Women Love Tech Meets With BaubleBar

Frederique Bros
on 10 March 2015

I am always excited to meet with inspiring and successful women. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Amy McDowell – BaubleBar VP Digital Marketing. BaubleBar creates the ultimate source for fashion jewellery by offering unparalleled selection and stoppable style guidance, all at a guilt-free price point!

Let’s see in details what’s Amy had mixed fashion with technology.

Can you give us a little background on your career to date?

I’ve been in marketing for about 15 years now (how time flies!). In the first 5 years of my career, I worked the client-side running mass marketing for a direct response collectibles company and then on the agency-side for a boutique luxury marketing firm that catered to super-affluent clientele.

A decade ago, the channels available for marketers were primarily out-of-home media (TV, radio and billboards), print advertising (magazines, newspaper and other print ads) and direct mail (catalogs and brochure mailers).  During that time, I saw a shift of marketing dollars from offline to online channels as advertising technology entered the mainstream. I knew that these emerging digital channels would eventually dominate given their efficiency and measurability. With my educational background in technology (I graduated college with a B.S. in Engineering), I was eager to be part of that shift.  In 2006, I began working at a large marketing company that built the online loyalty programs for then-emerging websites such as Travelocity, Vistaprint and Victoria’s Secret.

In 2010, I decided to take 2 major challenges – I began a MBA program at Columbia Business School and also took on a full-time marketing role at an online start-up. Looking back, it was pretty crazy to take on both at the same time but I guess I have always been a risk-taker. I didn’t want to miss out on the digital marketing innovations that were happening in real-time while getting my masters, so I decided to do both concurrently. I don’t think I slept much those 2 years…

Over the past 5 years, I’ve been working at early stage start-ups, helping them gain customers and revenue traction during the first critical years of growth. It’s a niche that I find tremendously rewarding as a marketer, as I can be very hands-on in influencing their growth trajectory. I have also had the chance work closely with some of the most impressive people I’ve ever met in my career — entrepreneurs looking to disrupt industries or create new ones. It has been extremely rewarding to be part of start-ups with such high aspirations. BaubleBar is a perfect example of this — we are creating a lifestyle brand for fashion jewelry using a fast-fashion business model. This is something no one has done before for the accessories category.

Tell us about your site/role/company

BaubleBar was founded in 2011 by Daniella Yacobovsky and Amy Jain. Both were former investment banking analysts who met while pursuing their MBAs at Harvard Business School. They came up with the idea for BaubleBar while shopping as they had noticed that while there were many retail options for young fashionable women like themselves to shop beauty or apparel, there was a noticeable gap in the fashion jewelry category in the U.S.  With multi-category retailers, the jewelry selection was limited and often followed the narrow aesthetics of the brand’s clothing lines. In addition, high-quality pieces from retailers were often prohibitively priced while the more affordable options looked and felt cheap. Daniella and Amy envisioned an online destination where women could shop a large selection of high-quality costume jewelry that was fashionable, affordable and fun. This discovery fueled the creation of BaubleBar.

Utilizing real-time data from our website, BaubleBar is able to leverage its unique sourcing capabilities and fast speed to market and merchandise its offerings based what’s trending. We’re the jewelry version of fast-fashion businesses such as Zara and H&M.

I head up the marketing team at BaubleBar. In a nutshell, we run all the marketing programs for customer acquisition and retention.  This includes all paid marketing channels both online (such as SEM, display, sponsored social media, email, retargeting and affiliate) and offline (such as television and print).  We also manage BaubleBar’s loyalty program, the Vault.

What makes you aim your site at women?

Fashion jewelry consists of primarily female-based product so it makes sense for our marketing to focus on women. Our customers buy Baublebar products for themselves or as gifts to other females. Only a small fraction of our audience are men buying for women.

Have you met some major technology problem when you were creating your business?

BaubleBar has one of the largest selections of fashion jewelry online, with more than one hundred new styles added to our website each week. In order to capitalize on trending styles, we need to analyze our sales and SKU data in as near to real-time as possible.

Using our proprietary sourcing capabilities, we can get fast-selling products produced and ready for sale on the site in a matter of weeks. Customers can access popular, trending styles that would have been otherwise sold-out, at an attractive price that encourages experimentation and repeat purchase. Therefore our ability to quickly act on our online data is extremely critical.

One of our first technology challenges was optimizing our real-time sales data and tagging all of our products accurately for analysis. While the casual observer might view BaubleBar as a fashion e-retailer, I would say we are actually closer to a fashion analytics company, given how much data plays into our success.

Would you call yourself a techno-savvy woman? and why?

I would consider myself tech-capable, but not tech-savvyAs soon as you start to think you know all there is to know about the latest technologies, there’s another innovation just around the corner you’ll need to master. Keeping a healthy perspective on how much you don’t know keeps you motivated to learn more!

Which kind of smartphone do you have?

A really well-loved (i.e. beat-up) iPhone 5. I’ve asked Santa to bring me an iPhone 6 this Christmas.

Name 3 apps you use everyday

Yelp, LinkedIn and ClassPass – That covers 3 important facets of my life: Eat, work and play.

What is your last tweet?

I was mentoring at a fashion technology summit in NYC so I tweeted “…come by and #LearnStuff”

The last picture you pinned on Pinterest?

My Pinterest account is currently private. But rest assured the last picture was either an impossibly cute outfit I can’t fit into or an extremely fattening recipe.

What is your last Facebook’s status update?

I posted “Feeling overwhelmed” – I had just got back from 16 hour flight from Hong Kong to New York with my 2 year old in tow. Enough said!

Thank you Amy for your time and I wish you all the best with BaubleBar.

Image: BaubleBar
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