For Chelsey Nordyke, founder of Series, creative entrepreneurship is familiar territory. The second-time business owner previously founded Spire, a clothing label based in Austin. Now, Chelsey is pursuing a new venture that gives people a chance to shop the closets of their favorite online influencers.
Below, she shares what she learned from her first business, what her creative process looks like, and how Series is reducing the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before launching Series, and what led you to start the business?
I started on my “career path,” if you will, in 2013. Because of past financial circumstances, I opted out of college. With my eyes on a job in the creative industry, I didn’t understand why I was supposed to accumulate a ton of debt in pursuit of a career I felt I already had the eye for. With that, I launched my first company, Spire the Label, in 2014, and I learned a lot of the rudimentary business-starting steps from Google. Because my ear was always to the pavement watching and listening for news in the fashion industry, I heard pretty early on about a company called Outdoor Voices. In 2016, I got a job at their flagship store and eventually worked my way up to being on the e-commerce team. My experience at Outdoor Voices was key in making my next moves. From what kind of leader I want to be, to how tricky buying physical inventory can be while scaling a business, I have learned countless things that have benefited both my professional and personal endeavors.
Sometime between 2014 and 2017, and after my second collection launched, I decided to take a little break from Spire as I started feeling the weight of producing and putting out product in a world that already had so much existing product. From there, I decided to open my eyes and ears to learning from where I was, and use that to make my next move. Whether that was pivoting Spire into something slightly different, or to move on to something completely new. I’ve always sincerely cared about how my actions impact the earth and have become increasingly aware of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. We, as an industry, keep producing products without realizing that it all has to go somewhere eventually. So, fast-forward to Series.
What are the values behind Series?
Direct: An exclusive chance to shop your favorite closets online in one place
Convenience: You see their closets, you love their style, you like their posts, you want what they have. No need to create wish lists or bookmark items you’ve been itching to purchase. We work with creatives to host online showrooms full of stylized pieces and ship them right to you.
Sustainability: By purchasing second-hand items, you’re helping reduce material consumption, landfill waste, and saving some extra bucks, too!
Curation: We eliminate the noise by bringing your fashion and style icons’ favorite pieces together in a clear visual layout on our website.
Take us through a typical day in the life. Do you have any routines in place?
I’m a self-proclaimed annoying morning person. My body wakes me up most days right before my alarm. I’ve trained myself to wake up at the same time each day (6:30am) so that it’s less painful to pry my eyes open and get out of bed. I go on a run in my neighborhood at least 5 days a week. Running has become my version of meditation and I feel myself coming unhinged if I don’t make time for it. After my run, I’ll shower and then begin work. I’m not the most organized person, so I’ve been trying to hold myself to writing my to-do list before diving in for that day. Usually daily tasks will include emailing with any potential partners, shipping out orders, tweaking designs for packaging/our zine, the website, marketing emails or graphics for our Instagram. I try to stop by 7 p.m. because I know that’s when my productivity goes down and need my mind to rest for the next day. If it’s a nice night out, I’ll go for a sunset walk by the lake and then cook dinner at home and settle in to whatever show I’m currently invested in. I’ll then go to bed around 10:30 p.m. so I can get my full 8 hours of sleep before doing it all over again 🙂
As a creative entrepreneur, where do you go for inspiration? What does your creative process look like?
I’m a big fan of scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for visual inspiration. Things that catch my eye are images of graphic design, furniture design, architecture, interior design, branding, interesting color combinations, personal style and pretty much all other kinds of design. With my background in clothing design, I love looking through art school’s senior portfolios to see what the next generation of design talent is creating because they often have a different perspective than what is already out in the world. Anything that gets me to look at the situation from a different angle is key for me.
I also once saw a meme about the creative process that I relate to so much that I just have to share it here:
You previously founded a clothing line, Spire. What did you learn from that business and how did the experience translate to Series?
I learned so much from my previous venture, Spire. I learned about trademarks (and how expensive Trademark Attorneys are haha). I’ve learned what type of business model I want to have. I’ve learned how and where to buy the most sustainable packaging. It has also been really satisfying to see how connections I made through Spire have come full circle with Series.
Since we met in 2014 through Spire, Alyssa Coscarelli (@alyssainthecity) has been a friend and a big supporter of mine. She was one of the first “influencers” I worked with back then before the term “influencer” had even been coined. We kept in touch, and I watched as she continued to grow in her following and career. Watching her Instagram story one night was actually when the lightbulb moment happened for me. She posted a story of 5 trash bags full of clothes she noted were her “monthly cleanout,” and she would be taking them to a local second-hand store if any of her New York followers wanted to go there to buy any of it. It hit me that she could be monetizing this cleanout on a monthly basis and make it available for her followers all over the world if it was online. I called her the next day after spending the night building a general business plan. I asked her, from the influencer’s perspective, if she would find this business helpful, if she would use it and if she saw any red flags. From there, I started building, and a year and a half later, Series debuted its second sale, which included Alyssa’s closet (it was almost fully sold out in the first two days).
At Movers + Makers, we believe in the value of storytelling as a way to connect. How has storytelling played a role in your work?
Storytelling is at the root of the business. The name Series came from the concept of reverberation. A “series” quite literally is defined by a number of things, events, or people of a similar kind or related nature coming one after another. This relates to what we’re doing with reselling garments that are pre-loved. The pieces have already had one “life” with the first owner and we’re encouraging customers to give it a “second” life with their purchase, therefore extending the overall lifecycle and story of the piece.
We hope that we inspire our customers to find their own form of storytelling, and that by shopping with Series, an opportunity to “write a new story” with their pieces is created. For example, we place a lot of value in customer photos that we’ve been tagged in. We love reposting these and sharing with our community how the pieces’ stories have continued.
Is there anything you’ve read or listened to that’s made an impact on either your business or personal life?
I once listened to a podcast about having “emotional agility” and that really spoke to me on how I approach situations that are maybe not right for me anymore. Toxic emotions are so detrimental to the creative process; it can form a creative block if a majority of your mind is being taken up by negativity. The term emotional agility is so cool to me because it separates our self-felt “need” to react to everything. It hands us the power to control what pulls us down into the ocean versus refusing to acknowledge something is pulling at us while we’re floating above the surface, breathing the sweet oxygen and soaking in the productivity.
What is your best advice for fellow creative entrepreneurs?
Turn absolutely everything into a learning opportunity.
Images by Katie Jameson, Shannon Homan, Alyssa Coscarelli, and Cydney Cosette, courtesy of Series.