Tamara Rosenthal, executive director of brand marketing at New York-based flash sales site ideeli, has worked everywhere from Lacoste to Ferragamo in marketing to Vogue in advertising to...A Small World. That's right--the branding veteran's most recent position was figuring out a branding strategy for the niche social networking site.
Now, she's doing the same at ideeli, bringing years of retail and publishing experience along for the ride.
We recently sat down with Rosenthal to discuss ideeli's present, its future, and why she's happy she got into online marketing earlier than most. Fashionista: First off, let's talk about your role at ideeli, and how you got there. Tamara Rosenthal: I've been in the fashion and marketing space some time. Prior to joining ideeli, I was at a A Small World--are you familiar with it?
Yep, I'm actually a member! It's a good place to find sources when you're reporting out longer stories. Yes, well, it's a great concept. But it's very exclusive--that's it's reason for being, so it's hard to grow a business that wants to stay small. Before that, I was the VP of marketing for Lacoste USA, I worked at Vogue on the publishing side for a while, and previous to that I worked at Ferragamo in marketing. I got my MBA from Columbia.
And what made you decide to come to ideeli? My role here is to forge the brand identity, figure out our brand promise, the look and feel of the site, the voice. I also handle social media, public relations, and partnerships with other companies. Basically, my job is to craft and define the brand, and I work very closely with the merchandising team to make sure that the offers we have going work with the brand.
Are you happy that you go into marketing for the web early on in the game? It feels like most fashion brands were really scared of the whole thing no more than a year ago. Yes, I’m extremely happy that I did. When I left Lacoste, I could tell some people thought it was a risky move. But I realized this where everything is heading. Of course brick and mortar is extremely valid and it's here to stay forever, but there's so much happening with e-commerce. However, I think the principals I learned from publishing and brick and mortar have given me an amazing foundation. Those entering the workforce shouldn't be afraid to start their careers there.
There are so many flash sale sites right now. What are ideeli's differentiators? Well, we're a warm and engaging brand. We're fun--and we try to be very relevant to our consumers and how the site fits in their lives. We do a lot of trend sales. So, if a trend this summer is safari, we'll do commerce and editorial around safari-inspired products. Over Memorial Day weekend we did a Sex and the City 2 themed sale, with different products complementing each character's style. The trend sales are a big way we are different from the others.
The concept has changed a bit, hasn't it? I remember in the beginning it was all about giveaways, and there really weren't daily sales. Yes, that's true. In the beginning, it was more of a marketing platform, a series of giveaways. We still do giveaways, but we chose to make it into more of an e-commerce business. The giveaways are a marketing tool now, and they're part of the DNA of the site. So, who would you say is your ideal customer? Is there an ideal customer? I think we have two customers that we can clearly identify. One is young, 18-30, super into fashion, trend driven, of the moment, doing everything she can to buy the clothes she wants. She likes to dress up for work and for going out. And she probably couldn't afford the brands we carry if it weren't for the discount.
Then there is Mrs. Ideeli, 35 plus. She’s married, can afford to pay full retail, familiar with most of the brands that we’re selling, but loves a good bargain.
So you've got over 2.6 million customers. What's next for ideeli? We have a lot of things coming up--most notably, we're expanding into new categories. Right now, we're in fashion, home, beauty, kids. Next up is travel and menswear. It makes so much sense--women buy about 50% of men's apparel sold. And men's apparel is so much more about buy now wear now, which is the point of our site too. We're not going to sell a cashmere sweater and a pair of boots in July.
Postscript: Today, ideeli also announced that it would enter the social commerce game, ala Groupon. Unlike the others, ideeli's sales will be on a national, not local basis.