Michelle Cordeiro Grant took her first fashion startup from launch to exit in just four years. She got funded even before opening an office and raised $15M to give women their own brand.
We caught up on a new episode of the Dealmakers Show. Michelle shared her journey as a woman entrepreneur, what she has learned about brand building, raising capital and exiting a venture. Plus, her top advice for new entrepreneurs looking to start their own companies.
Making It In NYC
Michelle Cordeiro Grant was originally born in rural Pennsylvania. A small community, heavily influenced by the Amish. Surrounded by open pastures and cornfields. Yet, all just a couple of hours outside of New York City.
Both of Michelle’s parents immigrated from India to the US individually. They met at Notre Dame and settled in the beautiful nature of PA. Michelle was always a little more ambitious. At 14 years old her mother received a call from a local motel. She rode her bike to go apply for a job on the first day she knew she could legally get hired and start making money.
Being raised to be financially prudent, she stayed in PA for college but moved to the other side of the state to begin striking out on her own.
She remembers always being mesmerized by NYC and its energy and spontaneity. It called to her as the place for being in fashion and business, and even just as the beginning of an adventure.
So, she began attending job fairs at other colleges and even in different states, which were the recruiting grounds for NY businesses. She landed a job at Federated.
Lessons in Branding & Supply Chains: What Kind of Movie Are You Making?
Michelle started out her career at the intersection of finance and fashion merchandising. Then she moved to May Company to get closer to customers. VF Corporation recruited her to work on the brands Kappil and Nautica, where she began experiencing brand equity.
Then Victoria’s Secret called. A brand that had its own stores and wasn’t just reliant on wholesale and department stores. They managed everything from concept to online sales and their own stores. It was a company that owned close to 40% market share and had a real operating income.
From Les Wexner, Michelle learned how brands are like movies, how to be focused and consistent and how to build an incredible brand.
Crossing into Startup World
Cordeiro yearned for a future with a good work-life balance. She wanted to create a brand for her future daughter that empowered her to look in the mirror and say, “Yes. I am one human individual, and our uniqueness is our superpower, and I’m going to own it, and be so proud.”
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