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Bootstrapping With A Paycheck: Katie Echeverry, CEO of Unique Vintage (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 23rd 2015

Sramana Mitra: Do you remember what your revenue level was in 2007?

Katie Echeverry: About $100,000.

Sramana Mitra: For the year?

Katie Echeverry: Maybe a little bit more. We got our first space to accommodate the Internet business, but people were coming in off the street wanting to shop. We made a little showroom. Within six months, I had outgrown that space. My neighbor moved out, so we knocked through the wall and expanded. The retail store was growing, so was the Internet store. We were all over each other for several years there.

Around 2009, we moved out and remodeled that space to be a real retail store. It’s a 4,600 sq ft retail store now. We moved to a warehouse down the street to accommodate the Internet business. From that point, we just continued to grow. About two years ago, we moved into a 35,000 sq ft warehouse and office space here in Burbank as well. I have 35 employees.

Sramana Mitra: What numbers are you doing now?

Katie Echeverry: I don’t want to share too much about that, but I can tell you that we’re over $5 million now.

Sramana Mitra: The retail store is what it is. In terms of the Internet business, has organic search engine traffic been your primary driver for customers, or have you done other kinds of customer acquisition strategies as well?

Katie Echeverry: I now have a Marketing Director who has been with me for three years, so we definitely do much more than that. For the first 10 years, I’d say it was all organic. My first big expense was to hire a PR firm because I knew how important it was, especially at that time in 2005. Celebrity and press was just so important. I had about $30,000 in the bank and I spent it all on a six-month contract with the biggest PR firm in New York City. I didn’t mind taking the risk.

Even though that didn’t work out exactly like I thought it would, the organic growth of my company was able to absorb that cost and I quickly hired an in-house PR person after that. That’s been a great strategy as well because that’s someone who’s working 40 hours a week concentrating on my business and just constantly getting our name out there.

Sramana Mitra: What kinds of channels do you use to get your name out there? Do you uses fashion bloggers? What are your primary PR channels?

Katie Echeverry: We do have bloggers. Of course, there’s paid search on Google. Social media is huge for us. We have a big department for our social media.

Sramana Mitra: What social media channel has worked the best for you in terms of conversions?

Katie Echeverry: It’s really hard to measure that because it’s not like they necessarily go through that social media channel to convert, but it’s so important.

Sramana Mitra: You don’t really get to track brand marketing through social media?

Katie Echeverry: Not as well. It’s so important, just like mobile is becoming so important. It’s where they get to know the brand, but then they come back to the site on the desktop to convert.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrapping With A Paycheck: Katie Echeverry, CEO of Unique Vintage
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