How She Got There: Rochelle Behrens, Founder and CEO of The Shirt

Name: Rochelle Behrens

Age: 29

Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO, The Shirt
The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens is a women’s clothing company producing button down shirts with a patented design that eliminates blouse gape.  Oprah named The Shirt her “must have fashion item for 2011” and The Shirt and Rochelle have been featured in Glamour, People, The New York Times, Inc.Magazine and on “The Today Show.”  The Shirt can be found in Bloomingdales as well as many other boutiques internationally.

College/Major: University of Pennsylvania, History of Art and Political Science

Website:  www.the-shirt.com
Twitter Handle:  @TheShirtbyRB

rochelle behrens theshirt.comHer Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Rochelle Behrens: Managing every part of the business—Customer service, production, distribution, public relations, sales, and accounting.  Everyday is a mix of all these responsibilities.
 
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

RB: I interned at W Magazine in New York during a summer in college.  Good old fashioned sending in my resume and interviewing for the position landed me the internship.
 
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
RB: It is not always glamorous.  I think I’ve been surprised at the physicality of the fashion business–hauling boxes and garment racks everywhere.

HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
RB: My parents, who always encouraged me to “dream big.”  When I told them I had this shirt idea and that I wanted to leave my stable political job to pursue it, they supported it fully and believed that I would succeed.  Had I not been imbued with that confidence and their patience while I got the business off the ground, I’m not sure I would have allowed the time it needed to percolate.
  
HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
RB: Just do it.  I’ve learned that entrepreneurs don’t necessarily have better ideas, they just actually take their ideas and dosomething with it.  Women tend to be more risk averse, so even more reason to defy the odds and see your idea through, rather than just dream about it.  

the shirt.com rochelle behrensHC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
RB: Not listening to my intuition.  Having advisors help and consult is immeasurable, but intuition goes a long way in aggregating clues we don’t always recognize.  There is always something to be said about trusting yourself – after all, you know and feel your company and product best.
 
HC: What is the best part of your job?

RB: Talking to women who try on The Shirt at the moment they recognize The Shirt works.  Gape be gone.  It’s been revolutionary to so many women—It’s truly an empowering shirt.
 
HC: What do you look for when hiring someone?
RB: Great energy, the ability to articulate and vision.

HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
RB: Study what you actually like in college and your career will follow. 
As a lover of art, design and aesthetics, I had no idea that when I set out in a more conventional job in politics, that only a few years later, I would be running a women’s shirt company, appear on The Today Show, and be mentioned on Oprah.   Even if it’s circuitous, you find your path.
 

YEC womenCo-Founded by Natalie MacNeil and Scott Gerber, Y.E.C. Women is an initiative of the Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
 

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