What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Liz Salcedo: When you’re running a small and quickly growing startup, every day is different! I focus on working with our brand partners, developing business strategy and assisting with product development. This means that I get to work directly with fashion brands on all the different aspects of product design. I test out all our samples and make decisions on the tiniest details, which can have huge impacts on user experience. I also work closely with other team members on customer service, logistics, R&D and production.
What is the best part of your job?
LS: Developing new products! Whether it’s more functionality or new bag designs with a brand partner, I love imagining a product, envisioning all the varied details of how it will be used and then through a lot of work see it come to life!
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
LS: After college, I actually started as a social worker for HIV+ women and children. After four years in the field, I switched gears and started working on Everpurse. It started as a personal project—designing, building and then perfecting a bag that would charge my iPhone. A year later, I quit my social work job and officially started Everpurse. I basically bootstrapped my brain into something totally new.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
LS: The gap between the worlds of fashion and tech is so wide that we can use the same words, but be speaking entirely different languages. For example, in technology “embossing” means to create a raised surface, while in fashion, embossing means to created an indented surface. In both technology and fashion, a “tool” is something used in manufacturing to many make identical parts. However, in the technology industry, a tool is made of steel and takes at least a month to create. In the fashion industry, a tool is made of wood and can be made (and re-made!) in a matter of hours. Differences like these can make a huge difference in expectations when discussing designs, sample making and production!
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
LS: Tracy Banks-Geiger. Early in my career she taught me about the importance of building a strong team, taking care of those you work with and taking care of yourself. While our team works very hard, we also make sure to prioritize taking time to go out together, laugh together and share interesting things we’ve learned outside of work. It’s important that we enjoy coming into the office and working together. After all, life is too short to hate the job you do.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
LS: Right now, after spending the last year traveling so much for work (150,000 miles this year, including seven trips just to China!), the most valuable piece of advice has come from one of my mentors: “Identify where home is for you, where you get the most support from friends and family, where you feel most relaxed and at peace, and then try to invest as much time there as you can. Even if that’s only 20 percent or 40 percent of the year. No one can do it all on their own.”
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
LS: As entrepreneurs, we’re always so excited about creating the next thing, the next brand, the next tech development, the next bag shape or style. At times we have jumped too quickly into working on our next big idea, without fully monetizing on what we already have. The accessories market is huge and most consumers have never heard of Everpurse. We still have a lot of volume we can sell with the tech and designs we have right now before we need to invest in producing our next product.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
LS: Walking into a store and seeing Everpurse on the shelves! After months of dreaming about these bags, seeing them on paper, building samples, producing them in the factory and then packaging them into boxes for shipment, our vision for tech seamlessly integrated into beautiful accessories had finally come to life!
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
LS: I look for someone who can do their job better than I can. I need team members who are confident, who can take charge and who I can trust to get the job done without micro-management.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
LS: If you are looking to start your own company, focus first on what you can do yourself right now with very little money to test out your idea. At Everpurse we prototyped for almost a year with moldable plastic beads, fabric and spare electronic parts, testing the product and proving demand, before I decided to go full-time and make Everpurse an official business. Starting this way can have a huge impact on how quickly you get to a good idea, a product you can produce and something people want to buy.