…The fashion industry has yet to embrace and prioritize sustainability. One of the reasons Azazie is such a progressive company is because we don’t have overhead and inventory therefore, we don’t have any excess waste — we only make what’s been sold. Many apparel companies burn their unsold products, which is a huge waste in the industry.
As part of my fashion industry interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ranu Coleman. A seasoned marketing and communications leader with deep experience in the retail/fashion space, Ranu Coleman serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Azazie, the direct-to-consumer company focused on high-quality, custom-fit, affordable bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns. Joining Azazie in February 2018, Coleman leads the marketing team in implementing brand strategy, driving awareness of Azazie’s product offerings, and engaging consumers with the brand. Visit online at azazie.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always had a passion and interest in the fashion industry, and decided to go to fashion school at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA after getting my Bachelor’s degree at UC Irvine. It was the best decision I have ever made. From there, I had an internship with Kenneth Cole in Fashion Marketing and never looked back.
Marketing felt like such a natural transition because it involves writing and strategic thinking, two things I loved and was good at. After years of working in retail companies (both B2C + B2B) I worked my way up from Associate to Manager, and finally to Director, and am now the Head of Marketing for Azazie, a direct to consumer bridal and bridesmaid apparel company that is disrupting the bridal industry using technology and social engagement.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
Working in the fashion industry, you meet a lot of people with strong personalities and I learned very quickly how to have a positive relationship with those people and get them to engage and listen to your point of view. I had some instances in meetings with celebrity clients where we would receive very harsh criticism of our work or ideas and it made me develop a thick skin fast in order to stay positive and thrive in the industry.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At Azazie, our position, focus, and obsession is the customer and we’ve brought the most prized characteristics of traditional brick-and-mortar bridal shopping to the online platform, modernizing the experience. We’re essentially marrying the aspects of bridal shopping that customers like at a brick and mortar establishment with the convenience that an in-person experience can’t always provide. One of the strategic pillars of our business is prioritizing ease and convenience. We think big, take risks, and rapidly iterate in order to be on top of our competition.
A recent survey found that nearly 58 percent of people ignore the salesperson. They would rather be with their family and friends at home, enjoying the experience on their own terms. Azazie offers a sample program where brides can try dresses on at home, and at a minimal cost. It’s stress-free and more of an intimate experience for the customer, which is what we strive to provide. Today’s consumer also wants affordability, as they are very price-conscious, and convenient experience — both of which we’re working to provide.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Prioritize good sleep habits, nutrition, exercise, and connecting with people you enjoy!
Increase your resources and prioritize spending the majority of your time on initiatives that are highest in value and things you are passionate about.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a female leader, women’s issues and education are both things that are very important to me. Every year, I support a nonprofit that helps provide tuition, books, and supplies that one girl — who may otherwise not be able to afford it — needs to attend school for a year. Girls deserve equal opportunities for education, autonomy, and independence which is not valued globally. If I have the power to do my part in a small way, I will.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is: “Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.” — Sheryl Sandberg. This is relevant in my life because it reminds me of the importance of showing initiative and self-confidence in the workplace, as well as my personal life.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
Capsule Wardrobes — We’re seeing people take on a more streamlined approach to fashion, filling their closets with classic, timeless staples in lieu of fast fashion. These collections are more functional, stylish pieces that are available for a limited time.
K-Pop Influencers — Korean Pop is not only taking center stage in the world of music, but we’re also seeing increased popularity among fashion brands and streetwear, mimicking K-Pop style.
Technology — Tech advancements continue to collide with fashion, and we’re seeing the rise of AI and Virtual Influencers making an impact in the fashion space and influencing purchases.
What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
Network — The fashion industry is all about who you know and networking is key to getting yourself out there. Go everything and talk to everyone, don’t ever be afraid to introduce yourself and strike up a conversation.
Always be “on” — The fashion industry is ever-changing and, in order to be successful, you have to have an adaptable personality, be ready to tackle whatever is thrown your way, and be on top of all the new trends.
Competitive Spirit — There is a lot of competition in the fashion industry, especially in the bridal world. It’s important to always stay one step ahead of your competition and be resourceful.
Confidence — Stay ambitious and motivated and always show confidence in what you are presenting/sharing. The fashion industry is always evolving, it’s important to consistently stay on top of new technology and new trends. It never stops.
Flexibility — Fashion is a fast-paced industry, constantly changing. To succeed, you need to be flexible and able to adapt to the changing demands of your business.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
The fashion industry has yet to embrace and prioritize sustainability. One of the reasons Azazie is such a progressive company is because we don’t have overhead and inventory therefore, we don’t have any excess waste — we only make what’s been sold. Many apparel companies burn their unsold products, which is a huge waste in the industry.
If you could start 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. 🙂
I would like to start a movement around the importance of being active. In this day and age, where most of us sit and stare at screens all day, it’s important to promote an active and healthy lifestyle. Get up and walk around every 20 minutes at work, play outside with your kids, whatever works for you — take every opportunity you have to be active, it’s good for the body and mind.
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