$500 million and counting

How Unmarked Street is helping people achieve apparel business success.

In conversation with Rachel Erickson

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.

Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of WytPod, the online community for e-commerce business owners and entrepreneurs. Now today we have a very special guest with us. She is the founder and owner of Unmarked Street, an And her name is Rachel Erickson. Rachel, thanks a lot for joining us today. How are you?

I’m great. Thanks for having me. Marc, this is awesome.

Fantastic. So, Rachel, we'll jump right in, and just so that our viewers can get to know you a little bit. Would you mind sharing some of your background with us?

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.

Okay. So a large part of what you do is consulting. Is it fair to say?

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.

And are you offering online courses?

We are offering online courses, yes.

Okay. And a little bit of homework. Okay.

So go ahead. So great.

So what inspired you to sort of get into the e-commerce business related to fashion? I mean, what made you take that decision?

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.

All right. And the course would be all about what is it about? Help me understand. Is it about, you know, how to tailor clothing? Or is that just part of it? I mean, what how does it work exactly?

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 got it. So what would you say separates your services, and your offerings from your competition?

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.

Okay. Yeah. That's impressive.

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.

Fantastic. So you distilled it down to the core. You got rid of the chaff and focused on your moneymakers.

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.

Right. And how are you driving? What's your reach process? How do you get the word out to the market that you exist and what you offer? How are you marketing?

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.

Fantastic. That's always the best way, is it? Yeah.

I totally agree. Yeah. So it’s a very good way to reconnect with those people then, too. Yeah, it’s awesome.

Right. And whatever business you get that way always seems like so much cleaner and better business than you get through other methods, I think.

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.

Sure. Yeah, it makes total sense. So is this the right question to ask about this? If I say, like, what is your best-selling program? Does that make sense to you?

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.

Great. So once they've completed the course and are going on, do you have like an app or care program type thing where they can reach out to you?

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.

So you make yourself personally available. I'm sure that must take a lot of your time, but it must be very rewarding at the same time. I imagine.

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.

So do you. Do you? So do you. Can you, like, whip up a dress yourself?

I do. Yeah, I do.

See a mannequin in the background.

Yes. Yeah, yeah, love doing that.

You do. You do that for like a stress buster once in a while.

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.

You're like a Hollywood movie. You're like the nerdy kid from high school who is now at that time, right? Yeah.

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.

That's terrific. My mother would love to speak with you. She used to make clothes for all of us. I mean, we could afford clothes. I'm not saying we had more, but that wasn't the point. She loved doing it and she made really cool clothes. So.

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, she did embroidery on the denim jacket and stuff, I. So amazing. Yeah, very good stuff. All right, so finally, Rachel, any pearls of wisdom? For up-and-coming entrepreneurs that want to start a business like this.

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.

Yeah. You have to trust people at some point.

Yes. Yes.

That's great life advice. I think, you know, that applies everywhere and especially here. So well-said. Appreciate that and appreciate your time. Thanks a lot for joining us today. Rachel really enjoyed it.

It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Sure thing. Take care.





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