What is a quote that you live by?
“The universe never says no. It says yes, not yet, or I have something better.” I question myself a lot and can sometimes stress about the small stuff, but the truth is most times within a few weeks I rarely even remember what I was all tangled up about in the first place. I haven’t quite mastered this one, but I find myself repeating it a lot.
What’s your favorite social media platform and why?
I think it’s still Instagram after all of these years. It launched when I was 11 and it’s where I got my first taste of curation and putting things together that I liked just for the sake of it. In high school it was the perfect escape, a way to learn about creative careers I didn’t even know existed, and discover worlds beyond my own. I don’t remember when DMs launched, but it must have been around then too & I very much understood that I could use Instagram as a networking tool- it was so intuitive to me. To this day, some of my closest relationships have sparked on Instagram.
We admire that the core mission at Thingtesting is to provide transparent & real consumer reviews to some of the most talked about brands. It’s easy to get caught up in social influencers & branding. How do you curate the brands and community while trying to quiet the exterior noise?
Like all things, it’s certainly a balance. The consumer landscape is incredibly loud and saturated with new brands launching every single day. My job is rooted somewhat in my own taste and surfacing what brands I think are the most interesting to our community of prosumers, but ultimately it’s about giving our audience the tools to make the decision of what’s “the best.”
What are some of the core values you look for when curating brands for Thingtesting? What makes a product stand nowadays?
I look a lot to founders to share their “why” and you can tell pretty quickly in talking to them when they whole-heartedly believe in the thing they’re bringing into the world– it’s electrifying. As a curator sifting through so many brands, the ones that stand out to me are those that have gone all in on their product and mission. They build thoughtfully and with a deep understanding of their audience and appreciation for their community. I would be lying if I said the actual look and feel doesn’t play a role too - I care deeply about design and innovation. I want to see and celebrate brands whose work feels fresh and unlike anything else I’ve seen.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Two and a half years in at Thingtesting, and there’s still no two days that have been exactly the same, but I’ll give this question a shot.
I start each day in my inbox and on Slack, replying to any loose threads – I hate being a bottleneck on anything. After that, I may have some meetings or focused work time on current projects. At the moment, a lot of my time is spent on our end of year initiatives and holiday programming. I try to reserve some time for “dreaming” throughout the week. It’s my space to zoom out and think about the bigger picture for Thingtesting, where I see our community and curation growing or shifting. I think this is important work to do in any job, but especially at a startup where you’re so often working in the weeds. I know I’ve had a good dreaming session when I have 50+ tabs open and one hundred new ideas.
How do you stay creative and come up with innovative ideas in building community?
I spend a lot of time online down rabit holes and even more time out in the world meeting and talking to people, both in the brand space and adjacent industries like design and editorial. I take a lot of calls with other community builders, it’s a great way to share our notes with each other. Travelling and experiencing new cultures and ways of thinking is also key.
What is your favorite aspect when it comes to Community Building?
Community is such a unique role in that I truly get to build alongside the people who use and interact with our product everyday. Earlier this year I launched a closed Slack community for our most engaged users which has a been a really fun way to gather real-time product feedback or deep dive on news in the consumer space. It’s been such a cool way to get to know the people who love what we do and also remain accessible to them even as our team grows.
If you could have dinner with any industry leader, passed-on or alive, who would it be and why?
Ditte Reffstrup, Cofounder and Creative Director at Ganni. I love the way she approaches brand building. So many brands, especially is fashion, strive to be exclusive, and personally I’m not interested in that dialogue. Meanwhile, Ganni has always been fun, inclusive, and constantly reinventing itself with unexpected collaborations, sustainability initiatives, and full of personality. I deeply admire the universe Ditte has created - I say universe because it feels like so much greater than just a fashion brand - and the way in which she carries herself and speaks about the her work.
In your opinion, what makes a product testimonial compelling and effective for modern consumers?
I think people want to hear from someone’s personal experience with a product and be able to find a point of connection to build trust. Context is always really helpful- how is this person’s lifestyle and values similar to mine? How are they using a particular product in their day to day life? Has it made a certain aspect of their life more convenient, or is there anything they wish was different? On Thingtesting, trust is at the core of everything we do, so even small things like having a filled in user profile with a photo, bio, and links to your social media profiles helps give insight to who you are.
How do you ensure that your product testimonials represent a diverse range of voices and experiences within the community?
We care deeply about elevating different voices and have built on-site tools to allow users to better discover these brands. Using our custom-list feature, we share brand roundups specific to different demographics, seasonality, or holidays. Our brand directory offers filtering options like founder attributes (ie Latinx-founded, LGBTQ+ founded) and brand impact (ie B corp, carbon-neutral).Additionally, I launched our community feature series, highlighting over 100 tastemakers and experts from around the world and across industries, who share honest takes on brands, what’s new in the space, and their personal recommendations.
What advice would you offer to creators and companies looking to leverage product testimonials to drive brand awareness and customer engagement?
Invest the time in getting to know your community. Ask for and be willing to hear their honest opinions- these are the people you’re trying to reach after all. Be accessible to your customer and empower them to share their feedback - it’s not only valuable to you, but it often creates real brand loyalty because a lot of brands don’t actually care to sit down and listen.
The other thing I always tell brands is to meet customers where they are. It’s unlikely that your Gen Z customer is on Facebook & your Gen X customer probably isn’t on TikTok. The brand building blueprint that worked five years ago or even six months ago, might not work today. The best way to build your community and grow engagement is to think about who it is that you’re trying to reach and speak to them in a way that feels authentic, on a platform that’s intuitive to them.