Ellen Cohn at Polyvore
If you're a fan of online shopping (like the rest of us), then chances are you're familiar with Polyvore. Basically, it's the ultimate online shopping mall—the site aggregates all of the best buys on the Internet into one searchable, shop-able location, meaning you won't have to peruse dozens of online stores in search of a single item. But Polyvore is more than just an e-commerce platform: It's also a global community that allows users to create their own outfit inspiration boards (think Pinterest meets Instagram).
With more than 20 million unique visitors a month, Polyvore has a huge need to create the ultimate user experience. And lucky for Polyvore, Nadia Hussain is there to do just that.
As the director of community, Nadia's been instrumental in Polyvore's growth since she joined the startup seven years ago. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here—read on to hear from Nadia herself!
Ellen Cohn at Polyvore
What was your first job?
My first job out of college was working at Nordstrom.
How did you get started in your career?
After two years with Nordstrom, I decided to venture out and follow my passion for creating amazing customer experiences. I joined Google where I was an account manager for AdWords. After five years at Google, I joined Polyvore as the sixth employee and first community manager. Now almost seven years later, we have a small but mighty community management team that helps our global community of millions express themselves and feel good about their style.
What is a typical day like for you?
My commute is about an hour, so I mentally plan out my day while driving to the office. I help develop programs to build, engage and nurture our passionate user community—and no day is the same! One of the best parts of my day is spending time reaching out to users to learn more about their dreams. Many of our community members have aspirations to become designers, stylists, editors and bloggers and we try to help members along their journey. I also collaborate with our product and engineering teams to relay user feedback to create an even better product experience. We recently launched our Style Insider program to reward our most engaged members, so I'm excited to gather feedback and see how we can make the program a success. We're also getting ready for New York Fashion Week, so lots of meetings with our marketing, creative, PR and social teams!
Ellen Cohn at Polyvore
Tell us about your office décor. When did you last give your office a makeover?
Our Mountain View headquarters showcases our community's creativity and passion. When you walk in you'll notice huge printed copies of beautiful Polyvore fashion, beauty and home sets created by our community—think giant mood boards or collages. Our users love sending us hand-written love letters, so we've posted them around the office for the whole company to see how we're making an impact in our users' lives. We recently invited our community to help us makeover our lounge by sending in ideas for how they would redesign the space. Thousands of entries were submitted, and we picked bellamarie's design. We flew her out from Germany, and she hand-selected chic new couches, tables and rugs to redesign the lounge. It was super cool to see a community member's vision come to life in our office.
Do you have a workspace at home? How does it differ from your other office?
I don't have a workspace at home. Our teams collaborate a lot, so I prefer to work in the office.
What's the best part about your job?
Polyvore is a company where I've been able to combine all the things I love—fashion, technology and a passionate global style community. I've always thought fashion was an amazing way to express yourself. And now with apps like Polyvore and Instagram, you don't have to work at a fashion magazine be an influential fashionista. Anyone can go online to express their creativity on global platform. I love helping cultivate a community of creative style enthusiasts and be their voice within the company.
Ellen Cohn at Polyvore
How did you get started with Polyvore?
When I joined Polyvore, I had no experience as a community manager, but I have a passion for always trying to exceed a customer's expectations to surprise and delight them. I was inspired by our global community and wanted to support them anyway I could. It's been exciting to carve out exactly what community management means here.
What's one trend you can't wait to see this fall? And what trend do you hope will go away for good?
I live for fall! I'm excited for turtlenecks—on their own or even as a layer underneath a dress. Those turtleneck chokers are pretty cool too. The leggings-as-pants trend needs to go.
What’s the one item in your closet that you could never go without?
I have these black suede pointy ballet flats that I’ve worn to death but refuse to part with.
What's your ideal day-to-night outfit? And how would you describe your personal style?
Skinnies, an oversized top and a pair of pumps. Any outfit that I can kick up a notch with a quick shoe change or a bright lip is ideal. My personal style is comfy, minimal and a little boy-meets-girl. I also (unapologetically) wear a lot of black!
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
If your closet is organized, your life will be too.
Who are some of your career heroes?
I love hearing the stories that come out of our global community on how Polyvore has inspired them to take risks in order to achieve the things that they want. Many of our members have decided to go back to school, start fashion blogs and open their own businesses due to the support and encouragement they've received from our Polyvore community. It is so inspiring to watch them grow and follow their dreams—they're my heroes.
What's the most daring career risk you've ever taken at work?
Leaving a big company to join a startup team of six. It was so worth it, by the way.
Finish the sentences below…
Today for lunch I had… nothing. I'm fasting sun up to sun down for the month of Ramadan.
The first website I log onto every day is… Instagram and Polyvore.
My usual Starbucks order is… I usually get roasted barley milk tea from a cafe down the street from the office.
If I wasn't doing this job, I would… be a music supervisor. I think I'd be good at finding the perfect song for the perfect movie scene.
My favorite place to visit is… New York City.
The item that's always in my makeup bag is... mascara and a blister block stick. You never know when your shoes are going to act up.
List five things that are on your desk right now… headphones, a mason jar full of Sharpie fine point pens, goji berry & mango hand lotion, my iPhone and packing tape.
The book I'm reading right now is… Lonely Planet. Currently planning a trip to Europe!