What was the deciding factor in starting ARO?
I think all the signs were pointing me in this direction, but it took me a little while to see it. I was working in New York City, managing designer’s ecommerce and PR/digital marketing, meeting and working alongside aspiring jewelry designers. Their designs were incredible and truly unique, but I knew they were having trouble establishing their brands. In 2014, I had a small budget and the opportunity to start my own ecommerce shop which is when I started approaching designers. It was at this time that my husband and I decided to move back to Austin, and this is when ARO got on its feet.
I noticed that you work with some designers that some people haven’t heard of; can you name a few for us?
Some of the smaller designers I carry are AM Thorne, Ora-C, Karen LA, and Remix Apothecary. There are a lot more, but these are some of the most recent additions. We carry lines from around the world, but these are a mix of Brooklyn-based and Canadian designers.
What advantages do you feel ARO has through working with those designers?
The biggest advantage I have working with an independent designer is knowing that they are sourcing materials and producing responsibly – there is no funny business, only hard work. Though, I would say there are also advantages for everyone by buying local, independent designers, because you’re not only supporting a small business, but fostering the growth of an independent and local designer. Almost every line we carry is designed, and handmade in the United States; moreover, the attention to detail will always beat mass production. Some of the designers we carry outsource their production to small artisan communities, this has a positive effect on the community at large.
Are they any disadvantages?
The only disadvantage of working with an emerging designer is that, like all new businesses, there is a lot of learning and some trial and error.
I also learned that you worked with a few designers in NYC, can you tell us more about that as a whole?
I moved to New York City to work in the fashion industry and my first job was with a Brooklyn-based jewelry designer. While I was there I helped launch various collections, a secondary line, and grew her online presence, which at the time was little to none. I managed all of her PR and Digital marketing which included blogger and influencer partnerships. While I worked there I also launched a capsule line with a major fashion blogger. This is where I launched my career in fashion, I knew at the time how important a digital presence was and the potential for brand exposure in the digital world. At the time I was given a limited budget, so I was forced to teach myself a lot. I went on to work for few other designers, but I keep this experience in mind because this is where I was introduced to some of the designers I carry now.
What lessons did you learn in NYC that help conduct the way you do business today? I learned a lot, if not everything, while working in New York. I worked for designers that usually had small teams, so I wore many hats which gave me the opportunity to see what it’s like to run a small business. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to take advantage of all the opportunities you’re given. In NYC I was managing projects on my own with little to no guidance, and I was forced to teach myself quite a bit. I was frustrated at the time, but I’m thankful now because I’ve incorporated almost everything I’ve learned into my business.
What are your plans for ARO in the next couple years?
We’ve just signed a pretty long lease for a new store-front in East Austin, so at this time I want to focus all my energy into this, and I’m pretty sure that will be the focus for the next few years.
Although this interview was done entirely through email, I feel as though we were given the opportunity to learn a lot about ARO. Even though the questions were focused on Leslie Hernandez’s experience, I believe that really helps illustrate the value of ARO as Mrs. Hernandez was able to outline her experience and lessons learned. I liked how she discussed the future of ARO being focused on her new storefront in East Austin. It shows how she is focused on building and expanding ARO, as well as offering all of her consumer base a new location to view her products in person. My best wishes go out to Mrs. Hernandez as she and ARO continue to grow and so do my thanks for taking the time out of her busy schedule to work with us for this blog post. If you are interested in exploring Kickfurther and our marketplace as a whole, here is a referral link. This link once activated will give you a few dollars to look around and try out Kickfurther for yourself. If you have any questions please feel free to reach me at email@example.com. Cheers!