As the co-founder and CEO of Raven + Lily, Kirsten Dickerson has overseen massive growth in sales while also supporting hundreds of at-risk women. The clothing and apparel brand started as a non-profit helping marginalized designers in India and Africa. Since they became a for-profit social business in 2011, they’ve established a successful ecommerce store with 150% growth in their online sales. In keeping with the brand’s triple bottom line (people, profit and planet) mission, those sales currently employ over 800 women and plans to double that by the end of 2015.
Ready to follow in Dickerson’s footsteps? Here are her top four tips for fellow entrepreneurs. And check out our Bigcommerce case study on Raven + Lily to learn more about her business and how she leveraged our platform for massive growth.
1. Hire for growth
You may start out as a solopreneur, but bringing on the right employees is key.
“My team is awesome. I have some really skilled designers, support staff and director of operations. They’re talented and passionate about what they do. They make it possible to put products out there that represent this collaborative effort of the women overseas as well as the team here in Austin.”
2. Take strategic steps
Keep a close eye on your business to see when—and how—you should grow.
“We started very organically and very grassroots. Then in 2011, when we had products that we knew were selling well, we took it to the next level and got a little bit of funding… Part of that funding went towards working with a PR company that helped get our name out there in national press, which has been very successful for us. We’ve been featured in a lot of top-tier magazines and news channels all over the country and even the world.”
3. Pick the right partners
As you scale your business, major stakeholders need to share the same vision for success.
“I’ve been very careful about picking investors that really are committed to the social cause and the triple bottom line focus of our company to be profitable but also supporting and making a positive impact with people and the planet. All three of those things—people, profit and planet—are equally important to us. We want to be profitable because the more profitable we are, the more positive impact we have on the other two, people and planet.”
4. Find great mentors
And don’t be afraid to ask for help once you’ve built out your bench.
“I think the key of our success over the last year, the growth that we’ve seen, is largely because of mentorship from successful entrepreneurs… There is a strong vision that I have for this company and I know what I’m really good at. And as we’ve grown it’s become more clear what I’m not good at. I’ve just had to be willing to admit that.”
For more on Raven + Lily, watch our spotlight video and read her Bigcommerce success story.
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