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5 Minutes With Chrissy Fitzgerald Maitland, Senior Director of Business Development, ShopStyle

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Offering 18 million items across homewares and apparel and accessories for women, men and kids through partnerships with 1400 brands and presented in an easy-to-use online shopping experience, ShopStyle is without doubt a massive ecommerce retailer.

And that’s no surprise, considering it makes use of its base of 16,000 fashion bloggers and the eponymous website of parent company Popsugar.

In this week’s 5 Minutes With segment, senior business development director Chrissy Fitzgerald Maitland explains how ShopStyle’s digital and social tools – such as its new first-of-its-kind app Emoticode –  are changing the face of online retail.

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before ShopStyle. 

My career has been a series of great opportunities. I started my career with L.E.K. consulting, working in both their Boston and London offices. As a strategy consultant, I offered growth, acquisition and business development advice to companies in the life sciences, finance and retail sectors. 

As a first job out of college, the learning curve was incredible, but at a certain point I decided I wanted to invest in the growth and success of a single business. At the time, Thomas Cook was expanding its online travel business and brought me in to manage corporate development for the chief executive. I then moved into a commercial role managing one of their product verticals. 

When Thomas Cook started a significant restructuring process and I questioned my future there, ShopStyle came knocking. I started as head of commercial, managing ShopStyle’s retailer relationships across Europe. I am now the senior director of business development, responsible for driving new revenue opportunities for the business. 

What got you into the retail sector in the first place? 

My move was opportunistic – I was offered an opportunity to take a step up in my career and do so in a fast-moving, exciting business. Of all the industries I have worked in, fashion and tech is definitely the most fun.

Even though I work in the online space and ShopStyle doesn't own any product, there's something tangible about fashion. You see it everywhere you go. You recognise trends you're featuring in website editorial, you pass by high street stores of the brands you work with. It makes it very relatable.

I also love working for a site that I believe offers a great customer experience and unique value to our users. Even my husband is a loyal ShopStyle user, so we must be doing something right.

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Describe your responsibilities at ShopStyle.

My overall responsibilities are to help drive revenue from new opportunities outside the US. As I've moved through the role and as the business has changed, this has meant taking on a variety of different work streams, initiatives and teams. I do whatever the business needs at a given point in time. 

Right now, my focus is on international growth of our Collective program, a monetisation platform for influencers and app developers. We provide access to our entire product catalogue and a collection of tools and analytics to help individuals drive revenue from all their content, whether it be blog, video or social, on site or on mobile.

Previously focused on the US and UK, we're now setting our sights on Asia, the Middle East and several other European markets. I'm responsible for this growth and managing the team that drives it.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

My consulting background gave me a great foundation in problem solving, analytics and project management. Each project was a new "problem" we had to solve through a structured approach to research and analysis, sometimes needing to be creative –and determined – with the way we got to answers. With each project only lasting four to six weeks on average, I also had to become an expert in a lot of things quickly, be detail-oriented, and understand how to communicate complicated issues simply and effectively. 

Can you explain the concept behind ShopStyle?

It is an online fashion destination with 18 million items across apparel, accessories and home for women, men and kids. It's presented to you in a beautiful, easy-to-use search experience. Instead of having to go to shop after shop to look for that perfect dress, on ShopStyle you can see everything at once. You can filter by what's important to you, whether it's price or size, set sale alerts if you can't justify the spend just yet, or make sure you get the best deal on offer. You can also get inspiration from our editors if you're not sure how to rock a new trend. It's this breadth of product coupled with great functional experience that makes ShopStyle unique.

What's the most challenging aspect of your job?

Time management. While Collective is my primary focus, I also work on other projects for the business and help run our European office, so I have to wear several hats and jump between different activities. 

I have to make sure I carve out time each day to focus on each initiative without getting distracted by the others, and ensure I'm delivering to all deadlines. Working for an American company and managing many international markets also means I have to balance time zones, making sure I get what I need from San Francisco before I leave for the day, coordinating with our PR agency in France, visiting partners in Italy and reaching out to businesses worldwide. It keeps things busy but interesting.

The most rewarding?

Seeing all of the amazing things our business is doing and knowing that you're a part of it. I'm proud to work for Popsugar Inc, the family umbrella that owns ShopStyle, Collective and the Popsugar media business. I've never worked anywhere that delivers as much change, new product and exciting content, whether it be a new social monetisation tool, market research reports or an exclusive interview with Hilary Clinton. 

The company has also reached some amazing milestones in the last few years, from reaching 100 million monthly unique visitors across the Popsugar properties to driving $1 billion (USD) in sales for our retailer partners. 

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Don't be afraid to take whatever opportunity comes your way. My entire career has been built on opportunities – the people I have met in my roles and the projects I have worked on or have volunteered to take on. It's okay to start small and work your way up, but it can be helpful to have an ultimate goal in mind so you know where you want to get to. Be willing to work hard and see where it takes you.

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Published on Tuesday 11 October by Elias Jahshan

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