Workin' It is a weekly series where we ask RLG members about their various jobs, internships, and projects in the retail and luxury goods industries. This week, we feature Deborah Li and Lillian Zheng and their start-up, emmajoy. (Interview re-published, with permission, from the CBS Bottom Line)
Introduce us to you/the team/your company, and give us the classic elevator pitch.
Emmajoy is an affordable fast fashion ecommerce store that rewards customers every time they purchase and share with their friends. The shopping experience is gamified so that a customer wants to earn more points to reach the next level of incentives until she becomes an embassador, which allows her to curate a boutique with our items and sell to her friends to earn more points!
Where did you get the name?
The name emmajoy comes from individuals important to us: Emma is Deborah’s young niece and Joyce is Lillian’s younger sister. Our hope is to build a company that embodies the joy that they bring to our lives!
Tell us a little more about who you’re serving, and how you’re reaching your target consumer.
Our initial target consumer is a young, fashion-conscious female between the ages of 18 and 24 who does not have a lot of disposable income but has a lot of time to spend on social media. We are currently focusing in on college-aged women in urban coastal areas as well as those who attend the Big Ten schools in the Midwest, where access to trendy fashion is limited. To reach them, we are building out our social media content (Facebook, Instagram, and PInterest) and using word of mouth campaigns with the help of an amazing social media intern, Evey Karon, from Barnard College.
Where did you get the idea for this?
The idea was conceptualized when we, Lillian and Deborah, met during our first week of orientation in Cluster A. We realized we shared a passion for trendy fashion, but as students again, we did not have the same shopping budgets as before! Our conversation continued and we felt that our different backgrounds complemented each other—Lillian was a supply chain technology consultant and Deborah was conducting business development for a fashion jewelry brand. Emmajoy solidified in October and we have been tweaking it ever since, so that we can build a fun, social, rewardable, fashion community!
What are some of the big obstacles you’re facing, or have faced?
The biggest obstacle that we face is scaling. Since it is currently just the two of us, there’s a lot of work that has to be done and growing bigger is a challenge. But the best part about working with a partner is that you know someone else is going through it with you! As any entrepreneur will tell you, the process can be really lonely, so we’re really glad to have each other and a great relationship.
Which resources have been most helpful to you?
The resources we have had at Columbia Business School are countless: the mentors from formal programs like Columbia Entrepreneurs Lab, the lessons we’ve learned in classes like Lean Launchpad and Launching New Ventures, and the support from the Lang Center to pursue our venture. We also received a lot of great advice from other current student entrepreneurs like David Cho of Sokoglam.com, Jenna Cao of Chiyome, and Eran Mizrahi who co-leads Lions Lab.
How can people contact you? (email address, website, blog, etc)
Our site, www.shopemmajoy.com launched on Valentine’s Day with our jewelry collection and we will be launching our apparel collection at the end of the month [Ed. Note: The apparel collection has since launched}. People can also stay up-to-date by liking us atwww.facebook.com/shopemmajoy, or following us on Instagram and Twitter (@shopemmajoy).