How This CMO Helped Turn Her Company Into a Tech 'Unicorn'

Photo credit: Smith House Photography 

Photo credit: Smith House Photography 

Traci Inglis is Chief Marketing Officer of the Fast Fashion division of TechStyle, the e-commerce fast fashion company which includes beloved brands like ShoeDazzle, JustFab, and Fabletics.

TechStyle operates almost exclusively on a subscription model, giving the company a much-needed edge when it comes to customer retention. With 4.5M active VIP members across all brands, it's an edge that’s razor sharp.

“We have been quoted as being the fastest growing retailer ever, in the history of retail,” Inglis told the Create & Cultivate audience at SXSW this past Sunday. Speaking on “Women at the Top: Why It’s Key to Have Women Running Business,” the CMO shared numerous insights into her career, the fashion industry, and the importance of growing within a company.

As someone who loves the fast paced world of e-commerce, Traci has applied a slightly opposite approach her career. The mom and marketing maven has spent a majority of her career being promoted from within major fashion companies— virtually unheard of in the industry. Sharing with the audience that though she started her career two decades ago, she’s only worked for five different companies. “In retail, 20 years is a lifetime,” she said, “so the idea of working for one company for that long…12 years ago Facebook didn’t exist, e-commerce barely existed. It’s just such a rapidly changing industry. But one thing that I look at on a resume, every single time, the first thing I look for is, has this person ever been promoted internally?”

"One thing I look at on a resume, every single time, is, has this person ever been promoted internally?”

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Her career has been all about breaking boundaries, achieving the “unheard.” When Traci was on maternity leave after the birth of her son, she received a phone call from TechStyle’s CEO. She thought, “‘Oh no, what is this going to be?’”

It was a promotion. Traci had entered into her maternity leave as the SVP of Marketing and would return as the company’s new CMO. 

Breaking it down on "Women at the Top," at Create & Cultivate SXSW. Photo credit: Smith House Photography

Breaking it down on "Women at the Top," at Create & Cultivate SXSW.

Photo credit: Smith House Photography

“At a lot of companies women going on maternity leave fearing for their career, for the progression. I got a call from the CEO a week after I had given birth— they promoted me. They gave me a promotion. They said ‘We looked at a lot of candidates, and we actually think you are the right person for the chief marketing officer role, and we want you to take your time with your family and start when you’re ready.’ That felt really good,” she shared.

She’s also committed to showing other women at the company what a leader looks like. On Sunday Traci told the audience, “I don’t think about myself as a female leader. I think of myself as a leader. It’s not a qualifier, it’s not an asterisk— which, is important because I have women who report to me. And I want them to have someone to look up to as a role model.”

But when it comes to hiring her A-team to keep the company on an upward trajectory, Inglis shares, “I make sure to empower the women, to be able to do whatever it is they need to do to feel like they should speak up in the meetings, to feel like they shouldn’t hold back. But from a hiring standpoint I look for the right person for the job – it doesn’t matter what they look like.”

For TechStyle this approach is working. They’ve been referred to as a tech “unicorn” which values companies at over $1B. This has happened in less than 7 years, which is practically unheard of within the retail industry.

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