As online retail platforms continue to grow, it seems like there are endless ways to connect with brands. But Lisa Rosado, entrepreneur and founder of The Style Theory, discovered that going online sometimes leaves you missing a sense of community. So she transformed her lifestyle blog into a platform to create connection with other women entrepreneurs, and set about building community through the pop-up experience.
Rosado has always had an interest in fashion and retail. She worked for ten years in boutiques, managing and buying. “I loved having that one-on-one connection with customers,” she explains. “There was one place I worked at for five years, so the customers really became like family. I truly enjoyed helping to style these women and seeing their eyes light up—I was hooked.”
After a while, she felt there wasn’t really anywhere for her to progress, so she took some time off and developed her personal lifestyle blog into The Style Theory. “I decided to take some time off just to figure out what my next steps were. I felt stuck.”
When a new boutique opened in her neighbourhood in Queens, Rosado saw an opportunity. But working as a buyer for a brick and mortar store while doing something similar online for The Style Theory was tricky.
“It did become a little bit of an issue, so to accommodate my job at the time and my aspirations, I launched my own capsule collection that was unique to my brand, and couldn’t be purchased anywhere else. It was six pieces in collaboration with a designer who makes hand-makes clothing.”
And then, within a year, Rosado was doing her own thing full time. She relied on her buying experience to curate a selection of women’s apparel that she loved, but she soon discovered that running an online shop and working from home left her missing a sense of connection.
“In the last year, I’ve learned how important it is to have community, especially as a small business, and especially as a woman.” Rosado explains. She started reaching out to create a network of other women retailers and entrepreneurs. They shared stories and support and eventually Rosado decided to take it into real life. “I started with a pop-up, because rent prices are so sky-high in Manhattan, especially for a small business. And it’s important for small online businesses to get their brand presence out there—for customers to experience, touch and feel. It’s so crucial, especially with the online market being so saturated,” she explains.
Rosado has seen enough pop-ups in her time to know how she didn’t want to do them. “I’ve been in situations before where they just take your money and throw you into a space. It just feels very disconnected,” she says. She started to see opportunities to support vendors, helping them build confidence in their products and their brand, and giving the them tools to tell their stories.
For her pop-up with thisopenspace, Rosado created vendor packages, and kicked off the process with a group call. Vendors had a chance to meet each other, learn about each other’s businesses, and share tips and tricks. The pop-up became much more than just a shared retail space. It became a way for small business owners to support each other. “The event was initially going to be five vendors and then the opportunity with thisopenspace came up, which was fantastic because we grew to 16 vendors—and the more women I can support, the better.”
What began as a personal lifestyle blog evolved into an online boutique. From there, it transformed into a platform for connection among women entrepreneurs.
“I’m finding that community and sisterhood is really what I’m passionate about. It makes my heart so full and happy when I can support someone through their entrepreneurial journey. It meant a lot in my own journey, so to be able to create my own community makes me incredibly happy. We can do it all, but we can’t do it alone.”
Favourite place you’ve traveled:
Iceland. I’m getting married there at the end of next summer.
Profession you’d try for a day:
Who you’re most inspired by:
All of the women I’ve worked with. And lately Jenna Kutcher, for her incredible blog.
Anything with avocado.
Looking to curate your own group pop-up? Find the perfect space for your next venture by starting your search here.