Raquel Phillips and her sister, Nicole, started Qatch to help find a solution for how overwhelming online shopping can be for women. After graduating from Babson in 2017 with her Masters, Raquel moved to New York City for work. While in New York and still working in accounting, Qatch came together: a site where the fun of online shopping meets the technology that caters clothes just for you.
Harper: How was it transitioning from working a well-paying corporate job into the start-up culture? What made you kind of flip that switch of being like, I'm gonna quit, I'm gonna fully commit and I'm going to do this.
Raquel: It was the scariest change and decision of my life. I think because when you go to college and you get a degree, there's a certain expectation that you're going to follow this path of getting a corporate job and be on a path that everyone expects of you. I was actually working on Qatch for about six months while I was still working at PwC because it took me so long to get over that fear of, if I quit my corporate job, people would look at me and think you're throwing your degree away, what are you doing? So that was the biggest hurdle. But the switch really flipped when I was working at PwC, but also working for Qatch, and I felt like my day job was taking away from the work that I wanted to be doing for Qatch. There was only so much I could do because I was trying to spread myself in two different areas.
Harper: Yeah, and then what is it like working with your sister? You obviously come from a family that might have a little bit of a chaotic home.
Raquel: Yeah, that is the most asked question. No matter who we're talking to. People always give us a look and they're like, what is it really like working with your sister, but I will say honestly working with her has been great. And the reason for that is because we are so different. Although we're sisters, and we get along and we grew up in the same home, our skill sets and personalities are complete opposites. Title-wise Nicole is CEO and I'm COO, and it really reflects on our personalities. She's the visionary, big thinker. And me, I went into accounting so I'm very numbers-focused and detail-oriented. So in that sense, we really balance each other out. Another great thing is when we hit a bump in the road, we don't really have to tiptoe around it. like you would if you were co-founders and not family members. We just face those head-on, put our sister hats on and try to work through whatever comes which I think is great. Obviously we still fight sometimes like all siblings do but I see that as a plus because we're able to really just flesh everything out and get over it more quickly than then if we weren't related.
Harper: Every single time I open up my email there's something new on urban outfitters or there's something new in Everlane there's something new at Lou and gray. How do you guys keep your source relevant, keep your products relevant? How do you stay on top of that, because like the fashion industry runs so quickly…
Raquel: The way we partner with our brands right now are through third-party services, and we actually have live feed access to their inventory. So we can see when they get new products in, we can see when their products go out of stock, and we have a living breathing database with all of that inventory. But it's crazy how inventory changes so often and especially right now, with everyone shopping online. We’ve especially found that with people sitting at home, loungewear is flying off the shelves like hotcakes. Everyone, for some reason, is looking for a tie-dye matching lounge set.
Harper: Yeah, of course. And then, like speaking of loungewear, what's kind of like your morning routine of like, getting up getting ready but like transitioning into work? Both Quarantine and not.
Raquel: Pre-quarantine. I would wake up around 7 am, get ready and head to District Hall or to another coffee shop and do my work there. Quarantine mode: I'm trying to establish a routine, but I haven't been very good at it. I'm waking up a little later than I normally would, which is fine because my WFH look doesn’t require me to do my hair or makeup. But I typically wake up, make my coffee, and I’ve been trying to schedule meetings earlier in the day so that I’m forced out of bed.
Harper: I totally understand that even with school. I'll be like, Okay, I'm not gonna do anything after like, five I'm gonna make myself go to school. In between these two. Some of my professors just put up the slides. And so I can take them whenever I want. Yeah, the test will be up for a whole week. So now I have to set more boundaries.
Raquel: Yeah, it's honestly a good skill to learn. Because if you ever do enter the startup world, I mean, you're already in it but even after school, you're gonna have to learn to set those boundaries for yourself. Another tip is, it's just as important to schedule personal time into your calendar, as it is business time. Whether it's getting drinks with friends or now virtual happy hours with friends, I put it in my calendar because it's just as important to focus on your life outside of business as it is to focus on work. So be as strong with those plans as you are with a typical workday because otherwise, you're going to go crazy. That's what I've learned.
Harper: How do you feel being a young entrepreneur in a pandemic? I know that this is such a loaded question, but I know that just the feelings changed so quickly, like it became zero to 100 so quickly, at least it felt that way for us.
Raquel: It's scary. Definitely. I mean, being an entrepreneur is scary normally and then being an entrepreneur when the economy is crashing is even scarier. But I will say, as awful as this situation is, there are some silver linings. I’ve found that as an entrepreneur, there are a lot of resources out there that are trying to help and I feel like that has amplified and stepped up way more since the pandemic has hit. It’s also nice to see that people are making even more of an effort to stay connected. I’m a member of the Girl Boss community and I've always been active on the network but when the pandemic hit and all of our meetings and networking events got canceled, I planned a virtual coffee date with 15 other female founders, across the nation, which I never would have stepped up and done before this.
Harper: And then a little bit of lighter note, what's your like go to if you do get to go to a meeting or you do have to go to like a pitch, what's your go-to power outfit? What makes you feel confident? What makes you feel like ready to take on the world?
Raquel: I’ve started balancing professional but also trendy outfits. Again, coming from the corporate world as an accountant. I was always used to the most boring business attire you could imagine. But now that I am the COO of a fashion tech company, I like to go with fun pants, like colored, flared jeans, and then a more professional or minimal top. And always paired with fun shoes. I'm getting more used to walking in heels because that also just makes you feel more powerful.
Harper: If you could fit anything you wanted in your pocket, like what would you keep in your pocket?
Raquel: Hmm, definitely lip balm business cards. I also don't have those on me as much as I should. And lipstick. Because lipstick is also part of my power outfit.
Thanks for chatting with us Raquel!