Founder / Fluff @itsall.fluff
Have you ever met someone and instantly realised that they were something special? Made of stuff that you could only dream of? That is how I feel about Erika Geraerts, Founder of Fluff. Erika is a visionary. A glittery specimen, placed on earth to spur conversation and build magical brands. Yeah! I’m kind of obsessed.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Erika’s career trajectory is jam packed with twists and turns, and breakthroughs. In this interview she takes us behind the scenes, tells us what she studied at University, where she has worked, and why it was imperative that she left frank body to create Fluff.
This interview is everything you need in your life right now.
Please meet the ingenious Erika.
Erika, I am so pumped to have you join us. Lets start at the very beginning. Where did you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Melbourne, Victoria. I have an older brother and a twin sister (fraternal). My mum was a squash player/business management consultant and my dad was a tennis coach. We had a very normal (and privileged) upbringing. My dad told me I could do whatever I dreamed of being, and my mum told me the same – so long as I worked hard for it, and that nothing was going to be handed to me on a silver platter.
My parents have definitely impacted my mindset, and I’m learning more and more each day about the models of relationships, work ethic, and communication that they have passed onto me.
When you were a young girl what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer. Lol.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Star of the Sea College in Brighton, Melbourne. I have great memories of school – I had so many opportunities and so much freedom, I had an incredible group of friends, and, I guess I was what you could call a pretty good, all-rounder student.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I don’t think I was ever that obsessed with a particular class – like English (I didn’t even study literature). However, I remember my career’s counsellor telling me that if I wanted to be a journalist or writer that I’d have to move to Sydney; and crying in his office. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friends and family. Once I got over that, I had a much more clear path of knowing what I wanted to do at Uni and how I would get there through my year 11 and 12 subjects/enter score.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
My year 10 work experience was at a law firm – at the time this is what I thought I wanted to do, and I’m grateful for the work placement because it confirmed that it was actually not what I wanted to pursue. I did a PR internship with an amazing woman who taught me about respect and resilience and I also worked three jobs while at Uni: at a café, a lingerie store, and as part of Red Bull’s field marketing team. I learnt so much about marketing and interacting with different consumer groups – the experience was invaluable.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I studied Journalism at Monash University in Caulfield and some of my electives (that I can remember) included Journalism Ethics, Broadcast Journalism, and Feature Writing. At the time I was obsessed with writing, it was all I wanted to do and surround myself with. Unfortunately the course was heavily theory based, as opposed to practical, which was all I wanted to do.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
As far as my professional, 9-5 career goes I have only had one job before starting my own businesses. I learnt so much from my boss at the time – who started his agency at a young age, which really set the bar for me. Over the last 12 years I have been drawn to work involving servicing people’s emotional needs, rather than just providing a product (at least that’s how I feel).
The Twitter version?
I studied Journalism and worked in a marketing agency as a copywriter for just under 2 years before I started a writing agency of my own with two friends. We developed tone of voice, social strategy, and marketing campaigns across various industries for hundreds of clients before starting our own side project which would later be known as frank body. After 3 years in my role as co-founder, I decided my energy was moving elsewhere – and that brings me to founding Fluff.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
While at frank body (and also through Willow & Blake) I met so many beauty founders, consumers, influencers, marketers, and learnt so much about the industry. I began to notice a growing sentiment of distrust, dissatisfaction, and disheartenment with content and messaging. I saw a gap for an Australian brand that spoke to a younger a generation (without speaking down to them) and products that spoke to a more conscious consumer. When I decided to leave frank body I said to myself,
“Fuck it. I’m young, I’ve got one more brand in me, let’s do this.”
What is the hardest part of your role at Fluff?
Deciding what to prioritise or standing up for what I believe in, getting distracted by easy, unimportant tasks, and delaying crucial but menial tasks.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you at Fluff?
Despite currently working from home, we’ve tried to maintain as much structure and routine as to when we were in our Studio. We have a Stand Up at 8.45am every morning with our team where we recap what we did the previous day, what we’re working on, and what we need help with. Then we discuss our daily social content, what’s interested us overnight, what we want to focus on and how it feeds into our greater strategy.
I usually get stuck into my emails after this, which is a mix of financial admin, discussions with product and packaging manufacturers, or general PR and customer requests and feedback. When we have product launches it’s a little more exciting because we’re either planning or executing a shoot, testing samples, and working on our content rollout.
I always enjoy talking to customers when they come into the Studio, and I still like packing orders (every now and then) – there’s something cathartic about it and I like to see where our product is going.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
This is a really hard question for me to answer – there’s never been specifically one person who I’ve looked at and idolised. I’m always drawn to people who take control of their lives early on and pursue their career goals, as well as people committed to self-enquiry.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Be curious – ask lots of questions.
Take initiative – put yourself out there. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
Take unpaid internships, submit your writing to publications, create your own blog and social profile, ask people for coffee, read lots.
Have integrity – write down your values and stand by them. Think about the type of person you want to be, where you want to live, how you want to work, the relationships you want to have – and guard your time around these.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration:
- My staff – their questions, insight, feedback and ideas are always challenging me to be better. My journals – I write every day. My mentors. Meditation. Walking. Looking up.
- Favourite Websites: Business of Fashion, The Atlantic, but also and actually my favourite website is books.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @britneyspears ? But really, I can go days without it. Probably Fluff – I genuinely love our content.
- Favourite Podcast: The Tim Ferris Show, Create the Love by Mark Groves.
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: I hate television.
- Who is your mentor? (This can be a person you follow for advice, or an IRL person). I have many unofficial/informal mentors including friends and investors. Most notably there are two Charlies who have changed the course of my personal and professional life – I am forever grateful to them.
- Favourite all time book/s: The Hard Thing About Hard Things, What You Do Is Who You Are, When We Were Young, Be Here, For Esme, with Love & Squalor, How We Are Hungry, Just Kids, The Courage to be Disliked
- Favourite App that you use every day: Insight Timer – just for the bells – it reminds me of Vipassana retreats