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Skyrocketing with Rachel Blumenthal

January 28, 2020

Skyrocketing with Rachel Blumenthal

Nothing stops Rachel Blumenthal. Driven purely by passion (armed with real-life experience), this committed entrepreneur and mother-of-two worked at YSL, built multiple thriving brands and fundraised with the flu before launching Rockets of Awesome, her chic, but accessible kids’ clothing line. From the onset, she distinguished Rockets by innovating ultra special shopping experiences, first as a subscription box service, then on e-commerce and, most recently, at a Manhattan pop-up shop with a rainbow swing and marshmallow pool. We flagged down this in-demand Salt Shaker to talk comeback fashion, mom hacks and taking kids along for the ride.

SALT: Before launching Rockets of Awesome, you had a history of creating strong brands. Can you describe your trajectory?
Rachel Blumenthal: I’m unbelievably passionate about building authentic brands and businesses that truly solve problems. I’ve always had a strong entrepreneurial instinct—as a child, I convinced my younger brother to dress up in a clown costume and perform at my friends’ birthday parties. After graduating from Tufts University, I began my career in public relations at Yves Saint Laurent. While still working there, I founded and launched Rachel Leigh, a jewelry line that was ultimately sold in over 300 stores worldwide and licensed to GlamHouse in 2011. Shortly after, as a new mom myself, I founded Cricket’s Circle, the trusted resource and editorial destination for everything baby and toddler. In 2016, we pivoted that business and launched my most recent venture, kids’ clothing brand, Rockets of Awesome.
SALT: What inspired the idea for the line/company?
RB: The idea for Rockets came from my own personal pain point. As a mom of two, I was frustrated with the lack of high-quality, stylish kids clothing options at an accessible price point and decided I couldn’t be the only parent looking for a smarter solution. I used my learnings and insights from the Cricket’s Circle community, as well as my own experience as a mom, to launch Rockets of Awesome. I wanted to push the boundaries of what it means to be a modern kids’ clothing brand. We started with a subscription box, expanded to include an e-commerce shop and, recently, opened an immersive and experiential pop-up store in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.
SALT: For those who are just discovering your awesomeness, can you describe what makes your shopping experience and offerings different than other kids’ clothing lines?
RB: Unlike so many other kids’ brands that focus solely on mom or her kids, Rockets of Awesome unlocks a world of value for both parents and children. We deliver high-quality clothes at an accessible price point, in polished silhouettes that mom loves. Our unique pieces have special features like flip sequins and reflective details that kids obsess over. Equally as important, our clothes are made from the most unbelievably soft and machine-washable fabrics. 
Our seamless shopping experience also differentiates us from other kids’ brands. We create magical shopping experiences that speak to both parents and kids because we believe shopping should be easy—and fun!
Whether shopping with Rockets through our subscription box, e-commerce shop or visiting our pop-up store, you’ll see the ways we celebrate real life with kids. I think the best examples are the magical moments we created in our NYC pop-up: a rainbow swing photo op, sticker-filled dressing rooms and a huge marshmallow pool. 
SALT: We have to ask, how excited is your daughter to be in your ad campaign on the streets of NYC? How do you involve your children at Rockets of Awesome?
RB: She is beyond excited! Both my kids—Gemma (4) and Griffin (8)—are walking billboards for the brand, at this point. They’re also the best product testers, and I often take home samples for them to try on. They’re usually really complimentary; and I take that feedback and report back to the design team. As you can imagine, the kids wear Rockets of Awesome bombers over their school uniforms and my son once came home with a bomber order for 10 of his friends. We sent Griffin to sleepaway camp for the first time this past summer, and I could spot his neon Rockets tees in every camp picture.
SALT: To what do you attribute your success? We noticed, for example, that you seem very open to feedback from customers and other mothers/parents.
RB: I attribute my success to my obscene passion for this company and our clothes. There is truly no end to how far I will extend myself to achieve success. I’ve fundraised with the flu and was even talking to investors while in labor with Gemma. I have a very clear vision for this brand, and I attribute much of our success to the incredible brand loyalty we’ve seen right from the start. Our customers love our clothes and they want more styles, larger and smaller sizes and new categories. We’ve had subscription box customers come into our pop-up looking to stock up on their kids’ favorite styles. 
As a DTC brand, we have an intimate relationship with our customers and building that trust is always top of mind for us. Open and honest dialogue with parents is critical as we continue to learn what works and push into new areas. That give-and-take also gives our customers the confidence that we “get them” and we strive to keep that conversation as organic as possible.
SALT: Are there any items you wore as a kid that you wish you could recreate and wear now?
RB: There’s actually a product we’re reviving from the 90s that everyone is going to lose their minds over. I can’t share yet, but it’s worth the wait! 
I do distinctly remember my first pair of Guess jeans. I think I got them at Filene’s Basement and truly thought they were the coolest. We’ve just started offering denim at Rockets and, while the washes are as incredible as that pair of Guess jeans, they’re epically softer and stretchier because our denim is made out of knit (basically a heavy stretchy fabric) for denim-haters. This was a massive feat for us and such a win for our customers.  
SALT: What’s one trend you fully adopted (as a child or adult) that you look back on now and feel mortified?
RB: MC Hammer pants! Remember those? I cringe thinking about the matching vest I wore with them.  
I do want to bring back those giant plastic buckles we used to loop our oversized t-shirts through, though.  
SALT: How would you describe your personal style?
RB: I love fashion. I always have: I’m a self-titled “black belt shopper.” I grew up on Cape Cod and the stores were very limited (we didn’t get a Gap until I was 10), so I spent most of my time digging and searching at TJ Maxx and Filene’s Basement. My style tends to be classic with a twist. I buy pieces that are on trend and very of the moment, but have the design integrity to be lasting. I never shy away from sparkle, but it has to be contrasted with something more casual or masculine. My favorite fall purchase was a Miu Miu camel plaid wool trench, topped off with scattered rhinestones.
SALT: You’re a working mom with a busy schedule. What’s your best hack that helps you juggle it all?
RB: My husband, Neil—co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker—and I live and breathe by our shared google calendar. We schedule everything from the kids’ parent-teacher conferences to who’s doing school drop-off to our weekly date night. It’s important to us that we set aside time to connect, even during the busiest weeks. I also try to have all of the basics on auto-delivery (Fresh Direct, Amazon Subscribe & Save).
LIGHTNING ROUND!
THE SALT STRAP THAT’S SO ME IS: The Willa! Its versatile color palette is perfection. I can switch from bag to bag, so each look feels new again!
IN MY DREAMS, I PAIR IT WITH: Anything from my LV classic Pochette to my Fendi Boston bag.
THE ACTUAL BAG I SWEAR BY EVERY DAY IS: My “mom hack” is to keep a nylon pouch with the essentials inside, so I can switch bags super quickly based on my outfit.
THE INSIDE OF MY BAG IN 5 WORDS (OR LESS!): Only the essentials.
I STAY UP LATE WITH: Email, Instagram (bad habit), my husband, Neil, and, sometimes, binging a mediocre TV show. 
MY BEAUTY SECURITY BLANKET IS: A great Stila lip stain!

PLEASE TRANSPORT ME TO: The Hamptons to chill (spring, summer, fall) and Colorado to ski with my fam (winter).
MY UNIFORM IS: AYR or Mother jeans, James Perse or Goldie tee, embellished sweater (Miu Miu, ALC, Ulla Johnson, Zara) and a kitten heel or flats—heels are for my next life!
RECENTLY, I’M GIRL CRUSHING ON: Mandana Dayani for her tireless I am a Voter work and my 4-year-old for her unwavering joy and confidence. 
MY KARAOKE JAM IS: Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
CELEB LOOKALIKE: Rachel Brosnahan?
THE CAUSE CLOSEST TO MY HEART IS: The Good+ Foundation, which provides goods to low-income families. 

THE SHAKEDOWN:
The Source to Rachel's Edit
Rockets of Awesome, The Willa Strap, Mother Jeans, Goldie Tee,  Louis Vuitton PochetteFendi Boston bagI am a Voter,  Stila Lip Stain, The Good+ Foundation