1. Name/Alias: Stella Burchard/Queen of Bows
2.Where are you from/ Where do you currently live?: San Diego, CA via Yokosuka, Japan/ Brooklyn, NY
3. Where did/do you go to school and your major?: University of Southern California (USC). (Fight on, Trojans!) Majored in Business Administration with an emphasis is Management & Organization- Leadership Development. Minored in Dance.
4. What is your Grind? 1) I’m currently the “Brand Manager” for 80%20. Since I hold many jobs & titles with the company, we had to pick an all encompassing title that covers most of my roles. I:
* Oversee domestic sales. I do this through our sales reps across the country as well as directly with key accounts and when needed. I keep an eye on the numbers, work with the reps to communicate changes to the line and availability and the latest press and account updates, and approve negotiations over deliveries, discounts, and other issues that may come up with each sale.
* Take care of our business internationally. We currently have distributors for Canada, Europe, and Israel, so like I make sure they are taken care of for samples, get their orders for each season, oversee the money trail to us, make sure they have the correct copy and relevant press, understand the current line, support with key customers, and make sure their shoes are delivered to them so they can get them to their customers.
* Manage press. Sometimes this is directly by sending out releases and news, other times it’s fielding incoming requests and connecting them with our PR showroom or making sure requests for interviews with our owner/designer or images are taken care of on deadline. Also, I make sure the press coverage we get goes to our sales reps, distributors, customers, important contacts, and is updated online through our website, blog, etc.
* Guide distribution. We have a great Studio Manager who takes care of our day-to-day and gets all of our customer shipments out as well as other movement of products and other materials. I support her in checking details, providing background on accounts and needs, approving returns or exchanges, making sure our deadlines are kept to, facilitating communication between our factory/freight forwarder/our office, and stepping in where needed.
* Pitch in. At the end of the day 80%20 is a small, self-funded company (3 of us on payroll plus our independent contractors) and each day it’s something new. There have been days where all I do is make sure our numbers are in line with our accountant so we can pitch to an investor. Some days I write copy for the website or press releases. Other days have been spent in the warehouse checking quality or the latest situation there. During market and sales season, I make sure our tradeshow arrangements are taken care of for each show and traveling there, and I act as a hub and support for our reps and customers to make sure we see as many people as we can and close orders. Right after sales peak, I write our production order based on our sales, forecast, requests, and my best estimates. There are times when it’s all about talking to the factory, others it’s making sure pictures are sent out, and there are always special circumstances, which makes each day interesting to say the least. 🙂
2) I’m an independent sales representative. I’m transitioning out of 80%20 and into working for myself. Part of this is as a sales rep in fashion and I currently have 4 clients I’m working with to grow their distribution, sales, and brand presence. I show the lines to buyers and get orders, making sure I’m placing the lines where they want to be and supporting their vision and growth. I also try to get press for my lines since I have the avenues to do so and not only is the brand excited, but it helps me place the products in more doors and supports our customers, too. It’s a lot of follow up, hearing “no,” putting myself and the lines out there, and knocking on doors, and I can’t wait to see this bring all of my clients to their next levels.
3) I’m a writer! Writing is something I’ve always thought of myself as and now, it’s part of my career. I’m working on 1 book now that is a gathering and presentation of interviews (loveourcity.com) as well as continuing writing “short essays” that are my musings on life and what’s at hand (you can see some at tellapoem.xanga.com) for another book. I’ve been commissioned for articles, profiles, releases, general copy, ghost writing, editing, etc. and am looking to grow more as a freelancer with creative articles and business writing. I love writing poetry and spoken word, keeping my blogs, and creating new material in my voice, but to make it work as a writer, I’m not closed off to anything that comes my way. If there are words involved and I have some sort of understanding on the topic, I’m game to finish the job for those looking for a writer.
5. How did you get into what your doing now?: After I graduated from USC, I was clear I wanted to do something that used my skills but was separate from the cutthroat backstabbing I was seeing in “the business world.” I looked for jobs in surf and skate and ended up working for a small, independent surf company on their fashion and product side. There I saw that business is business no matter what industry or country or idea and that I loved being in those conversations and thinking of how to grow and improve business. When I moved to NYC, I said, “I want to work for a small company with products I would use myself, in fashion, and with flexibility to support myself and what I want in my life.” That brought me to 80%20 (via emailing my résumé and following up) and I’ve grown more confident in myself as a salesperson and business mind through working for the company. When choosing to make a move to work independently, I saw I work sales well, I have relationships to start with, and I really like it. I also saw I want to be creatively expressed in life, and writing is that to me, so I’m doing what I need to so I can write and see my books on shelves in a few years. So, being a sales rep and writer together and independently really called to me to make it happen.
6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?: Around the age of 6, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, then circa age 11, I decided I wasn’t up for the responsibility to shape kids that age. I also wanted to be a writer, but convinced myself I wouldn’t make money and had to pick something. (Ha, look at me now.) Then I wanted to be a dancer, despite a teacher in middle school balking at this dream, but a really bad injury in high school scared me and I realized if I had another one, that could be my career. Luckily, USC’s business school pre-accepted me into it, so I thought, ok, I have a solid backup. But after I was in, I loved it, and at 17, I wanted to be a CEO.
7. What are some contributing factors that shaped the life you live now?: Definitely my parents instilling the importance of education, letting me write and dance and dream, and supporting me in school and extra-curricular activities has shaped me. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t realize earlier what I was good at and wanted to do at heart, but I’m very grateful my parents let me find myself through learning and participating in various things. I also think their DNA is a major factor; my Mom and I are insistent on being passionate and creative, have very similar scrapbooking styles, are slightly eccentric fashion-wise, and are scrappy and resourceful to the core. My Dad is at planner, organizes, keeps it moving, sticks to things, and gets where he wants to, which luckily he’s passed along to me.
I think also experiencing a solid variety of different things has shaped my life now. I’ve been on the outside, I’ve learned and retained everything I could from different jobs, I’ve struggled through dark times, and I’ve blossomed as I’ve found footing. Just being through a whole range of situations and seeing things from many different angles has given me my unique perspective and allowed me to consciously choose what I do and don’t want for myself.
Also, I can’t emphasize enough the people in my life who’ve showed me different things and kept me going. My sister has always shown and shared with me new things and has been my cheerleader since she was old enough to cheer. My “family” in NY helped me get on my feet here and looks out for me even when they don’t understand why I’m doing whatever I’m up to at the moment. And I have friends who inspire me, push me to the next level, encourage me to take care of myself, and give those needed hugs so I can pursue this dream and the one after.
8. Any specific people that mentored or helped guide you to your current path?: Yes! Michelle & Juan: my “sister & brother-in-law” who I’ve always admired, point out when I’m not happy, champion me, and have been instrumental in me moving to NYC.
Patricia, Emma, and Cara: are cheerleaders and encourage me to go after what I really want and is good for me.
Chad: who I call with most every question, smacks reality at me, and recently talked to me about now being a starving artist, but then said, “But you know what, take all that and tell me you still want to be a writer and then do it.”
9. What motivates you?: Celebrating- whether it’s closing sale, being proud of a piece I wrote, or enjoying coffee in my apartment knowing that I’m paying for the roof over my head. Celebrating what I have at hand motivates me to pursue what’s next since I know at one point it was hard, and whatever is hard to me now will bring the next thing to celebrate. And, freedom. I’m motivated in knowing I don’t have to, but want to.
10. Your favorite author and why?: Shel Silverstein because when I was a kid I LOVED his books and poems and would read them over and over. I found them so inspiring and fun and a little off-beat, which I admired. Every time I went back to his books, I found something new. Even now, when I need inspiration, I pick up his books. I love that they’re so accessible to such a range of people and can mean so many things. As an adult I’ve come to admire Shel as a person since nobody wanted to publish The Giving Tree but he kept at it, he’s been successful at several artistic trades, sang with Johnny Cash, and worked for Playboy.
11. What are 3 goals you want to achieve within the next year?: 1) Be published in a print magazine.
2) Place all of my lines in key accounts on the west coast and in NYC.
3) Do yoga consistently.
12. One person that continuously inspires you and why?: Chad Foreman. He is business-minded + creative and successful at both running a company and being an artist. Plus he is the nicest guy ever. And not just to me- sometimes I admire how he treats those around him. He has amazing work ethic, gets things done, and takes these beautiful photographs that inspire me, too. He’s my friend, but also a head honcho I look up to. I have asked him everything from what percentage my distributors should receive to how I should deal with a crush to what should I do with my life and he has been there. He always listens and helps how he can, plus shares what he learns from his life.
13. 3 Indie brands you LOVE to rock?:
3) Iron Fist
14. What annoys you the most?: Ignorance, being short-sighted, and hypocrites.
15. Your best quality?: I have heart.
Visit Love Our City to follow Stella’s journey!