Fashion

Revolve’s Raissa Gerona On What Real Influence Means

As the chief brand officer of e-commerce destinations Revolve and FWRD, RAISSA GERONA is all about forming meaningful connections.

On the week of October 23, 2022, Raissa Gerona’s calendar tallied 30 hours in meetings. This number might fluctuate here and there, but one thing remains consistent: the chief brand officer of multi-brand e-commerce destinations Revolve and FWRD sprints through consultations, interviews, and conferences like an athlete on a track.

She’s used to this. It’s probably why she logs into our call relaxed and lightly made up, long black hair cascading carelessly past her shoulders. “It is a lot of meetings,” she confirms with a small smile, when asked about her typical work week. “Lots of speaking.”

Raissa Gerona for Vogue Philippines shoot.
Raissa Gerona for Vogue Philippines shoot.

It wasn’t always like this; when her family moved to Silver Lake, California when she was seven, Raissa barely spoke the language. Born and raised in the province of Bulacan, her English was tinged with an accent that drew hostility from her peers. “I remember coming home and I was crying to my parents about, you know, not speaking English well,” she says. “And so then they were like, ‘Okay, from now on, we’re only speaking English.’”

This house rule would culminate in Raissa taking up political science at the University of California-Irvine, after developing a taste for public speaking in her high school speech and debate club. “I wanted to potentially be an immigration lawyer, because it was so hard for us to get a green card,” she recalls, “and so that was also something that always kind of stuck with me; trying to figure out how to help people like myself navigate through the system in the U.S.”

Post-graduation, however, she had second thoughts about pursuing a law degree. In lieu, Raissa sold vintage and reworked garb on eBay, and later on, designed her own line in 2007. She named it Brigid Catiis after her grandmother. Revolve was one of its customers.

When the recession forced Brigid Catiis to close in 2009, Revolve’s co-founder and co-CEO Michael Mente reached out to Raissa with a proposition for a new fashion brand. He would provide the funding as long as Raissa took care of everything from design to sales to marketing. That’s how they gave birth to Alliance Apparel, the parent company of clothing brands Lovers and Friends, NBD, and Tularosa.

Eventually, Michael and Revolve’s co-founder and co-CEO Mike Karanikolas acquired Alliance Apparel, and invited Raissa to be a part of their in-house marketing team. “I was so scared because I didn’t study marketing or business. They told me to give it a shot and I… I did it,” she says with a laugh, as if unbelieving, to this day, that she chose to accept the opportunity.

REAL RESONANCE

“People always look to people for inspiration, whether it’s editors, actresses, celebrities, influencers, et cetera. I think that that will always be true. I think what changes will be the platform,” she tells Vogue Philippines. This thought process led to.

Raissa Gerona in a business casual attire for Vogue Philippines shoot.
Raissa Gerona in a business casual attire for Vogue Philippines shoot.

Revolve Around the World, the platform’s series of influencer trips that took flight even before the word “influencer” assimilated into common vocabulary. Raissa credits the initiative’s success partly to luck, as she started marketing at Revolve four years after Instagram’s launch. But also, she felt that they were reaching their customers on a deeper level. After all, the goal of these trips was to inspire their consumers on how, when, and where to wear their clothes.

Revolve Around the World approaches its 10th anniversary next year. To say the digital marketing landscape has changed since its inception would be an understatement. Reflecting on their influencer trips, the chief brand officer feels that the strategy has become dated for the brand. “We’ve been doing this for a really long time. We have to do something else, because I feel like we’ve really done the best that we can already do, you know? I think it’s really about prioritizing. What else can we do to make sure that we’re connecting with the customer?” she ponders.

Stripping away follower counts, post insights, and earned media value, what Raissa does can be simply summed up: putting together experiences that resonate with people.

“Influence to me means just being able to make a connection with someone,” she says without missing a beat. “There’s people that I’ve never met before that I feel like are mentoring me because they have a podcast, I follow them on social media, they’re on Twitter. And that’s what’s so cool now.”

HEALTHY ROOTS

For Raissa, the foundation of any lasting interpersonal connection is a solid one with yourself. “When you get on an airplane, they always say in case there’s an emergency, you need to put on your [oxygen] mask first, even if your daughter’s there,” she explains. “And that’s always stayed with me. Always try to put yourself first, put on your own mask, and then it’s much easier to give to other people in your life.”

So how does she put on her figurative mask? “Exercise, massages, spa, and facials, I just do it all. Journaling. Walking is also something I like to do a lot. I live by a big hiking place and so I’ll also go over there, hike, and put on a podcast, which is nice. It’s really relaxing. Sometimes too I don’t even listen to a podcast because my mind feels very busy, so I’ll just walk,” she shares.

Raissa Gerona wearing an simple elegant dress for Vogue Philippines shoot.
Raissa Gerona wearing an simple elegant dress for Vogue Philippines shoot.

On the best days, she spends time recharging with her family.

“You know, it’s so weird because a couple of weeks ago, I went to have dinner with my parents and my daughter. I had them meet me at this restaurant and it turns out the restaurant was right next door to the back house that we lived in when we moved to the States,” Raissa fondly recounts, eyes shining.

“My parents and I were very emotional because we lived in this one bedroom, one bath apartment. We lived there for a year and a half. It was such a weird full circle moment. It was just so crazy because we went to eat at this restaurant and I was just like, ‘How is this even life?’ I love being able to share my life and my experiences with my family. And I think most Filipinos are the same way.”

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