This is Reshma chatroom chamberlain for female startup club. Hey everyone it's doing here, your host and hype girl today on the show. We're learning from the co founder of Somersault. Reshma chatroom chamberlain, Some assault launched in 2017 after a serendipitous moment with her co founder, Laurie and what started as a swimwear company made from recycled materials has since moved into every area of a woman's wardrobe. In this episode, we're talking through rash Mazz journey and the power that a mission driven brand can have in a saturated market, How to successfully collaborate with brands as a way to drive significant customer acquisition and her core tips from raising $26 million dollars in venture capital. If you learn something from this episode, please do share it with us on instagram stories and tag us at female startup club to help other ears find us. I am so grateful to each and every one of you. When you do that, let's get into this episode. This is Reshma for female startup club.
If your marketing and e commerce brand, you already know that data changes everything more data means more power and if your email or sMS tools can't handle all that data, they're probably holding you back and that's where Clay Vo comes in, it's top notch personalization and segmentation, help you send the right message at the right time, guided by unlimited real time data from your online store and tech stack, request a demo at Clay vo dot com. That's K L A V I Y O dot com brash ma Hi, welcome to the show, so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Where are you today? I'm at home in ST louis Missouri, that's where somersault is headquartered. I used to live in Mumbai and India and the new york city and now called ST louis home.
So here's where I am. That's so cool. What took you to ST louis? Well I was living in 1/4 floor walk up in Brooklyn with two women I had met on craigslist, you know, new york new york city life and um I got engaged and my husband said why don't you try out ST louis? And I was like okay what do I have to lose? And so I ended up here and haven't looked back since and so grateful to found this amazing business here. That's so cool. Good old ST louis. I don't think I've ever had someone on the show from ST louis before. This is a first for me. Well that's exciting. Well it's a wonderful study. It's you know, three million people so we have everything we need easy to get to L. A. And new york, you know, as a founder, sometimes you have to fly places for crazy amounts of time, but you can do L. A. In a day from ST louis and you can do new york, which I've done early morning flight, late flight home. Um It works to be in the middle. That's awesome. Can you give us a bit of an introduction to who you are and the elevator pitch for your brand and what it's all about for anyone who might not know yet.
Yeah, absolutely. I'm chamberlain, I'm one of the co founders of Somersault. I founded this business with my amazing co founder, Laurie. Um she had been designing and manufacturing somewhere, another apparel um, in a really interesting tech enabled way for a long time. So she was very early into the, you know, tech meets fashion space. Um, we are acquaintances and um, you know, didn't know each other very well, to be honest, not personal friends, but we realized quickly that there was a unique opportunity and launched somersault together and I'm so grateful we enjoy working together every single day. And Somersault is a directed consumer apparel and lifestyle brand. We started in swimwear and now have every aspect of for a wardrobe covered, so including these fun summer dresses that are the easiest to wear. So everything in between looks beautiful. I love it. Gosh, okay, so you said you didn't know each other beforehand.
How did you actually meet and get to the point of being like, oh, let's build a brand together? Well, it's such a funny and wonderful story. Um, so about now, Oh my gosh, I think it was 2000 and 13, so getting on nine years ago, I guess was the first time Laurie and I met um we essentially met at a networking event where um, you know, Lori was instantly helpful to me, I had an app at the time and she said, you know what, let me introduce you to this one, let me introduce you to that one. It was literally the first time I'd ever met her, but to female entrepreneurs in the midwest, helping each other out. So over the course of time we just kept in touch, we both respected each other greatly and what we had built, but again, we were not personal friends and we had never worked together, we just really had respected each other from afar and then had become, I would say business acquaintance. Um Lori and I met for lunch in 2016 chipotle, very fancy.
Um but you know, you can't go wrong with Ebola, but um you know, we met to kind of discuss what was happening in the retail space and kind of the acceleration of disruption and we've continued to see that acceleration now due to the pandemic and there's so much happening in the retail space and so we sat down to lunch over burrito bowls and talked about kind of what was happening again. Um not intending for that lunch to be anything life changing or life defining, we kind of shared our philosophy of the retail space, We both left that lunch kind of like, okay, great, that was a great, you know, entrepreneurial catch up. Um Lori left that lunch and kind of started percolating on what could be next and both the initial business plan for what is now somersault, ironically she had an agency at the time, so she came back and tried to hire my agency to help her launch what is now a somersault, but I was in a transition so actually declined because I was just kind of thinking about shutting down my agency, so I didn't think it was responsible to kind of take on a new client when you're in a transition.
Um but serendipitously Laurie and I bumped into each other in new york at an event um an event I actually was not invited to, I was meeting a friend who happened to be late, so it was very serendipitous and I was very grateful to see a familiar face in Lori um and we often say Laurie cornered me, which is absolutely too, she saw me, she was like, here's the here's the line sheet, let's talk about it. And once she kind of walked me through the incredible strategy that is now somersault, I couldn't help but ask her what she thought of a co founder and as they say, the rest is history, Oh my gosh, that's so cool. And was it like from her side just and immediately like yes, let's do it together because you know, I guess she'd already vetted you, she wanted to hire you originally. Yeah, we both kind of knew that, you know, we were two sides of the same coin is what we often say. You know, we really have complementary skill sets but really are incredibly strategically aligned and that's very hard to find and it was just truly a match that you know, we both did not want to walk away from.
So she was like yes let's start talking about it. And I think we both left um you know the the hotel in new york was at the Gramercy Park Hotel Rose Bar, we both left thinking did we just do that? You know you have those moments where you're like did you actually commit to that? Um And again, amazing. We were actually based in ST louis, the fact that we bumped into each other in new york is kind of serendipitous to be there. Um And then we, we just started working on the business and there you go, that is so cool, I just want to dig in one step further to the business plan and what she showed you that night at the event and specifically around the strategy like what got you excited, what was in the business plan that made you be like here's something different that I actually really see myself working on well for one, I wanted to eat, breathe and sleep a brand and it's something that you know, I wanted to be kind of inspired by the product and what we were building and if you think about the swimwear space, it hadn't been disrupted in decades, it had been marketed an oversexualized way for eternity, right?
It was a men's view of what women should be and feel. Um and for us it was really about creating products that was truly designer quality with design without the designer price point, all made out of recycled materials. That was a very big personal check box for me were incredibly thoughtful about what we do, we are not perfect by any means, but we're incredibly thoughtful. And then the third thing was we're able to deliver this in a joyful package in an industry that's essentially devoid of that. And of course we started with swimwear and now have expanded to every corner of her wardrobe. But um what initially was the business plan was to start with swimwear and that got me incredibly excited because essentially we had an unfair advantage Laurie had been designing and manufacturing somewhere for a decade um and we were able to create something emotional in a place where there was a big vacuum. So when you think about market opportunity, vacuum plus your own skill set to be able to execute, we checked all those three boxes, so it was a no brainer.
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Okay, so you go back to ST louis, you're really excited, you decide that you're going to build this business together, Laurie obviously has so much experience in the swim space. What are those initial steps to getting you kind of, you know, ready to launch and what's that time period like From a crazy timeline, because we did it in a crazy um time. So just to level set on time when we bumped into each other in New York in January of 2017, We opened up a bank account in April and we launched May 23. Oh my God, any idea timeline, not a normal timeline, but Lori and I often say that both of our careers lead to this exact moment, right? It was not, yes, we're starting something new, but we had so much pent up experience skills that vendors everything ready to go a little bit different than a startup that has to start from zero and build it all up. So again, not not the most same timeline, but effective nonetheless.
Um and that's what we did and honestly it takes a lot to get started. It, you know, required both of us to wrap up our own businesses because we both had two businesses. We raised a smaller round of capital in that timeline, we manufactured the collection, we enabled the brand, we designed the brand, we did the website. It was complete and absolute kind of all hands on deck 24/7, but it's so worth it when you look back and you know, five literally just celebrated our five year anniversary and you look back and the milestones we've achieved. It's all because we knew we needed to put that work in early on. That is so cool. Gosh, what a ride! Oh my goodness! You mentioned that you raised a small round of capital and I want to sort of stay on the capital piece for a moment because I love to dig into the money side of things. I read that you raised around $600,000 initially and since then you've gone on to raise two further rounds totaling around 26 million, which is amazing by the way, congrats, that's a huge, huge feet.
How are you thinking about capital and why did you decide to go down that kind of VC route from the get go? Well, I think there's different ways to build a business and I don't think that's a right or wrong way to build a business. Um, for us, we just wanted to create the biggest version of somersault it could be and we knew we needed capital to be able to do that. We do believe that, you know, we are truly poised to be kind of a lifestyle and generation defining brand and we needed the money to do it. So for us it was really about how big we wanted the pie to be, um, as opposed to how big we wanted our own slices to be, if that makes sense. And so for us it was really about the right partners, the right scale and Um, you know, building something that, you know, we can look back and people will still be shopping in 2030, 40, 50 years, that's our goal. Yeah, amazing. And with that like experience of obviously going through three rounds of fundraising, what have been the kind of key experiences or key learnings that you've taken from that, that you now have in your toolkit and you can share to other entrepreneurs perhaps thinking about going down that pathway, But always remind everyone that only 2% of venture funding goes to women.
I think it was up to nearly 3% in 20 19 and then we have 2020 hit with Covid and then it's, I think it's closer to 2% again. And so I think that if we, we all need to remove our rose colored glasses because when you think about um there's less women in those decision making sleep, there's less women in those, you know, larger funds who are able to kind of champion something that they understand pitching swimsuits to men who have never had an experience trying on swimwear is not easy from the midwest when we said that literally, I mean, the closest beach we have is the Mississippi River, you know what I mean? Like there's no beach there um is always a challenge. Um but we had amazing, amazing men, support our journey and women support our journey. So one of the things that we really focused on was sharing the big business picture as opposed to getting bogged down in the fact that this business was dedicated to women or this business that dedicated to men or whatever it might be, we just the economics and how sounding were, how big the business could be the opportunity, our scale.
And really, even if you took out swimwear from the equation and made it about t shirts are still for shampoo, it would make complete sense because of how sound that was. So we really started painting the big picture. There's also research that says that women get preventative questions about 60% of the time. I think I want to double check on that statistic. And what that means is that if someone is going to ask you a question, women get preventative questions more often. So instead of saying oh it's amazing, the sky is so vast and blue. It'll be oh my God, but the sky is so vast and blue, How are you going to deal with that? Right? Two very different tones. And so what we just started focusing on is focusing on the bigger picture every time. So even when we got a preventative question we answered with a growth answer. And one thing to clarify, it's not only men asking those preventative questions, it's women asking women those preventative questions as well. So that's just something to note. Women will get preventative questions more than men do.
So instead of getting defensive, which we were in the early days, you know, you get so annoyed and so upset when it's a negative out view, but we really focused on building a growth focused approach to our answers and again focusing on the potential of the business, we have an incredible business, it is a rocket ship. So we just wanted people to either get on or get out of our way is essentially what it was, wow, that's amazing, isn't it interesting how even though there's so much kind of talk in the media about how we need to change these statistics and you know, we, we've heard these statistics a million times over, it feels like it isn't really shifting and the same issues keep arising, I would say Absolutely, but the biggest thing is the more of us that can squeeze through um and create something big, then there's more of us to create impact on the other end. And so I think persistence is even if you hit that brick wall over and over again, which is honestly quite hard, right, you don't want to hit that brick wall again and again.
But um that persistence is key and you can often end up with, you know, something absolutely incredible and hopefully influence the next generation of entrepreneurs and make their journey maybe, you know, a few percentage points easier than yours and it doesn't feel like change will be drastic, but I know we're making an impact. Yes, you are one of those people changing the stats, That's so cool, I want to kind of go back a little bit back towards the launch and those that early, you know, 2017, getting started that 1st 12 months, how did the launch go? And what were you doing to kind of Get your 1st 1000 customers amazing question, Well, one, we need to make sure our technology was sound. So I think something that people might take for granted is okay, you know, website up quick and yes you can, you can get up quickly. But is the user experience sound? Is it easy for someone to check out its shipping easy? We wanted to make sure all the nuts and bolts weren't base so that there was no fiction to shop.
We also wanted to make sure we told our story, we had size guides. All of the things that we know were hurdles for women to make a purchase. one when it comes to kind of launch. One of the things that we focused on was making sure breast knew we were here and we're ready to go and change the conversation. And so we had a beautiful launch collection and essentially every press outlet you can think off road about it. And what is even more amazing is that consumer came and shopped in droves and our initial success was incredibly organic. And then of course we continue to support our success and initial momentum with strong and thoughtful marketing. But really those things that we needed to have in face were a long strategy, technology press and making sure that we could execute on the promise and um, and then allowed that to be the you will for kind of the next phase of marketing and what we wanted to do with that's so cool and what was the next phase and kind of next part of building that business or even if you have to think about The bullet points of what got you from, say, you know, end of 2017-2022, there's a lot to cover there.
But what are those kind of milestones that were leaping you forward or pivotal moments? Well, I would say just the foundation of what we say is meeting her where she is and at that I think is at the foundation of everything we do. So what that means is we meet her where she is emotionally, what does she need from us? We meet her where she is digitally or physically. Where is she shopping? Is she spending time on instagram? She's spending time on Tiktok, where is she? And where she quote unquote physically, which I mean is like, is she taking us to Morocco or is she taking us to the lake in her hometown? And that's really important because through the pandemic, we were able to kind of speak to the consumer in a way that we want to be spoken to, right? We said, you know what kind of sucks and we're gonna have these, we always said, we were about big or small adventures, but you know, guess what the summer of 2020 is going to be about the summer of simpler things and we're gonna think about enjoying watermelon in our backyard, the step inside the lake, the pool, We may not be doing those big adventures we had planned, but it's gonna be a sweet and beautiful summer and we gave her permission to shop in that way and shared product that worked in that environment.
And so for us both from a product and marketing perspective, it's always about meeting our consumer where she is and we are a reflection of that customer. So it's really actually amazing to be building a business where you are also one of your own customers. Um and we can say, okay, you know what? In february, she's thinking about X as opposed to traditional retailers who are thinking about, you know, large collection drops four times a year. We're more thinking about where consumer is at a particular given point in time and what she needs from us. That allows us to be really thoughtful, give her the best quality product at the best possible price with always some sustainable aspect to our product. Yeah, I love that. And so true over the pandemic kind of timing the brands that were able to meet you in that pandemic life, really, the brands that you were still able to connect with and purchase from and kind of feel a bit closer to because they are able instead of just either, you know, going in a different direction or closing down because they weren't able to provide you the right messaging.
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That's Z A P I E R dot com forward slash startup. Something I saw that you're quite good at is collaborations. You've done a few really big ones that I want to kind of touch on specifically rifle paper. Co and the co lab with netflix is the home edit show. I read you did something crazy like $1 million 24 hours. So I just want to kind of talk about your approach to collaborations and breaking it down like really tactically how these come about. Yeah, absolutely. Um rifle paper is an amazing partner of us. As with the home edit the rifle, we have another job coming soon, so everyone should sign our email list. Those collaborations set out instantly. The whole medic team is absolutely amazing. We have the best time partnering with them. We really worked on content as well as product, which was really, really a fun place to be.
Um for us, it's all about identifying trends and identifying brands that we have something in common with in the way in which we approach women in life and joyfulness, but we both have a unique perspective to bring to product. So when it comes to the home edit, they have this most amazing rainbow aesthetic, right? They have this really strong core group of followers, but they don't make some wear and loungewear. So an amazing way to group together was to bring that rainbow aesthetic to product that we love and adore and create something unique. So the same with rifle, they have the most brilliant, brilliant Prince, you know, Anna is the most incredible artist. These prints come to life in the most beautiful way. And so for us it's truly about creating something unique for their customer and for our customer. Um and we're very, very thoughtful and tactical about what we do here. You know, it's not about a flash in the pan, it's about strong thoughtful relationship, making sure all our marketing is aligned, making sure we're, you know focused on what kind of inventory we want to sell, what that looks like we're targeting, we're very business strategic when it comes to those collaborations and we like to do business with great brands and so that's another piece of the puzzle.
So um that's what we do. Um more often than not it's us sending an email or them sending us an email or us deeming them or them deeming us. I think the rules of how business are done completely different now, it doesn't have to be incredibly formal, but it can be incredibly efficient. So I do believe that Home Edit who slipped into their D. M. S. And I think with rifle, um I think I have sent them an email Maybe three years before we actually decided to partner together and someone replied to me essentially three years later. So you never know how that goes. And I think a lesson is, you know, you continuously want to put yourself out there and continuously claim what you want, sometimes it happens in the moment you wanted, but sometimes it happens three years later and that timing was way better three years later than it was during that initial outreach. So again, each collaboration kind of happens a little bit differently and each has their own specific goals.
But our goal is always to delight and inspire our customers. So if we can create something that we know she loved, then we're in it to win it together. That is so cool. Oh my gosh, I can't believe the home that had started in the D. M. S. I always just think like, you know, people even reply like, that's so crazy. That's amazing. Holy moly Absolutely. And I think, you know, um, you know, as a young entrepreneur or someone starting out, don't be afraid to use unconventional ways to get in front of who you want to get in front of, right, Like, um the rules of engagement are completely different than what they want for. Um, and lean into the society we're in, right. Use the tools we have at hand as opposed to using antiquated tools to get a new result. So I'm all for, you know, make a cool Tiktok about someone you want to partner with. Like do what it takes to get in front of what you want.
Yes. Be different. Be unique. I love that. That's great advice. We've talked about so many of the highlights of your business journey so far and these things that have gone really well for you. But I'd love to know what kind of challenges that you face in the business. Obviously, entrepreneurship isn't all roses. It's difficult. There's lots of ups and downs and often we can focus on the highlight more than kind of the bad stuff. What are some of the challenges that you've faced in the journey? I actually think it's the opposite. I think when you're in it, it's easier to focus on the bad stuff as opposed to the highlights. So more often than not you're dealing with the day to day and like something amazing happens and you're like, great, okay, awesome. Moving on. Right, I have to deal with this problem. Um, and I think that's a little bit different from an entrepreneurial perspective. The good stuff just gets swept under the rug because you're just needing to move to whichever fire you're trying to put out next is essentially what it is. I would say when you think about kind of the macro environment kind of what's been happening most of our lives was in Covid.
That was a big challenge, right? When you think about supply chain, when you think about consumer and how they're thinking about product, we've had phenomenal growth over the time, which we're so grateful for, but it's not without incredible challenges, focus. Um, you know, problem solving at every twist and turn to make sure we deliver on our consumer promise. So one of the things Laurie and I often talk about is kind of how did we win today? Because the day can sometimes feel like, oh my gosh, I dealt with this fire and that stopped working and the checkout button wasn't working so we lost an hour of sales. It happens right, It just happens that part of the process. So we really try to, you know, ground ourselves and what was the win we had to be, whether that was an awesome collaborator, responding whether that was an amazing team member saying hey they're so grateful to be on our team or um you know a new product just doing exceptionally well or something as simple and as small as hey I gotta eat a really peaceful lunch today and no one scheduled me in my D.
N. D. And that was like a huge risk. Um So we really focus on the winds every single day but honestly entrepreneurial. The entrepreneurial journey is not for the faint of heart, I think it is incredibly incredibly challenging. I haven't um I've been an entrepreneur, I mean now Most of my career, you know um and over 10 years and it is incredibly challenging every day. So I don't want to put rose colored glasses on the experience, but the rewards are out is um if you are persistent and so for us, I know that um we just rather do the hard work and hopefully the big rewards in whatever way they come as opposed to kind of not taking the risk. I truly believe that no risk, no reward and rewards present themselves in multiple ways. Now we have an amazing team.
Um you know I get to work with incredible people every day. I enjoy interacting with them every day. Um, most people can't say they get energized every morning to get to work. Um, and so that's an amazing reward and privilege of the experience too. Absolutely gosh, how great! What does the future hold for you? Any cool collaborations that you want to shout about? Oh my gosh! Yes, absolutely. You mentioned rifles and rifle is coming up soon. Um we also have an amazing collaboration dropping next week. Um I'm afraid it's gonna sell out. Like the day it launches because of, we've done some early, like a lead generation to see how people feel about it and we already have way more sign ups than we have products. So I know that's going to go incredibly fast for any mom's listening. We have an amazing mommy and me collaboration coming with our amazing partner Sarah Foster. Um so there's just a lot happening this summer and so I think we're all still waiting for summer to turn its heat up completely.
So lots more time to shop and lots more time to get these cola abs and amazing products. Love it. Love it, love it, Love it. What do you think is your best piece of advice for entrepreneurs in the fashion and apparel space? Is there anything you wish someone told you when you were starting out? Honestly, my best piece of advice is like a life piece of advice, which is the grass is green where you water it. So I've become incredibly brutal about saying no to anything else. And I think that sometimes it's really hard for us to do that. Like, can you be on this board? Can you need about coffee about this? Can you do that? Um when I'm focused, sometimes people might be like, oh, she never wants to do anything, but you know what, I'm focused on two things. I'm focused on somersault and then I'm focused on my family and that's kind of where my bandwidth is and I don't apologize for it and that's where I'm spending my time watering the garden and making sure booms and you know, there'll be plenty of time to help with other things at a future date.
Of course we try to help entrepreneurs along the journey, make recommendations, do whatever we can, but my focus and my priority is not resolved and don't apologize for that priority and some people will understand it, others won't and that's ok, but the grass is green where you water it. So I'm gonna put that on a sticky note and put it on my wall. That's my new mantra for the week. I love that. That's so great. Thank you so much. Great advice, laser focus. We all need it. Hey, it's dune here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast if you're a fan of the show and want even more of the good stuff, I'd recommend checking out female startup Club dot com where you can subscribe to our free newsletter. We send it out weekly covering female founder, business news, insights and learnings in D two C and interesting business resources. And if you're a founder building an e commerce brand, you can join our private network of entrepreneurs called Hype Club at female startup club dot com forward slash hype club.
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