How Revolve Brand Director Raissa Gerona is reshaping the e-commerce giant from the outside to the inside

When Raissa Gerona officially joined the Revolve Group in 2014, she was not entirely sure about her role in the company. After selling Lovers + Friends, a brand she launched with Revolve co-founder and co-CEO Michael Mente, to the online fashion giant, she already had around seven years of experience working with the retailer in as a designer-buyer, and in the aftermath of the acquisition, she began to explore the world of bloggers and influencers.

“At that time, I was really addicted to the concept of blogging; I thought it was so cool for BryanBoy and Rumi Neely and all to go to Fashion Week and have their picture taken, and I thought it was the start of something big, ”recalls Gerona. As a seasoned small business owner on a budget, she was used to thinking outside the box when it came to marketing and customer acquisition. So when Revolve approached her with the goal of creating a real brand identity and a real affinity, she knew exactly where to turn: the influencers.

“When I first introduced the concept of traveling with influencers to Mike and Michael, [Revolve’s co-CEOs], they didn’t really understand why we were just going to travel and take a bunch of pictures, but I explained to them that there was this thing called Instagram and it was so perfect for fashion and outfits, ”Gerona says. “I said we have to put all the clothes we sell, the thousands of SKUs on Revolve, on these bloggers in a very authentic way so that customers can see how and where to wear it.”

After getting the nod to try out the concept, she organized a little trip to Sedona, Arizona, with influencers Chiara Ferragni and Sincerely Jules in 2014. Despite the small budget and rudimentary photography and editing, the strategy seemed to work. , and the posts led to a massive increase in Revolve’s sales and engagement on social media. “In terms of timing, it was so perfect and so lucky,” says Gerona, who was appointed Chief Brand Officer shortly thereafter. “We were really at the beginning of Instagram and the beginning of the influencer world, so we were one of the first brands to take these trips and that kind of influencer marketing.”

In the years that followed, Revolve’s influencer journeys, now known as #RevolveAroundTheWorld, grew significantly and the company expanded its marketing strategy to a handful of other influencer-focused programs and events. including the Revolve Awards and the Revolve Festival at Coachella. And while the retailer has become widely known for partnering with Instagram’s most prominent users, the approach has proven to be rather timeless, thanks to the ever-changing nature of the influencer space. “What’s been really great for us is that there are so many new influencers coming onto the scene and onto the platform every day, so we’ve been able to align with new people over time. Says Gerona. “Then with the rise of TikTok and other apps, I always feel like there is so much we can do to take the brand even further. “

Despite the continued success and seemingly limitless potential of influencer marketing, however, the brand director has spent much of the past two years thinking about how to relaunch Revolve in different ways. “Over the past decade, people have just associated Revolve with influencers, but they often forget that we have over 800 brands on the site, 80% of which are small businesses,” she notes. “And while influencers will always be an important part of our marketing strategy, it was essential for us to remind people that we not only have this great platform for influencers, but also this great platform for brands and designers. “

Determined to do just that, Gerona designed a series of programs for the company’s New York Fashion Week debut in September 2021. Long known for berating the establishment, the retailer has decided to embrace the tradition of fashion during one of the most anticipated weeks of the year in one to assert its power and prestige within the industry. There was a much-talked-about show for its collaboration with designer Peter Dundas, which took place on the roof of the latest members-only club with iconic editors, like Anna Wintour and Carine Roitfeld, sitting alongside social media stars. Then there was Revolve’s very first table at the Met Gala, an event known as fashion’s biggest night, where Hollywood’s biggest names climb the museum steps with priceless tailoring and set trends for the coming months.

But highlighting the company’s serious fashion chops wasn’t all Gerona had in store for NYFW; she also wanted to introduce Revolve’s close-knit customer community. “A lot of the things we’ve done over the past decade have been great, but travel is for influencers and festivals are for really valuable clients and celebrities,” she explains. “So for NYFW, we wanted to create a place where we could not only invite influencers and celebrities, but also our clients and everyone who was fans of the brand. And alas, the concept of the Revolve Gallery was born.

A museum-like exhibit with 17,000 square feet of immersive fashion exhibits, the gallery featured 13 brands, each on display in its own room and worn by a mix of live models and mannequins. Guests entered the space to see a sprawling pink carpet, but unlike the Dundas x REVOLVE show a few days earlier, this photoshoot wasn’t meant just for celebrities and influencers. Although Kylie Jenner, Megan Fox, Paris Hilton and Camila Coelho were among those pictured, all attending the event (6,000 in total over its three days) were invited to take a tour on the stage- and- repeat. “I think having an event open to the public for a week and really a time where it’s all for editors and talent has really helped change the narrative,” Gerona said. “So NYFW was that moment for Revolve to really say yes, influencers drive so much growth and so much traffic, but all of these other people, the customers, are just as important to the brand.”

By the end of Fashion Week, #RevolveGallery had over 1,500 Instagram posts, some from the brand’s influencer partners, many of whom were paid to post but most of its attendees not famous, and according to Tribe Dynamics, the hashtag generated $ 7.9 million in earned media value between September 6 and 11. “We’re now trying to strike a good balance,” Gerona says of the coexistence between Revolve’s proven influencer marketing, including #RevolveAroundTheWorld travel and the Revolve Festival, and its more recent, designer-centric approach and the customer.

The brand director says she, alongside the company’s leadership team, also used this moment to change the way the retailer handles diversity and inclusion, which he has been strongly urged to do. criticized in 2018 and again in 2020. “We realized that Revolve is a brand that people are really looking to, and we’ve just had our heads down for a long time,” she explains. “So we are really making an effort to change that. ”

After forming the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2020, the company launched the Revolve mentorship program last year to support and cultivate the growth of black-owned and designed brands. Additionally, Revolve has more than tripled the number of black-owned brands sold on its site, an improvement that is at least in part due to changes in how its buyers assess prospective designers. “Previously, buyers would just review designs and assess whether our customers would like them, but now they’re looking at who is behind the brand, what they believe in, what efforts they make to make it their own. more inclusive business, and more, ”says Gerona.

Revolve has also spent the past two years thinking about sustainability and how it can reduce its carbon footprint. “There are many ways to be sustainable, even as simple as choosing longer shipping times, because expedited shipping results in higher greenhouse gas emissions,” notes the brand manager. “But we also want to make sure that we really understand what we’re getting because we don’t want to do things just for the sake of doing things.” In 2021, the retailer launched its largest sustainability initiative to date, Revolve for the World, which highlights environmental organizations working to make a difference, as well as a sustainable store where customers can shop for hundreds. eco-friendly styles. “But just like diversity and inclusion, sustainability is now an eternal thing,” says Gerona. “It’s not something that we have one or two events and activations for; it’s something that becomes an integral part of our whole business.

Even though Revolve is entering its 19th year and Gerona is now in its eighth year with the business, she still feels like they are just getting started. “I’m so excited,” she said. “Obviously the pandemic has been extremely difficult on many levels, but it has also made everyone realize that it is a lot easier to shop online, so we really took advantage of it. And with record sales and growth in 2021, turning its two co-founders into billionaires, Revolve’s new branding strategy already appears to be taking the company to even greater heights.

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