In addition to significant international experience, (and getting her start owning her own vintage store!) Marketing and Communications expert Erin Green has worked for some of Canada’s most recognizable brands, like lululemon and eLUXE. Now, she’s stepping into a new role, as Canadian Country Lead at everyone’s favourite online marketplace for indie finds, Etsy. We spoke with Erin about her past success, and future plans. Aspiring marketeers, take note!
SDTC: You’ve worked at one of the most recognizable brands in Canada, lululemon. How did you help develop and maintain such a cohesive, well-communicated brand identity?
Erin Green: I would attribute much of lululemon’s success to building the brand through the yoga and fitness communities. In doing so, we were able to remain authentic and “walk the walk,” so to speak. The other important piece was educating customers on the product so they understood the value and benefits. I think while a lot of companies were just “selling,” lululemon was telling stories and providing education, which gave us a competitive advantage.
SDTC: Now that you’ve become the Canadian Country Lead at Etsy, what is most exciting to you about the challenge?
EG: I keep saying how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to help grow the team and brand here in Canada. Can somebody pinch me please?! What is most exciting to me is how many great partnerships and communities of sellers I will be working with. I will be looking for opportunities where we can be creative with brands big and small and help make the world a bit more like Etsy! The fact that I might be able to contribute to someone’s success and help build his or her business is pretty amazing. Getting to spend my days helping independent businesses start and grow is inspiring to me.
SDTC: How will your past experience serve you in this new role?
EG: Building success through communities is what I know. It is invigorating coming up with innovative and unique ideas and bringing them to fruition. I am a thinker and a doer and Etsy fosters that type of entrepreneurism. Having previously had my own business has also helped bring some perspective to this role. It allows me to understand what our sellers are going through, what they need and what challenges they face. I wish Etsy had been around when I had my vintage store! I am also thankful for my digital marketing experience at eLUXE. As they say, it is a digital world and that experience opened my eyes to it.
SDTC: Tell us a little about how you got to where you are today. What school experiences, work experiences, and mentors helped you achieve success?
EG: I am one of those people who feel that real life experiences have shaped both who I am and my career. I have a BA in Philosophy from the University of Western and I opened my own store when I was 21. I think taking on a business at such a young age and wearing so many hats in the process taught me some invaluable lessons early on in my career. I have also been fortunate to work with great companies in their infancy which allowed me to work very closely with Founders, CEO’s, COO’s etc. Being up-close and personal with great talent is something I am very grateful for and it has most likely contributed to a lot of my management techniques and strategic business decisions.
SDTC: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
EG: I love the expression “ask for forgiveness and not permission.” I have been able to follow this philosophy at every company I have worked for. It has taught me many tough lessons. But it is those lessons that help me make my next decision or shape my next big campaign. If we don’t learn to fail, how can we ever really learn to succeed?
SDTC: What advice would you give young women who are eager to begin careers in marketing and communications?
EG: Since I am in the hiring process for Etsy at the moment this is a very relevant question. I would say worry less about a pedigree resume and more about pedigree experiences. The people I am most impressed with are those who have unique skills that they have learned from both school and life. While I think it is important to be a subject matter expert in the job you are applying for, it is equally as important to have interpersonal skills and traits that make you unique, or stand out. Be yourself, and be authentic – those are things that can’t be taught.
SDTC: What are some things happening in the industry right now that really impress you?
EG: I am always fascinated by businesses that have seen success using their communities to help them grow, which is probably why I have been drawn to companies like lululemon, eLUXE and Etsy. I like what I am seeing with content and commerce, and social tools that allow consumers the ability to play an integral role in peoples’ path to purchase. Marketing can no longer rely solely on advertising or ‘traditional’ channels. The companies that stand out in the crowd are the ones that are using real people and emotions behind their brand.
SDTC: What is the best thing about your job?
EG: Etsy is full of thoughtful, brilliant, and educated individuals. I believe that if you aren’t learning in your job, it may be time to move on. Let me just say that I will be learning so much from Etsy employees and sellers and know this experience will allow me to grow both personally and professionally. I have already identified some key mentors – I should probably give them a heads up at some point!
SDTC: What are the respective challenges and advantages to working at a fledgling brand vs. an established one? What valuable experiences can those new to the industry expect from each experience?
EG: I would say the challenge with fledging brands is that there is not a lot of time for reflection and strategy– it’s very much go, go, go. That being said, with smaller companies there is a lot of opportunity to implement out-of-the-box ideas because there are fewer hoops to jump through to make them happen. Established brands provide strong roots to build thoughtful campaigns but the challenge there can be around maturation. It can be difficult to build upon a brand that is already well established. If you are about to venture into a start up, be prepared to be nimble and reactive. If you are entering a more mature company, be prepared to be proactive and tenacious.
SDTC: You have a year off to do anything you like, no career consequences. What do you do?
EG: Seriously? This is actually the most difficult question you have asked me.
First, I would ask my husband’s office to provide the same amazing deal! I would then travel with my family. Maybe enroll my kids in school abroad and just relax. I have always wanted to travel through Europe (without a backpack) so perhaps this is where we would go. I would love to take some cooking classes as well. This sounds like a dream – sign me up…but maybe after a good 10 years or so with Etsy!