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Blake Geffen of Vivrelle: “Why you need to put yourself in your customers’ and employees’ shoes”

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. And this has many tiers, but the two that I apply this to the most are 1) customers and 2) employees. As it relates to our members, there’s nothing more frustrating than writing into a company for help, only to hear back from a robot, or worse, a person […]

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Put yourself in other people’s shoes. And this has many tiers, but the two that I apply this to the most are 1) customers and 2) employees. As it relates to our members, there’s nothing more frustrating than writing into a company for help, only to hear back from a robot, or worse, a person who acts as a robot and says “there’s nothing they can do to help.” It’s important that we all remember that we’re a customer too, and we should treat our members how we would want to be treated. As it relates to our employees, we always keep the question in mind — what would we want if we were this person? We kept this in mind when creating our employee policies, such as unlimited sick and vacation days, summer Fridays, etc.


For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blake Geffen. Blake is a New York native, new mother, and founder of Vivrelle, a luxury accessories membership club that provides users access to a dream closet of designer handbags, jewelry and diamonds. Before founding her company, she worked in fashion public relations and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from Boston University.

Than you for joining us Blake! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in New York, I worked two different retail jobs in high school. I then took a fashion PR job right out of college and loved every minute of it! Vivrelle came about as a result of my wedding two and a half years ago.

All I wanted were the perfect accessories to complement my wedding weekend looks, but I did not want to break the bank. I searched for somewhere that would allow me to borrow high-end accessories, but my search came up short and I realized there was a real gap in the market.

Meant to be a true extension to your closet, Vivrelle is a luxury accessories membership club providing members access to designer handbags, jewelry, and diamonds for a flat monthly fee. We make sustainable fashion achievable!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I found out I was pregnant the night before we launched! Needless to say, it was a sleepless night!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is a hard one! We’ve made so many mistakes along the way, and we’re just so lucky that our members are so supportive and are really cheering us on.

I remember vividly the day we launched and our first order came through. It didn’t matter how much prepping and training we did in advance, we started to scramble. That first package we sent out had a crinkled up label because we completely forgot to print on sticker paper and the tape was a mess. We called the member after we dropped it off to the post office, and explained to her that this would not be the norm. From this, we learned that mistakes will happen. It’s not a matter of trying to be perfect, but about taking the right course of action when things go wrong. It’s why customer service is so important to us! Now this complete stranger is not just a loyal long-term member, but also a dear friend!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

On top of our unique subscription model, what really sets us apart is our customer service and how much care and attention we provide to each of our members. We don’t consider Vivrelle a transaction-based website. We’re a true membership club in which every member is treated with unparalleled support. We do not exist with the intention of providing an accessory for a one-off event. Vivrelle is a supplement to your lifestyle and we aim to make that as easy and enjoyable as possible! Not to mention, we also provide a fresh take on the try-before-you-buy business model.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we have a number of partnerships and projects in the works all of which are created with the intention of providing additional value to our members. We’re expanding our existing relationship with SLS properties and SBE Group, offering our accessories collection as an added guest amenity. A ton more exciting projects are coming to fruition, we just can’t share the details quite yet. Can’t wait to reveal it all!

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Instill the mindset of work-hard-play-hard. There is so much to get done in a day, and everyone on our team works so hard to get it done quickly and efficiently, but we also have a lot of fun too. Infusing this mindset into our office has created a great working relationship amongst everyone.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Listen! Be someone that your team feels comfortable coming to. You don’t want any negativity in a work space as it tends to feed on itself. If one person is unhappy, it will lead to someone else being unhappy, and then it becomes a ripple effect. If everyone is happy with their roles and the working environment, then the quality and quantity of work getting done is much greater.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I learn so much from everyone I surround myself with. Everyone has something to offer and you’ll be surprised by what you can learn if you just look around. That said, as corny as it sounds, if I had to choose one person it would be my husband and business partner, Wayne. He constantly pushes me to do more and always says, “If we don’t do it, someone else will.” When contemplating launching Vivrelle, he pushed me not only to act on it, but to act quickly. He inspires me to always think bigger, never sit still, and never settle.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Right now, I’m super excited about Vivrelle’s partnership that celebrates Women’s Month. We’ve partnered with Equality Now, an incredible non-profit organization that uses legal equality as a tool to offer justice to women and girls across the globe, and pledged a portion of Vivrelle’s March proceeds to the organization. New members can sign up for Vivrelle starting at $99/month throughout March and 30% of their initial membership fee will go towards Equality Now. We’re thrilled to offer our customers a chance to have their Chanel and give back too!

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Lead by example. If you constantly push yourself to go the extra mile, it will motivate your team to push with you. Creating a hardworking, fun environment starts from the top.

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. And this has many tiers, but the two that I apply this to the most are 1) customers and 2) employees. As it relates to our members, there’s nothing more frustrating than writing into a company for help, only to hear back from a robot, or worse, a person who acts as a robot and says “there’s nothing they can do to help.” It’s important that we all remember that we’re a customer too, and we should treat our members how we would want to be treated. As it relates to our employees, we always keep the question in mind — what would we want if we were this person? We kept this in mind when creating our employee policies, such as unlimited sick and vacation days, summer Fridays, etc.

Move quickly. If you have an idea, act on it. If you sit back and wait, someone else will do it before you.

Work never stops, but you need to take some time each day for yourself. Without taking an hour each day to do something for you, you are going to burn out. Whether it be a workout class, a facial, or just an hour of TV, it’s important to have “you” time to refuel. You can’t be a leader to others if you cannot lead your own life!

Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. There will be hiccups along the way, but if you let them consume you, it will be your downfall. Learn from your mistakes and move on. No one is perfect and mistakes will happen. The most important thing is that you learn from them

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Just be kind! I really do believe it is a ripple effect. If you do one act of kindness a day it will make the world a much better place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s one we all learn at a very young age and I live by it every day. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I’m a strong believer in karma and now being in this customer service facing industry, it haunts me to think that I ever gave push back or attitude to people working on the other side of an email where things were out of their control.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

There are so many powerful people in this world that I look up to, aspire to take after, and would probably have a very entertaining meal with; however, there is nobody more important to me than family and with every ounce of free time I have, that’s who I want to spend it with. My daughter, my husband, my parents, my friends. It’s those closest to me that I learn the most from.

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