Transitioning can be a challenge, but challenges are made for women like Mandana Dayani who, from a young age was taught to work harder than everyone else in order to build the future she wanted. Today part of her daily strategy is challenging herself by taking on work that intimidates her-- career changes included.
She joined Rachel Zoe, Inc. in 2010 where she served as vice president of the fashion empire for five years. Last year she accepted the role as Chief Brand Officer at Everything But The House (EBTH), a company transforming estate sales into a sophisticated online auction experience.
We caught up with Mandana as she gears up to take the stage next week at #CreateCultivateDTLA.
You made the jump from working as VP at Rachel Zoe to Chief Brand Officer at Everything But the House. Can you tell us how you see a cross-over between fashion and design and how your prior work informs your job now?
Fashion and design are very symbiotic. Your personal style plays such an important role in every part of your life - from the outfit you wear to a job interview, to the way you decorate your bedroom to create a calm environment. I have always loved vintage and have been collecting for a long time, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about it all at EBTH.
In my previous role at Rachel Zoe, I focused on developing and executing brand strategy across all platforms and media properties. Big projects such as launching the brand’s contemporary fashion collection and overseeing licensing, endorsement, television and publishing were incredible learning experiences for me. Also, having the opportunity to work with an inspiring visionary like Rachel Zoe taught me so much about how important it is to build an authentic and credible brand, as well as the work ethic, passion and dedication it takes to achieve that growth. All of these learnings have affected how I approach my role at EBTH. We have an opportunity to transform the entire estate sales industry - I can’t wait to share what we have planned!
What was it about Everything But the House that appealed to you?
EBTH is one of the most exciting and impressive companies I have come across in years. The company was created to solve a real market problem: what’s the best way to remove and sell the entire contents of a home? We have completely disrupted how estate sales have traditionally been conducted and deliver significantly better results for our sellers. I also instantly fell in love with the brand heritage and culture. Our founders are two of the most genuine and innovative leaders I have worked with and we have built a brand that is authentic, quirky, innovative and that prioritizes service. I am inspired every day by the impact we are making on people’s lives.
Are you satisfied with how your career has changed and progressed?
Yes! I have made a few big career shifts and they have all been very rewarding. Taking the first leap from working at a big law firm was really scary. Although I knew I made the right decision to switch from practicing law to the fashion industry, I am grateful to have spent time in an environment that taught me the importance of discipline, attention to detail, organization, and initiative. When I made the shift to working with Rachel Zoe, I truly learned why surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs that are positive-thinking and hard working is crucial to your personal and professional growth. Now, at EBTH, I feel so challenged working in a very fast-paced tech company. I am learning so much every day!
"Surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs that are positive-thinking and hard working is crucial to your personal and professional growth."
What are some tenets of building a smart brand that will always be successful?
I could write a book on this one! There is so much that goes into building a brand. At the core, there must be an authentic and credible foundation. I believe this usually starts with the purpose of the brand - why do you exist? Why are people going to be interested? And why you? I find that the best built brands offer a real service to their community, which is what will always keep people coming back. When companies get too focused on a product and not the real emotional connection with their audience, they tend to lose themselves along the way. However, when that authenticity exists, it creates the correct organizational culture that can then permeate every touchpoint the consumers and employees have. This includes company culture, customer service, product assortment, visual representations of the brand, communication, social media and experiential marketing. I believe that when you can strike the right balance between brand consistency and innovation, you are definitely on the right track.
"What is the purpose of your brand - why do you exist? Why are people going to be interested? And why you?"
How do you balance ‘staying on brand’ with pushing the brand to evolve?
I think the process of figuring out that balance is at the heart of any brand (and for a geek like me, it’s the most exciting part!). Our company was founded on strong and well-defined attributes that guide many of our decisions. Within EBTH, we are constantly thinking through how we can innovate as a tech company, drive our brand mission and deliver the absolute best experience for our audience. I also really believe in the importance of trusting your gut.
What are some ways you’re working to achieve brand loyalty— a concept many claim is a relic?
That’s a really sad claim! I don’t think I could ever do what I do if I believed it. Brand loyalty is critical to the growth of any company. I think everything we do - from our user experience on the site, to the experience of our sellers, to the customer service we provide - is aimed at achieving the loyalty of our community.
Do you believe that brand loyalty has been replaced by “deals on the internet?”
I don’t. I think that it’s great that there are so many options for people when it comes to shopping online. But when someone is looking for the perfect vintage armoire for their living room, a beautiful antique tea set as a gift or a cool mid-century art piece for their client, they want to shop from a company that they trust, offers the best value and tells a unique story. Our job is to make sure that their brand experience from start to finish exceeds their expectations and that they’ll want to come back and shop again.
How do you challenge yourself in business?
I try to take on any work that really scares me. I love the challenge of working through something that I initially find intimidating. I also try to surround myself with as many brilliant friends and colleagues as I can find! When I started building our team in LA, I worked incredibly hard to find the most talented experts in their respective fields. Lastly, I read a lot, attend many conferences, and ask a lot of questions.
What advice do you have for women looking to make big career changes?
Do it! It sounds scary but it’s really liberating and rewarding. You should always make sure you are learning and being challenged. Before you make any big decision, do a ton of research! There are so many jobs and opportunities that you probably don’t know about. Take people you admire out to coffee and ask them about their careers. Reach out to people through your social channels. Ask a lot of questions! It is incredible how much you will learn about yourself through this journey.
Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate's editorial director. You can find her on IG @ariannawrotethis and more about her on this site she never updateswww.ariannawrotethis.com
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