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Meet Fayetteville Road co-founders: Brittany Hicks and Jessica Couch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Hicks and Jessica Couch.

Brittany Hicks and Jessica Couch are the co-founders and managing partners of Fayetteville Road, a turnkey boutique agency that leverages retail technology to build custom solutions, match people to products and create innovative experiences for the newly inclusive marketplace. Long story short, Britt and Jess met on LinkedIn, planned an intimate brunch event during NYFW in 2018, then spun up an agency leveraging their backgrounds in retail and technology – the rest is history!

Jessica is an academic researcher with a Master’s in Fashion Technology from Cornell and a certificate in product development from UVA. She’s a two-time startup founder and has worked with +200 clients to meet the needs of their consumers by curating smart feedback loops. Brittany is an ex-amazonian who has managed hundreds of hyper-growth brands during her ten years career in retail and merchandising, leveraging an expertise in negotiation and vendor management. She is a proud graduate of NC A&T and has worked as an adjunct professor. Britt and Jess were both looking to network with like-minded women and ultimately created what they couldn’t find – a community. Since then, the duo has continued to host The Women of Color FashTech Brunch semi-annually during fashion week and even expanded their footprint to several other cities including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle and Washington, DC to help connect creatives in tech. Over the last two years, the team has expanded from brunch events to carefully curated panels and immersive experiences.

With the notoriety of their event and a niche expertise in retail technology, the brunch evolved into a full-service agency focused on cultural marketing and engagement to improve customer experiences for women of color and niche consumers. Last fall, the team hosted a COVID-safe version of the Women of Color FashTech Brunch in partnership with Nordstrom at their NYC flagship store and looked forward to continuing to grow the agency as the industry becomes more diverse. Fayetteville Road operates in LA, NY and NC. True to its brand, the Fayetteville Road team is a diverse group of women of color with varied backgrounds, expertise and interests including veterans from top tech and Fortune 100 retailers – Amazon and Apple. The team also has award-winning consultants from creative agencies and sports franchises. This strong and dynamic collective of leaders value diversity of thought and representation across industries that impact BIPOC culture.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The transition and expansion for Fayetteville Road has not been easy. The team has faced quite a bit of adversity in the last two years, starting with their very first event. In preparation for their first event, Britt locked the champagne for a bottomless champagne brunch in a midtown NYC WeWork. After a few conversations with the Ludlow House and an awkward phone call to a potential panelists that the ladies declined to include on the panel a few days earlier – because of poor planning, a black women saved them from themselves when she agreed to meet their intern uptown to rescue the champagne. The intern took an Uber uptown and returned just before brunch ended! “We were so happy we just started handing out bottles of Moet!” Britt said while the two laughed at her mistake.

Other struggles are similar to all the entrepreneurship stories we usually hear – included failed sponsorships and partnerships and figuring out how to grow, scale and lead at such an accelerated pace. Because of the demographic they represent, the duo is very vocal about their most frustrating struggle, which is one that resonates with many women and people of color. Britt and Jess feel they have to constantly demonstrate and validate their expertise. The two laugh when Jess says, “It’s like people see us in red lipstick and heels and don’t know how to react when we start talking about technology integration, smart feedback loops or supply chain.” Britt agrees saying, “Yea! It can be really annoying but people constantly challenge our aptitude, I think because we are black and because we are women and attractive women at that. It’s just not a space where people have traditionally seen people who look like us. It’s still insulting.”

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Fayetteville Road’s core mission is to help brands and retailers match people to products by leveraging technology to create immersive consumer experiences for women of color. Last fall, the team partnered with NORDSTROM, who sponsored The Women Of Color FashTech Brunch as a COVID-safe social distancing event hosted at the NYC Flagship store as a preview to their inclusive beauty launch. The Women Of Color FashTech Brunch is Fayetteville Road’s signature event that celebrates tastemakers at the intersection of fashion, beauty and technical industries. Following the successful event partnership with NORDSTROM; Fayetteville Road launched the WOC Beauty Box campaign bringing visibility to Black founded beauty brands, some of which are now available at NORDSTROM. The agency sent boxes to entrepreneurs and creatives including Misa Hylton, Scottie Beam and Gia Peppers and local creatives and business owners Khat Brim and Angel Lenise. Jessica added, “We specialize in retail technology and curate dope consumer experiences for women who look like us! In 2020, we had plans to re-launch our event series as an LA-based pop-up experience. Of course, COVID has forced our team to delay making that a reality but we look forward to bringing that experience to life in partnership with retailers and brands that speak to the consumer we serve.”

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
We are excited for the way technology will continue to change the shopping experience, not only online but how we experience products in store. There is so much emerging in this space and with the reality of COVID looming, we have accelerated 5-10 years into the future of retail already, but there is so much more work to be done to make the industry truly inclusive and capable of catering to customer needs. A big shift is happening and we are excited to be among the thought-leaders who will help retailers navigate this change.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Event Photos: Sam Pierre @Samvibes on IG Samvibescreations LLC(the company) Head Shots: No Signal Creatives, LLC Email: Website: Product Shots: BoxedUp @BoxedUp

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