In 2015, Jessica Riche, The CEO of the eponymous company, Jessica Rich, has embarked on an ambitious journey to become a shoe designer. At the time, she had a deep love for fashion and $ 1,500 in seed money to fund her dreams. In what some might consider a short span of time, the self-taught designer was able to learn the ins and outs of the business, master her craft, and gain the support of famous clients who have helped her expand the reach of her business. Mark. As a result, Rich has partnered with major retailers such as Macy’s, DSW, and Nordstrom. Rich is the first black shoe designer to sign a deal with Nordstrom. The shoes in his collection are available at five Nordstrom stores in Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Nordstrom.com.
While being the first is great, you have to be prepared to seize the opportunity. Rich was ready. “I had never dealt with a major retailer before, and it was a great learning experience. We had to spend a lot of money for the production. I have never had to order so many products at once. So having a savings account is a tip I recommend in case you are approached by a major retailer.
Always be ready to rotate
Six years after starting the business, Rich opened two stores in Los Angeles, one in Melrose, which she decided to close during the pandemic. “At the very start of the pandemic, no one knew what to expect. We were in quarantine, so not many people needed to buy shoes to go out. I adjusted to the sales, I took advantage of Black Friday and I’ve worked hard on social media and marketing. The sales I’ve managed have helped us stay afloat, ”said Rich.
His business acumen and agility have enabled him to succeed. So much so that she was able to open the doors of her second physical store at the Beverly Center. But it was no small feat.
“I had to get out of my previous lease, which I still had one year, rush inventory and build my staff quickly because we have to be open seven days a week. My team also had to rearrange the office and store to do this. it’s mine because it was originally a Giuseppe store, ”said Rich. She also had to find clever ways to market the new location when the store closed on Melrose.
As someone who left a career in public relations to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a designer, Rich knows firsthand what it’s like to navigate the world of design without support. “At the start of my journey, it was difficult to try to find supporters and investors as a black designer. I didn’t have the best credit for getting large amounts of bank loans, ”Rich said. Before making deals with big retailers, he was told no countless times when pitching.
Give back and pay it forward
Fast forward, Rich makes room for the others at a time when companies have found it fashionable to give back. Being part of The Black Designers Fund, Rich awards five designers a total of $ 50,000. To qualify for the program, recipients must have been in business for at least six months, have a viable product, and submit a detailed application outlining their business goals.
“These funds will help them financially, and with P3 loans, it is more difficult for some business owners to get funds because they require you to have your business for at least one year, whereas with you would only need to be in business for at least six months to be eligible for our grant, ”explained Rich.
“Creating this program was obvious. We’ve been in business for years and throughout our journey we’ve been fortunate enough to create the foundation and funds to enable us to put initiatives like this in place, ”said Rich. “I felt the need to give back and support my community. Now is not the best time for me to help my siblings now that I have the capacity to do so. I know what it feels like to be ignored and rejected by so many people. “
Rich also created a space for designers to showcase their products in his Beverly Center store. “I hope designers take advantage of the program, invest in their brand and take it to the next level.”
As Rich continues to give back, his advice to others is to adapt and know that you belong.
“There is enough room here for everyone. I was very discouraged at first, but relied on what I knew. Determine your niche and find your target audience,” Rich said.