Mia Ray Of Glam-Aholic Lifestyle Brand On 4 Ways To Exceed Sales Expectations
By Pauleanna Reid
“No paid influencers, no running ads, no viral moments. Just me … and you.”
This note shared by Mia Ray to her Instagram followers in July illustrates the secret behind the Glam-Aholic Lifestyle brand’s unprecedented success. Armed with her love for fashion, her phone, and some very loyal followers, Ray has disrupted the market and redefined the accessories industry.
With pieces typically ranging from $40 to $250, Ray’s imaginative line of lifestyle bags are on track to bring in $25 million in revenue for her business this year. Beginning in 2010 as a blog chronicling the latest fashion and beauty trends, the brand has continued to expand its product offerings from luxury accessories to home decor, and most recently, luggage.
Staying on top of the needs of her devoted consumer base, in May 2022, Ray launched her own line of luggage. When the collection dropped, the affordable luxury items sold out in under 10 minutes, bringing in $700,000 in sales for the former full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger.
As less than 4% of Black women entrepreneurs make it to the million-dollar mark, her multi-million dollar grossing brand is an anomaly, and shows no signs of slowing down. In our exclusive interview, Ray thoughtfully explained why her disruptive vision has seen exponential growth, year after year.
“I invest in my customers,” she answered, when asked about her strategies for shattering the glass ceilings she’s been presented with. A college dropout with no entrepreneurial experience, Ray started the Glam-Aholic Lifestyle blog in 2009. After having spent a year blogging without making much money from it, Ray used $99 of her own funds to create Glam-Aholic’s first product sample.
From there, she offered pre-orders to interested readers who put up $50 for each item they wouldn’t see for another 30-45 days. “And it worked,” she exclaimed. “My readers trusted me enough [to deliver].” Ray leaned on what she knew of the market and the fashion and lifestyle industry to combat her fear of starting. When discussing how she allows her customers to feel seen and heard, Ray said she’s been able to “grab a seat right in the middle” of other notable fashion brands, which remains her commitment to Glam-Aholic’s core consumer.
“I think a lot of people focus on the products and totally miss the mark on who they’re talking to. I filled that void of having something that was trendy and stylish, and affordable,” Ray emphasized. “There was a missed window of women who felt overlooked, and because I was that woman, I knew how to solve a common problem. I couldn’t afford a Chanel bag, but I also wanted something that was a step up from a Target handbag.”
“There are so many designers and luxury lines that sell a wide assortment of products, but never in a way that I felt I could afford it,” she explained. Viewing herself as her target customer has birthed a full line of high-quality items that consistently sell out. Keeping her ears to the streets, and her eye on the latest fashion trends, Ray discovered the key to her business’ success early on.
“I always know what my customer wants or needs because I’m her,” Ray confidently pointed out. “When it comes to my customer base, we talk like friends.” Built for everyday women, the Glam-Aholic Lifestyle brand has made a name for itself as a cult following with remarkable rates of conversion.
Previously listing her top role models as Kimora Lee Simmons, Beyonce, and Oprah, Ray described being inspired by some of the best moguls in the business. “When you saw the cover of the Oprah magazine, you saw Oprah, you know, on every cover. That’s kind of like my marketing.”
Ray’s relationship with her 184k Instagram followers is really a glimpse into the ethos of a leader who values authentic connection, and operates with unwavering trust. “I actually met my manufacturer through a friend of mine,” she revealed. “I’ve had the same manufacturer for 13 years now.” The partnership that has now grown into a more familial one keeps Ray’s business ready for record-breaking launches and groundbreaking collaborations.
In March of 2020, Ray partnered with fellow Detroit-native Melissa Butler of The Lip Bar to drop The D Girl Collection, marked by a series of events in the heart of their city. Released on 3/13, giving a nod to the city’s area code, Ray and Butler solidified their commitment to their roots and the customers who’ve supported them from the start.
Growing from one employee two years ago to now nine employees this year, Ray shared that she still considers her business to be small, but mighty. Having shipped out just shy of 100,000 orders over last year, she quotes her team as packing “a powerful punch.”
Doing the rest of the heavy lifting are Ray’s outstanding marketing campaigns. As the face of the brand, Ray’s relatable direct-to-consumer sales techniques keep diehard fans locked into the business’ market ascent. Last year, Glam-Aholic Lifestyle became the first-ever fashion-based brand to film an advertisement within the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), as confirmed by a DTW official in the Michigan Chronicle.
“Storytelling is super important because it makes the customer feel more connected to the product,” said Ray of her business’ continued success. Speaking of her luggage collection specifically, she described it as something she wanted her followers to know wasn’t something that just popped into her head.
Ray described in detail how Glam-Aholic customers often watch every step of the development process, via her social media channels, and routinely act as a sounding board for her many ideas. A pivotal moment for the brand came nearly three years ago when she decided to treat her Instagram Live as her own Home Shopping Network. Selling 13,000 units in an hour, and almost a million a few weeks later in the same manner, it’s clear that Ray’s brand loyalty always begins with the seed of a story.
“I think what business owners need to understand is to not rush greatness,” said Ray. After spending six years developing a line that sold out in minutes, the influential owner’s advice to “sit on things” makes the most sense. By deciding to be good at one thing at a time, like offering a single bag style made available in several colors with each launch, Ray’s focus on serving quality products to her target audience has been the overall distinguishing factor for her brand.
At the time of our conversation, Ray revealed that she was currently working out ways to top the success of her latest collection, but didn’t seem too worried about achieving it. “I have some fire coming,” she said. “Essential items that everyday women need.”
It’s the demonstrated dedication to consistency, authenticity, and passion for the people she serves that have undeniably set Mia Ray apart as a top influential entrepreneur. Making a point to diversify her brand with items she knows her customers are looking for, Glam-Aholic Lifestyle has organically expanded into a one-of-kind, inclusive luxury brand, and a life-changing legacy piece for the culture.
Photo Source: Quenton Ross