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A Better Bakery in Bethel

Online Retail and Branding Guru Finds Freedom, Flexibility in Entrepreneurship

Debra Lutsky left behind designing for some of fashion's most coveted names to build her own online retail business, that has experienced phenomenal success.
Debra Lutsky, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Digital Retail Partners
Meet Debra Lutsky
 

Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Digital Retail Partners

The Backstory

Thirty three-year-old Debra Lutsky is a highly-sought-after designer and e-commerce expert for some of today’s best-known labels including Swarovski, Karl Lagerfeld, Kenneth Cole, and GUESS. But the brand that she’s most proud to work with is Digital Retail Partners, the online retail and branding agency she launched three years ago.

A graduate of the famed Parson’s School of Design, Lutsky spent the early part of her career doing graphic design for fashion’s most coveted names. But the daily grind of commuting two hours each way from Connecticut to New York City on top of a 14-hour work day took its toll both physically and emotionally. It wasn’t sustainable, she explained; something had to change.

“The thought of owning my own business began growing in my head. Not only did I crave more flexibility and independence, but I realized that I was grossly undervalued for my level of work and responsibility.” “I was highly motivated,” she explained, “but I still wanted to soak up as much as I could about opportunities in the industry before I went ahead. So I took the next year to network and find freelance projects. During that time I witnessed the shift in retail go from brick and mortar stores to e-commerce. I decided online retail would be my niche.”

Lutsky taught herself Shopify - one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms - and joined the ranks of the few individuals in the region to become a certified expert in its use. In 2015, she made the leap to full-time business owner. Adam, her husband, soon followed suit, becoming Director of Operations at their Stratford headquarters.

Today, Digital Retail Partners employs several full- and part-time employees who specialize in providing development for web sites with e-commerce capabilities. With her extensive background in traditional graphic design, Lutsky also supports her clients with packaging design, point-of-sale displays, traditional print, CRM and more.

But despite her success Lutsky said that she is always on the lookout for ways to ensure that her business continues to be stable and sustainable.

 

How Women's Business Development Council Helped

“A few years ago, I reached out to the Women’s Business Development Council because I needed to hire. But I realized that if I was going to have people on payroll, I had to secure more business.”

Lutsky was introduced to Business Counselor Carol Cheswick who recommended the 12-week GPS class in the Council’s Stamford headquarters. “It was just what I needed,” she said. “I never had any formal business training; everything to that point was fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I also used them for legal help and took a course on saving for retirement.” This fall, Lutsky plans on returning to the Women’s Business Development Council to lead workshops on e-mail marketing and web site branding and development.

“It’s formal business training that’s free or low-cost in an environment where everyone is pushed and motivated and inspired. What could be better?”

Despite her phenomenal success, being a woman business owner has not been without its challenges for Lutsky. Since the birth of her son two years ago, her client list has doubled and she frequently travels to client offices in Texas and Florida.

“There’s a double standard that often exists around a woman’s work-life balance,” she says. “I don’t think society questions when a man works seven days a week or puts in 15-hour days to build a business. But as a woman, it’s been a balancing act to overcome the perception that I am sacrificing or not doing a proper job as a mother or wife. It’s taken time to change people’s expectations, but now I feel more supported than ever.”

It’s that support, she says, that makes the journey worthwhile. “There is definitely a community of women cheering each other on to succeed. It’s a unique time to be part of this change in history!”

 

Find Out More About Digital Retail Partners

For more information, visit digitalretailpartners.com.