Coop & Spree Founder Brooke Richman on Her Tips and Tricks to Running a Successful Brick and Mortar

Marion-Willis-19

Hi Brooke! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

I’m a 36 year old living in NYC and the owner of Coop & Spree, a multi brand contemporary women’s and children’s retailer which also sells jewelry, accessories, wellness products, novelty goods and more. In addition to an NYC based brick and mortar store in the Noho area of NYC, we operate an e-comm site which ships nationwide

What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?

The opportunity to network and befriend like-minded business leaders who are female founders.

What made you take the leap to start Coop&Spree?

Courage, passion, a strong work ethic and commitment in real time during my late 20s, but I knew since I was little that I would have my own clothing store. Since my father is an entrepreneur, I’ve had an insane passion for retail/fashion/sales since I was literally in pre-k.

What was your background prior to starting your own business? Have you always been involved in retail?

I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 with a BA in US History. I then worked at Citigroup in the sales & trading program as a Credit Sector Specialist where I covered high grade and high yield retail companies and REITs. I realized that finance wasn’t my passion but the retail companies I covered were – so I left Ci to work as a buyer at Theory & Helmut Lang in their retail department. It was at Theory where I realized that I was wanted to finally take the leap and start my own retailer – but with multiple brands and a variety of luxury services that would make us niche – but i didn’t feel ready at 25, so I obtained my MBA at Columbia Business School where I focused on retail and entrepreneurship and wrote my coop & spree business plan; coop & spree opened 1 year and 2 months post graduation.

So Brooke, did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes – my father and brother are both entrepreneurs and my dad ingrained in us both since little that : “you always want to be your own boss “. The ability to control your time is a priceless commodity

When launching a new business, marketing is so important! What was your marketing strategy to get the word out?

Word of mouth via my Upenn and CBS networks as well as hiring a professional PR team for the launch.

Entreprenistas overcome challenges every single day. What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way?

Professionally: dealing with unreasonable and inhumane landlords (learned to always research in advance the landlord and also try to find someone who is a tenant to get the inside scoop). Personally: dealing with 2 chronic diseases while also trying to be present for both my employees and clients; creating a life outside of work without feeling guilty (this was just practice and realizing per the above, the better I feel as Brooke – and the more I do that makes me happy and gives me joy beyond coop & spree = the better boss I’ll be/ the better friend I’ll be and so on

Brooke, you have lots to celebrate! What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

A few things: 1. our ability to pivot during the pandemic: until march 2020, coop & spree by design was solely brick and mortar; I then moved to my childhood home in CT and built from scratch our -ecomm site which has been the crux of our business 2. the amount of money we’ve raised/donate to various non-profits specifically aimed at helping inner city Black girls and youths via sports/educational programs/mentorships (almost 6 figures) 3. The success of my employees post coop & spree – watching them soar into new roles or industries is extremely rewarding and makes me very proud 4. My academic success at Upenn (Summa Cum Laude and a Rhodes Scholar Nominee) 5. Opening coop & spree in 2014 while also getting diagnosed during the pre-launch time with both a chronic kidney disease and an autoimmune disease

So Brooke, do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I believe in it but I’m still working on it; I’m a big believer in self care via exercise (you can’t pour from an empty cup and movement is truly medicine; the more time you pend on improving yourself and your well-being mentally and physically, the better boss you’ll be.. the better friend / sister / child etc etc_; I have my own inflicted no social media / no texting etc. policy when I’m doing whatever method of movement I’m doing (i only permit myself to use a smart device to listen to music), so that I’m fully present.

What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?

1. Always have one side of your business card as ‘white’ (vs black) so someone can write on it (things they don’t teach you in business school or in college) 2. Managing employees is as much about them as it is about you; upfront, ask them about their preferred communication styles and how they best receive feedback/criticism; be adaptable and know that you have to alter your approach and communication style to fit each employee’s 3. Know the difference between single member and multi member LLCs

Entreprenistas deserve to celebrate all victories – big or small! What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?

coop & spree was listed as a winner in this year’s Inc. Magazine’s Best of 2022 businesses due to our efforts in alleviating child poverty (both monetarily and with time/mentorship)

So Brooke, what’s next for your business?

The launch of my new podcast, coop convos (airs feb 2023)

 Learn more about the Entreprenista League and join today!

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Valeria Lasak’s Marketing Agency Focuses on Fashion, Beauty, and Personal Brands

Hi, Valeria! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Valeria. Cofounder of MKT Besties and Nomad, a marketing agency focused on fashion, beauty, and personal brands, I’m also a community leader with the New Miami Girls community and host the street podcast ‘Who Is She Miami.’ This project is especially…

Leigh Burgess on Her Passion for Consulting, Coaching, and Curated Events

Hi, Leigh! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Leigh is a CEO & Founder and driven entrepreneur who is passionate about helping organizations and individuals achieve their fullest potential faster. By continuously stepping out of her comfort zone and pushing boundaries, Leigh has not only grown her own company into a…

How to Avoid Legal Challenges with Lauren Bercuson from Storylock Legal

“In the beginning, if you don’t have a team or a system or community around you, it’s very easy to feel lost. There are these amazing communities out there for amazing female founders that will really help guide and support you. So, the greatest lesson I learned pretty quickly was that you’re never alone. Or,…

The Secrets to Building a Community Led Business with Ingrid Read

“You really have to understand that, in order for you to scale, you have to learn how to do certain things and master them before you move on. If you don’t do that, then your audience is going to feel just as lost as you feel.” In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down with…

Krystal Childrey’s Journey to Founding a Boutique Ad Agency

Hi, Krystal! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Krystal Childrey is the founder of Soulwave Digital, a boutique advertising agency helping purpose-driven eCommerce brands scale profitably with Facebook and Instagram ads. Her agency takes a holistic approach to advertising and loves helping brands better understand their numbers, making sure that our…

Veteran Marketing Exec Mindy Anderson Brings Brands’ Stories to Life

Hi, Mindy! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Mindy Anderson is a veteran marketing executive, growth strategist, fractional chief marketing officer, and Founder of I Breathe Marketing. She has a proven record of building stronger brands, driving client engagement, and attracting more leads while maximizing return on marketing spend. Who are…

Tye Barrett Inspires People to Love Themselves Through Her Luxury Collection

Hi, Tye! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Amami was created by entrepreneur Tye Barrett, an African-American woman, who set out to inspire people to embrace their authentic selves and create a community rooted in selfacceptance. Like most powerful stories, hers starts with a personal journey of perseverance. As a single…

The Most Common Mistakes When Starting a Business—and How to Avoid Them

When you’re first starting a business, there’s so much you don’t know you don’t know—like how to price your offerings, market your business, or hire people to support you. Every entrepreneur learns along the way, so why not save yourself some time and money (and potentially even business heartbreak) by learning from the candid stories…

How Leyla Bilali is Building a Holistic Fertility Brand

“One big thing that sets us apart from other people in [the fertility] space is that we are a team of medical professionals and it’s all within our scope of practice to guide you through these things.” After a decade at one of New York City’s top fertility clinics, Leyla Bilali was approached by one…

How To Build a Sellable Business with Carrie Kerpen from The Whisper Group

In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down with Carrie Kerpen, founder of The Whisper Group, an exit readiness practice for women-owned businesses. Carrie previously co-founded Likeable Media, one of the first social media agencies, which she successfully sold for eight figures in 2021. Carrie is an accomplished author and hosts “The Exit Whisperer” podcast,…

Multifaceted Entrepreneur Katie Villacres on Her Live Event Production Business

Hi, Katie! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello, my name is Katie Villacres. I am a multifaceted entrepreneur with a diverse skill set and a passion for creative endeavors. Alongside being a dedicated mom who loves fitness, I have successfully owned multiple businesses. Currently, I am embracing my creative side…

Temprance Williams-Bell Offers Eco-Friendly, Ethical Skincare Products

Hi, Temprance! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello, my name is Temprance and I am the founder of My Natural Butter. With a passion for natural skincare and wellness, I created this brand to offer eco-friendly, ethical products that cater to the needs of conscious consumers. Our mission is to…

Peighton Woodard Shares About Her Women’s Wellness and Lifestyle App

Hi, Peighton! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Peighton. I am the CEO and Founder of Luna Leaf and app designed to revolutionize women’s wellness by aligning lifestyle choices with the menstrual cycle. Who are your customers? Women between the ages of 26-45. What was your background prior to…

How Shannon Weinstein is Making Financial Literacy Relatable for Entrepreneurs

“A lot of people have the misconception that PR is only intended for large brands, and that is so not true. PR is really a formula, right? It is building brand awareness, gaining visibility to earn credibility, which equals profitability.” After a career spent working in Big Four accounting and corporate America, Shannon Weinstein was…

How Lauren Picasso Navigated Fundraising Challenges to Grow Cure Hydration

“It’s all about, you know, investors are going to be looking at your background and whether they believe in the idea. Sure, but are you going to be able to execute on this idea?” In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down with Lauren Picasso, founder and CEO of Cure Hydration, a plant-based hydrating drink…