When Revolve made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, the online fashion retailer made its relationship with influencers official. Revolve Chief Brand Officer Raissa Gerona told Fashionista that part of her pre-IPO schedule involved explaining just what, exactly, an "influencer" is to potential investors.
"They had so many questions, just about the mechanics of it — and sometimes even, [they would ask] 'What's an influencer? What makes somebody an influencer?'" she explained. "For some, I had to start with the basics and laying the foundation of why we work with social media influencers and why social media is important."
After selling 11.8 million shares at $18 a piece, and with a valuation near $1.8 billion, those investors surely understand the power of influencer marketing now. And Revolve shows no signs of slowing down on that front. Fast on the heels of the May launch of an in-house line with Aimee Song comes another label, this time with Brazilian beauty vlogger-turned-fashion blogger Camila Coelho. It's a popular market, with brands from Chiara Ferragni, Danielle Bernstein, Arielle Charnas, Julia Engel and Chriselle Lim already on shelves, just to name a few. But rather than spur on competitive jealousy, that's just serving as inspirational fuel for Coelho.
"When I started 10 years ago, influencers, it wasn't a career; a lot of people didn't even understand us," she explains at a preview for the line. "Today, I am so proud of all of these girls who are creating their own empire, creating their own brands and being entrepreneurs."
And certainly, the bright, sexy line sets itself apart from the others, just as Coelho's own style sets her apart in the influencer space. Prices will run from $88 to $398, with sizing between XXS and XL, which is a great start to Coelho's goal of making fashion for different body types a reality. The brand will launch with around 80 styles, moving to around 40 styles per monthly drop.
We caught up with Coelho ahead of the launch to ask why the timing is right for her own brand, what sets hers apart from her fellow influencers and how working with Revolve will help her achieve her long-term goals.
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Why did you want to start your own line?
When I started on YouTube, back in 2010, creating a brand might have seemed so far away and unreachable, and impossible maybe — although, I've learned with my mom growing up that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and if you work hard, and you can dream big. But I didn't even know what direction it was going to take, especially because I started with beauty. After creating my blog, I transitioned to fashion, because I've always loved fashion as much as I love beauty. I think really one compliments the other.
Doing fashion weeks and working with fashion brands, it did become a dream of mine. Maybe I didn't think it was going to happen so soon because time just goes by so fast, but it became a dream. I told myself, 'I am going to create my own brand one day,' and it's happening. I couldn't tell you how happy I am and how accomplished I am to actually be doing this. It's been the craziest, busiest days of my life, but it's already so worth it because everything is coming together how I imagined. We're doing a launch trip, which I'm so excited about; a lot of people I love are coming.
To be doing this with Revolve, having my brand sold at Revolve.com, is such a big deal. I've been working with Revolve for more than four years now, and they are family to me. I really love and admire the Revolve team, and that is so important to me. We could have done it before, and we had opportunities to do it before, but I wanted to wait for the right time and it just feels so right now. I'm so happy and excited that my followers, and my friends and family will all be able to have access to these pieces that I created.
What makes now the right time?
We had a moment where I was transitioning and working more with fashion brands. I did a collaboration with Lancôme, which was very successful and such a good experience too, to create a product. I collaborated on a fashion line with a big Brazilian designer, Carol Bassi, which is more of a luxury designer, and that was also an amazing experience. When you collaborate with a brand it's different than creating your own, because you want to put your style into it but also keeping the brand's DNA.
So the right timing was getting some experience first, like creating product, even though it was with another brand. I'm so busy, extremely busy, but I wanted to just put more of my time into something that's mine.
Walk us through your design process.
The process is my favorite — when we have the design meetings, which we usually schedule five to six hours straight just to approve and do design, it's so fun and it goes by so fast. By the end of the meeting, I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I don't want to leave,' because it's amazing. I come up with all the inspirations, and then from my inspirations we do sketches, and then I approve sketches and approve fabrics. Each group of sketches, we'll choose a different fabric for, and then once that's approved, that will go for production, and it comes back as first samples.
Once those come in we try every single piece on a model and on myself, because I like to try it on and feel how the clothing works on my body. That's when we make any adjustments that we need to make, any changes that we want to do. The adjustments are made, come back, and that's when we final approve it, or, if we are not satisfied with it yet, we just drop it. But those decisions are made fast, and I really enjoy that, especially trying on everything and approving fabrics.
What are you most excited for with your collection?
I'm loving playing with fabrics. I'm so excited for all the fabrics that we're going to be using; silk and linen are so big in my lifestyle already, and I really wanted to incorporate it in my collection, the first one, but we're also playing with much more fabrics. I want to see how people react to it. Then what I want to do is, the hero pieces, things that people like the most, we want to keep it in the next collections; maybe bring it back in different colors or even different fabric, but keeping the shapes that people love the most.
It's been a lot of work, but I'm so involved in all of the design, and also gifting right now! My gifting list is so big, because I want to give to so many people, but then I wanted to choose each piece for each person myself. My team was like, 'No, we can do it for you,' but I was like, 'No, I want to do it.' It was midnight last night and I was working on my list, but I have so much love for this, and there's so much hard work that went into it already that I want to be involved, and it's so worth it, even though I'm not getting enough sleep every night.
How would you say the designs reflect your aesthetic?
Doing looks of the day for so long, I know what my followers like the most and what type of clothing they like seeing me wear the most, and so I definitely thought of that. My biggest inspiration was Brazil, so bringing in a lot of color, a lot of playful pieces and always with a sexy touch; things that you can wear to an office, and then go to a happy hour later. What I want it to reflect is a girl who is confident and filled with joy, a girl who's not scared of wearing anything. I feel a lot of people are scared of color still, and even prints, and I really wanted to make that strong in this collection. I cannot wait to see everyone wearing it and styling it in different ways.
Influencer lines are having a big moment right now. What sets yours apart from the rest?
When it comes to my collection, for sure I've always wanted it to be very much myself, but I want it to be a brand that is inclusive in that anyone from anywhere around the world with different backgrounds, different body shapes, could wear it, and look at it as a really cool brand. I think that each brand is different anyway, because it reflects a different person.
You said Revolve is like family, but what makes them the right partner for reaching your customer base?
For me, I see Revolve as such a strong platform, and just having my product there is already selling itself in a way. Because of that, and the relationship that I have with the brand, that felt so right. It would be in my number one choice, and I'm so happy that it's happening.
What is your goal for the line?
My ultimate dream goal would be seeing different women, diverse women, wearing it and engaging with the brand. It's my number one goal. I've had the question a lot, 'What's the girl you want to see wearing your brand?' I want to see all types of girls wearing it, from different ages and backgrounds. But my ultimate goal is, in a few years, to have an established, respected brand that I'm still very involved in. I see myself, even when I'm a mom and with a baby, being very on the design and everything. It's not something that I plan to be involved now and maybe not so much later. This is very much long term for me. I want it to be an established, respected brand.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.