Starting a business has never been easier, especially on Shopify. But building a business into a financial success? That’s still a challenge. Ali Mejia and Mariela Rovito, however, have already accomplished something most entrepreneurs only dream of—longevity.
Their luxury sleep and loungewear brand, Eberjey, has been around since the mid-1990s, and has grown into a multimillion-dollar company, with retail spaces and a thriving online store.
To celebrate Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, Ali and Mariela share how they overcame the challenges of reaching financial success, all while still staying creative with their designs and growth tactics.
How to create longevity for your brand
1. Draw on your own life for inspiration
Ali always had a passion for lingerie and sleepwear, even as a little girl. “I’m from El Salvador originally, and in my family, we really care about what we look like at home,” Ali says.
Her mom and grandmother always wore delicate nightgowns and pajamas around the house, creating a culture of feeling beautiful even while lounging around.
The idea of putting on a luxurious pair of pajamas at the end of the day was something Ali wanted to share with the world, and she knew that this part of her heritage would speak to customers for years to come.
2. Find partners you trust to balance you out
While working on Wall Street, Ali met Mariela and knew she had found her business partner. The pair had only known each other for about six months, but immediately trusted one another’s vision to quit their full time jobs and grow the brand into a successful business. Together, Ali knew they could survive all the trends and tests of time.
“Our dynamic works because we are so different,” Ali says. Ali handles the creative, design, and product development of Eberjey, while Mariela takes care of all the business operations and execution. “If I’m not creative every day, I start getting anxiety, and Mariela is the opposite. She’s methodical, she’s analytical, and she loves executing my ideas,” Ali says.
Mariela’s attention to detail was the perfect counterpoint to Ali’s creative mind. “She brought to the table what I lacked, so it was a classic left brain, right brain kind of marriage” Mariela says.
3. Grow slowly
The pair launched Eberjey in 1996 with $10,000 of their personal savings, planning to grow slowly so the business could last. “Then, we maxed out our personal credit cards, and then it was [all about] managing cash flow,” Mariela says. Due to their limited available capital, the co-founders chose to go slow, and spend only what they could afford.
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“You have to pay for the product upfront, so you have to make very small quantities in the beginning and sell through those before buying more,” Mariela says. This technique of buying small batches and selling them out helped Mariela and Ali pitch to new local manufacturers.
The best way to start out, according to Mariela, is finding manufacturers willing to make smaller batches, who can grow with you as you expand.
In order to build a successful brand that grows popular over time, it’s important to embrace your partners along the way and not to rush any steps of the process.
To hear more from Ali and Mariela about their creative strategies and ecommerce growth tactics, tune in to the full Shopify Masters episode.