Monday, March 5, 2012

Get Like Me: Shawna Strayhorn

Aspiring to break into the fashion industry or simply intrigued by it? Well LoveBrownSugar has something for ya! Our “Get Like Me” series highlights exclusive interviews with industry insiders from celebrity stylists to fashion designers, editors, fashion PR heads & more!

Credit: Amelia Alpaugh, Refinery29

It's not an easy feat being an executive at one of the fastest-growing integrated content hubs on the web. Ever heard of a little site by the name of Refinery29? Yeah, you have. If you're even remotely obsessed with fashion & beauty, you've probably spent a fair share of time perusing the site or scrolling through their amazing street style galleries and fashion/beauty profiles. As the Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Refinery29, today's "Get Like Me" guru Shawna Strayhorn is one of the people responsible for taking the site to the top of the ranks as a digital marketing powerhouse. I've been following Refinery29's growth for a few years now, and it has been nothing short of amazing. LBS sat down with the Harvard grad to get the 411 on what it takes to be a business-minded beauty at Refinery29. Check it out:

Name: Shawna Strayhorn
Location: Harlem, New York
Personal Style in 3 Words: Vintage eye-catching silhouettes
Favorite Designer(s): DANNIJO, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Lanvin
Must-Have Accessory: Lipstick

When did you decide you wanted a career in marketing?
I decided to pursue a digital marketing path in 2008 when, it became evident to me, the fashion industry was revolutionizing how brands interact with customers digitally and how value is created on the retail value-chain. The digital expansion provided a ripe landscape for young talent to join the work force with a competitive advantage in some cases.

Credit: Michelle Peralta, Refinery29
As an Ivy League grad, did you always have aspirations of working in the digital marketing industry?
Like many of my peers, I debated several career paths. Out of college, I chose management consulting as a way to expand my business acumen and pivot into both a creative and strategic role. I was laser-focused on marrying my quantitative ability with a passion. And, for me, that is retail.

Walk us through a day in the life of someone who helps keep the wheels turning at Refinery29.
My work day begins at 10 AM. I begin my day by reading industry staples Women's Wear Daily and The Business of Fashion. I check-in on Refinery29's daily site traffic and audience acquisition programs. From there, my days are filled with reacting to emails, providing strategic feedback to Refinery29's commerce and editorial teams, and cutting and slicing data in order to create insights for the business. I work in Excel -- plenty -- modeling and finding ways to support Refinery29's market growth.

Name one thing you get to do every day in your current position that you absolutely love.
I have the pleasure of gazing upon stunning, beautifully composed images daily. I derive such pleasure from being able to refine and focus my taste overtime and to appreciate and prop up things that are beautiful and special to me.

As a chic curvy girl, what are some of your fashion must-haves?
This season, my fashion must-haves include mint Sally Hansen nail polish, Dries Van Noten sunnies, sturdy loafers, and (always) an ageless vintage blazer.

Credit: Amelia Alpaugh, Refinery29

Most rewarding experience of your career thus far?
My most rewarding career experience is leading Refinery29's growth efforts. Through aggressive acquisition efforts, I lead Refinery29's audience development growing the email database by 200% in one year.

3 Pieces of advice for those aspiring to work in fashion marketing?
My advice for those looking to get into fashion marketing is to have an editor's eye for impeccable style and value, to sharpen your business acumen and intelligence, and to be results driven.

What's in your purse?
My purse has several bottles of nail polish, lipstick, a debit card and loose change -- in summary, it needs some order.

Photos courtesy Refinery29.com

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  1. Great post! Love hearing slices of life from successful women! Keep them up!

  2. i love reading about women who do something they are great at and love, keep the get like me posts coming!

  3. You look fab and love the skirt!

  4. I met her briefly last year here in DC at the Refinery 29 DC Launch Party. A very nice person with a great sense of style. Enjoyed reading her thoughts and her accomplishments.