Alana is the founder and CEO of Ver Co. a vintage fashion brand
Tell me more about your background.
Something a lot of people don’t know about me, but I’m originally from a very small town in Central Jersey. I have been excited about leadership & how I could someday influence others from a very young age. I’ve always been creative as well. I would steal my mother’s fashion illustration books & sketch endlessly. I spent so much time drawing fashion designs that my mother finally enrolled me in traditional drawing classes. I’m happy that with Ver Co. I am finally getting back to my creative roots, and am able to build a brand, which can inspire others to see vintage fashion differently & to choose a sustainable option over fast fashion.
I’m also very passionate about networking and really try to engage with the female founders community in New York. I recently read a book, Meet 100 People, which talks about how much you can learn about business, life, etc. just by conversing with someone new. People don’t always want to engage in conversation, but I try to listen and learn from the various people I meet & love hearing from potential customers. That’s something that motivates me, and a lot of the time, I’ll meet people who either want to be on our blog or learn more about Ver Co. A lot of times they’ll be really engaged and have some ideas of how we can further grow our business. It’s important to me to prioritize growing our brand’s audience and learning more about our customer’s needs is pivotal to that.
“To be powerful means to be a good listener.”
Tell me about your company, Ver Co.
Ver Co. is an online vintage fashion destination for millennial women. We want women to feel empowered knowing there are many affordable and sustainable ways to be fashionable. We pride ourselves on quality fashion pieces meant to last, so say goodbye to fast fashion! We also have a blog called #BadassBabes focused on female empowerment. We speak with women across a wide variety of industries, and they give fashion and career advice.
How did you decide to start?
When I started Ver Co., I was still at my 9-5 job at an e-commerce company. Prior to that, I had worked in buying at different retailers. Working at Saks 5th Avenue, everyone there feels empowered knowing the best brands are at their fingertips. When I moved over to e-commerce, it was the exact opposite. We would spend hours chasing to get as many new brands on the site as possible; it was a very mass market approach. I never bought into the endless aisle site experience as a customer, and ultimately it proved a bad culture fit. Customers want to shop at a place that feels relatable and authentic, which was the guiding principle for my creating Ver Co.
I was always passionate about vintage. During college, I immersed myself in various entrepreneurship accelerators & competitions to pitch my idea at the time for a peer-to-peer clothing rental service. Being in Nashville, mostly music, tech, and healthcare startups were getting a lot of attention. It wasn’t the right time or place for a fashion startup, so after graduation, I moved to New York City knowing that I wanted to work in fashion and more specifically, in buying. After, I moved over to e-commerce, and I quickly learned how one person can manage such a large amount of business volume online and be so impactful. That experience ultimately gave me the confidence to launch my company.
I first started with handpicking and sourcing the best vintage, one of a kind items for customers. Then, we launched the re//worked line in early August. As a team, we all bring our design ideas to the table and discuss how we see each re//worked collection coming together. It’s amazing to watch how some ill fitting Moo Moo dresses can be transformed into day to nighttime casual dresses & sets. At the end of the day, my most important lesson is to surround yourself with a team, who can support you but also brings unique skills & insights that you don’t have. Diversity of thought is what drives successful team dynamics.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?
I really like working out and fitness. I enjoy going to barre classes also! It’s good to have a healthy balance. It’s really exciting for me to learn more about vintage, so I spend a lot of time reading about different era’s and new product categories. I also enjoy wine and dinner with friends. And I like travelling, too.
What are some of your favorite places in the city?
La Boqueria in Soho is my favorite because it’s a great example of a place that always feels like home. There’s never a time that I don’t feel comfortable going in. I would also say Dante because they have an amazing selection of award-winning negronis—one of my favorite drinks in the city. Another place that is truly wonderful is Westbourne. It’s one of my favorites on afternoons and weekends. It has a calming and relaxing atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like a café; it feels like LA.
What does it mean to be powerful?
To be powerful means to be a good listener. To understand people’s intentions and values but also to anticipate what will really delight and amaze your customers. In terms of how that applies to being a business owner, it is keeping your customers top of mind and always fighting for their opinions, their aesthetics, and an assortment that fits their needs. For Ver Co., that means that we’re constantly finding new ways to source the best vintage items and also designing innovative contemporary silhouettes for our re//worked collections. We’re delivering amazing quality at great prices to a customer, who wants to shop sustainable fashion and also be the best dressed girl in the room.
What is your favorite product/item?
I would have to say it’s this vintage denim jacket. Ironically, earlier today, I was talking with our designer about how people always love vintage jackets. I like it because it’s oversized and has a lot of details that aren’t typical. There’s lots of patchwork, straps that aren’t functional, & vintage 80s accents that are really unusual. For someone to make it today, it would be at Alexander Wang prices. As a true vintage find, it was $25, and to have gotten it at that price point is insane. My friend wanted to steal it off me! I have this decorative mannequin by my window with the denim jacket on it & some elegant jewelry. It adds a cool aesthetic to my bedroom.
Do you have any advice for young women?
My biggest advice is to focus on presenting yourself as the most professional, sophisticated, and hardworking person you can. People have this perception that millennials can be entitled, and the best way to combat that is to show up as the best version of yourself. Show them, “this is what I bring to the table.” Showcase your accomplishments and what you can do for someone else, as well as for yourself. Social media today is yelling out, “this is me”, but when you show up to your first day of work, you should focus on what you can contribute. I’m a very casual manager and love having my team be equally casual, but you still have to be focused on what you’re contributing and how you’re helping the company grow to be successful. People believe in you and your success when they see your grit & dedication. Wearing the latest Off White outfit doesn’t sell others on your talents.
A lot of times people ask for promotions. It’s frustrating to think about, but you’ll know when you’re ready for it & you won’t need to ask. You’ll be outperforming expectations and exceeding goals more so than everyone around you. I’ve seen those who just graduated trying to figure out what to do—and that’s the challenge—not only hitting the metrics, but going past the metrics. Showing the time and quality of work is what differentiates one employee from the next. That’s your way of becoming a very successful person at a young age.