I graduated college with a degree in merchandising with a specialization in the apparel industry, and I needed an internship as my last credit. A friend of mine worked in the eCommerce space for O’Neill Surf, and he offered me an internship there starting the following day. I said to him, “I know nothing about eCommerce,” and he goes, “That’s okay, you’ll learn.” That man ended up becoming my mentor in the business for several years. Our internship turned into my first role as a junior merchandiser, and then I grew from there.
I realized that eCommerce was what I really wanted to do when I was having a conversation with him, my team, and and a professor of mine from college who we had stayed close with. We started talking about how there wasn’t more than a paragraph about the changing face of retail in a school textbook I had. It wasn’t all brick-and-mortar anymore. We need to teach students what they’re going to be facing and which jobs will provide longevity. That was a turning point for me, and so we started to put together a class about eCommerce for a local community college. It was a defining moment for me where I was able to help change the curriculum, because I was so heavily focused on the retail industry in my education, but I didn’t want to be in a retail store. I was very lucky that I was already working within the eCommerce space. I saw so much potential and understood how quickly we can adapt and change and pivot a business to really work better and smarter as compared to the traditional retail space.
My typical work day is all over the place. ColourPop is a very different animal than any eCommerce space that I have worked in because we have so much flexibility in what we do, since we manufacture everything here on site.
A typical day here starts with checking emails in the morning while I’m having my coffee. Then I have my list of things I’m working on — anything from customer experiences that we’re tackling with our development team, to looking at our sales from the previous day, and collaborating with different teams, including design, marketing, ops, and sales. I do a lot of reporting, so I start with the things that take research and time. And then I move my day into the immediate tasks that need to be done, shuffling them as priorities shift.
This speaks to ColourPop so heavily: I love that with eCommerce I feel like I almost have my own business. eCommerce, especially in the digital merchandising space, really feels like an entrepreneurial position. I have such a heavy hand in what we’re doing with these brands, how we’re selling to customers, how we’re speaking to customers, really listening to our customers and being able to turn out exactly what they want and changing the things that they don’t.
I feel this is my business and it’s my baby, and I care so deeply about it. I just love that I have the opportunity to really listen and change things, and do my job the best way that I can to bring in revenue as well as customer satisfaction.
Intern, intern, intern. I think the landscape is changing as far as getting an education that will help launch you into the digital space. However, I think there’s great opportunity for people just starting out to get a foot in the door with an internship, with interviews, with case studies — I did a lot of reading, a lot of interviewing, just talking to people, and several internships. Absorb everything you can. Although you can teach some things about eCommerce, you don’t really understand until you’re in it, and the best education you can get is hands-on learning.
I’m keeping an eye on the changes with AI. There’s been a lot of trial and error and I don’t think anybody doing it really well yet, but I think it’s going to make huge changes in the way that we search, the way that we shop, and the way that we learn about brands we love as well as brands that are new to us. I think it’s going to shake things up.