The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: London local, Nicole Vanderbilt — February 10, 2013

Interview: London local, Nicole Vanderbilt

This week, David Iwanow chats to Nicole Vanderbilt, the Etsy Country Manager for UK, Australia and Canada.


Can you please introduce yourself and how did you become involved with Etsy?

My name is Nicole Vanderbilt, and I joined Etsy back in September after spending two years running a UK-based internet startup in the home decor and interior design space. It was during this time that I learned about Etsy and watched it grow in the early stages. I’d always admired Etsy’s strong focus on the seller community and the incredible company culture born out of a unique combination of world class engineers and incredible creative talent. It was my first choice as the next place to work by quite a large margin. I count myself lucky daily that it worked out.

Your role is Country Director, can you explain exactly what that entails?

My role is to make our local in country teams successful, and we are very fortunate that our success and our sellers’ success is pretty much one and the same. More specifically, our country teams work on introducing Etsy to new buyers and sellers, ensuring that the site reflects the needs of the local market while maintaining its strength as a global platform, and supporting, educating and empowering our sellers. They are our biggest asset. A lot of times our job is give them what they need and get out of the way!

How do you stay on top of changes in trends and competitors? Do you prefer online or offline sources?

I think the key is to listen to our buyers and sellers. They are our best source of intel – what they want, what they need, what other things they are finding that they love and that help them run their business, enjoy what they do and make a difference to their lives.

Do you have any tips for readers who would love to work for or with Etsy? Via internships, partnerships, employees?

Get in touch, be creative, don’t assume that we have it all already figured out.

What is your favourite section/product on Etsy? What about it makes it #1 in your heart?

It’s impossible to choose just one. What I love about Etsy is that I can find things that make me laugh, that are beautiful, and that I can use every day. My current obsession is vintage French coffee cups. They seem to be the perfect size for the amount of coffee I need. And, for a while I couldn’t get enough of notebooks. I like finding small ways to make the every day a little less boring.

What is the best or most unique item you have found on Etsy that you had to have/share?

“Most unique” is a fierce fight on Etsy. I loved this when I discovered it because it made me giggle and remember a funny story about high school science class which I never thought would be captured in knit! And, I can barely get through a conversation with a female friend without trying to get her to consider buying a pair of these. The perfect ballet flat, made by a real person, from recycled/upcycled leather, at a good price. There are different colours and fabrics – a little something for everyone.

etsy-homepageEtsy’s current homepage

How does Australia market differ from other regions? Do we buy more products produced locally or globally?

Around the world on Etsy, we find a lot of cross-border purchases happening. It’s exciting to be on the first truly global marketplaces (even the big global Internet retailers mostly silo off each country and try to limit cross-country shopping). By contrast, we are thrilled to be able to help a Latvian rug maker reach customers around the world directly from her workshop and to help an Australian buyer find something from abroad that simply isn’t available locally. It’s good for the business and it’s great for the buyers and sellers involved.

Australia is a strong market for us on both the seller and buyer side. There’s a strong domestic market here and a strong cross-border trade. I think probably the biggest difference is that Australians seem to be even more accustomed to purchasing things from overseas than some of our other markets.

I was interested to discover Adam Savage of Mythbusters loves Etsy, what local celebrities do you know of that love Etsy?

What’s so great about Etsy is lots of different people love it – from Martha Stewart to Tavi to Adam Savage. Locally, we know Lisa Mitchell is a fan.

What recent social changes have you seen that you are excited about? Facebook Search Graph?

I’ll be a bit contrarian here. I am not that interested in more different types of search. Don’t get me wrong, I use Google as much as anyone else, and I am keen for search to work and work well. But, the gap remains in helping people who don’t know exactly know what they are looking for or how to put it into words. How do we help people find relevant inspiration and recreate the same experience that a gallery or boutique offers in the real world – where you can wander around visually, rather than just cutting straight to the chase? The social graph will be a part of this, but we are only really at the beginning.

What are some some home grown winners you think are doing Etsy right?

Australian has a very wide variety of fantastic sellers. Some businesses who are really taking advantage of Etsy’s global platform include wall decal designer, stationery team, wedding accessory designer and homewares designer

Do you have any advice for Australians wanting to launch their products on Etsy? Types of products?

The great thing about Etsy is the wide variety of things that sell and sell well. Our biggest categories our things like jewellery, fashion, weddings and vintage, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful selling a furniture, food, or toys.

The key to success is making your shop look great – the product photography, your shop banner, the way all the products look together on the page. Also ensuring that buyers can find you by using great product titles, tags and descriptions with words that people might use to search for your products.

Do you have anything exclusive to share with The Fetch readers on what is coming soon?

We will continue to support our sellers in becoming successful. We are constantly looking for ways we can make this process better and easier for buyers and sellers. So, nothing to announce at the moment but there is plenty in the works to help achieve these goals.

Editor’s note: We’re please to share Nicole will be joining us at our next dinner conversation for The Fetch Melbourne this month! Stay tuned for more events and news from creative companies and startups via

About our Ambassador David Iwanow: David can be found working as a SEO Product Manager for and in Amsterdam. He is an avid traveler and publishes on TravelNetwork but he is also one of the folks behind the monthly SEO Meetups, which have almost 2,000 members across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.You can also find him on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

Event Review: 2013 Marketing Trends — December 4, 2012

Event Review: 2013 Marketing Trends

What: Networx Marketers Meeting
Topic: 2013 Marketing Trends
Where: Fringe Bar, Sydney
When: 27 November 2012

With the year almost over, now is a good time to review what’s happened in 2012 and make plans for the next year. What trends will be leading the charge in 2013? What platforms should we be using? What can we really expect? Solange Francois went along to Networx to find out.

The panel at Networx: 2013 Marketing Trends

The panel at the final Networx event for the year was a energetic one: Carl Moggridge, Communications Director at Naked Communications; John Batistich, Director of Marketing at Westfield Group; Shani Langi, MD at Play Communications and Alex Hayes, Editor of B&T.

They discussed insights around marketing, experiential, digital and advertising in front of an audience who were scrambling to take notes during the session, and ask questions at the end.

How can we source information on new marketing trends?

  • Look to what’s happening in Tokyo, Europe, Silicon Valley and other parts of the US for insights and trends that can be developed in Australia.
  • Keep an eye on what’s going on but also remember to not just chase trends. Ensure that you really look at who your customer and how they can be reached.
  • Look at industries and markets outside of your own to gain new perspectives and the ability to innovate.

Where is digital and social media heading?

  • Mobile is crucial. Ensure that every customer experience is optimised for mobile.
  • Social will become more embedded in businesses rather than just in campaigns. It’s growing up!
  • The biggest populations of the world are: 1) China 2) India 3) Facebook 4) USA. Social isn’t going anywhere – it’s enormous.
  • MySpace has been doing a lot behind the scenes. It has the potential to become a big player in 2013.
  • Nike is a good example of a company that has created a digitally enabled community. It has essentially become a technology company that sells products.
  • Retail is going social, vibrant and engaging. A good example is

How is traditional marketing changing?

  • Influencers are now advertisers, too. Bloggers, mums, dads and regular people have influence on how your product and service is seen. Consumers trust their peers.
  • Marketing is not just about inspiring or conveying a message, but also about providing tools and ways to do things to make lives easier.
  • Consumer-generated content like Instagram is becoming more relevant.
  • We can look to successful campaigns of 2012, such as Virgin Mobile’s ‘Fair Go Bro’, Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ and Metro Trains ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ to see that brands that entertain are memorable.
  • We need to personalise messages and add value – too many emails are sent to customers and they’re opening them less.

How do we build a long-term strategy and adapt?

  • Look beyond your target market and see who is actually making purchasing decisions. For example, women influence two-thirds of shopping for men’s’ apparel.
  • Understand that digital natives use technology differently, for example, while older users search with keyword terms, natives often search in whole sentences.
  • We need to create profiles about our customers and use big data to gain insights.
  • Know how to measure effectively. Views and likes don’t mean that the message reached the consumer.
  • Spend time with your customers outside of a focus group. Experience living like them in order to truly understand them.

Alex Hayes summed it up for me with one of his comments: “We can talk about knowing what will happen in 2013, but who really knows?” It’s true. With the environment changing as fast as it is, we can be sure of one trend: it’ll continue to evolve. We must be adaptable in order to achieve our marketing goals and stay ahead.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of travel with a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

SQFT and the plans for San Francisco’s Mid-Market district — August 1, 2012

SQFT and the plans for San Francisco’s Mid-Market district

Whether you live in SF or have visited, one of the first things you’ll notice is how surprisingly unloved a lot of the Downtown area is. The section commonly referred to as Mid-Market runs from 5th to 10th Street and has witnessed quite a bit of urban decay. There’s been lots of discussion on how to improve the area over the past few decades but action seems to be finally happening now. Great organisations are popping up that are looking to develop the space while being mindful of the current diverse community. Startups such as Twitter have also recently moved in. Tomorrow evening, SGFT (pronounced ‘square foot’) will be running a full day of pop-ups. You can find out more here… we were also lucky to get a few questions in before the event. Check out Patrick and the team’s responses below:

So, why did Mid-Market become the way it is?

Mid-Market has been in limbo since the 1950s. When the BART was ripped up, it drove away business. Other social challenges have been overlayed, but the lack of businesses has been a key in keeping it the way it was. Less commerce leads to less foot-traffic, fewer employment opportunities, and less interest from the outside. Its a shame, because it truly is the center of San Francisco. When you type in San Francisco on Google maps, its right at Van Ness and Market, dead center. You can see tourists stumbling through the vacant hole that is 5th-7th, looking for some sign of welcoming presence, but not finding any until they hit Westfield mall.

What is SQFT and how is it making an impact in the area?

SQFT is a platform that connects retail entrepreneurs with vacant and underutilized spaces. Really it’s a group of four hardworking people (Bonnie, Emily, Tina, Patrick), with a very encouraging community of support. Our longer term vision is to make it easier for budding entrepreneurs to secure space in the city, bolster the local economy, create new job opportunities and bring more vibrancy into underserved neighborhoods. In the short term, we’re supporting the city’s Mid-Market revitalization efforts.

How can we work together on rejuvenating Mid-Market without displacing the current locale?

We don’t just want people to walk by, we want them to engage with the neighborhood. It’s essential the existing community plays an active role in rejuvenating the neighborhood. The platform we’re building is not only a place to rent space, but also a way to hire local labor to help entrepreneurs mind their stores, promote their event, check IDs, or even cook and serve food. Space is nothing without the people behind it, around it, in it. We’re not just selling square feet, but that space is a starting point to connect business, labor, and the community.

What are some of the benefits for new startups looking to move into the area?

Clearly that question is something to ask Twitter, Zendesk, One Kings Lane, and all the others already moving there. There’s a tax incentive, but also, I believe that startups are realizing that value comes, not from coding something magical in a basement in Palo Alto, but from being part of a creative community.

Twitter’s new art deco HQ on Market Street, photo by Troy Holden

You’re holding a pop-up this Wednesday, what kind of cool stuff will be happening?

On Wednesday, August 1st, SQFT is demonstrating the power of the pop-up in Mid-Market, San Francisco. Various locations along Market Street from 5th to 7th Street will be opening up their doors to new ideas and curious people like the readers of The Fetch.

Pop-up activities include:

  • Accordion Cafe Stop over on your bike commute for free bike repairs at Huckleberry Bicycles and grab some delicious De La Paz coffee. There will be an accompanying accordion player!
  • Market Rhythm + Lunch Shop for crafts, grab some food and take a drum lesson at the International Art Museum of America. Try the tamales and popsicles at Market Rhythm or head over to SF FoodLab for a Japanese rice bowl or Jablow’s Meats
  • Chess + Pop-up Library Try your hand at a streetside chess game or sit down and read at the SFPL Pop-up Library, with accompanying music from a professional string quartet
  • Yoga Get a good stretch at a Level 1 hour Power Yoga class
  • Game Night Get your game (and drink) on with a fun game night — think giant Jenga, Tic Tac Toe and Ring Toss!

What are some other Mid-Market initiatives worth checking out?

So much is going on in Mid-Market. I’m new to the area myself, and just amazed by the energy and enthusiasm to contribute.

Speaking with people who have been around for decades, you get the sense there is reason to be skeptical about five year plans, but everyone has been really excited and helpful. So specific initiatives include: The ARTery project, 5M project, Intersection for the Arts, A Temporary Offering, FoodLab, Holy Stitch, The Luggage Store, The Tenderloin National Forest, The Huckleberry Bicycles Newsstand, Luca’s Newsstand, So You Think You Can Paint. There’s a great calendar here, and there’s usually something interesting here

Tenderloin National Forest by John Angelico

Which other events do you guys attend in SF and where do you go for your SF news?

I basically say yes to every event I get. FOMO is a serious epidemic in this city. I usually end up going to one thing and just rushing around too much.

Recently I’ve been choosing only one thing per night, and I recommend checking out American Tripps Ping Pong, A show at the Orpheum, A drink a Ma’velous, Lunch at FoodLab, Chess on Market, A visit to the library, board games with friends… oh wait, I’m describing our event. Seriously though, I haven’t been getting out thanks to all the cutting and pasting involved in preparing for Wednesday.

What’s next and how can people get involved?

Take a break and swing by – you’ll be happy you did. Any time from 7:30am-11pm, so you don’t really have an excuse. I hope to see you there. Everything you need to know about this Wednesday’s launch event:

Interview: Melbourne Local, Ruslan Kogan — June 30, 2012

Interview: Melbourne Local, Ruslan Kogan

This week Kate and Community Ambassador David Iwanow, chat to Australia’s richest person under the age of 30, Ruslan Kogan, about entrepreneurship, education, retail, Melbourne, Tall Poppy Syndrome and what’s next…

Name: Ruslan Kogan
Website: and
Twitter: @ruslankogan

What was your first job?

I’ve run about 20 businesses since the age of 10. My very first one was collecting stray golf balls from Elsternwick Golf Course, taking them home, cleaning and polishing them, putting them in egg cartons and selling them back to golfers at 50 cents a pop.

What happened to some of the businesses you started before Kogan took off, did you just let them lapse or will you get back to them one day?

A lot of the businesses were ventures that interested me at the time, but they weren’t long term passions like Kogan is. These ventures go all the way back, including the golf balls, a car wash business I ran where I ended up hiring my first ever employees, and a web design business in high school.

I found a sweet spot with Kogan and I absolutely love what I’m doing. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.

How did studying at Monash shape your career path?

I’m not a fan of formal education. Although I completed my degree whilst being on a scholarship and receiving a high distinction average, I still maintain that you don’t actually learn anything at uni.

At uni, you learn how to learn.

At Kogan, when we hire people that have a uni degree, all it tells us is that they know how to learn, read and write in English, and they’re capable of meeting deadlines.

At Kogan, we have a strong philosophy that we never send our staff to formal training. Formal training is for people who want to look like they’re learning. Google is for people who want to learn.

What is the favourite retail battle you have had to date?

Kogan is changing the face of Australian retail. I don’t think we’ve had any battles, because the benefits of shopping at Kogan speak for themselves.

We are also a company that says it how it is and we don’t hold back. I think this is why people must think we’re in some sort of battle. It’s very clear that online shopping will continue to get bigger and bigger and existing players in the marketplace need to adapt to this.

The competitive advantage for the existing players used to be that they were the only shops located near their customers. This is no longer the case, as anyone can order from anywhere in the world now.

I think Charles Darwin’s explanation of evolution also applies to the changes we’re seeing in the retail world: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

You’re a master of self-promotion – how important is putting yourself out there for entrepreneurs?

We never consciously try to promote ourselves. One thing we do, is we speak the truth.

There is so little truth in the media these days that the moment you say things how they actually are, every journalist wants to listen and publish it.

For instance, the way you proactively contacted me asking for this interview was a primary example of this.

Also, over 90% of businesses fail within their first year of operation. This means that any business that is currently in business, is having an influence in the world. They should not be shy in telling their story.

What do you think of Tall Poppy Syndrome?

Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well in Australia. It’s unfortunate, but something we have to live with. I’ve learned to take it as a compliment. Nobody hates someone they’ve never heard of, so I’d rather be hated than ignored.

If you look at our media, the businessman is always portrayed as the evil guy, sitting in his penthouse smoking a cigar, running the pharmaceutical company, etc. We sometimes forget to acknowledge that behind every product/service that enhances our lives is an entrepreneur losing sleep, thinking about how to make the product/service better for the consumer. This applies to everything we use – the computer you’re using to write this article, the coffee you just drank and the car you drive. Behind each of those is an entrepreneur working 24 hour days to figure out how to make it better.

It’s thanks to Henry Ford’s pursuit of profit that cars are cheaper, to Richard Branson’s pursuit of profit that flights are cheaper for everyone, and it’s thanks to Kerry Packer’s pursuit of profit that we have one day cricket. Finally, it’s thanks to Steve Job’s pursuit of profit that my mum has been able to send a text message from her phone for the first time ever.

You are fairly active in the tech blog space, why do you think other retail heads appear scared to offer an public opinion on blogs?

It’s simple, ‘we’re nobody’s bitch’.

We are a direct to consumer manufacturer. The only people we are trying to please is our customers. We can say things exactly how they are. We don’t need to keep our channel partners and distributors happy and run everything we say past them. We are our own sustained end-to-end business. This puts us in a unique position and allows us to preach exactly what we stand for.

You are located in Melbourne – what do you think being based here offers over other cities like Sydney?

I’ve travelled around the world many times over, but no matter how far I travel, I still think Melbourne is the best city in the world. I couldn’t think of being located anywhere else. The great thing about running a company that is internet based and takes advantage of cloud technologies, is that you can run it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The internet means that an email takes the same amount of time from South Melbourne to Albert Park as it does from South Melbourne to Palo Alto.

You’re almost 30, what is some open advice you give to those under 30?

I have a lot of young entrepreneurs contact me all the time asking for my opinion on their business ideas.

I run every idea past two tests, which I think determine if a business will be successful: What is your competitive advantage? And what is your value add to the consumer?

Any business that can clearly articulate these two will be a successful business. Some young entrepreneurs have ideas that meet this criteria and I tell them they’re onto a winner.

Often when I see this person six months later, I ask them how their business is going, and the most common answer is ‘which business?’ I find that a lot are good at discussing their business plan but only a handful actually make it happen. The best business advice is printed on Nike t-shirts: ‘Just Do It!’.

What’s next for Kogan and Ruslan Kogan?

For me, the goal always remains the same. The most important thing for me is personal happiness. I’ll always be doing what makes me happy. I can’t think of anything that would make me happier than running Kogan and seeing the company grow from strength to strength.

On the Kogan front, the goal is very clear, we want to make kogan a worldwide household brand within the next 5 years. We think technology can make the world a better place, and the way we’re going to achieve this is by making the latest technology more affordable for everyone. We’re constantly expanding our product range and the geographies in which we operate.

About our Ambassador David Iwanow: David can be found working as a SEO Product Manager for and in Amsterdam. He is an avid traveler and publishes on TravelNetwork but he is also one of the folks behind the monthly SEO Meetups, which have almost 2,000 members across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.You can also find him on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

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