There is a small percentage of people in the world who are ready to leave the position of a top manager of an international corporation in order to start their own business. Juliana Gordon is one of these fans who can not only refuse lucrative corporate offers, but also donate all their money for their own project.
Juliana's career was not only victorious - the launch of the iWENGO e-commerce school was preceded by five unsuccessful attempts to start a business within 15 years. But Gordon did not give up and continued to move towards the goal - how she did it, she tells her students, and now readers of Marie Claire.
On the "generation of three modes"
I was born in the Soviet Union, under communism, and even managed to join the pioneers. But then perestroika began. My family lived very hard during these hungry years - I do not just remember the three-hour lines for food, I defended them. Behind the endless queues, we did not notice how a new era had begun - the era of capitalism.
All three of these regimes fell on the period of the formation of my personality, so it was difficult for me, like many of my peers, with self-determination, with a choice of profession. We did not have a sense of stability and confidence in the future.
I was constantly thrown from side to side, but at the same time, global changes around me nurtured in me the ability to survive in a rapidly changing environment. Well helped in adulthood and great experience in pioneer camps. If you count the total time that I spent in summer camps in my life, then it turns out about four-plus years, I even jokingly called myself “the child of the camps”. It was they who brought up in me a culture of interaction with different people. Initially, by nature, I was an introvert, I was very shy, embarrassed, I could not publicly say something, and life in the camps made me an extrovert and an activist. Surprisingly, this experience still helps me in negotiations and even during teaching.
About the first job and the velvet dress
I earned my first money at the age of 14. I washed glass containers - I wanted to be independent and buy myself chewing gum and chocolates. Then I realized that independence from parents is actually very cool, and money gives not only pleasure, but also freedom. Later, at the age of 15-16, I sewed dresses and sold them on the market. To stand out from the same type of things of other sellers, I constantly had to come up with something like that.
When in 1998 there was a scandal with Monica Lewinsky, I immediately sewed a dress of blue velvet, like hers, and embroidered the yin and yang sign on it with “metal” threads. In total, I managed to sell about 20 of these dresses “on hype” - at some point I didn't even have time to sew them. Earned good money for that time.
How to avoid mistakes in business
Of course, like any person, I had mistakes in my work. But on them, no matter how trite it may sound, you can and should learn. I have developed a key skill in myself - double-checking, the so-called double-checking. Someone else has to check the product that enters the market after you. Or you check it for someone. Such double-checking allows finding and fixing up to half of all errors. Of course, mistakes are part of the business. But double checking allows some of them to be avoided, and some of them can be corrected in time (read also: "Top-manager on the network: how not to ruin your career with a bad comment on Facebook").
The importance of accidents
I got into the world of fashion quite by accident and according to the principle "there would be no happiness, but misfortune helped." I did one project with a foreign partner - a year of work and a lot of personal funds invested. But the currency fever broke out in December 2014 and everything instantly "collapsed". This was the fifth unsuccessful attempt to open a business. I lost faith in myself, in people and went into depression. And then a fateful meeting with Aysel Trudel happened.
Aysel was looking for an experienced specialist to take her online store to the next level. When I saw the AIZEL office on Petrovka and the boutique, where the cost of one thing was equal to the salary of a top manager, I wanted to refuse - I had previously worked in large and well-known companies, and I was completely unfamiliar with small local retail and, moreover, the luxury segment. and incomprehensible, and I myself did not wear such brands. But earlier I was PayPal Marketing Director, I had data and market analytics, I knew how much money people spend on online shopping in the fashion segment and what turnovers are there. I refreshed the numbers, and decided to abstract from the perception of business as a customer and start thinking like an entrepreneur - this market opened up huge opportunities. So the personal charm of Aysel Trudel, together with the market report, did their job,and I agreed.
On intuition and analytics
The first time in AIZEL I did not understand anything at all - I sat for hours on the website and walked around the boutique, trying blindly, without looking, to distinguish the Peter Pilotto collection from Marc Jacobs. All these names and brands were completely unfamiliar to me, I was confused in them and swam. How could I develop a strategy for the business, where to develop further?
Then I decided to rely on two key things for me - intuition and analytics (I still make decisions on this principle). I went to Yandex. WordStat and began to research the so-called “search demand” there - what brands Russian Internet buyers are looking for on the Internet. There were Gucci, Valentino, Prada, FENDI, CHANEL and Dior. I printed out the list, hung it over my desk and said: "We need all these brands in the online store, I will circle everyone we connect online in Russia." All my colleagues laughed at me, no one believed that an era would come when all these brands would go online. Then I argued with Aysel (for a bottle of champagne) and said: "They will be online and will be with us." I won the dispute 2 years later, when we built the first Russian fashion marketplace with all these (and not only) brands.
And we signed the first contract when I managed to work in fashion for only 2 days. The CEO of Gucci in Russia, Marco Vigano, came to us, and I was spontaneously invited to this meeting. I sat there, listened, completely not understanding what kind of Alessandro Michele they were talking about (this was the year when everyone was waiting for the release of his first collection), and when Marco unexpectedly asked my opinion, I could not find anything better than to tell him: “In Russia, there are 46 million Internet shoppers from 6,000 cities and more than 232 thousand monthly searches for "Gucci" on the Russian Internet. Are you going to open your boutiques everywhere, or maybe we will sign a contract with you and deliver your brand to all of them ourselves? " At first, he was simply taken aback by such an answer, but then he got inspired, started asking me questions about how e-commerce works in Russia, and literally 20 minutes later he made a decision in our favor:"Ok, the Gucci brand will be sold online at AIZEL.ru." This was the first and very big victory, which later opened many doors for us. I will always be grateful to Marco Vigano for his faith and the support he gave us.
Inside the fashion industry
The endless struggle for the result was for me personally very difficult, exhausting, and although I constantly flew to negotiations in Milan and Paris, I practically did not get any pleasure from it. People around me said: “Juliana, you are the CEO of one of the most fashionable online stores in the country. You are constantly in Paris and Milan. These are dream jobs for any woman. " I understood that this was an absolute illusion. The world of fashion is very tough, there is no room for error, there are no options other than to do everything 1000% better than others, in this industry you either won an enchanting victory or suffered a deafening defeat. I remember how models walked on the upper floors of the Valentino house and fashion buyers made orders. And I, for lack of space, sat with a laptop on the steps of their famous staircase and sculpted a digital marketing plan,which was supposed to help us bring the brand to the regions.
Living in "always ready" mode is extremely difficult. I can honestly say that all those three years in the fashion industry I have not done anything other than work. But it was a huge experience, not easy and at the same time valuable, thanks to which I now have my own school, where the training course "Fashion E-commerce" is being successfully conducted.
About Russian e-commerce
In Russia, of the large Internet businesses, only Wildberries and a few other companies are profitable (read also: "Tatiana Bakalchuk: my husband and I are a real" dream team "). All others have been operating at a loss for many years, or they close and leave the market. And the main reason for the losses of beginner Internet entrepreneurs is that they cannot count and do not understand how traffic is converted into money, and what expenses are actually expected - logistics costs, accepting payments, processing returns of Internet orders, creating product content for site is usually grossly underestimated.
You need to understand that e-commerce is not about a fancy site or an Instagram account. The essence of this trend is that if you want to make money, you need to think not only about the uniqueness of your product, but also about more prosaic things. At first, many people think that the site and traffic are the main thing. In reality, it turns out just a beautiful and meaningless picture. If you want to do business, learn to understand logistics in the regions.
Speaking of the regions, there are 123 thousand settlements in Russia, where people who make online orders live. But entrepreneurs don't even think they are their customers. Meanwhile, now, for the first time in twenty years, the share of e-commerce in Moscow has dropped below 50%. The regions won.
And do not forget that there is no quick money in e-commerce - it is impossible to earn money from the first order, the costs of attracting one customer on the Internet “eat up” the entire margin and only repeat purchases of one customer can bring a profit. And this is already the ability to work with the client base in order to retain the client, calculate his profitability. This is a math business in which it is important to be very good at counting. You need to be able to calculate the cost of traffic, its conversion into an order, the level of return on goods - to know a fairly clear structure of sales and costs.
And it's all about her
Age: 40 years old
In Internet business since 2004
Portfolio: As Marketing Director of PayPal (eBAY), she entered the Russian market in co-branding with such online stores as KupiVip, LaModa, Holodilnik.ru, Ozon, Biglion, Tutu, AnyWayAnyDay. She was the marketing director of the tourism direction of the S7 Airlines holding. She led CRM at Megafon, Beeline, MTS. She created and launched the first Russian Internet marketplace AIZEL.ru of the Premium Fashion segment, signing contracts with Gucci, Prada, Valentino, FENDI, Balenciaga, HugoBoss. For CHANEL, she organized a project for online promotion of the J12 Mademoiselle brand in Russia. Increased AIZEL assortment 9 times, website traffic 11 times, sales volume 6 times. She led the project of launching the Leroy Merlin internet marketplace.
She taught at the Higher School of Economics, trained over 500 students.
Life credo: "To do something that will remain for a hundred years after me"
Business authority: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
Favorite book and movie: "100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "A Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe.
You can learn even more about the Russian direction of e-commerce, building an online sales channel, developing and implementing a successful digital strategy for the fashion business on the Fashion & Beauty E-commerce training course from Juliana Gordon and Ilya Burmistrov. The course is organized by iWENGO e-commerce school with the support of Marie Claire, Fashion Tech Day, and Tsvetnoy Department Store.
When: July 24-29, 2019
Where: Tsvetnoy department store
Photo: archives of press services
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