Nadia Hussain is the Community Director at Polyvore where she oversees Polyvore’s community management programs. Before joining Polyvore, Nadia served as an Account Manager for the Retail Vertical of Google Adwords. Prior to joining Google, Nadia was a Business Manager at Nordstrom, where she worked as a liaison between consumers and the store sales team. Nadia received her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communications from University of California, Berkeley.

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1. YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PROFESSION THAT PUTS YOU AT THE CROSS SECTION OF FASHION AND TECHNOLOGY – WHY DO YOU THINK THESE TWO AREAS WORK SO WELL TOGETHER?

What caused me to fall in love with Polyvore was not the fashion aspect of it, but the idea that Polyvore empowers people around the world to express their sense of style and set trends. Technology and fashion go so well together because technology makes it even easier to discover products and trends that fit your personal style. With technology, we’ve taken the concept of an infinite, disorganized mall and created shopping experiences that are more tailored to your style, similar to a personalized boutique.

2. YOU WORKED AT GOOGLE FOR FIVE AND A HALF YEARS – DESCRIBE THAT EXPERIENCE AND SHARE WITH US ONE LESSON YOU LEARNED ABOUT WOMEN AND TECHNOLOGY.

I worked at Google during a very unique time – it was still a private company when I first joined. The company culture was so special, it was like nothing I’d ever been apart of before. I had the opportunity to work with super smart individuals who were true go-getters and I learned a lot from everyone I had the pleasure of working with. Of course, the perks were pretty cool too. Who doesn’t love gourmet lunches, segways on campus and celebrity guest visitors?

My first week there, I had a new hire mentor, Nicole Jackson, who took me under her wing and was a huge source of support and encouragement for me. Nicole pushed me to trust in my abilities and to take on even bigger projects that could make an impact. And as she rose in her career, she genuinely wanted the same for me. I realized that when women help each other along the way and become allies for one another, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

3. HOW WAS IT GOING FROM NORDSTROMS TO GOOGLE – WAS IT A SURPRISE OR A PLANNED GOAL?

It was definitely a surprise. I was obsessed with Google in college, but I never thought that one day I’d end up working there. I still remember when I submitted my resume — I assumed it would disappear into a black hole. But when they reached out to me, I was over the moon. Everyone I met during my Google interviews was so excited about my customer service background at Nordstrom that I knew it was going to be a great fit for me. All my experiences with customers and management really prepared me for role in account management at Google.  

4. WHO INSTILLED THE LOVE OF FASHION IN YOU?

My mom and my older sister probably had a lot to do with it. Being the youngest in the house, I looked up to them and their sense of style. I’d always borrow their clothes and accessories (I remember being obsessed with my mom’s embroidered jackets and velvet blazers) and make them my own. My sister subscribed to fashion magazines, so I’d always flip through those at a young age. It’s funny, as a child I swore I’d never be one of those girls who bought a lot of shoes or handbags… it’s quite the opposite now.

5. WHO INSTILLED THE LOVE OF TECHNOLOGY?

My dad played a big role in developing my interest in technology. He taught me how to use a computer and would always keep me up to date with the cool advances in tech. My first exposure to the online world was through Prodigy. I remember being in awe that you could book a plane ticket without having to go through a travel agent. (Fun fact: My dad convinced me to study Computer Science in college, but after a semester I decided coding wasn’t for me. I still remember some of the HTML I learned back then though!)

6. AT POLYVORE, YOU ARE THE DIRECTOR OF ONE OF THE WEB’S LARGEST FASHION COMMUNITY – DID THE RESPONSIBILITY INTIMIDATE YOU?

Overseeing the Polyvore global community is a huge responsibility, but it’s one that I truly appreciate and take very seriously. As the 6th employee and first community manager at Polyvore, I helped carve out exactly what community management means here. I now have an amazing community management team that I work with, so I definitely don’t do this alone! I’m constantly blown away by the creativity and talent that emerges from the Polyvore community and I love working with the other teams at Polyvore to figure out ways to best support our community.

7. ARE WOMEN THE TOP ONLINE CONSUMERS?

Polyvore is a shopping site where you can give and get styling ideas from the global style community. Since the site allows you to shop for fashion, beauty and home decor, around 84% of our users are female.

8. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

The people around me and their successes. That’s why I love my job as much as I do. I love hearing the stories that come out of our user community on how Polyvore has inspired them to take risks in order to achieve the things that they want. Many of our members have decided to go back to school, started fashion blogs, and opened their own businesses due to the support and encouragement they’ve received from the Polyvore community. It’s so amazing!

9. MANY WOMEN USE THE MANTRA “FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT” ON THEIR ROAD TO SUCCESS – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

To me this mantra is really about learning through experience. I think being optimistic is key here. I know that there will be times that things won’t always go as planned or that I may not succeed at something, but it’s all a learning experience. And if you approach things with that attitude, nothing is ever really a failure.

10. DO YOU THINK FASHION OPENS A NEW DOOR FOR WOMEN AND TECHNOLOGY TODAY?

What’s most important is that your team understands the user, so you can build a product that delights those users. If the product is geared at women, it’s more likely that a woman will naturally understand the user, but it’s not guaranteed.

It’s also possible to find men who can understand female users. You would be amazed by the women’s fashion knowledge our male engineers have picked up.

11. ON YOUR ROAD TO BECOMING AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD, DID YOU EXPERIENCE SETBACKS?

I’ve been in community management for 6 ½ years now, and there’s so much I’m still learning both about the online community I help support and the most effective ways to engage with the community. I think that’s what I love most about my field, there are always new angles to approach the projects and overall initiatives I work on. There were definitely challenges along the way because it was all new to me. Polyvore was a very small team when I joined, I was the 6th employee and and the only one in my role. Polyvore CEO Jess Lee (our product manager at the time), was an incredible resource to me, but neither of us were community management experts by any means. I’d often reach out to friends that had some experience in my field for best practices. At times my community programs and initiatives yielded little to no response, but I learned so much through trial and error. With a little bit of creativity (and proactively reaching out to the community for feedback), you eventually figure out on what works and what doesn’t, and you build from there.

12. DID YOU EXPERIENCE FAILURES? WHAT DID THEY DO TO YOUR CONFIDENCE?

I look at my failures as learning experiences, and everyone has them. But I pushed through and stuck with it even when I didn’t think I knew what I was doing at all. And it’s great to have a supportive team working along with you who acknowledges your achievements and really backs you up when you’re testing things out, even when those experiments aren’t successful.

13. WHAT IS YOUR TOP ADVICE TO WOMEN WHO WANT TO GROW THEIR BRAND ONLINE?

Be authentic. Give people transparency into your brand and let them see your passion and enthusiasm for what it is you’re building. Your brand is a reflection of who you are, and it’s important that people know there is a real person behind your brand.

14. HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY MAINTAIN AUTHENTICITY IN A DIGITAL WORLD?

I try not to take myself too seriously and I know that there’s more to me than what I post. So I do my best to be as real as possible through my digital communication and posts. Anyone who looks at my social presence can get a sense of some of my interests – my family, friends, traveling and the industry that I work in. You don’t have to bare your soul on social media, but I feel that what you do choose to share should be an accurate reflection of your real life. I also make it a point to invest in my personal relationships beyond the digital world. I may keep up with my friends via social mediums, but I still make it a rule to pick up the phone and call my friends.

16. YOU ARE A LOVER OF FASHION – DESCRIBE ITS POWER FOR WOMEN TODAY.

Fashion is an amazing way to express yourself and feel good about your style. Nowadays, you don’t have to work at a fashion magazine be an influential fashionista. Anyone can go online to Instagram or Polyvore and express their creativity on global platform.

17. TELL US WHY POLYVORE EMPOWERS THE CREATIVE MIND AND HOW THIS GIVES OPPORTUNITIES TO WOMEN.

Polyvore empowers people around the world to express their sense of style and set trends.  

Polyvore is helping to democratize the way trendsetting happens across fashion, home, beauty and other lifestyle categories. Anyone anywhere with great taste can be influential, even if they’re not located in New York, Paris or Milan. Polyvore takes the original approach of putting the power into the hands of consumers around the world. This is especially interesting because industries such as fashion tend to be very top-down, whereas Polyvore is very bottoms-up and powered by community. We’ve helped our users go on to follow their dreams, helping set them up with fashion internships with retailers, go on to create their own clothing line.

Social handles

Twitter: @nadia_hussain

Polyvore: nadia.polyvore.com

1 comment

  1. Wonderful piece. Very inspiring. Great to see women and technology beng discussed so well.

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