Who are you and what is your background?
My name is Marlee Rabin, and I am a fashion business entrepreneur, dedicated to creating solutions that help reduce textile waste at scale.
Your current job and title?
Founder & CEO of Ocurent, which is soon to be Top Shelf Trade.
In what city are you situated?
A word to define what type of worker you are:
Congratulations on winning the ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator Pitch Competition. What does this program, and this award mean to you?
The program experience is what meant the most to me — being in a structured program that was dedicated to my business’ growth and success was so comforting, but also challenging and fun. The award was really the icing on the cake, and I am grateful to be recognized for my work and to have earned a little bit of money for my new pivoted business.
What was it like to be in a program that was focused on and consisted of solely women entrepreneurs?
Incredible. There is nothing quite like the energy and support of 9 female entrepreneurs who are running the same course as you.
What makes your company unique? Why?
My current company, Ocurent, is a luxury dress rental company that I started just under 2 years ago. All of the clothing that we rent belongs to other women, and we have created a high-end shared closet for Montrealers. With the effects of COVID-19, events have been canceled and postponed, which left me in a unique position to pivot my entire business model. Now, I have developed a new concept where women can trade their premium clothing with one another through my new platform, Top Shelf Trade. The concept that I have created is novel to the marketplace and will be powered with unique AI technology. We will be providing women with a trusted place to trade in their clothing and be able to access carefully selected designer merchandise that is ‘new’ to them. This platform also helps women retain the maximum amount of value on their clothing, as selling clothing often depletes its value.
How big is your company?
We are small, under 5 people.
What tools are essential to your life (app, software)?
Google Drive, Gmail, ToDoist, Canva, Facetune
What does your office space look like?
I’m mostly working from home in my apartment in St. Henri. But I also have a small showroom space in Westmount, which is all white and filled with incredible designer dresses.
Do you have a way to organize your days in order to optimize your work?
Absolutely. I live by my routine. I wake up between 5-5:30 AM every weekday morning, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and catch up on all my emails and special projects between 7-9 AM. As of 9 AM, I’m typically on calls, in meetings, and running the day-to-day. Specific days of the week also have work ‘themes’, such as ‘accounting day’.
What “tips” would you recommend for improving productivity?
Wake up earlier and be consistent.
How do you control your company growth?
By building plans and teams.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
My brand represents women, all women of all shapes, sizes, and stylistic tastes. I love people that are different, interesting, and push the boundaries of what beauty means.
Design: how was it designed? By whom?
I worked with Hear Hear Designs for my logo and brand deck and worked with a talented local photographer, Katie Kowarsky, for Ocurent. I’m currently building up my design team for Top Shelf Trade.
What inspires and motivates you to go to work every day?
I have very strong, deep routed personal goals that I review every morning and every night. They always keep me on track. I am also very dedicated to building a solution that will help reduce textile waste within the fashion industry and help women access high-end pieces for more affordable prices. My team and customers also keep me motivated, since I essentially work for them!
What is the best advice we have given you?
I never met you before and haven’t received advice from you yet! Haha! But, looking at the best advice given to me in general — it would probably be to stay consistent and keep going.
What is your online strategy?
This is a long-winded and very layered response. But in essence, we place a large focus on organic content creation and have some new digital strategies that will be launching soon!
What’s your best tip for saving time?
Effectively and realistically manage your calendar.
What are your end and start day routines?
I touched on this in a response above, but I’ll repeat ☺ I feel best when I’m up early, so I wake up between 5-5:30 AM on weekdays. I start by reading my goals in my notebook and then I get out of bed. I also feel best when I exercise in the morning, which could be a walk up the mountain or YouTube workouts from home. Then shower, get ready, healthy breakfast, and begin working between 7-7:30 AM.
At the end of the day, my husband and I like to eat a healthy early-ish dinner at around 6 PM. We’ll then clean up and then spend our evenings together, especially since we are in lockdown! We like to hang out, play games (backgammon and Monopoly Deal are our favorites right now), or watch tv. I put away my phone during this time, and will usually check up on my emails and review my schedule for the next day closer to 9:00 PM. I like to get washed up and into bed for around 10:00 PM. My husband and I always end our day by sharing all the things that we feel grateful for in one another.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Being a sole founder can often feel lonely.
What have been your biggest supports and resources in navigating your company through the covid-19 pandemic?
My mentors and advisors have been my guardian angels.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
Have a purpose and a financial goal in mind. Run the numbers and make sure that you can actually achieve this goal.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not do without?
Instagram: @o_curent @marleerabin