Seattle’s never been short on big-name fashion brands and internationally renowned retailers – see Nordstrom, REI, and Amazon. Rollick, the recently launched site helmed by local lady Kelly Jensen, is a little different.
With a retail and fashion pedigree that’s more than a little impressive – she studied apparel merchandising and marketing at WSU, worked for Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer, and currently works as a merchandiser for Cutter & Buck – Jensen noticed a hole in the fashion world for what she calls “real, rad women.” We checked in with her to pick her brain about being a businesswoman, juggling a full-time gig and her own store, and the world’s cutest store mascot.
Seattle Refined: First, the elevator pitch. What’s Rollick?
Kelly Jensen: Rollick is an online shop for girls who just wanna have pun! It’s kicking the phony out of fashion. I want the whole feel of Rollick to be easy, casual, and fun – I love and appreciate great design, but I’ve found that with great design usually comes a stuffy and serious brand. I want everything from the clothes to the models to the visual design of Rollick to have an authentic and approachable vibe, because I think life is way too short to take your style too seriously.
A dumb question, but a necessary one: who’s the Rollick girl?
Not dumb at all! I worked really hard on getting a clear idea of who I want my girl to be. She doesn’t take herself too seriously – and hopefully enjoys a good pun or two. She’s interested and cares about style, but would consider herself fashion-obsessed. Scrolling through pages and pages of a big retailer’s site isn’t her jam – ain’t nobody got time for that. She’d rather be out having drinks with friends or traveling than worrying about trends, but she’s happy to treat herself to something new every now and then if it fits with her lifestyle. My hope is that by tailoring my offering to her preferences of easy and wearable styles, she’ll have a one-stop shop for unique and special pieces to add to her wardrobe. Then she can back to conquering the world.
Tell us a little about your experience! You’ve worked for Seattle-based retailers and you’re a WSU grad.
Heck yeah! Go Cougs! I loved my experience at WSU and think it really prepared me in so many ways. I majored in apparel merchandising and minored in marketing, both of which are obviously incredibly pertinent to what I’m doing with Rollick. I was also in the Greek system, which helped me to build a huge network. That’s been so helpful with the initial launch of Rollick, because I’m able to reach so many girls within my target demographic.
I worked on the Nordstrom sales floor for about six months after college and enjoyed the company, but I’m not cut out for sales – too awkward. It was great though, because I got to interact with customers, see what worked, and see what didn’t. I moved on to Eddie Bauer and learned a ton about the inner workings of a retail corporation. I was on the planning and allocation side of the business, which is pretty numbers and analysis-heavy. It gave me a great foundation for being smart about inventory for Rollick. After a few years, I moved on to Cutter & Buck, where I still work full time as a merchandiser. I’ve also been a big of a Jill-of-All-Trades within C&B since it’s a smaller company, which has offered a great opportunity to learn how to multitask.
How did you get the site off the ground?
One word: Google. It’s been such a crazy learning experience. My husband and I agreed on a number we could pull from our savings to get it off the ground, and I’ve been pressing forward ever since I went through a branding course through a company named Hey Sweet Pea, and it covered everything from my target customer to my company name to my mission and elevator pitch. For my website I use the e-commerce platform Shopify, which I would recommend in a heartbeat. I worked with a designer to help come up with my logo and overall aesthetic feel, and for sourcing I traveled down to Las Vegas for the Magic trade show last summer. The models are all friends or friends of friends – I really wanted to use “real” women. I’m lucky to have some amazing women in my life who were willing to step in front of the camera for me and act a little goofy, and I think they did an amazing job.
What would you say to other lady entrepreneurs who want to get a business off the ground?
If you have a business idea that you can’t stop thinking about, do the research, crunch some numbers, and start taking action that will move you in that direction. I spent so much time at the beginning of building this business listening to other people’s stories and not moving forward on my own dreams. If you take enough baby steps forward, eventually you’ll be able to run with something great. I also often go back to the John Lennon quote my dad always recites: “There are no problems, only solutions.” For every frustrating and mind-boggling issue I’ve come across, there’s an answer out there somewhere. Keep calm and Google it.
Finally, Wilma the dog. Tell us everything.
Oh Wilma. She’s the sassiest little chunk you’ll ever meet. We got her as a puppy in April at almost the exact time I started seriously pursuing Rollick. She basically demands to be in my lap when I’m at my desk, her middle name is Waffles, and she snores like an 80-year-old man. When she’s not too busy posting on her Instagram she can be found sleeping 95% of the day. #spiritanimal.