As a Shopify Plus Partner, Rainy City works solely on the Shopify platform, assisting merchants with everything from fashion and accessories to health and beauty in the design and development of their websites. We accomplish this through creative engineering and forward-thinking design.
I got my start in eCommerce as a merchant, but I quickly discovered the difficulties of working with agency partners. I wanted to create an agency that produced excellent work, put communication first in all decisions, and had a workforce of passionate and creative individuals.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I started my career working at a wholesaler supplying cotton and jersey products to major high street brands. When I met my fiancé, Pete, ten years ago I was 21 and had just graduated from university with a first class honours in international fashion marketing. My fiancé was just getting started in the dropshipping boom. Along with my full-time job, I was starting side enterprises. First, I learned how to create an Amazon brand. Next, I began importing boho jewellery from China and selling it at markets every weekend. I've always known that I couldn't work for someone else; I require scope and growth, and if neither are present, I lose interest.
After about a year, Pete persuaded me to resign, and we relocated to Barcelona so I could sell my jewellery there and online. Since I didn't know Spanish fluently, this was considerably harder, but I tried my best. We worked extremely hard to sell the jewellery online, but we weren't yet aware of the significance of brand building.
We sat down and looked for dropshipping vendors in the US because we required high-quality goods that could be delivered to clients right away. Again, we had no idea how to create a brand, so we hired freelancers to help us create the website and make any necessary revisions. We discovered an all-American T-Shirt distributor and constructed a store. By the second month, we had begun running advertisements and were making $175,000. Sadly, when Facebook's algorithm changed, we lost our primary source of income and lacked a viable business plan.
We enrolled in a different programme and started working on developing the skincare line La'Vive. We developed the brand more, produced our own products, and opened my first Shopify store. Because the dropshipping industry was expensive, I began creating $200 Shopify sites for other participants in the programme. I also joined Upwork as a freelancer, and it came down to choosing between Shopify design and brand building. I chose Shopify.
It was a true lifestyle brand at the start of my agency career. By the time we turn 5 years old in November, a lot will have changed since the beginning of the agency. We currently have a staff of 18 people, and we work with clients from the USA, the UAE, and Australia. We recently received the status of Shopify Plus Partners, which is a great achievement. We are now among the UK's 20 Plus Partners, and I am the first female founder to have grown an agency to this level in both the UK and Europe. Communication, Trust, and Reliability are the three pillars on which I established our business, and the incredible companies we partner with support this.
How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?
The business has undergone significant transformation since I originally joined it. As I previously mentioned, it was once a lifestyle brand, and I enjoyed good financial success, flexibility in my work schedule, and the opportunity to travel frequently. 5 years later, we have become a full-stack Shopify agency! The agency was built on pillars that will sustain its rapid expansion. For every part of the business, we have procedures in place, and they change as the agency does.
Since I've worked for so many different companies over the years, I've really learned what it's like to be a strong leader and what it's like to be a not-so-great leader, which is why I put a lot of effort into the company culture. I made sure we didn't copy the practices of the businesses I disliked working at by drawing inspiration from the latter. We have a laid-back atmosphere where our staff have room to be creative and follow their instincts and intuitions. We aren't at all corporate, and I'd like to keep it that way. We attempt to provide as many advantages as we can and make it a pleasant place to work for the team.
I firmly believe that having a culture like ours illustrates the fact that our clientele enjoys working with us and can sense our enthusiasm and energy in the work we produce. I'm very interested in where the next 5 years will take us and how far we can scale the agency while maintaining our company values and vision. We're getting bigger and better every year and have had the opportunity to work with some incredible household brands.
What can we hope to see from Rainy City in the future?
We have a tonne of amazing things planned! We are now working on a few major projects. The first is to start delivering events to the Manchester scene. The city is full of great talent and technology, but Shopify and its merchants don't have a strong presence there.
In Q3, we'll host our first Shopify Meetup in the heart of Manchester, with fascinating industry insights, AMA panels, and, of course, a happy hour where attendees can mingle and share knowledge. We are hoping that this is only the beginning for us and these events, and that it will really help us establish a reputation for ourselves in the North West.
Women in tech will receive a lot of attention from us; I'm very passionate about this. Our sector is heavily dominated by men; I frequently attend events where I'm the only woman, and I'd like to alter that. I want to support female business owners, programmers, designers, and everyone else who works in our sector. In fact, 10 of the 18 people on our team are female, so we're doing fairly well in terms of balance!
The creation of our own Shopify theme for the Shopify Theme Store is our newest major undertaking. This gives our team the chance to truly develop their talents and learn something new, therefore I'm really looking forward to it. Although the concept is still in its early phases, we anticipate launching and selling the theme in October 2022. We make use of the themes on a daily basis and are aware of the challenges that come with employing them, so it makes sense for us to expand into this. We are hopeful that this will be a fantastic addition to what we already do. Keep an eye on this!