Anjarae (Washington) Hamilton, Head of Retailer Sales at Faire, On Small Business Trends
October 26, 2023
Anjarae Hamilton is the Head of Retailer Sales and Account Management at Faire, where her team transforms the retail landscape by helping over 100,000 brands sell millions of products to hundreds of thousands. Faire’s data-driven approach to wholesale lets retailers try-before-they buy, and straightforward financial terms eliminate inventory risk and provide access to capital—leveling the playing field in two key areas that previously prevented many small businesses from successfully competing against major retailers and e-commerce giants. With the help of Anjaree’s leadership, Faire has facilitated over 7M new connections between independent retailers and brands on the marketplace.

From your vantage point as Head of Retail Sales at Faire, what are you seeing as trends in the retail industry?

Despite worst case predictions for brick-and-mortar post-pandemic, the ritual of in-person shopping is alive and well, and interestingly, Gen Z consumers are hungrier for in-store shopping than any other generation. In a recent survey we ran, we found that 61% of Gen-Z adults are more likely to shop in-person in comparison to a few years ago. A big reason for this is the appetite for meaningful physical experiences and opportunities for connection in today’s digitized world. 

While malls are being redesigned to feature attractions like microbreweries, many independent retailers are shifting in-store offerings from product stock toward product experiences, like P.F. Candle Co.’s customer workshops in Los Angeles, or how Brooklyn-based Tula House blends retail, design, and education together to create community through a “botanical experience” rather than simply creating a plant shop. We expect the most successful retailers in the future will lean into creating space for social connection.

I would advise small business owners to lean into their values, and be intentional about communicating what their brand, product, or store stands for, to create deeper connection and loyalty with consumers.

How do you think about growth and scale and what have you seen to be particularly successful now and during your previous roles?

At Faire, our growth incentives are directly aligned with the incentives of our customers – we only grow if their businesses grow. This keeps us inextricably tied to our customers’ success which helps ensure that every decision we make benefits them and supports our mission. To date, we have introduced over 7 million new connections between retailers and brands on the marketplace.

As we continue to grow and foster these connections, our primary goal is to remain a customer-focused organization. We constantly seek out feedback from our customers and work to improve the tools and resources they need in order to compete and thrive. Maintaining this level of customer obsession ensures that any organization has the opportunity to succeed, long-term. 

What advice would you have for small business founders particularly as we head into the holidays?

I would advise small business owners to lean into their values, and be intentional about communicating what their brand, product, or store stands for, to create deeper connection and loyalty with consumers.

The pandemic prompted consumers to focus on more intentional ways of living, and since then we’ve seen a big trend of consumers leaning into value-based shopping. A recent survey by one of our investors, Forerunner Ventures, uncovered that buying locally and sustainably are pivotal factors in the purchase decision of over 60% of consumers. And on Faire, we found that the volume of products purchased that are eco-friendly, handmade, or not available on Amazon has increased nearly 4x since the start of the pandemic.

Especially as consumers may become more selective this year with additional macroeconomic conditions, it will be increasingly important to ensure that consumers feel strongly and closely connected with the mission and value of the products they purchase. 

What has been the best advice you’ve heard that has helped you scale in your corporate career?

“What would you do for the company if you didn’t have a boss and were fully responsible for the decision?” This advice was critical early in my career to bring to life what it meant to be an owner and drive impact to the business. When I began my career, oftentimes I was waiting for instructions on what I needed to do. With this mindset shift, I started to see new opportunities to add value and raise my hand to proactively make recommendations on what we should do. I’ve found that this working method has unlocked more scope and responsibility and continued to serve me in my career even as I’ve become more experienced.

Who is one woman you admire?

As I’ve become a mother myself, the respect and admiration I have for my mother has grown so much. She balanced being a single mother with her career in social work, and still managed to be extremely present and involved in my life. As a Tennessean, I also really admire Dolly Parton. Not only did she find success when so many people in society underestimated her, but she has had an incredible impact on the world.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

My e-reader. I’m a voracious reader and read every night before bed. While I still love to frequent bookstores and buy physical books, the e-reader makes it easy to travel with many options and means I don’t need a light on to keep reading while my husband is sleeping!

What role has mentorship played in your career journey?

I’ve been blessed to work with many inspirational leaders who happily take time out of their days to help me learn and, most importantly, provide candid, constructive feedback. Without these mentors throughout my career, it would have been easy to make the same mistakes without realizing how my actions may be holding me back.  


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