Earlier this year, Rockets of Awesome landed a $12.5 million investment from Foot Locker to help it grow.
Source: Rockets of Awesome
Rachel Blumenthal is no stranger to starting a business. When the 39-year-old launched Rockets of Awesome, an online kids clothing subscription service and e-commerce site, back in 2016, she was already a seasoned entrepreneur: Twelve years earlier Blumenthal had founded the costume jewelry brand Rachel Leigh; 10 years later she started Cricket’s Circle, an e-commerce baby registry; and in between these ventures, she helped her husband, Neil Blumenthal, launch Warby Parker, the online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses that he co-founded in 2010.
Launching these first two companies not only honed Blumenthal’s leadership and management skills but elevated her expertise in another valuable arena: raising capital. While building her previous ventures, Blumenthal established a valuable network of like-minded individuals, venture capitalists and mentors that she leveraged to raise capital for Rockets of Awesome and spark her business. Among them: celebrity moms Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow, along with venture capitalist Kirsten Green, the founder of Forerunner Ventures, whom she met through business contacts and events.
“I’ve been able to build a network of really great people to surround myself with,” says Blumenthal, Rockets of Awesome’s CEO. “I’ve always believed in the importance of building relationships and valuing and respecting those relationships. I’ve also learned the lesson of getting warm introductions to investors and making sure that there are aligned interests or at least something in common.”
All three women investors — a tennis champ, an Oscar-winning actress and entrepreneur, and a founder of a venture capital firm — are committed to supporting female entrepreneurs. In addition to contributing capital, the three gave the start-up instant brand credibility.
“I love the idea of having the support from other female entrepreneurs and incredible advocates for women who I really admire,” she says. “There was no expectation that there would be anything beyond the capital investment, but both Serena and Gwyneth have been generous with their time and advice, and they’ve both been publicly supportive on social media.”
Blumenthal leveraged those relationships, and others she established through her earlier ventures, to raise money from companies like General Catalyst, Forerunner Ventures, August Capital and Foot Locker. To date, she has raised about $49 million, with Foot Locker reportedly taking a $12.5 million minority investment back in February for Rockets of Awesome’s $19.5 million Series C capital raise.
Behind the ‘awesome’ name
An expansion of Cricket’s Circle — Blumenthal shut down the online baby registry in 2016 so she could shift her focus to children sizes 2 to 14 — Rockets of Awesome now puts her in the ring to take on the global children’s apparel market, expected to reachIts kids clothes, which she touts as “supercool and seriously fun,” are designed by an in-house team of fashion industry veterans, with prints and graphics meant to be mixed and matched a zillion different ways. The clothes can be purchased online, or a box of eight handpicked pieces can be sent straight to the customer each month through its subscription service.
Women who shopped on Cricket’s Circle provided Blumenthal and her colleagues with a wealth of data on what mothers, specifically, need to keep growing children in clothes that both fit and are stylish. Building trust with customers has helped Blumenthal in turn to build a vertical brand designed and manufactured under the Rockets of Awesome label, keeping the company competitive in an e-commerce world dominated by behemoths like.
Yet Blumenthal knows a thing or two — literally — about being a mom herself. The inspiration for Rockets of Awesome came from her role as a mother of two children, ages four and eight. The brand’s name was also inspired by kids and created to woo customers, curious as to its origin: By combining single words from thousands of Post-its placed on office walls by Blumenthal’s team to capture the uninhibited exuberance and confidence of school-age children. Ultimately, they chose Rockets of Awesome, joining two words that don’t normally go together.
“Kids love the name,” Blumenthal says. “It’s the first thing that draws them and their parents, probably out of curiosity. ‘What does it mean? What do you do?’ It’s a great conversation starter.”
And a start-up starter.
Emblazoned on T-shirts and bomber jackets, one the company’s first items and a top-seller, Rockets of Awesome is walking advertising for the brand’s site and now store, a pop-up brick-and-mortar store in the Flatiron District in Manhattan, which opened last month in time for back-to-school shoppers. It is scheduled to stay open until the end of the year.
Rachel Blumenthal, Rockets of Awesome founder and CEO
Source: Rockets of Awesome
As part of Foot Locker’s strategic partnership, Rockets of Awesome will open mini stores in Kids Foot Locker stores located in malls in major U.S. cities and will become the largest retailer of Rockets of Awesome’s line of clothing in the country. Rockets of Awesome’s mission — to celebrate the real life of kids and to make mothers’ lives easier — aligns with the sportswear and footwear retailer’s values.
“As part of our mission to inspire and empower kids and parents alike, we are investing in new and innovative companies like Rockets of Awesome that elevate the customer journey through inspired storytelling and unique experiences both on- and offline,” says Scott Martin, senior vice president and chief strategy and development officer at. “From subscription models to their latest NYC pop-up, Rachel and her team are driving value for customers in every way.”