Earned Ep. 65: Revolve’s Chief Brand Officer Raissa Gerona on How Influencer Marketing Helped Revolve Hit $1B in Revenue

Taylor Masket
Taylor Masket
Jan 10, 2023

We’re starting 2023 off with a bang. In our first episode of the new year, we sit down with Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer of fashion retailer and influencer marketing powerhouse Revolve (which collected $720M EMV in 2022). 


We start the episode by learning how Raissa was a pioneer in the influencer marketing space, leveraging the then-new blogosphere in 2008 to promote her own Lovers and Friends clothing brand, which she later sold to Revolve in 2014 before joining the company. Raissa shares her advice to marketers who question whether influencer marketing is “worth it,” emphasizing that it should be viewed as top-of-funnel marketing (like a billboard), and that marketers shouldn’t try to equate every single influencer post to a sale. We then learn why Revolve has increasingly focused on sharing the inspiring stories of the more-than 1,000 brands (many of which are independent, woman-owned) on their site, as well as why the digitally native retailer has begun participating in more traditional fashion industry events, including the Met Gala and New York Fashion Week. 

Switching gears, we take a step back to explore Raissa’s career journey. Raissa reveals how she was originally on track to become an attorney, but a trip to Italy led her to pursue the entrepreneurial path by starting her own brand selling remade vintage clothing, which is how she first crossed paths with the Revolve team. Raissa shares how Revolve founders Michael Mente & Mike Karanikolas have been incredible mentors and forward thinkers, who help recognize and nurture the team’s superpowers. To close the show, we learn about the successes and challenges involved with scaling Revolve 10x in 10 years to achieve $1B in revenue, before hearing what’s in store for Raissa and Revolve over the next decade.  

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts!

The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“People want to equate every single post to a sale. I think that’s fundamentally the wrong way to look at it.” Raissa Gerona’s Advice to Influencer Marketers

Raissa Gerona: Other marketers often ask me, “Is influencer marketing worth it? Is influencer marketing an investment that we should be really looking at?” I think what a lot of people forget, or maybe their approach is not what it should be, is that they want to equate every single post to drive revenue or a sale. I think that that's just fundamentally, from the start, the wrong way to look at it. I think it's absolutely top-of-funnel marketing. I really look at a post as a billboard, and if you post a billboard, you can't go to the advertiser and say, “How much did I convert from this?” It's all very high-level, like impressions and what’s the CPM on that? And so I think for [Revolve], that was one of the things that we got right—just the fundamentals of what influencers can do. Let's try to broadcast what the brand is about and then see what happens. And also the “see what happens” is not just one post, it's taken a long time to really figure out what that is. And then of course now there are so many different tools, whether it's Tribe Dynamics or something else, to see what is the EMV of something, or impressions and traffic, and of course now we can track sales better. But I think approaching it from that perspective from the start is not the right approach.

Raissa Gerona on Scaling Revolve 10x in 10 Years

Conor Begley: So let's talk about Revolve scaling up 10x. Obviously you had started working with influencers at Lovers and Friends and then really blew that up at Revolve. What was that scaling up process like? There are tens of thousands of influencers who create hundreds of thousands of pieces of content a year. What were some of the challenges with that scale? What do you think are some of the mistakes that people make along the way? 

Raissa Gerona: Yeah, I mean we had so many challenges, but also I think a lot of room [to test and learn], because not that many other brands were doing it, so we couldn't really reference anybody else’s approach, like “Oh, they're doing this. This is their gifting program, this is what the contract structure should be and the deliverables.” It was like the wild, wild west. We’re making it up as we go. 

I think that’s also what was cool about doing it during that time, is that you kind of set your own rules. Not because you were trying to do anybody wrong, but just because truly nobody else was doing it at the scale that we were doing it. Honestly at first it was just me who was gifting [influencers], reaching out, and then to another person and another. Now we have 20 people on that team who do solely influencer and brand ambassador relations. But that has taken a long time. 

We also had to build a lot of our systems internally, almost like a CRM for influencers, which didn't exist when we were starting out. So the tech team had to build that in-house, so that we could track everyone's information from their top cities to their following demographics to their shoe size. And then recently, a year and a half ago, we launched our own affiliate program that has been years in the making. We built it again internally, and that was really because in the beginning it was all about brand awareness and impressions, which is still very important. But a lot of the affiliate programs, they don't share conversion on anyone with you. So it's a black box. 

I saw that as an opportunity. And so we rolled out [our affiliate program] a year and a half ago, and that has been incredible. We have, I think, close to 30,000 brand ambassadors who've signed up, and obviously they get paid commission. But that's just been so fascinating, Conor, because we have such a wider view of what each person can do. We know who is great for impressions. Then you have people who are great for driving traffic, but maybe are not the highest converters. And then you have the unicorns who are impressions, traffic drivers, and converters. It's incredible and it just absolutely widened our view on who we should be working with. And so that has definitely been transformative in our business. 

And then in terms of getting it wrong, we make mistakes all the time. Sometimes your head is down working and when you lift it back up to see what's happening, you're like, “oh my gosh, I missed this” or, “we should have done this.” And I don't think any of it is intentional. I think we're all just trying to figure it out, and that this is still a completely new space. In 2019 TikTok launched, and that is also kind of a wild, wild west, because the platform is so different. There are so many different types of creators on the platform, and the price point is different for each creator. So that's something that we have to learn again. You have to learn something new every single time. So I think again, in terms of mistakes or lessons learned, you just have to be on it and learning as much as possible all the time, because any platform can just come to fruition. And there's such a big benefit to being an early adopter. 

You can watch the entire interview here, or listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. To catch up on our other 64 episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Gymshark, K18, Instagram, and 2K, visit our Earned Podcast page.