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Arun Gupta, Grailed CEO, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company's Black seller spotlight campaign and how the company is pushing for diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Things and we invite into the stream right now Arun Gupta. He's the Grailed CEO, as well as Reggie Wade, because Grailed has a program that's going to draw attention to Black designers and Black luxury goods manufacturers. So tell us about that.
ARUN GUPTA: Yeah, I think as with a lot of corporations, we took the opportunity last year to take a step back and re-evaluate what we're doing for our community and for our stakeholders at large. And I think that we made a lot of progress in terms of donations and directing dollars towards worthy organizations like Black and Brown Founders, Build NYC, amongst others. I think the really exciting part is when we take it more from just directing dollars and directing money and to think about how we can use our platform in order to tell these stories and encourage diversity and celebrate diversity in our community.
REGGIE WADE: Reggie Wade here. Oh. Sorry about that. I see what Grailed's trying to do, and there's always been a conversation about Black folks as consumers but it looks like Grailed is looking to change the narrative around Black economic empowerment. What are some of the feedback you've gotten from some of your partners as you embark on this initiative?
ARUN GUPTA: Yeah, dude, it's awesome, you know? I think culture moves strongly through the Black community and I think it's a huge influence in culture. We put out this video, which is incredible, about highlighting some of our members. But I think you're totally right, right? It's like, you don't want to just be consumers, you want to be producers, right? You want to be creators, because they are creators and they need to be celebrated as creators, right?
So I think if you look at sort of the legacy fashion institutions, I think because they have been around for so long there is a lot of inertia of the way that things have always been. Though notably, Louis Vuitton hiring Virtual is a huge step forward in that. But I think as Grailed and as sort of like a new wave fashion platform, we have an opportunity to like really highlight our platform. You know, young kids or older kids who are, like, doing really amazing stuff and like really cool Black creatives in the community.
Honestly, the reception has been amazing. The community loves it, you know? It's very authentic, it's very true to who we are. It's sick style, as you can see in the video, so everybody-- I think everybody really likes it.
SEANA SMITH: What has been the biggest challenge here or some of the obstacles that you've had to overcome as you launch these types of initiatives? You laid out your goals here going forward. I mean, what has been the toughest part in order to try to achieve some of those goals?
ARUN GUPTA: Yeah, it's a great question, and I'll be pretty candid with you. It's difficult to achieve goals when they're counter to your business objectives, right? So the thing I tell the internal team all the time when we're working on diversity, inclusion, all the stuff, I'm like, make it work for the business because that's how we'll get more investment dollars in here and that's how we'll be able to fund this more.
So, this Black Seller Spotlight is an amazing example of this, right? Where it's like, hey, these are amazing Grailed sellers who are doing great stuff. Like, this is what we should be spending our time doing. So it's like we're not competing with primary business dollars to do this diversity inclusion thing. They're actually one in the same.
And I personally believe, and I think we'll see this bear out in the market over the next five, 10 years, that by doing this we're actually strengthening our economic position as opposed to like taking away from it. So I think looking at it in basically not as a zero-sum game but as sort of like a rising tide lifts all boats is a really important way to do it.
REGGIE WADE: How challenging is it with the fashion industry being so diverse to not only celebrate diversity but make sure that people from all different spectrums are able to get on this boat economically? We see resellers now from all backgrounds, all ages. How do you tie that all in with your business model?
ARUN GUPTA: You know, that's a great question. I think the answer that I would have is that our business-- Grailed as a platform is not trying to push any agenda. Like, we aren't-- you know, we're not selling anything in particular. We're just selling what the community sells, right? So we're just very much like a true platform and we view our role as infrastructure. We're putting infrastructure together so the community has the ability to sell the things that they want to sell, to buy the things that they want to buy, to have the conversation that they want to buy.
So really, I think of our role as a facilitator. So if the community is made up of this group of individuals and that group of individuals, like, we should just be empowering and giving everybody a voice. So I guess at the end, as cheesy as it sounds, like, it's about democratization.
REGGIE WADE: With so many platforms, out there what sets Grailed apart? Why should someone be a seller on your platform?
ARUN GUPTA: Because it's the coolest one, dude.
No. Yes that, but also because I think, unique to all the other platforms, Grailed is really about style. It's about personal style and it's about self-expression for your personal style. So it's not like, oh, buy this pair of Jordans everybody else wants, or buy this Supreme sweatshirt that's like the hottest thing going right now.
It's like, what's your take on style? What's your personal look? Do you want to look like, you know, like you're going to a business meeting? Do you want to look like a J.Crew model? Do you want to look like a hipster from Brooklyn? You know, like, whatever it is that you want to look like, Grailed will help you find your personal style, find clothes that fit your style, and really help you be more authentically you.
ADAM SHAPIRO: All right, we appreciate your being here and wish you all the best. Arun and Grailed, continued success. We'll be right back.