Start-Up Spotlight – “The Paraders”

Posted on October 25, 2012

This week, we interviewed Rachael Hammon, of The Paraders, an online vintage e-commerce retailer about her start-up story and success. We had so much fun talking to Rachael about how she turned her hobby into a full-time, income generating business.

Rachael also recently launched and completed a successful Kickstarter project to fund her own vintage fashion line.

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Excerpts from our interview below:

How did you start your company?

Rachael has been working on The Paraders for over three years now. “[Vintage clothes] was just a hobby that I had and thought I’d test out buying and re-selling online.” In the beginning, Rachael used “just a corner of the living room out of the apartment” which rapidly expanded over the years. Growth came quickly as she started listing on Etsy and reinvesting her profits into new inventory. Clearly, testing your market and validating the idea is something that Rachael is quite good at. Rather than jumping full in with a website and office space, she took a “step-by-step approach” by investing in things that were important. First and foremost, she invested in high quality inventory, photos, and defining her customer experience. Once those items were in place, she later expanded her web presence, found an office, and hired some part-time employees to help manage the growing business. Rachael says of that first year, “It was really slow, but getting started is always the slowest” and it’s all about the “little adjustment and tweaks” you make to grow your business and build a brand.

What compelled you to create a business out of your hobby?

“I was always interested in vintage, not just to wear it, but also in the history.” Prior to creating a dedicated online e-commerce platform to sell her merchandise, Rachael would often buy and sell vintage clothing that did not fit on online exchanges or at local markets.

In addition to her interest, Rachael comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and she was “familiar with the [entrepreneur] lifestyle and mindset from a very early age.” She “always knew that she would own her own business” and her hobby was the perfect launchpad to create a business.

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What did you do while The Paraders was starting-up?

In order to launch her startup, Rachael took up nannying, which not only provided her with income, but also, an opportunity at “nap time to get out the computer and work on her business.” Those nap times, gave her a dedicated time every day to work on her business which she feels is extremely important in the early stages of a start-up to succeed.

Tips on avoiding start-up roadblocks:

• Be persistent – Dig deep inside of your passion to “keep up, when the times get tough.”
• Stop procrastinating – Do the things you don’t want to do first. Rachael experienced this first hand as she says “early on, I wasn’t sure what to name the business so I procrastinated for months in setting up my Etsy store.”
• Get out of your comfort zone – Every day, pick one thing that makes you uncomfortable and tackle it. As Rachael says, “power thru the [tough things] and make the hard decisions and make those cold calls” because no one else is going to care about your business the way you do.
• Pay attention to detail – Don’t underestimate the importance of all the small things that make up your business. “Small details make the big picture.”

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Has digital marketing helped your business? In what way?

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“The big key with social media is that it constantly puts us in front of our customer and target audience.” Whether they’re willing to buy or not today, “the element of being constant and consistent is key.” The Parders uses a variety of social media tools, including, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and email marketing to stay in touch with its customers. “Some of our biggest sales are from social media and email marketing” and a lot of people pay attention to our messaging

All businesses take time, love, and passion, and sometimes, a defining moment. At one point, Rachael reached a point where she had to make a decision. Either she put all of her eggs in the Paraders and went all in, or walked away. She chose the former, and invested in a new office, a clothing line, and staff and she immediately saw success. With her passion, talent, and eye for design, we know that the Rachael and the Paraders will be one of the leading e-commerce retailers and fashion companies in the near future.