Working with Raf Simons. How I got to work with one of the world’s biggest fashion designers.

In the last few weeks of 2020 the people behind Raf Simons approached me. If you don’t know Raf, he has worked with Prada, Calvin Klein and Dior. He can count Rihanna, Kanye, Asap Rocky, Drake, Maisie Williams, the XX (to name a few) as his fans. I helped Raf Simons and his team build a B2C Shopify webshop 4 weeks before the deadline of December 15th 2020. Raf Simons’ shop sold out in 3 days.

LUCK

How did the biggest fashion designer and his team pick me to build the latest prominent part of their business? First of all, before we go further, its luck. Luck, luck, luck. But underneath all that good fortune, are a handful of smart moves and heaps of hard work spread over the past couple of years.

My luck started 10 years ago. When I was 20, I made and sold t-shirts under my own little label called ‘DAWN clothing’. I was young, in need of a creative outlet and some money. Thus, inspired by streetwear brands like Stussy, The Hundreds, Rebel8 and many more – I started my own label.

Experience

This is when I first came into contact with B2C (business to consumer) and discovered everything I had to learn. From figuring out how to track stock, VAT, payment solutions, tax-reporting, refunds, webshop platforms and so much more. It’s also the period when I first learned about Shopify, the platform Raf Simons’ team picked for their webshop.

So at 20, I gained some initial experience selling B2C and worked with Shopify. As I grew as an entrepreneur my preference changed. I soon left the t-shirt project behind in order to pursue a career in street-art. Quickly after my switch I picked up some big projects and got the opportunity to work with some mayor brands in the following years. Among others, I worked with Bacardi, Red Bull, Nike and Bombay Sapphire. The experiences taught me how brands want to position themselves. What their wants/needs are and what they absolutely want to avoid. You can say I got some corporate education there.

In between all that, I worked as a teacher in an evening school. I gave an 9 week course on 3D studio Max. Although by now this is 9 years ago, the experience was pleasant and lucrative enough for me to reconsider teaching when the 2020 lockdowns hit.

2020 Lockdowns

March 2020, I saw all my pending projects collapse, almost overnight. With no clear trajectory of how I would generate an income, the idea of switching to teaching popped up. I knew that an effect of the 2008 crisis was that many people went back to some kind of education to increase their chances on a changed job-market. I figured, this time around the same might happen, increasing demand for teachers. So with my previous experience teaching in my back pocket, I looked for new openings. I emailed, they invited me and hired me for a position to teach After Effects (a video editing package).

While I was there, I proposed the idea of starting a Shopify course. Dedicated to teaching people how to quickly set up a new webshop for their business. By now I been running a new Shopify web-store selling stencil caps to graffiti artists. (www.tinypinkstencilcap.com) They liked it and listed the course on their website, alongside my profile as a Shopify expert.

Getting the job

Fast forward from March 2020 to November 2020 – I get an email from a prominent fashion label looking for a Shopify expert. They found my details on the website of the evening school I teach at and ask if I can come by their office to talk about potentially helping them set up a Shopify store. A store already existed but was taken offline after a short period that had some issues.

I went to the interview. I got to talk about everything I had done so far. Running a miniature t-shirt label online, working with big brands as an artist, selling my own invention via a B2C Shopify store and an international B2B network,… They loved it and let me know the next day they wanted to work with me.

What followed were 4 really interesting weeks of working closely with the team surrounding Raf Simons. On 1 or 2 occasions even working with Raf himself.

Sold out in 3 days

Not only did I build their webshop inside Shopify. I also trained their team in how to understand and work with the platform, the payment gateways, customer care solutions, fraud analysis and so on. After careful consideration , we launched the shop with 50 unique items and 3 hand signed books on December 15th 2020. The shop sold all its stock in 3 days. Nobody, not even the CEO or Raf expected the tremendous success.

So what does my history have to do with me working for Raf Simons? Everything and nothing. This project was a lucky one-email-overnight-success a decade in the making.

Now I ask you, what are you working on today that might pay off 10 years from now?

Cheers!
– Matthew Dawn

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