Rainy City is a Shopify Plus Partner that works solely on the Shopify platform to help merchants from Health & Beauty to Fashion & Accessories design and build their websites that convert. We do this through innovative design and forward thinking engineering.
I started out in eCommerce as a merchant myself – I quickly learnt the pains of working with agency partners and wanted to develop an agency that delivered great work, had communication at the forefront of everything and a team that is creative and passionate.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I met my fiancé Pete 10 years ago, I was 21 and had just come out of University – I graduated with a first class honours in International Fashion Marketing and dreamt of becoming a fashion buyer, I started my career working at a wholesalers supplying cotton and jersey products to major high street brands, my fiancé was just starting out in the dropshipping boom. On the side of working full time, I was launching mini businesses – first I learnt how to build an Amazon brand, then started importing boho jewellery from China and selling at markets every weekend. I always knew I couldn’t be an employee, I needed to see scope and growth and if that wasn’t there I lost interest.
After a year or so Pete convinced me to hand in my notice, we moved to Barcelona to sell my jewellery online and at local markets, this proved a lot more difficult since I didn’t speak fluent Spanish but I gave it my best shot. We tried really hard with selling the jewellery online but didn’t know the importance of how to build a brand yet.
We sat down and searched for dropshipping suppliers in the US, we needed quality products that would arrive to the customers quickly. We found an all-American T-Shirt wholesaler and built a store, started running ads and by month two we were turning over $175k, again we didn’t know how to build a brand and used freelancers to help build the site and make any changes we needed. Unfortunately, when Facebook’s algorithm changed we lost our main revenue source and didn’t have a sustainable business model.
We joined another programme and set out in creating a skincare brand La’Vive – we built more of a brand, manufactured own products and created my first Shopify store – out of the dropshipping world the cost of getting setup was much higher and I started building $200 Shopify sites for other members of the programme, I joined Upwork as a freelancer and it got to the point where I had to make a decision on the route I wanted to go – Shopify Design or Brand Building and I chose Shopify!
At the beginning of my agency career, it really was a lifestyle brand. We’ll be 5 years old in November and a lot has changed since the agency first started. We’re at a team size of 18 now, we work with clients all across the globe from the USA to the UAE to Australia. We’ve just been made Shopify Plus Partners which is a huge achievement – we’re now one of 20 Plus Partners in the UK and I’m the first female founder to have built an agency to Plus Partner level in the UK and Europe. I have built this company on three core values, Communication, Trust and Reliability and we have some amazing brands we work with that would back up this.
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How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?
The company has really changed since I first started, as I mentioned above it was a lifestyle brand at first, I made a lot of money – had the freedom to work when I wanted and got to travel as much as I liked. Fast forward 5 years later and we’re a full stack Shopify agency! We’ve created the agency on foundations that will support its fast growth. We have processes in place for all aspects of the business and these evolve as the agency does.
I put a lot of work into the company culture, this is something that’s always been really important to me and having worked for lots of businesses over the years I’ve really learnt what it’s like to be a great leader and a not so great leader. I’ve taken inspiration from the companies I loved working at and made sure we didn’t follow in the footsteps of the latter. We’re not corporate at all and i’d like to keep it like that – we have a relaxed environment where our employees have the breathing space to be creative and follow their instincts and intuitions. We try to make it a great place to work for the team and offer as many benefits as we can.
I really think that having an environment like ours reflects our client base too – they love working with us and feel our energy and passion in the work we deliver. We’re getting bigger and better each year and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing household brand names – I’m really excited about where the next five years will take us and see how far we can scale the agency, whilst retaining our company values and mission.
What can we hope to see from Rainy City in the future?
We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline! We have a couple of big projects in the works at the moment, our first is to start bringing events to the Manchester scene – there’s a lot of great talent and tech in the city but we don’t have a big presence for Shopify and its merchants and that’s something we’re going to change.
We’ll be hosting our first Shopify Meetup in Manchester city centre in Q3 – think amazing industry insights, AMA panels and of course a happy hour for the chance to network and learn from each other. We’re hoping this is just the start for us and events and will really help us create a name for ourselves in the North West.
We’re going to be putting a heavy focus on Women in Tech – this is something I’m really passionate about. Our industry is very male dominated – I’ve often been to events and been the only female there and i’d like to change that. I want to encourage female entrepreneurs, coders, designers – everyone that works in our industry. Our team is actually made up of 10 females out of the 18 we have employed so we’re doing pretty well in terms of balance!
We’ve just started another big project; developing our own Shopify theme for the Shopify Theme Store! I’m really excited for this as it allows our team to really push their skills and learn something new. We’re in the early design stages but expect to have the theme launched and available to purchase from October 2022. It makes sense for us to branch into this – we work with the themes on a daily basis and know what our merchants’ pain points are with using them so we’re hoping this will be a great extension of what we already do. Stay tuned on this!