I was lucky enough to be interviewed this year by my friend Elana for her incredible blog, Elana Lyn. Her blog features career and lifestyle advice geared towards the working woman who is trying to both get ahead in her line of work, and lead a meaningful and balanced lifestyle. She speaks with women from all varieties of industry on what they have learned during their time in the workforce and what wisdom they have to share with others. Read on for my career profile from Elana Lyn.
You can read the original article on the Elana Lyn blog here.
How did you end up at Club Monaco. What was your career path?
So, my move to Club Monaco was quite serendipitous. I had been working in the digital space in the fashion world since I graduated from college, doing everything from production to art direction to merchandising to building promotions and organizing samples.
Club Monaco had reached out to me for an exploratory interview, and I ended up going in and talking to them, thinking it might lead to something a few months down the road. At that point, Ralph Lauren had just launched the Club Monaco site and owned it internally, so there were no positions available in eCom within the Club Monaco organization. I ended up getting a call two weeks later – Club Monaco wanted to hire me to transition the on-site content in-house from Ralph Lauren, and hire a digital ops team to support me. It was truly an opportunity I was powerless to resist. In this day and age, you don’t find many opportunities to work on a site from its inception and build processes and infrastructure from scratch, and I knew that this role would be a game-changer.
How did you land your role? What was the hiring process like?
I have now been at Club Monaco for almost three and a half years, and transitioned to a new role within the company at the beginning of the year. My current position is the commerce experience manager, and I am working with the Ralph Lauren organization to redesign and replatform our website. I used to work for the current head of digital experience, and she knew that I was very interested in the larger processes involved with building and executing a site replatform. When this role opened up, we both thought that it would be a natural fit, and it all unfolded from there. I am very lucky to work within an organization that supports and promotes its employees.
What are your responsibilities as commerce experience manager at Club Monaco?
We are launching the new site in about a year, so I am working with our Club Monaco eCommerce team, the Ralph Lauren eCommerce team, and the teams who execute the architecture for the platform on physically building out and implementing our business and tech requirements for the new site. What’s the lead-up to launch? What’s the practical application of implementing our requirements within the new tool? How are we making the user experience and user interface as friendly as possible, while still maintaining ease for the back-end business user? These are some of the questions I am working on answering each day.
What is a day as Carolyn like? Please walk me through a day!
Every day is truly a new adventure. I don’t think I’ve ever had two days that were quite alike, and that’s one of the things I love most about what I do. It keeps me young! Right now, I am in back-to-back daily meetings regarding the status of the new platform build-out, QA and testing strategy, tech demos and defect resolution, and thinking ahead to what training is going to look like for our team when we transition.
After work, I normally hop across the street to Body By Simone to sweat it out in a dance cardio class (they are on ClassPass!), then it’s either home to try my hand at a new recipe, or out to meet friends and try a new restaurant. I’m finally heading to Mission Chinese for the first time this week – very excited to try it!
What is your favorite thing about working in the fashion industry?
That’s easy – the people. I’ve worked at a few different fashion companies over the years, and have had the privilege of meeting an incredibly creative, dynamic group of individuals. You have to be passionate about this industry in order to work and succeed in it, because, as we all know, no one is in it for the money. There’s a dedication to the industry that’s pretty inspiring to be a part of every day.
What are the most important characteristics someone needs to have to be successful in your role?
I think that it’s easy to get stuck in your daily routines and processes, and this lends itself to doing things because “it’s what’s done.” Thinking outside of the box, and not being afraid to disrupt the status quo if it means moving the needle forward for your business, is vitally important. Also, simultaneously, knowing when to take pause and evaluate the bigger picture is crucial. The devil is in the details, and it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of a project or a task, but that can’t hold you back from driving whatever you’re working on forwards to fruition.
What has been your proudest moment from your career so far?
My proudest moment, easily, was successfully transitioning the Club Monaco site in-house from the Ralph Lauren team. It was a scrappy, lean and mean operation, but we took ownership of the website and it has truly taken off from there.
What is your personal style?
I think that as the years go by, my personal style has become increasingly more simple and streamlined. I’m usually pretty classic with a modern twist. Some days I am in culottes and clean white kicks (mine are Zespa, an amazing brand from Provence), and some days I am in vintage RRL jeans and a classic fishermans sweater. I try to keep anything remotely fashion-forward tempered with something timeless. You can never go wrong with clean lines, a great watch, and one eye-catching detail. And make sure it fits – always.
What is your advice for someone who hopes to work at Club Monaco or a similar brand?
I truly think that you need to create your own opportunities, and that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Don’t be afraid to follow up, more than once, and to ask for what you want.
Also, it never hurts to connect with someone at a company you are interested in who can provide you with an insider’s view. Networking is incredibly helpful here, and women’s groups like Six Degrees Society (which happens to have been founded by my best friend and certified #girlboss Emily Merrell), have been instrumental for me with creating valuable relationships within the industry.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
It will all work out. I promise. I didn’t have a job when I graduated college. When I was in school, I thought I wanted to do visual merchandising for stores. You know yourself better than you think you do, and if you trust your instincts and follow your gut, you’ll end up in the right place.
You are also known for your foodie Instagram account. What are your three top tips for someone trying to grow their Instagram following?
Why thank you! Honestly I’m still figuring it all out myself. I think that the best way to grow your following is to participate in the Instagram community. That includes looking at others’ pages and making thoughtful comments, but also talking to your followers and thanking them when they support what you’re doing.
Also, one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is knowing when to say “no” to posting something. Sometimes the idea of a post is better than the actual thing, and self-editing and taking pause to make sure that a post is necessary has been tough but essential.
And lastly, at the risk of sounding quite cheesy, don’t be afraid to be yourself. There have been so many times when I have not been sure if my puns would resonate with anyone, or if a caption was too sentimental, and those have turned out to be some of my favorite posts. I think that people pick up on when you’re excited about the content you are putting out there, and it makes a big difference.
You always discover the best restaurants in NYC. What sites do you read to stay in-the-know?
I read an embarrassing number of food blogs, the majority of them cooking and baking-related. For new and noteworthy restaurants in the city, my go-tos are The Infatuation, Eater, Tasting Table, and the New York Times restaurant reviews. And the best of the bunch – word of mouth feedback from friends.
If someone were in NYC for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks, and dessert, where would you tell them to go?
I apologize in advance, but I’m cheating here. There is no possible way that I could choose only one option for each of these meals; there are just too many great places to dine in NYC. These are a few of my favorites…
Breakfast – Buvette (go EARLY on a weekend for breakfast solo, bring a book and sit in the window), Egg Shop (love the bowls), Cafe Mogador (I could eat the Moroccan Eggs every day of the week), Butcher’s Daughter (two words: avo toast)
Lunch – Emily (both the pizzas and the Emmy Burger are out of this world, and if you skip the s’mores calzone for dessert it’s a tragedy), Barbuto (JW Chicken and the best garlicky kale salad – heaven), La Esquina (I continually wonder if I’m on a taco-only diet, and theirs are amazing)
Dinner – I Sodi (just order everything on the menu, trust me), Charlie Bird (I think they put crack in their veggie dishes), Raoul’s (my favorite burger in NYC, hands down, but the steak frites is also killer), Tuome (get the Pig Out for two – you’re welcome)
*Snack –(*I added this category, again with the cheating) oysters and wine at Jeffrey’s Grocery
Coffee – El Rey (the secretly have an amazing dinner too), Maman (don’t miss the white chocolate pretzel cookie with your latte), A Little Taste (in the heart of the flower district), Two Hands (I’m a sucker for an iced coffee in a mason jar), The Elk (my favorite in the West Village)
Drinks – Little Branch (easily my favorite for inventive cocktails, don’t forget to bring cash), Dear Irving (ringing a doorbell to get drink service makes them taste better, I promise). The Marlton (a glass of wine in front of the fireplace is my happy place in the winter), Nightcap (pickled pineapple juice – I swear it’s delicious)
Dessert – Momofuku Milk Bar (does this make me basic?), Morgenstern’s (the flavors and toppings blow my mind), Dominique Ansel Bakery (I try the new cronut flavor every month, true story)
What is on your desk right now?
A big ol’ hot mess. Just kidding (not really). I have two screens for my job, so they take up most of my desk space. Other things that I always have next to me are a carafe of water from Fishs Eddy with lemon or cucumber in it, Glossier lip Balm (my new favorite), my work and personal phones, and an excessive number of post-its (it’s like “A Beautiful Mind” up in here). There’s usually a cup of tea on there too (peppermint please).
What is your morning routine?
I’m a big believer is slowing down and not rushing in the mornings. I wake up an extra 15 minutes before I need to, and sit and drink my coffee and read a book every single morning. It puts me in a good headspace for the day, and allows me to put any stress and worries that I have about work aside to focus on the moment. Right now, I am drinking the Brooklyn blend from Toby’s Estate, which I make a pot of every Sunday and stash in the fridge for the week. My current read is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, I could not recommend more highly.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you’re confused or unsure about something that’s happening in your life, keep moving forward. Don’t make any drastic changes while you’re still working through something and turning it over. Trust that at some point, the answer will become readily apparent to you, and then you can take decisive action. This goes for work, but also for life. Whenever I’ve had a big decision to make, I’ve waited it out until I’ve known in my gut, without a shadow of a doubt, what I feel is the right thing to do. Making a hasty decision for the sake of doing something is often preemptive.
What is your career advice for other young professional women?
It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to rely on each other. Being able to ask the right questions and loop in the right people is valuable beyond measure. Also, kindness and efficiency are not mutually exclusive concepts. Don’t feel like as a woman in the workplace that you need to be tough and hard all the time. Being a good listener, empathizing, and having a nurturing spirit can be some of the best tools at your disposal. You just need to figure out how to employ them in a way that works for your personality and your workplace.