People 03 June 2018
Maria Raga, current CEO of Depop, the Instagramesque app that allows you to sell your clothes online, believes the climate in Europe for working women has changed exponentially, and the barriers to entry no longer exist.
The curated content on the app makes for very clean viewing and easy buying. It leans into the influencer aesthetic that makes up much of millennials feeds on their favorite photo-sharing app, Instagram. “It's a product that's extremely social and mobile," says Raga. “Being able to shop and express (yourself) digitally, but in a social environment." Depop is thus in part driven by creativity and in part by engagement: the more followers you have on your Depop account, the more clothes you'll sell, naturally. Having a solid base on Instagram will always help you gain followers on Depop - the two work almost symbiotically.
Raga, originally from Valencia, Spain had spent three years at popular discount site, Groupon, before moving to Depop, where, under her management as CEO, the company has raised $20M in their most recent investment round, Series B.
And she says, there was nothing stopping her from getting there. “I never, ever felt discriminated (against). I cannot say I had to push harder or had to change perception, ever." Having rose through the ranks of European tech and e-commerce, she asserts that the veritable 'gap' has absolutely been breached and those barriers to entry women used to face are now gone.
SWAAY spoke to Raga about Depop, the millennial driving force behind its success, and how her career has informed her opinion of the modern workforce.
“I never, ever felt discriminated (against). I cannot say I had to push harder or had to change perception, ever."
A principle driver for the app, especially in Europe, has been the rise to prominence of the millennial-heavy influencer industry, through whom Depop can amalgamate customers. Given that influencers get a tonne of free press products (that they don't necessarily want or need), the option for them to resell based off of their photos already taken with said product, makes for very easy money.
It's evident the millennial generation are consumers who are heavily influenced by what these pseudo-celebrities are wearing on their Instagram feeds. “They are looking for someone to inspire them (millennials)" Raga comments. “That's why influencers have become so big, it's the timing. The fact that we have a product that suits the new generation, which happen to be a segmented population, and the fact that people don't really know how to approach them because they are completely different to the older generations in how they shop and how they use digital."
The Modern Marketplace:
Depop relies on its look, feel and accessibility to stand out from a market of marketplaces that are, on the whole, a little clunky. Take Ebay or Amazon for example. Buying clothes off either is a pain and an eye sore to look at. When you have all of your favorite people online cordially organising your wears in a pretty, curated grid, why would you have need for scrolling through pages of product with varying price ranges on these bigger sites?
Traditional means of selling - brick and mortar stores, advertising in print magazines or newspapers - are on their way to becoming relics of a bygone age. This of course means that sites willing to evolve and focus solely on this kind of emotional marketplace will profit from this new online space of buying, selling and sociability. When you buy off Depop, you're buying from a person - perhaps someone you wish to emulate, or have been following for a while. There's a connection there you don't get from buying, say from ASOS, or Nordstrom. It's engagement, in a uniquely intimate online setting.
Maria Raga, Depop CEO
What is tricky however about working with those reliant on these social channels for money-making, is that once a change is made to the interface or set up of the app, there is war. "The moment that you try to improve your flaws, you end up pissing off some people," laughs Raga. "Or you might jeopardize the nice look and feel, on top of the fact that people don't like change. We experienced this when we launched our new app in July, the amount of complaints that we got about the font, being too bold, you're always going to get that."
As for direct competitors, the size and scale of Depop has meant their entrance into the U.S market has gone down very well. "It's not an easy space. It looks easy to get in, but once you get in, you realize to really get to scale, you have to have a big community," says Raga. Depop's community now comprises of 25% U.S customers, heading up competition like Poshmark and Tradesy.
"Managing a marketplace is hard - you have to be looking at the buyer's side, and the seller's side. Many businesses just look at one, and focus on that."
Raga was resolute in her belief that being a mother never once hindered her ascension to CEO in an industry notorious for its bro-ish nature.
"The moment that I became a mother - everything changed," she remarks. "My priorities in life changed, the amount of time that I dedicated to myself, to work changed. For sure, it made me a better manager, because it gave me a lot of perspective in life, you don't take things as seriously. You have more empathy, more patience."
She does however posit, that while women are increasingly found in executive positions, or leading companies, that they will never be there to the extent or number of their male counterparts, because of motherhood, and their attachment to their child. As the choice becomes more readily available to stay at home or go back to work after a baby, she posits women will continue to make the choice to bring their children up themselves.
"The two most powerful women in Europe at the minute are Theresa May and Angela Merkel, (neither of whom) have kids," she says. "Women, like men have a choice to make there, that's very much inherited in their biological DNA. It's just harder for women to decide to do that."
This is not necessarily a negative thing, she states. Priorities and where they lie as women continue to breach the gap, will wind down to individuality and preference, rather than what society, or your company, deems correct. "I don't think it's a bad thing that women take a couple of years off their careers and go back," says the CEO. "With life expectancy going up, we're going to have enough time to work. If women want to take time off now and then continue, and the men do the same after and continue, it's completely fine. "
As for reaching those estimable heights, Raga is adamant it's up to the women themselves to achieve executive positions, rather than blaming men for blocking their way there. "It's up to them. It's not up to the men to open up. It's up to the women to be willing to do it. If they want to do it - the road is there."
3 min read
"More grapes, please," my daughter asked, as she continued to color her Peppa Pig drawing at the kitchen table.
"What do you say?" I asked her, as I was about to hand her the bowl.
I shook my head.
I stood there.
"I want green grapes instead of red grapes?"
I shook my head again. I handed her the bowl of green grapes. "Thank you. Please don't forget to say thank you."
"Thank you, Momma!"
Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children?
Many of us are busy training our young children on manners on the other side of the Zoom camera during this pandemic. Reminding them to say please, excuse me, I tried it and it's not my favorite, I am sorry, and thank you. And yet somehow simple manners continue to be undervalued and underappreciated in our workplaces. Because who has time to say thank you?
"Call me. This needs to be completed in the next hour."
"They didn't like the deck. Needs to be redone."
"When are you planning on sending the proposal?"
"Did you see the questions he asked? Where are the responses?"
"Needs to be done by Monday."
Let me take a look. I didn't see a please. No please. Let me re-read it again. Nope, no thank you either. Sure, I'll get to that right away. Oh yes, you're welcome.
Organizations are under enormous pressure in this pandemic. Therefore, leaders are under enormous pressure. Business models collapsing, budget cuts, layoffs, or scrapping plans… Companies are trying to pivot as quickly as possible—afraid of extinction. With employees and leaders everywhere teaching and parenting at home, taking care of elderly parents, or maybe even living alone with little social interaction, more and more of us are dealing with all forms of grief, including losing loved ones to COVID-19.
So we could argue we just don't have time to say thank you; we don't have time to express gratitude. There's too much happening in the world to be grateful for anything. We are all living day to day, the pendulum for us swinging between surviving and thriving. But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?
If you don't think you have to say thank you; if you don't think they deserve a thank you (it's their job, it's what they get paid to do); or if you think, "Why should I say thank you, no one ever thanks me for anything?" It's time to remember that while we might be living through one of the worst recessions of our lifetimes, the market will turn again. Jobs will open up, and those who don't feel recognized or valued will be the first to go. Those who don't feel appreciated and respected will make the easy decision to work for leaders who show gratitude.
But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?
Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children? Remind them with flashcards? Bribe them with a cookie? Tell them how I proud I am of them when they say those two magical words?
Showing gratitude isn't that difficult. You can send a thoughtful email or a text, send a handwritten card, send something small as a gesture of thank you, or just tell them. Call them and tell them how thankful you are for them and for their contributions. Just say thank you.
A coworker recently mailed me a thank you card, saying how much she appreciated me. It was one of the nicest things anyone from work has sent me during this pandemic. It was another reminder for me of how much we underestimate the power of a thank you card.
Apparently, quarantine gratitude journals are all the rage right now. So it's great if you have a beautiful, leather-bound gratitude journal. You can write down all of the people and the things that you are thankful for in your life. Apparently, it helps you sleep better, helps you stay grounded, and makes you in general happier. Just don't forget to take a moment to stop writing in that journal, and to show thanks and gratitude to those you are working with every single day.