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#LADYBOSS

#LadyBoss: Meet Rachel Blumenthal, Founder of Cricket’s Circle

June 2, 2015
cute family park spring

If you look up ‘power couple’ in the dictionary, you might find Rachel and her husband Neil there.  They are a New York staple, with a deep rooted entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy that has launched numerous businesses between them.  Rachel sat down with us and shared how she started www.CricketsCircle.com.  The company has taken the guesswork out of what in the world to register for by making it super simple to find the products that work for your lifestyle, personalized for you and with a user experience that makes creating registries actually, dare we say it, FUN.

CAN YOU TELL US HOW YOU BUILT YOUR FIRST ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURE, RACHEL LEIGH, AT 23? WAS IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE THE JUMP FROM PR TO JEWELRY DESIGNER?
I was working in the PR department of Yves Saint Laurent when an editor noticed a gold ring on my finger that I had designed and made myself. Right then, my career dramatically changed. Lucky featured the design and media attention flooded in. I was still working full-time at YSL and staying up until 3am to hand-make jewelry for orders. After a feature in Daily Candy a month later, I decided to take a complete leap of faith and pursue the business full-time. That one ring turned into the costume jewelry brand Rachel Leigh, ultimately sold in over 300 stores worldwide and named one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things.” The brand was licensed to GlamHouse in 2011.

“I was still working full-time at YSL and staying up until 3am to hand-make jewelry for orders”

HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE IN PR AND AS A DESIGNER COME INTO PLAY WHEN YOU STARTED CRICKET CIRCLE?
While working in the PR department at YSL and as a designer for Rachel Leigh, I developed an aesthetic sensibility and passion for curation, which is reflected in everything we do at Cricket’s Circle. When we launched Cricket’s Circle, we knew the importance and value of building a brand (aesthetic sensibility and a defined point of view) that spoke to this generation of women. For the past year, Cricket’s Circle has primarily focused on curating and recommending the best products for parents based on their needs and lifestyle and speaking to them honestly and directly (we tell you when a product is ugly as sin but the best $100 you’ll ever spend, when you don’t need something or when you need 3 of them). Cricket’s Circle curates a starter list with top products for each user based on their responses to a quick quiz about their lifestyle and what’s important to them (price point, health needs, style, etc).

WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR AS OPPOSED TO WORKING FOR A BIG COMPANY?
Being an entrepreneur means taking risk, believing in your vision, being comfortable with the unknown and working harder than you can ever imagine possible. Working for a start-up enables your team to have a direct impact in shaping the organization every single day. There’s very little, to no, red tape which means innovation happens quickly and you’re able to learn and adjust course often. Building a business from the start-up stage is similar to watching a child grow – you appreciate and notice all of the small stages that are truly impactful for the big vision/future.

R&G4

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR OTHER MOMS LOOKING TO CREATE THEIR OWN BUSINESS? THINGS YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU.
My advice is that there’s no “right” way to do something. There are plenty of ways to try, and you should always ask for help and advice. Valuable advice I did receive early on came from an advisor who told me that I should share my idea with as many people that would listen. It’s common to worry about someone taking your idea but ultimately all good businesses come down to execution. I wouldn’t be here today without all of the tips I received from everyone I shared my idea with. Neil (my husband) and one of his Warby Parker co-founders, Dave Gilboa, also gave me a valuable piece of advice when I was starting Cricket’s Circle. They told me: there is nothing more powerful or memorable than an authentic story. For example, not knowing or understanding what to buy for my (and Neil’s) baby when I was pregnant was a true, personal frustration that many of our friends have experienced which is why the concept for Cricket’s Circle resonates so deeply with our customers and members.

“Valuable advice I did receive early on came from an advisor who told me that I should share my idea with as many people that would listen. It’s common to worry about someone taking your idea but ultimately all good businesses come down to execution”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF BUILDING CRICKET CIRCLE? AND THE BEST PART?
It’s certainly true that trying to balance career and family can be a daunting challenge, but I believe it can be done. You have to set boundaries and priorities — definitely easier said than done, but I try to live by that motto as best as I possibly can. Every day is different and you’re going to have to be flexible to that. What I’ve gained though, far outweighs any challenges. I truly love what I do and believe I’m solving a problem that new moms encounter everyday. Our team works incredibly hard and we’re all balancing personal and professional lives, but I know we’re on our way to building something impactful and I’m very proud of that.

SINCE YOUR HUSBAND IS A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR THAT YOU WORK ON WARBY PARKER WITH, CAN YOU TELL US ANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BEING A WOMAN AND MALE ENTREPRENEUR?
It’s less about gender, and more that every entrepreneur has their own style, strengths and weaknesses. An entrepreneur’s greatest strength is being self-aware enough to recognize their weaknesses and find the resources to get support. I like to think Neil and I have learned from each other in many different capacities over the years.

CAN YOU TELL US WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR CAREER AND HAD THE MOST IMPACT?
My husband, Neil has had a huge impact on my career. Cricket’s Circle is my second entrepreneurial venture (I formerly built and ran the jewelry brand Rachel Leigh until I exited a few years ago) and Neil very much encouraged me to take that first risk when I was 23 and I’m forever appreciative. Neil has certainly taught me the virtue of patience. He’s probably the most patient person I know. I wouldn’t be the parent (or CEO) I am without him.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON THAT GETS YOU MOST EXCITED AND INVIGORATED ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING?
I’m completely addicted and obsessed with building Cricket’s Circle to achieve our greatest vision for the company – to be the personalized e-commerce and content experience for new and expectant parents. Every day our team is devoted to improving the experience for our members and customers, and continuously solving problems for them. When I was pregnant, I didn’t have a resource like Cricket’s Circle – so to create a seamless, online experience for women in the same overwhelming position that I was in, is what excites me most. When I set out to build Cricket’s Circle, I knew one of the most important aspects was to stay unbiased in our recommendations. With that in mind, we hold no inventory, which gives us the ability to be flexible with products we select and recommend to our members – if a new option hits the market and we feel its the best, we can quickly add it to our site without the worry of having to sell from our inventory. It’s this flexibility that makes e-commerce so exciting, because we know we can always deliver the best experience.

“When I was pregnant, I didn’t have a resource like Cricket’s Circle – so to create a seamless, online experience for women in the same overwhelming position that I was in, is what excites me most”

YOU HAVE A VERY BUSY SCHEDULE , WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE THE MOST OF TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY? DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE FAMILY ACTIVITIES?
We love to go away together on the weekends. We’re big skiers so in the winter, we’re up in Vermont or out west in Utah as much as possible. In the summer, we’re at the beach. It’s such a fun and relaxing escape from the city for all of us, and Griffin thrives in new environments where he can explore. Weekends are truly family time with no cell phones (except an opportunity to sneak in an instagram of Griffin here and there) and as much undivided attention as possible.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF?
When I need some me time, I love Pilates, Physique57, Yoga & Spinning. I’ve been spinning since before it was cool – at least 18 years. Yoga entirely calms me and can be a tremendous workout for strengthening. I re-discovered Pilates and started Physique when I was first pregnant and attribute my ability to bounce back to both. Fashion and style are some of my biggest passions too, I have subscriptions to every major fashion magazine that I consume on car rides to VT. Following my favorite fashion and décor brands, and influencers on Instagram keeps the inspiration flowing. And I secretly collect beautiful letter pressed invitations and paper goods.

YOU MUST GET SENT A MILLION PRODUCTS TO TEST, ESPECIALLY NOW THAT YOU’RE PREGNANT. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY STORIES?
I definitely see a lot of products – some stranger than others – but in general I’m such a gear junkie that I love it. I was sent a pair of Blanqi maternity tights and at first I couldn’t get over how crazy they were (They cover your belly and go all the way up to just under your bra. The area that covers your belly also has less coverage than the rest of the opaque tights.) I was proven wrong with the first wear with how brilliant they actually are – all of these “odd” features have very specific design decisions. I don’t think I could have survived this pregnancy without them – I literally wear them at least 4 days a week.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SECRET TALENTS?
I have a near photogenic memory, I can tell you exactly what kind of jeans will fit your body without taking them off the rack, I can do a mean nail-art manicure and I am a former competitive figure skater.

To learn more about Rache’s story and check out the website, head over to www.cricketscircle.com

Editors Note:  Since this interview, Cricket’s Circle has raised $2.25 million in seed funding. Congrats to Rachel and the team at Cricket’s Circle.

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