and free shipping. Literally, I get stopped on the street. People are like, " Revolve has the best shipping ever. I had inaudible and I got it the very next day." Those are things that I think people forget that is again, makes the brand what it is, because you could have a really cool brand and do the Met, but if you don't have the fundamentals, whether of course it's your margin structure, or just the operations on the shipping and returns, it kind of falls apart. So again, I think what makes the brand so cool is that we can be the flashy side and go to the Met, but also make sure that the customers are getting their packages and the business is inaudible. You know what I mean? These are just like-

Conor Begley: You want the trains to run on time, right?

Raissa Gerona: Exactly.

Conor Begley: You got to make sure-

Raissa Gerona: Exactly. Exactly. So there's so many different boxes to check off to make that train run. And my job and the brand marketing team's job is very, of course again out there and it's so tangible. You see it on Instagram, you see it on your social, you see it in Vogue or whatever. But again, at the end of the day, it wouldn't be running without all these other kind of parts that I take so much pride in.

Conor Begley: A 100%.

Raissa Gerona: You have to give them a shout- out. I'm like, shipping and handling a check, inaudible profitable, that's important.

Conor Begley: For apparel brands, returns are much higher than other categories. So if you don't have that figured out, it can kill your company. It cuts so much into your margins.

Raissa Gerona: Absolutely. And for ever since the beginning, again, back in 2003 when Mike and Michael started the company, fundamentally they believe that your home is your dressing room. And that again, now it's table stakes. But in 2003, that just thinking about ordering jeans on a website that you didn't even really know, putting in your credit card felt very, very scary. You know what I mean? And so in order to make people feel comfortable, that was just a service that was provided from the beginning of the business. And so you're right, it is really... It's tough. All apparel is, you have to try things on. And I always say to the team, it's like when you go to a store, when you go to Zara, you take 10 things in there, seldom do you buy all 10 things. It's like the same exact thought process when you also order online. So for us, it's obviously baked into our margins and we to, I think it's one part of what makes Revolve also very special and to the customer, it's reliable in that way and I'm very, very proud of that.

Conor Begley: Totally. It's kind of crazy to think about what was going on in 2003. That was pre- Facebook, pre Twitter, pre Instagram, it's nuts.

Raissa Gerona: Yeah, that's why I'm like, it's that. It's really being like, is this going to work? Are people going to buy clothes online, or anything online? But clothes is so crazy, and again now, we don't even think about it. But that's just been, again, part of the business from the start. And it's crazy to see how much it's evolved for in 20 years. It's nuts.

Conor Begley: Well, let's actually go back 20 years or even further. So I want to go back into your background, because I think what people really underestimate... I remember I have a friend who runs a very successful restaurant now and he is been doing it for a decade. And he comes to me and he is all excited, he is like, man, " I've figured out how to increase the yield..." If you search for margaritas in the Bay Area, he's the number one result, makes this killer Mexican restaurant. And he is been making margaritas since we were in college together. He was my roommate. And he is like, " I figured out to increase the yield of limes by 20X." He's like, " You get the lime juice out and then you take the skins, you apply this acid, it does this." He's like, " I've done taste tests, I've done this, I've done that." And that's to eek out an extra few percentage points of margin on that thing. And I feel like those are the kind of hard one victories that take a really long time, but ultimately lead to a brand like Revolve. So I want to go through your background, because I think that kind of resilience over time is pretty wild. I've got the story here, why don't you tell the story of, you were going to be an attorney and then you decided to not be an attorney, then you were in a sales job and then... Tell that whole story for people, so they can hear it.

Raissa Gerona: So I went to UC Irvine and was studying law and was very motivated. I don't know why now it's like I laugh, but I was very motivated to graduate as fast as possible. I was just like, I need to get out of college, I need to make money, I want to have this type of car. It's funny, but that really allowed me to work very, very hard. I did graduate a little bit early. I took my LSATs and everything and then my last year, I basically was done. So I was like, I'm going to study abroad for a quarter and then be off the next quarter. I'm just going to walk on stage and just graduate. And so of course studying in Italy, it's so quintessential. I had my moment studying abroad. inaudible. I was sitting there and I was just like, man, people here take fiesta and stuff. What's happening? I'd like this... I'd never been abroad in my whole entire life. I was born in the Philippines, but beyond the Philippines, I'd never gone out of the country ever since moving to America when I was seven. So going to Europe as a 19 or 20- year- old, I was absolutely blown away. Just the beauty of it, just the lifestyle, everything. Anyway, I end up telling my parents when I was studying abroad that I wasn't going to be a lawyer and they were absolutely devastated. And the first thing my dad says was like, " What about my investment? I put you through college, now what are you going to do?" And so it was stressful for all of us, because I didn't know what I was going to do. But call it the third or fourth thing that they said was like, " Listen, when you come back you're going to have to figure out how you're going to make your own money, because the deal was you're going to go to law school and now that you're not, you're going to have to basically make a living." So I came back, I graduated college, super stressed, did not know what to do, but I immediately got a sales job and I went into sales, because my dad was in pharmaceutical sales. And so I was like, dad makes pretty okay money, he has his own schedule, he's an outside sales. And so I was like, you know what, maybe I can do this. And it was not in pharmaceutical sales. I was selling uniform rental, basically. And I would have to go to blue collar jobs, people that wore uniforms that they needed basically a laundry service. That's really what I was doing and I learned so much in such a short amount of time. I was 21 doing this and one, you had to control your own schedule. So I would only go into the office once a week. You would have to manage your territory, which is the area that you were designated to sell. And then I made basically$ 20,000 or something in my guaranteed salary, and then everything was based on commission. And so that was such an important experience. Now again looking back, because it really was kind of like business 101 on being an entrepreneur, even though I had insurance and somebody paying me guaranteed$ 20,000, I was able to learn pretty quickly how to close deals, how to put together deals, how to present, what happens when I'm lazy, which is I get no deals done and I have no commission. No. And so it was a very quick way for me to learn like, " Oh, this is how it is to work for yourself." And because of that, I really think fueled my desire honestly to work for myself, which is exactly what I did. So while I had that job, I started my first brand, and I would just sell basically remade vintage clothing on eBay. And that business started to do really, really well. I ended up quitting my job, I launched that vintage remake brand and Revolve was my customer. That's how I met Michael, that's how I met really the whole Revolve company, because they bought my brand. And so that was in 2007 and did that for about two years. And then in 2008, as you know, was the great recession, ran out of money very quickly, and had to close the business in 2009. And that's when Michael asked to basically, " Hey, I don't really know you, seems like you're a hardworking person. Do you want to do a brand together?" And he was like, " I will fund everything, but you have to do everything." And to me that was just the biggest lotto ticket. It was a winning ticket. I'm like, " Yeah, I'll do every... Great," just because I had another brand closed, I can do this. And I literally did everything. I designed, I did tech packs, I sold it to showrooms, I did the marketing, I would pack the box and send it to the boutiques, because we also sold Lovers and Friends in other stores, not just Revolve. And again, it was kind of like the part two of business school. The part one was going to having that sales job. Part two was now, I would say part two B. Part two was having the first company that failed and then now having this company that I really did everything from start to finish, and I learned so much in such a short amount of time. And then built that up and then in 2014 ultimately sold it, sold it to Revolve, which was amazing. And that's how I was able to get a tiny bit of equity in the company, and really learn that process of selling a business, valuing things, and that really was life changing in every way.

Conor Begley: The Michael role in there, Michael Mente, is fascinating to me, that he would be willing to write that check hardly knowing you, or just knowing you a little bit. Is that something he does regularly? Maybe talk a little bit more about him too. It seems like he's played a pretty big role in your life, obviously both Michaels I'm sure have, but talk about him a little bit.

Raissa Gerona: So I met Michael in 2008 when they were buying my first friend, Brigid Catiis, that went out of business. And I always knew that he was kind of a special person, because he's in online retail, which at the time again, there were not that many. And so I just always was like, okay, he's always kind of down to try something new. And then when he wanted to do a brand with me, I was absolutely shocked that he would really take a risk. But also when I think about it now, that's probably his superpower, is to really recognize people either within the organization, or people that he wants to bring in and make sure to empower those people, to help continue the business in whatever kind of vision that he has. And he's done that multiple times, not just with me. He has great leadership in the company and some of the people, I would say three or four of the people that I can think top of mind, they've been at Revolve since they were an intern, and now they're running big parts of the business. And so he's just been a great... He's one of my great friends, but he's also been such a great mentor to me. And to watch him also truly blossom as a CEO, I think at the time when they bought Lovers and Friends, Revolve was, I don't know, doing maybe a 100 million in revenue, and then we just crossed a billion in revenue earlier this year, so to see that it's amazing. You're like, wow, it's 10X and in 10 years. It's incredible. So he's been such an important person in my life in that way, from just a business standpoint and a mentor. And he continues to really fascinate me about the way he thinks, about the world of course of business. And he's very also involved in marketing, because Revolve is his child.

Conor Begley: Yeah, totally.

Raissa Gerona: inaudible,, but I've been very lucky to have people like him in my life for sure.

Conor Begley: Yeah, it's funny, people talk about unicorns a lot and usually that means you're worth a billion, but doing a billion dollars in sales is a totally different milestone. That's pretty wild.

Raissa Gerona: I know we were also just saying recently, man, that happened earlier this year. I think it was in March or February or something. And we should have just had... That should have been a big party, because it's like... But we didn't, which is... It was more like, oh wow, we crossed a billion last month. Awesome. But you're right, when you sit back and you think about that, that's insane that your company is doing over a billion dollars in sales. So super proud of the entire team and it really comes back or down to Mike and Michael who are incredible CEOs, are super duper smart, very open. I always say that as a characteristic about both of them. Very open to change, very open to ideas, very open to feedback, which I think makes them killer as CEOs, because I think a lot of times we get set in our ways and I think that that's one of the things that makes them really special.

Conor Begley: Yeah, a 100%. I think if I'm doing back in the napkin math correctly, that means you're making a$100, 000 an hour, every single hour, every day for the entire year. That's a lot of money.

Raissa Gerona: Gosh. Okay. Yeah, I didn't inaudible. That's absolutely right. You know what, inaudible deserve it, for sure. Oh my gosh. Yeah. That's crazy.

Conor Begley: It's a weird number.

Raissa Gerona: It is a weird number.

Conor Begley: It's a big number.

Raissa Gerona: Oh, cool though. I love that.

Conor Begley: So let's talk about the scale. So scaling up 10X, obviously you had started working with influencers at Lovers and Friends and then really kind of blew that up at Revolve it sounds like. What was that kind of scaling it up? The scale of your guys' program in terms of working with... There's tens of thousands of influencers that create hundreds of thousands of pieces of content a year. What were some of the challenges with that scale? And then what do you think some of the mistakes are that people make along the way? What are the things that you're like, man, people... And you talked about it a little bit earlier, but just don't get this part right.

Raissa Gerona: Yeah, I mean we had so many challenges, but also I think a lot of room, because not that many people were doing it, so we couldn't really reference anybody to be honest of like, " Oh, they're doing this. This is their gifting program, or this is what the contract structure should be and the deliverables." It was like the wild, wild west. Nobody-

Conor Begley: You're making it up as you go.

Raissa Gerona: Oh my gosh, you're making it up as we go. Absolutely. And again, I think that's what also was the cool things about doing it during that time is that, you kind of set your own rules, not because you were trying to do anybody wrong, but just truly nobody else was doing it and at the scale that we were doing it. First, honestly it was just me that was gifting, reaching out and then another person and another. And then now inaudible call it 20 people on that team, that do solely just like influencer and brand ambassador kind of relations. But that has taken a long time. We also had to build a lot of our systems internally, almost like a CRM for influencers that didn't exist when we were starting out. So that the tech team had to build that in- house, so that we can track everyone's information from their top cities to their top... From male to female following to their shoe size, all of this stuff we have. And then recently, a year and a half ago we launched basically our own affiliate program that has been years in the making. We built it again internally in- house. And that was really because I guess in beginning it was a lot of like, it's all about brand awareness and impressions, which is still very important. But a lot of the affiliate programs, they don't share with you conversion on anyone.

Conor Begley: Yeah, totally. Totally.

Raissa Gerona: So it's a black, black box. And so for me, I saw that as an opportunity. And so the team, it took us a while to build it. We rolled it out, like I said, a year and a half ago. And that has been incredible. We have I think close to 30, 000 brand ambassadors who've signed up and obviously they get paid commission. But that's just been so fascinating, Conor, because we have such a wider view of what each person can do. We know who obviously is again, great for just impressions. Then you have people that are great for driving traffic, but maybe not the highest converters. And then you have the unicorns that are impressions, traffic drivers, converters. It's incredible and it just absolutely widened our view on who we should be working with. And so that has definitely been transformative in our business. And then in terms of getting it wrong, we make mistakes all the time. And I think brands also, I'm sure they feel my kind of pain too. Sometimes your head is down just working that when you lift it back up to kind of check around what's happening, you're like, oh my gosh, I missed this or we should have done this. And I don't think any of it is intentional. I think we're all just trying to figure it out, and that this is completely new space still. And every day, for instance, in 2019 TikTok launched, that is also kind of in a way a wild, wild west, because the platform is so different. There's so many different types of creators on the platform, the price point is different for each creator. So that then again, that's something that we have to learn again. You know what I mean? It's like you have to learn something new every single time. So I think again, in terms of mistakes or lessons learned, it's like you just have to be on it and just learning as much as possible all the time, because any platform can just come to fruition. And I think there's a big... I mean truly, and there's such a big benefit to be an early adopter, obviously there's risk, because you're trying to figure it out. But if you are on TikTok from the start, obviously Charli D'Amelio, then you have hundreds of millions of followers. And I think brands were a little bit late. I feel like we were late to TikTok and that was a missed opportunity. Now I think we're getting in our groove, but that took a while to really figure out and pivot. And there's so many more examples that I can give in terms of all the things that I think we could be doing. And in terms of brands, I really only just to be honest, look at Revolve, because that's just what I live and breathe. But there's so much and I think another kind of missed opportunity, or I shouldn't say missed opportunity, but one thing that I'm constantly trying to work on is just having content housed on our platform and on the website, because you're really at the mercy of all the algorithms, whether it's on Instagram, Facebook, anything can change at any given moment. And so to me, it's like you have to build your platform on so many different platforms. But I think it's also become very important to have it on your own website, or app, whatever you have, because it is a risk that I'm sure we all have experienced.

Conor Begley: Yeah, a 100%. Shein, I think has pushed their own kind of app really aggressively. You want to make sure you own those channels if you can. So quick question. So you got two more questions and then we're going to do one fun end of show question. So obviously you guys took the company public and now you've been a public company for I think a couple years. What are the challenges, because I think that's an ambition of our company to get to that point. And so what are some of the challenges of being at a public company versus a private company? Or has it been pretty much the same?

Raissa Gerona: From the marketing side it's pretty much the same. No, actually no. You're scrutinized all the time and you have to really think about everything over and over again to make sure that it's not going to be a liability on your investors. And I think reporting every quarter is also, I think to me, it's like just a report card every quarter of how you're doing. You know what I mean? And it's getting graded on it, truly on your stock. And so that's sometimes could be stressful. And to be honest, in the beginning I would check the stock every day. I'd be like, what this inaudible, because that's just what you start to think about.

Conor Begley: And the whole company is probably doing that. All the employees and probably not as much as you, but they check in, they look at it, et cetera.

Raissa Gerona: Et cetera. Exactly. But I think what's been great too, again going back to just the leadership team being in sync, is taking three steps back and saying we're in this for the long term, and yes, you're getting inaudible. You have to report on a quarterly basis, but we have aspirations to be a really, really large company, so let's keep our eyes on that prize. And of course we have to continue to maintain the business, but that's what we have to work towards. But that took me and I think a few people in the company a while to really get in that zone, because I was so just obsessed about the quarter and the stock price, and other kind of retailers reporting during this quarter? Then you're constantly comparing yourself also, which is good. But I have learned to focus on the brand, continue to do what we're doing right, learn from the mistakes and continue to keep our eye on that kind of 5, 10 year trajectory.

Conor Begley: Well, there's still opportunity to 10X or more. So I remember looking at it, it was crazy, because I think Fashion Nova is in the billions of revenue and they're like, " Well, how much more room is there to go?" I'm like, " Well, let's look at it." I'm like, " How big is Zara?" I think Zara's doing 30 to 35 billion in revenue. So you could get to 35 times your current size and still not be the biggest, there's still bigger brands than that.

Raissa Gerona: Exactly.

Conor Begley: So there's a lot of room up.

Raissa Gerona: I love it.

Conor Begley: Okay, so let's do one last question before the fun end of show question, which I'm kind of forgetting. I had it, I got to remember it. So I like to have it come as we go. So you recently celebrated your 40th birthday and I think you mentioned online that in your 30s, sold two businesses, built a global brand, took it public, became a mom, all that stuff. And I personally really liked to think in decades. I think when you think in years, the phrase I really liked is people overestimate what they can do in a year, but underestimate what they can do in a decade. So for you, what is the next kind of-

Raissa Gerona: I love that.

Conor Begley: Yeah, it's a great one. Because again it's like, oh wow, what could I do in 10 years? That's a big chunk of time. So for you, what is the next decade hold? What are you hoping to accomplish?

Raissa Gerona: To be honest, I'm not a 100% sure yet, that's been top of mind for me for the last year, because knowing that I was turning 40 and kind of trying to plot out what I want to do for the next 10 years. But it's just exciting to me, because I feel like I'm just in this very different time in my life, where I have access to not... Of course, we all have access to so much information, but just people and people that I want to meet and different types of businesses. And so I almost feel like it's very inaudible and very cheesy, but it feels like the possibilities are endless. I obviously have so much aspiration for the brand to continue to grow and I definitely think we're in that direction. But for me personally, how can I be more effective potentially in other businesses, whether it's of course being an advisor or board member or consulting, et cetera, and just use all this experience that I really worked hard for to gain and have failed so many times, how can I really use that to my benefit? I haven't completely figured it out, so I'll come back to you on that hopefully here. But I would say the last thing would be to just... I've been really eager to give back in some ways, whether it's mentoring young people, or really just giving my time and being involved in organizations, nonprofit organizations. So that's something that I definitely am putting things in motion and that really just again stems from, wow, you've been able to do so much in 10 years, and you're in a position to really help people out just with, again, so many failed experiences, and how can I give back? So that's something that's been top of mind and very important to me.

Conor Begley: A 100%. And I think it's one of the bigger misunderstandings when it comes to entrepreneurship, which you didn't mention, but people assume that all the best companies are started by people in their 20s, and it's like, no. The success rates actually go up as you get older. So it goes up all the way until you're mid to late 60s, 70s, you get more and more successful. Because you know people, you know how to do things, you've got access to capital, you've got all these things that you didn't have when you were in your early 20s.

Raissa Gerona: Exactly. And that's so exciting and that's why I'm like, I don't know, because I feel there's so many different paths to take and all the things that you just listed are all the things that I think about of, wow, you could really do anything. I know, again, it sounds very cheesy and I'm not saying I could do everything, but it's more just take a moment, take a beat and just figure out what you really kind of want to do, because there's a good chance that you can get it done. So that's been very exciting for me.

Conor Begley: A 100%. All right, let's do one fun end of show question. So what was the biggest, and you can leave names out, the biggest Revolve around the world fail? What was the one where things just didn't go, something broke, somebody got lost, luggage was burned, something like that?

Raissa Gerona: There's so many, honestly. So many failed Revolve around the world, because you're dealing with so many different personalities. And so something that might not be as important to one person, could be very significant to another. And that's another thing that I really try to..., I've learned honestly, doing the trips is like I have no idea what these people are going through at the end of the day, whether it's people that I'm traveling with or people that I'm working with, or just people that I come across with at the grocery store. And to just have a little bit more kind of empathy and not judge them, if they're crying over something that I think is a non issue, I'm like, you know what? I have no idea. Maybe other things happen the day before that is not being shared with me and I don't want to make my assumption on such a small kind of instance. But gosh, we've had so many, Conor, from of course, lost luggages is always a 911 situation. A boyfriend breakup, boy fighting during... All of this stuff. When I say we could have had the best reality show, we could have had the best reality show. And also-

Conor Begley: There's still a chance inaudible to go.

Raissa Gerona: Trust me, we've been asked and I'm like, I would never do that to the influencers, my team, or the brand. But it's been such a wild ride and literally I feel very, very lucky to have experienced all of it, even if I have people crying about lost luggage. It's been an incredible ride.

Conor Begley: Oh, I can imagine. Well, I really appreciate you taking out the time. I'm glad we've finally got to make this happen. And again, congrats on the last 10 and here's to the next 10X over the next decade. And excited to watch you guys continue to kill it and innovate.

Raissa Gerona: Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here, and thank you for your time.

Conor Begley: Of course, all right. Bye, Raissa.

Raissa Gerona: Bye.

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In our first episode of the new year, we sit down with Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer of fashion retailer and influencer marketing powerhouse Revolve. We start by learning how Raissa was a pioneer in the influencer marketing space, leveraging the then-new blogosphere in 2008 to promote her own Lovers and Friends clothing brand. Raissa shares her advice to marketers who question whether influencer marketing is “worth it,” emphasizing that it should be viewed as top-of-funnel marketing (like a billboard), and that marketers shouldn’t try to equate every single influencer post to a sale. We then take a step back to explore Raissa’s unique career journey. Raissa reveals how she was originally on track to become an attorney, but a trip to Italy led her to pursue the entrepreneurial path and start her own clothing brand, which later connected her to Revolve founders Michael Mente & Mike Karanikolas. To close the show, we learn about the successes and challenges involved with scaling Revolve 10x in 10 years to achieve $1B in revenue, before hearing what’s in store for Raissa and Revolve over the next decade.