Britain Riley: Entrepreneur, Professor and Inspiration

Britain Riley is a self-made entrepreneur who shares her experiences, knowledge and how she became an entrepreneur to students in the retail merchandising track in the program. Britain is not only an inspiration to push boundaries but also a perfect example of how hard work does pay off.

Her Campus (HC): Tell us a bit about yourself!

Britain Riley (BR): [I am] originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, however, since I moved to Lakeland, I also call that home. I graduated from Florida State University (FSU) (go noles!) for my undergraduate as well as my master’s degree! I am currently an Instructional Specialist for the Retail program within the JM College and run my own brand.

HC: You have a great amount of experience in retail; could you give some insight into roles you’ve had and how they have helped your career?

BR: I had a 20-year career with Gap Inc. in various leadership roles. My roles with Gap Inc. allowed me to gain valuable knowledge and experiences in the retail sector that I can now share with future industry leaders through my role in academia.

I would say there are two main roles that impacted my career.

  1. The Field Internship program with Gap Inc. that I utilized for my FSU Internship credit laid the foundation for my career. It was during the internship that I both realized the opportunities Gap Inc. could provide in terms of training, leadership support and future advancement opportunities. Additionally, during my internship, I was able to apply what I learned in the classroom to real-life tasks.
  2. As General Manager, I was able to manage a staff (many of which were FSU Students), oversee a Field Intern for Gap Inc and remain engaged with FSU’s Textile and Merchandising program through year events like the Retail Roundtable and FSU Retail Summit. This role was by far the most challenging but also the most rewarding.

Working on a laptop Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels HC: What inspired you to create your own brand? Any tips for those wanting to do the same?

BR: My husband and I are avid travelers and my blog started as a creative outlet where I shared our travels, events I had planned and a glimpse into life with family and friends. I started with no expectations to make monopolize. I started my blog prior to “blogging" being a thing and gained followers mostly organically over the years. I have been blessed to work with some amazing brands and be featured on a Food Network Cookoff before Kickoff segment which launched the blog to the next level! My blog has evolved over the years and with that comes struggles as I work to overcome challenges along the way. My husband and I recently fully renovated our cabin in North Carolina and decided to rent it out during the time we are not there. My experience with social media, blogging and travel allowed us to seamlessly create a platform for our cabin to engage with our guests.

My advice to anyone interested in blogging is:

  1. Do it! There is no “perfect time” time to start.
  2. Be authentic.
  3. Create partnerships, but don’t work for free.
  4. Invest in your blog and invest in yourself.

HC: How have relationships formed through the retail world, FSU and your blog impacted you?

BR: Forging and maintaining meaningful partnerships is something that has allowed me to continue to surround myself with people with different expertise and roles. Together, partners can challenge, inspire and champion each other’s causes. Like any good relationship—it is important to be genuine and transparent with all parties. It is important to set clear expectations for yourself and others and ensure communication is consistent. It is also important to ensure you contribute to the partnership, always taking responsibility and honoring your commitment. Like any good relationship—partnerships in the retail world, with my blog, with Jim Moran College and beyond will take work but in the end, all good relationships/partnerships are worth it.

HC: To finish up the interview, do you have any advice for young women who look up to successful women like you?

BR: 1. Set Goals for yourself and your career (be realistic—you can always scale).

2. Seek mentors and partners who will both support you and challenge you.

3. Be planful. Take time to lay a foundation that you can build upon. Be it learning the skills, creating partnerships or setting up your site/business—while we may be eager to jump right in, it is important to build a solid foundation that will pay divides as you grow.

4. Always remain true to your genuine and authentic self and remember the reason you started.

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube and Pinterest!