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Modern Fashion: Franki Ray On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sasha Spivey and Stacey George.

This fearless femme duo hit the style scene with a BANG when they dropped their now best-selling Business Bag (success earned separately). The electrifying take on the modern briefcase is crafted from butter-soft, custom-dyed buffalo leather and lined with custom-designed microsuede. The biz-savvy besties expanded an empowering line of unisex athleisure must-haves for everyday apparel, business, and travel.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

It all began in 1990 in Dallas, Texas. At a time when true female friendships were rare and glass ceilings had yet to be broken, Spivey and George were destined to beat the odds. At five years old, the two kindred spirits locked eyes in a kindergarten classroom at St. Bernard, then on to Bishop Lynch high school, and then college… the rest was (eventually) fashion history. Spivey graduated from Texas A&M University and entered a career in Biomedical Science. Working as a medical esthetician for a plastic surgeon, she used her artistic vision and methodical approach to help enhance client confidence while also honing in on her skills as a talented salesperson. Meanwhile, George, after graduating from Texas State University, applied her political science/marketing degree to the field of digital marketing/advertising, powering bold ideas that built lasting brand recognition. She built campaigns and strategies for nationally recognized corporations.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

Being lifelong friends with such strong entrepreneurial backgrounds it was only a matter of time and the right idea for us to create a brand. At one of our late night work sessions we said the word briefcase in the context of “business products” and the rest is history.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Chapter 1: Franki Ray was chosen as the exclusive Christmas gift vendor for Leviat Air, a private jet charter company.

Conclusion: We were told that our bags were incredibly well received among their VIP clientele…”I love the leather, it is exquisite.”

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Perseverance: Building your own brand is no picnic, but it IS worth all the sacrifices you have to make along the way. For example, the money it costs for PR, gifting to influencers, donating products to charities, etc. really adds up. In hindsight, when it all pays off they weren’t sacrifices after all.
  2. Adaptability: We launched March 5th, 2020….womp womp. However we didn’t let that stop us! We found ways to stay relevant and get publicity through podcasts, and media outlets despite the lockdown. Later we launched our ath-luxury tracksuit collection to put something out there to elevate the “sweatpants are acceptable everywhere” movement.
  3. Believing in ourselves: This is KEY! Not a day has passed where we haven’t believed wholeheartedly in what we are creating. This is not to say there aren’t hard days (believe us there certainly ARE!) but knowing deep down that you can accomplish whatever your goals are, that will keep you moving in the right direction. Set goals, make a vision board, hold yourself accountable, and do something to get closer to that goal every day!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our business bags! We are the only brand in existence that makes a fabulously fashionable briefcase. The world has been waiting for us.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? “You’ll be an overnight success…in five years.” We’re in our 4th year :)

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

Yes, Franki Ray. We can tell you everything.

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

Our bold “live out loud” designs empower We are making a splash with our Business Bags, a colorfully re-imagined traditional briefcase. Our statement-making tracksuits for center stage personalities We put our heart and soul into designing pieces that will inspire the world of fashion for decades to come.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

We use ethically sourced vegetable tanned leather. The craftsmanship and careful use of traditional techniques developed over centuries, the vegetable tanning process results in leather with a distinct appearance and unmatched durability. One of the best features of vegetable-tanned leather is that it develops a patina over time with prolonged use and exposure to the environment. Due to the gentle processes involving several weeks of treatment, the vegetable-tanned leather has a much longer life than chrome-tanned leather. Although the process requires water usage, we chose a tannery in India because of the high rainy season. This allows them to use natural rainfall water mostly for the process.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

Our products are made with top quality materials and designed to last. Vegetable tanning is the form of tanning that produces the sturdiest leather. Over time vegetable leather goods will naturally biodegrade, whereas chrome tanned items will spend hundreds of years in landfill sites. We do our best to make the most environmentally conscious decisions in all aspects of our business.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It must be an idea that you know you can happily talk about, think about, and expand upon for years to come.
    - When you commit to this grand idea/design, it will take grit, extreme commitment, and lots of time. So it’s imperative that you absolutely love what you are doing because it will become your life; keep it interesting by spicing it up every chance you can.
  2. Money, and creative ways to get more of it.
    - It’s interminable, so buckle up for this one
  3. “Measure your success by the growth of your freedom.” — Yung Pueblo
    - Be the boss you wish you had, take time for yourself when you need it, and create whatever you want!
  4. Specifically with fashion, the audience is extremely opinionated and their choices are personal, so getting in front of the right people that truly understand and connect with your brand can be overwhelming at times.
    - Thus hiring a reputable PR firm can be instrumental in knowing where you stand and what direction to go in.
  5. Be brave! Believe in what you are designing or no one else will! Trends all have to start somewhere, so why not be the first!
    - We launched in Dallas, a very prestigiously fashionable city, and we were welcomed with loving and supportive arms! There was never a doubt in our minds that going up against well established luxury brands was going to be a deterrent, because in our minds, WE WERE A LUXURY BRAND en route to being established. Turns out, your mindset is an excellent predictor of your future.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

Getting big box retailers to be more inclusive of new designers; we can’t even get an email back from Nordstrom/Niemans. We have built such an impactful and timeless brand and have received continuous support and adoration from our customers and the press. We know it would be so inspiring for our customers, new and old alike, to see Franki Ray on the shelves of a nostalgic department store, afterall, what’s more nostalgic and progressive than a briefcase?

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

The movement hath begun… Franki Ray, a voice for dreamers! With this brand, we hope to be able to not only open doors for ourselves, but for all of those who walk in our footsteps.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

@franki.ray www.FrankiRay.com

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.