Baker Executive Speaker Series: Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer, REVOLVE

In collaboration with Penn Fashion Week, we hosted Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer at Revolve. She launched the company’s successful influencer marketing strategy, bringing the REVOLVE brand to life through social media and events. Prior to her role as CBO, Gerona co-founded Lovers + Friends, which is now one of REVOLVE’s top-selling brands.

Now, as a Chief Brand Officer, Gerona designs innovative marketing campaigns like #RevolveAroundtheWorld and the Revolve Gallery to showcase REVOLVE’s many designers and styles. Gerona continues to build REVOLVE’s brand awareness, launch experiential marketing campaigns, and design strategy to ensure that REVOLVE is at the forefront of contemporary fashion for millennial and GenZ consumers.

Insight from Raissa:

When we started Lovers and Friends, Instagram was just starting to get popular. We had no marketing budget so I started emailing girls asking them to wear our stuff when they went to Fashion Week. I started using Instagram and understood how it could be powerful. When I pitched the influencer marketing to the co-founders of Revolve, I explained it as, “When you’re going on a trip, your parents want to dress you in the best clothes, they take photos, and put it in the living room as a memory. Instagram is like that. It’s the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to share that memory.” The strategy required luck, a lot of instinct, and taking risks. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to try new things and not like it.

The first influencer trip we ever took was in 2014. We went to Sedona, Arizona with two influencers. It was immediately effective. The metrics we looked at were increased traffic to the site and increased followers on Instagram. New customer acquisition is important to our team. Customers who find us through social media or events are our most loyal. These events are so fun, but they’re also driving earnings for the business. We had our most customer growth ever in 2022.

The brand values are to have fun, spend time with people that you enjoy spending time with, look your best, and live your best life. We’re actually partying for a living. We’re traveling for a living. For influencers and brand partners, whoever embodies that spirit is what works best for the brand. Having authentic partnerships is so important because they want to be part of everything we’re doing and vice versa. That’s our key to success: making sure that everybody’s goals are aligned.

We’ve shifted a lot of focus to consumers. Next week is our 20th anniversary. Who we want to celebrate the most is our customer. We’re inviting our high-value customers and high-engagement customers to events and allowing them to experience it first. Putting your customer first is essential in any business, and that’s been the shift for us in the last couple years, is making sure our customers are being taken care of.

For the mentorship program, when the BLM movement happened in 2021, just like a lot of brands, we had to take a lot of responsibility to make sure we’re as inclusive as possible. I’m on the DEI committee to make sure we’re working with the right people. We had to go to every single brand and ask “Who’s the designer? Who’s the investor? What’s their background? How do you identify?” It was informative in so many ways, because we found out that most of the brands we carry are women-owned. We found out that we only have 38 black-owned brands but a lot of BIPOC brands.

There’s a lot of pressure to figure out what’s next for the brand. The next two years are about recalibrating the brand. Who is the next consumer? What is she after? You have to understand what the youth want. My biggest project is figuring out who we are to the young consumer, and making sure we’re as diverse as possible, not just in the models and influencers we work with, but also sizing on the website. There’s so many categories and expansion of wallet share that I think we need to tap into, so that’s my focus.

I think influencers will be here forever. People always need someone to look up to. Before influencers it was athletes and celebrities. I think influencers will always be around, it’s just the platform that they’re on that will change.

We did a customer analysis and saw that our customer is aging with us, but we also have a younger consumer. 30% of our customers are under 28. It’s great to see that we’re bringing on new consumers all the time. It’s important for us not to age up and stay youthful. In order for us to stay relevant, aging up is detrimental to the business. We have such a great relationship with the millennial consumer that we don’t need to continue to invest in them, but we do need to invest in the younger consumer.

One of the things I’m proud of at Revolve and is a testament to our company is that last year, 85% of sales were sold at full price. For things we don’t sell, we donate it back to women’s shelters and high schools in underserved communities.

From the beginning of the business, we always had free shipping and free returns. The cofounders always believed that your home is your dressing room. We built the business with that perspective.

The Daily Pennsylvanian Recap: Penn Fashion Week, Baker Retailing Center host Chief Brand Officer of Revolve