Top Women in Retail 2018: Rachel Blumenthal, Founder and CEO, Rockets of Awesome
To see the full list of this year's Top Women in Retail honorees, click here.
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
Consumer preferences, lifestyles and purchasing behaviors are constantly evolving, requiring retail to do the same. I'm incredibly inspired by those evolutions and building innovative solutions to make customers’ experiences even better. I also LOVE fashion and am endlessly inspired by the evolution of style.
What’s the biggest challenge you've faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
My educational background is in economics and political science, and I grew up only knowing doctors and lawyers. When I graduated college, I knew working in finance wasn't for me, but I also wasn't aware of the roles in the fashion industry that would be right for my interest and experience. After turning down someone else's dream finance job (I had no idea what I was even hired to do!), I took a role at a publishing company in New York City.
I immediately realized I loved the parts of my job associated with fashion and knew I had to shift directions. Fortunately, I had a friend that worked at Christian Dior who gave me a preview into the world of fashion. She forwarded me a sample sale invitation in which she had cc’d every fashion publicist and editor in New York. I bcc’d every person on that email with my resume and the rest is history. I started my first official fashion job at Yves Saint Laurent a few weeks later. My greatest advice to students and new graduates is to intern in as many roles as possible to learn what exists out there and what you love. Also, never be afraid to try something that seems crazy.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I have a very clear vision and point of view, and enjoy getting team members excited and motivated by that vision and executing collaboratively as a team. I believe in working really hard, being curious and committed, but also having fun and a sense of humor along the way.
What's the best advice you ever received, and who gave you the advice?
"Fake it till you make it" — every smart entrepreneur and executive 🙂
What one new retail technology or trend do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2018, and why?
Creating unique experiences that frequently change is really interesting. Valentino is doing a fun rotation right now where each month the story and merchandise changes. The advantage of this strategy to retail is that it creates a sense of urgency with the customer to come shop within a limited period of time. It also limits the assortment for the customer, mitigating paralysis of choice. At Rockets of Awesome, as we think about our future brick-and-mortar strategy, it will be grounded in delivering unique experience and building a sense of community so customers want to come and spend time in our world.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I have two kids — Gemma (2.5) and Griffin (6.5) — so every moment not working is spent with them and my incredible husband. We love to ski in the winter and hang out on the beach in the summer. Our family loves ice cream so we're always on the hunt for the best ice cream spots wherever we are. If I can sneak away for some “me time,” you'll find me at Bikram yoga, getting a massage, shopping at Bergdorf Goodman or eating Omakase with my husband.