Meet Brooklinen's co-founder Vicki Fulop
Today I'm very excited to share Vicki Fulop's story. She's the force behind Brooklinen, an online shop specializing in ultra high quality linens at an affordable price. I love this story, not only because she's running a family business, because she talks about the circuitous route she took to launching her business.
It's incredibly intimidating to launch a business and Vicki is a fantastic success story. She took seeming failure (getting fired from her PR job) and created an incredible opportunity.
In her words...
"I'm Vicki Fulop, cofounder of Brooklinen, a direct-to-consumer brand of chic, luxe bedding at an accessible price.
With Brooklinen, it all started a few years ago, when my husband and I were away on vacation and had a magical sleep on the best sheets ever. They were light, smooth, sumptuous heaven. My husband Rich and I tried to buy them at the hotel, discovered they were $800, aborted, and began researching why they were so expensive. It turned out that there were a lot of inefficiencies and extreme markups in the industry, and that it was ripe for disruption. We wondered why no one had created a better alternative.
Prior to the launch
However, at the time, starting a company was nowhere near my radar. I had recently graduated from law school, decided to pursue a more creative field, and ultimately landed at a beauty PR agency, where I was working to become the best publicist I could be.
It wasn’t all-glamorous. The hours were long and filled with everything from packing boxes and rushing product samples to editors to planning events, juggling clients, pitching stories, excel spreadsheets, and managing crises on the fly. It was simultaneously overwhelming, exciting, and enriching. I learned much of what would come to help me help launch a successful brand later on – everything from the importance of photography-friendly packaging to how timing impacts a launch to storytelling.
Meanwhile, my husband was in business school and thinking about what he would do next, and decided to start the business himself. He pitched the idea to a friend, and together, they embarked on making it happen. Rich cold-called and eventually visited with manufacturers in order to created the perfect product. The next year was filled with testing different fabrics, package design, and so forth.
A big push
Fast-forward a year later and two major things happened. We finalized our product, and I was let go from a new PR agency I had been at for a few months. We both wanted for it to be a fit, but it just didn’t work out.
Getting fired was painful, embarrassing, and scary! Serious questions loomed, like, what would I do about health insurance? And yet, it was also a relief. I hadn’t been happy, and all of a sudden I was pushed to figure it all out. I had been helping Brooklinen on the side, and was now free to completely guide the PR strategy and to be part of creating something I truly believed in. I knew I loved what I did and that I was good at it, and so I didn’t try to find a new job; I decided to take the chance and dive into Brooklinen, and was determined to make it a success.
The risk pays off
If I hadn’t been let go, I don’t think I would have taken the leap. I was bringing in our only pay check, and it would have been crazy to leave. But this turn of events made me feel free enough to take a big risk, and I’m grateful. We launched Brooklinen on Kickstarter as proof of concept in April 2014 and sold $235k+ in sheets, blowing away our 50k goal. We were covered by Fast Company, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and many others. Since then, we’ve continued to grow beyond our wildest hopes, and strive to do each day better than the last.
It’s not always easy and we face new challenges every day, but that experience has certainly taught me to not be afraid of them, and to always find the upside.
Unbuttoned with... Vicki Fulop, cofounder of Brooklinen
Style icon: Kate Moss
Favorite heroine: Pippi Longstocking, for her ingenuity and rebellious spirit
Dream lunch date: Andy Cohen, because he is hilarious AND he loves a ginger
Favorite cliché: when there’s a will there’s a way
Personal motto: put your heart into it
Idea that changed your life: I think ideas are constantly changing my life and who I am, there’s not just one
Always trying to improve: my perspective
Most envious of: people with incredible singing voices
Most inspired by: my parents. They came to the US from the former Soviet Union with two kids (myself and my brother) in ‘92 when they were 37 years old and started a completely new life from nothing.
Fashion item you would ban: None. Let your freak flag fly.
Favorite piece in your wardrobe: a sick pair of booties I found at Topshop years ago
Biggest extravagance: see bio above. Also, a day in which you get to do absolutely nothing
Can’t bare to spend on: gym clothes.
Irrational fear of: I think I rationalize all of my fears.
Brains or beauty: A sense of humor.
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Audrey is classic and Katherine is cool. Love them both.
Jennifer Lopez or Lawrence: I would love to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence, she seems like a great time.
Diamonds or pearls: diamonds