How did you start working in eCommerce?
It was totally happenstance. I worked for a little wholesaler when I first graduated college. And then the recession hit, and no one paid us. Back then, the only place to look for jobs was Craigslist, where I saw a post for an eCommerce Fulfilment Assistant, and I emailed. I went in for an interview with Rony, the Owner and Founder of Catbird. She had known me a little bit from attending trade shows.
After my second interview, she hired me that evening. At that time, it was just two people working the whole eComm section of Catbird in a little studio apartment over the Williamsburg shop. We did everything from customer service, to order fulfilment, to special ordering. It was fun. The part of our business that was growing the fastest was our jewelry — solid 14k gold that you could put on and never take off.
Sales picked up and we were ready to focus on jewelry. We expanded and streamlined our jewelry studio. We are committed to handmade, high-quality jewelry, so everything in the Catbird line you saw then and now was made in-house, by our staff. So in sync with the studio, our online growth expanded, as well as our eCommerce department.
After three different location moves, I now have a team of 14 people and the title of eCommerce Manager. I oversee order fulfilment, logistics, customer service, and I also do all of the project managing for all online development and integrations.
What do you love most about your job?
The people at Catbird. And our customers, and being able to sell something that brings people joy. Jewelry is commonly purchased for special occasions to celebrate — to gift to a loved one, to symbolize a marriage — or just buying yourself something pretty.
In terms of office culture, we all work so well together. No one has a chip on their shoulder. No one has an ego. Everybody is down to help when someone needs help.
For example, on Christmas this year, we had a million-dollar-day on Cyber Monday. So, in turn, came 4,000+ orders. Everyone from every department pitched in. Everybody was coming over to me and asking, “How can I help? Do you need me to prep boxes? Do you need me to pack packages? Can I pull necklaces?” There’s such camaraderie here that is really special.
What advice would you give to others looking to work in the industry?
Be a good problem solver. Having good problem solving skills is 100% what got me here. Also being an out-of-the-box thinker.
What do you think is the next big trend that will define the industry?
I think it’s starting now and it’s something that we talk about all the time: personalization. Everyone is trying to get the customer’s attention these days. So how to you speak directly to her?
Specifically for us, it’s making customers a part of our brand, with Instagram stories of tours around the office, introducing everyone who works here. Our customers even know the name of the dogs who come here every day. Mine’s Willie — he’s the original dog of Catbird, just to let you know! So anyway, personalization is key in being able to serve people what they want, when they want it, at the right time. Overall, we want customers to feel part of our little Catbird ecosystem.
Are there other women in the industry that you admire & why?
As far as brand crushes, Lisa Says Gah is so cool. They have a great style: they are small and really smart. And obviously I love Glossier. I don’t know anyone in eCommerce who doesn’t. I know Emily Weiss at Glossier is an obvious answer: she’s so goddamn smart I can’t stand it.
I also want to point to Maggie Winter, who started AYR. I saw her speak at a CFDA event and I love the life she brings to luxury basics. She was quick, smart and inspiring. She runs a lean team who are really excited about the brand — and you can tell.