At a Thursday morning presentation at PUC’s visual arts department, PUC alum Rayme Inae, ’01, encouraged students to always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Inae is the creative director for—and helped start—GoJane.com, a popular online retailer of fashion-forward apparel for young women.
“People want decisions made for them,” he told the students. “Grab the steering wheel of your own life!”
A big man with a big smile, Inae shared his advice and his success story in a lively and frank presentation that energized the room. He described his experience at PUC as an active—if not always stellar—student and encouraged the visual arts majors to view their course work as a chance to build a meaningful portfolio that would serve them in the job market.
After graduation, Inae said he couldn’t find work as a graphic designer—his area of study. But his friendly and enthusiastic personality landed him a job in advertising sales. In one year he advanced rapidly in the company and saved up a sizeable cushion from commissions on large clients like the Golden State Warriors. But after an ethical disagreement with the company, he quit—and realized that he didn’t know what he wanted to do next.
Living in Southern California, Inae ran into two friends who were trying to get a small dotcom company off the ground. Taking stock of their situation—just a couple of guys in a house trying to sell a single rack of clothing online—Inae realized that he could help them build up their operation, but under one condition. “I told them, ‘I want to see growth,” he said.
He ended up being an integral part of that growth. Once he had designed a new, more appealing website, people started paying attention. After a slew of orders came through in one day, Inae and his partners discovered that their customers had heard of them through YM, a popular teen magazine. That first appearance started a snowball effect: GoJane.com began showing up in editorials in every young women’s publication in the country, and their business took off.
Inae was open about the fact that his story hasn’t always had an upward trajectory. As GoJane.com grew, he and his partners decided to expand into a brick-and-mortar operation with physical stores in Southern California malls. That, in turn, led them to see a gap in the market for Mexican food in mall food courts, and they started a small chain of burrito restaurants. Despite initial success, neither of those operations panned out in the long run. But Inae seemed unfazed by the apparent failures. “You take it all in stride,” he says. “Life rewards risk-takers.”
He admitted that in the wake of the company’s financial success, he became too focused on purely material goals—the big house, the expensive car. But once the thrill of those achievements wore off, he realized that those things weren’t satisfying. “It was just a matter of maturing and realizing that there are things out there that are bigger than you,” he says. “Right now I take pride in investing in people.”
That includes investing in his employees. It also includes supporting students, by assisting them with tuition and sponsoring student mission trips. “I think a year abroad—you grow up a lot and find out who you are,” he says. He himself spent a year as a missionary in Japan during his time at PUC. “It’s a great growing experience, and I think it’s really cool.”
What keeps Inae excited about his work—as well as his more philanthropic investments—he says, is not a passion for selling women’s clothing. It’s not even the financial rewards of being part of a successful company. “It’s about identifying opportunity. If you’re so focused on one thing, you might miss other opportunities that are opening for you,” he said. “I just have a passion for growth.”
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