Women On The Edge: Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo

01/14/2015 8:40 AM |

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Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo
Co-Founders of Of a Kind

Back in 2010, Delaware native Claire Mazur and her partner Erica Cerulo launched Of a Kind, a website that showcases work by up-and-coming fashion designers, offering small batches of limited-edition pieces for sale exclusively on the site. It quickly became a go-to for anyone interested in under-the-radar, innovative designers. “We love that we have so many customers from places like Oklahoma and South Dakota where the work of our designers is not available in local boutiques,” Mazur tells us. “It’s exciting to create that kind of access for our audience.” And Of a Kind has also made a serious impact on the careers of the designers they feature. “We’ve worked with over 250 designers and the notes they send us about how being featured on Of a Kind has led to other big successes and wins for their lines is completely thrilling to me,” she continues.

Before launching the site, neither Mazur nor Cerulo had started a business before. “We were pretty clueless about how to get a website up and running,” Mazur says. “And, come to think of it, neither of us had very extensive fashion backgrounds either. So we were diving into completely new territory on all fronts. While we had a lot of fear we also had a lot of trust in our own—and each other’s—instincts, which is how we were able to move forward despite our inexperience. We’d been observing the space pretty closely for awhile and we knew the market was really ripe for what we were doing.”

There were certainly stumbling blocks along the way, Mazur explains. “I try not to focus on [gender] too much because it detracts from the time I spend thinking about my business. I certainly think if there were more women investors and more women in positions of power generally, then you’d see more women-owned businesses succeeding. It’s hard for someone to get excited about investing in or supporting a business that they don’t understand, and oftentimes that breaks down along gender lines. So you see businesses geared towards more traditionally female interests having a harder time getting funded or recognized…It’s frustrating to watch but I do think it will change over time.”

Mazur’s advice for anyone who’s looking to start a business? “Never be afraid to ask for anything—advice, favors, help, answers. One thing about starting a business is that you don’t know what you don’t know. So you have to be willing to put yourself out there and ask for what you need. You’d be surprised how often people are actually excited to give it to you.”

www.ofakind.com