Samantha Cooper: I am currently the CEO and founder of Trend Tribe. There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different whether it be looking at new pieces for upcoming collections, photo shoots and trunk shows [or] working with the Trendsetters. Every day holds something new, and that is one of the most exciting things about being the CEO of Trend Tribe.
What is the best part of your job?
SC: The best part of my job is definitely being able to give young college girls the experience that I so desperately craved when I was in college. I want to make sure that they are able to get this experience so that when they go to find jobs in the future, and they have skills that they can speak to. Being able to provide women with that is so rewarding!
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
SC: As a college freshman, I had so much trouble obtaining an internship. I did not have any experience that I could speak to in interviews, but I couldn’t get that experience without a job. That is how Trend Tribe began. I began to make and sell my own jewelry and launched my own company and brand. That way, the following summer I had unbelievable experience to talk about and landed my dream internship at Barney’s!
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
SC: The fashion industry can be competitive and catty at times. I wish I knew that it's more important to love who you work with than the brand name of the company. Especially in fashion, people can get hung up on working for the well-known brands, but what really matters is whom you're working with. A glamorous job or title is worth nothing if you hate the people you're spending the majority of your day with.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
SC: My mom! She had her own business, and seeing her be an entrepreneur changed my perspective on what it meant to be a professional. She taught me that it was 100 percent possible to make your own money doing something you love. As a little girl, I played "store" instead of "house." I was an entrepreneur from day one. Without my mom's inspiration and support, I wouldn't be where I am today.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
SC: My best advice is that it may not all happen today, but it’s all going to happen. That has certainly been the case for Trend Tribe as we have continued to grow, and I know that for any other woman who sets her mind to something fearless, it will happen for her too.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
SC: The biggest mistake I've made, and sometimes still make, is being way too hard on myself. I'm a perfectionist and want everything to perfect all of the time. With a startup, perfection is an unrealistic expectation. Every day I need to remind myself to let go of the need to be perfect. If perfection is the expectation, you will always disappoint yourself. I didn't start a business to disappoint myself; I started it to empower others! So I certainly can't beat myself up along the way. It's about enjoying the journey and continuously improving one step at a time.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
SC: One of the best moments of my career thus far was being honored with a Millennial Leader Award. To be recognized for my work empowering millennials is hugely rewarding. It was amazing to have my friends and mentors supporting me at the ceremony. I couldn't believe that I was the one receiving the reward! It was a night I'll never forget.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
SC: The number one quality I look for when hiring people is their ability to take initiative. As a startup, it's important that everyone on the team can identify opportunities for improvement and can take the initiative to conquer the project.
For example, I received an email saying, "I see you’re currently listed as number eight on Google, but I can help you get to number one. Can I intern for you?" Of course, she got the internship even though we weren't actively looking for someone to take on the role. She showed that she can take initiative and has the skill set to solve problems and make improvements. That's huge.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
SC: To any 20-something who is interested in being an entrepreneur, my best advice would be to keep going! Entrepreneurship can be a blurry, windy road at times, but as long as you're persistent and never give up, you will see success. There are high highs and low lows, and learning to stay levelheaded through the ups and downs is crucial for being successful as an entrepreneur. Don't let the downs get to you too much. They'll pass. I love the quote, "Both success and failure are never final." So just keep trekking! You've got this.