Conversations with CommerceNext

THE YES' Julie Bornstein on Career Growth and AI Powered Retail Innovation

Episode Summary

Julie Bornstein is a visionary leader living at the intersection of retail and technology. With years of eCommerce, AI and marketing experience at brands like Nordstrom, Sephora and Stitch Fix, Julie stands at the forefront of innovative online fashion retail. In this episode, my co-host and co-founder of CommerceNext Scott Silverman and I talk with Julie, the Founder & CEO of The Yes, about her work, vision within the eCommerce fashion retail industry and her career past and present.

Episode Notes

Welcome to the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast, I’m your host Michael LeBlanc, and this podcast is brought to you in conjunction with CommerceNext and presented by Wunderkind.

Julie Bornstein is a visionary leader living at the intersection of retail and technology. With years of eCommerce, AI and marketing experience at brands like Nordstrom, Sephora and Stitch Fix, Julie stands at the forefront of innovative online fashion retail.

In this episode, my co-host and co-founder of CommerceNext Scott Silverman and I talk with Julie, the Founder & CEO of The Yes, about her work, vision within the eCommerce fashion retail industry and her career past and present.

Julie tells us why & how the fashion industry is broken and how she’s going to fix it, how her new project The Yes is using AI to transform digital retail, and what she wants young professionals in the field to know as they start their careers.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Conversations with CommerceNext.  Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music or your favorite podcast platform where we’ll be sharing career advice and marketing strategies from eCommerce and digital marketing leaders at retailers and direct-to-consumer brands each and every episode.   CommerceNext is a community, event series and conference for marketers at retail and direct-to-consumer brands. Through our online forums, interviews, webinars, summits and other in-person events, we harness the collective wisdom of our community to help marketers grow their businesses and advance their careers. Join CommerceNext events to meet other industry leaders and learn the latest ecommerce and marketing strategies. You can find upcoming events at CommerceNext dot com


Have a fantastic week everyone!


Scott Silverman

An ecommerce veteran, Scott Silverman has been active in the industry since 1999 and is passionate about digital retail and the innovation driving the industry. Scott Silverman is the Co-Founder of CommerceNext. Previously, he spent 10 years as Executive Director of where he launched the Annual Summit. Scott co-invented “Cyber Monday” in 2005 and was the founder of in 2006, a shopping site that has generated more than $2.5 million for’s scholarship fund.


Veronika Sonsev

Veronika Sonsev is the Co-Founder of CommerceNext. She also leads the retail practice for Chameleon Collective and is a contributor for Forbes on how to grow retail and ecommerce in the age of Amazon. Having spent the last 10+ years working with some of the largest retailers and direct-to-consumer brands, Veronika has intimate knowledge of the challenges facing retail and ecommerce today. She is also an advocate for women in business and founded the global non-profit mBolden, which is now part of SheRunsit. 


Michael LeBlanc  is the Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc and a Senior Advisor to Retail Council of Canada as part of his advisory and consulting practice.   He brings 25+ years of brand/retail/marketing & eCommerce leadership experience, and has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career.  Michael is the producer and host of a network of leading podcasts including Canada’s top retail industry podcast,       The Voice of Retail, plus        Global E-Commerce Tech Talks  and       The Food Professor  with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois.  You can learn more about Michael       here  or on       LinkedIn. 


About CommerceNext

CommerceNext is a community, event series and conference for marketers at retail and direct-to-consumer brands. Through our online forums, interviews, webinars, summits and other in-person events, we harness the collective wisdom of our community to help marketers grow their businesses and advance their careers. Join CommerceNext events to meet other industry leaders and learn the latest ecommerce and marketing strategies. You can find upcoming events at


Episode Transcription

Michael LeBlanc  00:04

Welcome to the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast. I'm your host Michael LeBlanc. This podcast is brought to you in conjunction with CommerceNext and presented by Wunderkind.


Michael LeBlanc  00:12

Julie Bornstein is a visionary leader living at the intersection of retail and technology. With years of eCommerce, AI and marketing experience at brands like Nordstrom, Sephora and Stitch Fix, Julie stands at the forefront of innovative online fashion retail. 


Michael LeBlanc  00:26

In this episode, my co-host and co-founder of CommerceNext, Scott Silverman, talks with Julie about her work, vision within the eCommerce fashion retail industry, and her career past and present. Julie tells us why and how the fashion industry is broken, and how she's going to fix it. And how her new project, The Yes, is using AI to transform digital retail, and what she wants young professionals in the field to know as they start their careers.


Julie Bornstein  00:50

Not only are we sort of working with sort of in competition with all these multi branded retailers, but each brand themselves. And so, the whole question is why would you want to do this and change your behavior? And it's, you know, again, I would say it's not just one thing, my epiphany was with the Uber sort of change of behavior, you need a sort of combination of things. It's never just one thing.


Michael LeBlanc  01:13

Let's listen in now.


Scott Silverman  01:14

Julie, thank you so much for joining us here on the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast. How are you doing today?


Julie Bornstein 01:24

I'm good. Thanks for having me.


Scott Silverman  01:26

And I'm here with Michael LeBlanc, our co-host and he's up in Toronto. How are you today, Michael?


Michael LeBlanc  01:32

I'm very good. Scott. Thank you. We're enjoying some beautiful weather. And Julie, it's so great to be back on the mic with you. You and I spoke very briefly for The Voice of Retail podcast at the beginning of the year. I'm really looking forward to our discussion today. So, thanks again for joining us.


Scott Silverman  01:45

So, Julie, I'd love to start by having you talk about your background and having our listeners understand that. Because you've had this amazing career in fashion eCommerce from Nordstrom, in the early days, Stitch Fix, Sephora and now at The Yes. So, maybe you can help all of our listeners understand a little bit about your journey.


Julie Bornstein  02:06

I grew up in Syracuse, New York in the 80s and spent my weekends in the mall. And I would say that's where my career started. I was an expert shopper. And this was before eCommerce. And then I remember the first day, I remember where I was sitting when went live. And my brain exploded with all these possibilities to make shopping more efficient. And you know, really leverage technology and the internet for fashion. 


Julie Bornstein  02:33

So, since that point, I actually started my career out of college working for Donna Karan in 1992, and just to date myself. And so, that was really my first exposure to the fashion world. And obviously that was on the wholesaler side. And you know, the world was so different. We weren't using computers, much at all, the internet wasn't yet sort of in the workplace. And we were manually writing and rewriting orders on a daily basis for the department stores and specialty stores that carry the product. 


Julie Bornstein  03:10

Fast forward to today, it's, we've come a long way. You know, I would say after that experience, I got my MBA and I worked in investment banking briefly with retail and consumer companies. And I realized in that experience that I really loved retail; it was different. I didn't understand the distinction so much when I was younger between wholesale and retail. And I realized that while I sort of love the development of product, really where my strength and interest lie in how is, in helping people shop. And so I really spent my career in that. 


Julie Bornstein  03:47

I started at Nordstrom, I spent about six months trying to convince Dan Nordstrom to hire me when Nordstrom had announced they were launching an eCommerce business in 1998. And finally, he did and I spent five years really toiling, as you remember too Scott, because you were also doing this, as I recall, and learning sort of how to build shopping experiences online. And we were fairly limited with the technology. And there were a few things that were really frustrating to me. The fact that we had to reshoot every photo, the fact that we had to buy all the inventory. And if we made mistakes, you know, there are obviously, we were missing demand from consumers who were coming to us looking for it. And the fact that everybody was seeing the same thing, no matter who you were, what age you were, what gender you were, you came into and saw the same homepage, or the same search results on a search term. 


Julie Bornstein  04:45

I then, I spent five years there and loved that experience so much. Ended up going to Urban Outfitters to help them build out eCommerce. I was there for a few years and got recruited to Sephora. And what was interesting to Sephora was for me was not I was back on the west coast where my husband was eager to get, which is always a factor in careers. But also, it was owned by LVMH. And it was an early kind of leader in eCommerce in the late 90s. But by the time I was joining in 2007, the business was kind of no longer technically supported. And so we had to rebuild eCommerce on a new platform. 


Julie Bornstein  05:22

And then we, you know, the world changed so much in the years I was at Sephora, so I was there from 2007 to 2015, mobile became a thing, social became a thing, we built an online beauty community. And so, that was just a really fun time because we were working for a brand that was so beloved, and had a lot of leeway to experiment with digital experiences. And so, that was really gratifying. 


Julie Bornstein 05:50

When I was at Sephora, I was introduced to the founder of Stitch Fix, Katrina Lake, and was super interested in what she was working on. Had gotten really interested in how to use data. And at Sephora had had a merchandiser tag every product with all of its dimensions in our catalog so that we could make search more efficient. And Kayak was kind of my inspiration back then. And so, when I met Katrina, we were talking about how to use data for products and product matching. I was super intrigued, I ended up joining her board. And then two and a half years later, joined full time, as COO to help scale the business. 


Julie Bornstein  06:29

And so, that was also really great learning for me, because part of what I was trying to decide at that point in my career, I had done all these experiences as kind of the entrepreneur in-house at these businesses, these bigger retail businesses, and a lot of that job was explaining, educating, advocating for the importance of building out eCommerce experiences, and really staying focused on the customer experience. 


Julie Bornstein  06:55

And then at Stitch Fix, I really had the experience of working for a startup, working with venture capital, board members, and really sort of how do you build something from scratch? And I would say that sealed the deal on my decision to start my own business. And I, you know, had always, had the idea of The Yes, probably since my Nordstrom days, I didn't quite know it. But I knew that owning inventory, definitely limited the scale of the business. And that if you could really understand what each user's preferences were, you could create a much better shopping experience. And so, those were really the foundations of what I decided to do in building The Yes.


Scott Silverman  07:38

We, I mean, we're going to go a little bit later into your experience as a in-house entrepreneur, but I would like you to spend a little more time talking about The Yes. It's a young company, I think it's a year old, you are focused on women so far. So, I can't say that I've had a ton of personal experience. I've checked out the app, and I think I get it, but I think our audience would love to hear it from you of you know, what is the business and one year in, where are you?


Julie Bornstein  08:07

The concept is really the department store, or you could even say the mall of the future digitally. The overall sort of approaches, if we want to be sort of the largest destination for fashion, shopping, branded shopping, what are the elements that you need to do that? And how do you take advantage of technology as it exists today, because it's been moving so fast over the last decade, really two decades? And so, we are on one hand, we have an enormous assortment. So, we carry over 250 brands today. And we carry the entire collection from each of those brands. And the whole business is set up dropship. So, we don't actually own the inventory. 


Julie Bornstein  08:45

And on the flip side, we create sort of match with each user. So, we're, we kind of took a page out of the Spotify, Pandora book where a user gives us lots of signals, sort of fills out an upfront profile. And then over time as they are shopping, they 'yes' and 'no' product they like and don't like and our eCommerce infrastructure is built kind of underneath an AI layer that connects with each user. And so, it's a one-to-one neural network that adapts and gets smarter as the user is shopping. And so you can come in, you can fill out the profile and you can give us a lot of really high signal upfront information, things that you, brands that you like, styles that you like, styles that you would never wear. If you've never wear a crop top or cold shoulder you can tell us that and we sort of clear that out of your feed. 


Julie Bornstein  09:35

And then the idea is you shop amongst all these brands, high to low. We carry Bottega, Veneta and Balenciaga, we carry Everlane and Levi's, and really everything in between, because that's how women shop today. And the experience is really one where we learn over time, the things that you like, and we serve up suggestions for you. You have a home feed that's dedicated to you. And then as your searching or browsing, everything is rank ordered, according to you. So, we always show you what's in your size, what are products that are styles, you would like price points that are you, and brands that you'd like. So, the whole system is really built as a learning system to understand how to make shopping more adaptive to each customer.


Scott Silverman  10:22

I mean, it's, it's amazing that you've taken all of these experiences throughout your career to kind of build something that is, you know, solving some of these shopping problems that you thought needed to be fixed. And I'm kind of curious, so I know you're still just, you know, it's a young company, but what's your go to market strategy? How, how are you finding people? How are you acquiring new customers? Is it mostly word of mouth? Are you starting to do any, I mean, obviously, you're doing some PR, are you doing any kind of paid media? What does that look like so far?


Julie Bornstein  10:57

So that's a great question. It's really interesting, because we unintentionally, obviously launched in the middle of COVID. And when we launched, it was actually we were intending to launch in March, COVID hit. So, we're gonna launch late March. And we sort of delayed to kind of try and adapt to the new world order. And we decided to launch in May, we got lucky in that we launched a week before the George Floyd incident. And so, you know, we had kind of one week of press, and launch media to kind of create awareness for what we were doing. And then the world went pretty dark for a while. 


Julie Bornstein  11:35

So, our first nine months, we did a tiny bit of testing, we were app only on Facebook, and Instagram. But we learned that the cost efficiency of those channels for app in eCommerce was just not great. And so we knew we were always planning to launch web. But after those tests, it sort of confirmed our desire to launch web as well, because it's such an important customer acquisition vehicle. And so, we launched web in April of this year. And we started doing a little bit of paid marketing primarily through Google. 


Julie Bornstein  12:10

And so, we will start to now test part of our you know, growth will come from testing a whole variety of channels. What's interesting is most of our business, you know, for the first year was really organic. And so, it was through a combination of press, and word of mouth and referral in app. And so that was really sort of our growth for the first year. And then now we are, we've our growth has kind of really taken off. And it is a combination of having web and having that access to, you know, internet traffic. And also, you know, being able to continue working with our repeat customers, we have a very high repeat rate. Customers, once they download the app, and they start shopping, understand both the sort of power of being able to surface the kinds of things they're looking for faster, love the breadth of brands that aren't really found anywhere else, and the ease of buying. So, the whole sort of streamlined experience has been really positive. And we have an unusually high retention rate, which has been exciting.


Scott Silverman  13:15

Some of these brands that you've worked at where there's been a lot of media buying, and I mean, or do you subscribe to this philosophy that the, the experience is the marketing? Is that part of what you think long term is gonna help with the economics or not necessarily?


Julie Bornstein  13:33

I do. It's so interesting that you asked the question that way, because I think had you talked to me two years ago, I would have said, it's all about the product. And if you build it, and it's great, they will come. And I have learned that that is not true. When you're building something from scratch, and it's a brand-new brand, you really do need to create awareness, and you need to participate in the ecosystem, that is customer acquisition. 


Julie Bornstein  13:57

However, as we all know, those of us marketers, if you can, you know, acquire a customer and then give her the experience she's looking for and retain her, the efficiency of you know, your acquisition channel just is much greater. And so, I definitely think that our approach will, has been and will continue to be, make sure that she understands the experience, which is different on web, because on web, we don't force the customer through the onboarding. And so, a lot of times we'll have customers come in through a product page, for example. And so, we're spending a lot of time thinking about how we, you know, bring the customer through the journey through all touchpoints which is slightly different challenge. But yeah, so ultimately, we believe our experience will be better enough that the sort of retention will be strong, and it will really reduce our ultimate marketing costs.


Michael LeBlanc  14:52

You know, Julie, at the beginning of the podcast you described basically an epiphany from Amazon, from shopping on Amazon. I think that's an epiphany many of us share the same, you know, I know Scott and I share the same thing, 'Oh, my goodness, this could change everything'. Did you have a similar epiphany about the go, about the concept of The Yes? I get the powerful business model behind it. Is it possible that The Yes is trying to address this fracture that I perceive from experience and efficiency? Right, some sometimes we're told you have to choose as a retailer, which one you're going to offer, it's hard to be efficient and have great experience. What epiphany did you have that really drove, you know, that drove The Yes, from the customer experience perspective?


Julie Bornstein  15:38

It's a, it's a great question that, I always thought about Amazon and Uber, and sort of some of the really big breakthrough companies, what was it about them that made it so powerful? And when I think about Uber as an example, it's really a combination of you don't have to pick up the phone to call, you just have to press your phone, the experience, the car is cleaner, and you don't sort of feel that same, you know, so grossed out feeling that you do sometimes in taxis, and the payment is cashless, and it's seamless. And it's kind of it wasn't any one of those things, it was really the combination of those three things, that as a customer, you're like, why would I ever not do this? 


Julie Bornstein  16:17

And of course, their pricing, I think the pricing was hard to figure out sometimes. So, I don't put that in that sort of trio of things that to me really drove that game changing experience that created a reason for everybody to change their behavior. 


Julie Bornstein  16:31

And obviously, in fashion, which is the market we're in today, we may be in other markets in the future, and hopefully Scott will get to be in Men's too so you can experience The Yes. But you know, really, there's so much competition. And not only are,


Michael LeBlanc  16:46



Julie Bornstein  16:46

We sort of working with, sort of in competition with all these multi branded retailers, but each brand themselves. And so, the whole question is, why would you want to do this and change your behavior? And it's, you know, again, I would say it's not just one thing, my epiphany was, with the Uber sort of change of behavior, you need a sort of combination of things, it's never just one thing that is going to really change consumers behavior. And in our case, it's having the largest assortment online of high to low, plus the personalization, which really makes the experience just much more intelligent and efficient, and gratifying, and the sort of ability to make sure you're always offering best price. So for us, we're not trying to undercut anyone, we just want to make sure that customers don't feel like they should find it on The Yes and then go find it cheaper elsewhere. So, we sort of guaranteed best price. And it's really the combination of those three things that as we grow and really establish ourselves in those sort of three areas will be, in my belief, the thing that will change people's shopping behavior and really move them over to shopping on The Yes.


Michael LeBlanc  17:50

We'll be right back with our interview with Julie Bornstein. right after this message. 


Michael LeBlanc  17:54

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Michael LeBlanc  18:12

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Michael LeBlanc  18:25

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Michael LeBlanc  18:30

I mean, it's a very astute observation, it's like the entourage effect, right, that that will create momentum in the business and, and change. And you talked about intelligence, you've talked about, I don't hear a lot of retailers describe neural nets, in terms of, you know, how they go to market in terms of their structures. So, let's talk about AI for a bit, obviously, that, there's, with your background, you know, going right back to Stitch Fix, which is heavily AI, you're a believer in AI's transformative, or at least predictive power. So, talk about how you use AI and, and, you know, do you think it's all it's built up to be in terms of has it met your expectations in terms of a basing of business effectively, on a on a neural net and on AI technology?


Julie Bornstein  19:13

Yes, I'm a big believer in AI. I think there's real power in building models that can scan millions of data points and make good decisions. I do, however, believe that it's like garbage in, garbage out. And so,


Michael LeBlanc  19:28



Julie Bornstein  19:28

Benefit of really good AI is so much determinant on really understanding the inputs. And so for us, that you know, for fashion in particular, I mean, you look at, you go to Pinterest, you go to Google and you sort of search for a red dress, and you know, the things you find aren't relevant to you based on the factors that matter in that category. So, as we know, fashion is super nuanced. It's sort of a combination of the fit and the fabric and the price and the brand and, you know, all of those things in terms of your decision to make a purchase and have something be right for you. 


Julie Bornstein  20:04

And so, for us, it was really about building the baseline taxonomy. So, that we could understand and really attribute every single product that we sell in our catalog with all the relevant data points. And so, what happens is, a product will sort of come into our catalog from a brand, and we put it through our tagging system that's all automated, that can identify every relevant data point on that product, objective and subjective. So, objective is, you know, it's white, it's a blouse, it's cotton. And then the subjective maybe it's good for spring, and it's transitional, it's good for work, those kinds of things. And so, you know, we categorize every product with all of these attributes, which is complex to do in a manual way, it has to be done leveraging sort of machine learning tools, and we're on Google Cloud. So, we use AutoML, which is their tagging system, that helps us sort of identify both the visual and then we also take the text layer and attribute characteristics, both by text, and by visual. 


Julie Bornstein  21:09

So, we understand the product set really well, and you need to understand the product set really well, in any vertical. So, if we were to go into other verticals, it would be a whole new taxonomy and a whole new effort based on what matters as customers are buying that category. 


Julie Bornstein  21:22

So, once we have that, then the question is, what do we need to learn about the customer so that we can match her properly to the relevant product and also inspire her fashion is something that's changing all the time. So, like, one problem we're working on right now is I'm still seeing sweats on my feed and I'm over sweats. And so, you know, as you're building algorithms, and you're testing,


Michael LeBlanc  21:42

Right, right,


Julie Bornstein  21:42

New things, this is something that we are we will be working on our algorithm for, you know, the, till the end of time, if this is something that comes,


Michael LeBlanc  21:49



Julie Bornstein  21:49

Better. And so, you know, because we are sort of understanding what a customer's buying what she's 'yessing' and 'noeing', so we get way more data points than typical website, eCommerce site, because we're looking at yeses and noes. And people do that 100 times before they buy something. And so, we get all this, this data from the user about what she likes and doesn't like. And as we're getting that we're able to understand and adapt the algorithm. And it's all in real time. So, we've spent a lot of time building the infrastructure to do this in a real time way. 


Julie Bornstein  22:21

And then, you know, at the end of the day, we then look at, all right as, are we sort of adapting to changes in fashion? To changes in culture. Are we learning new things? Are we exploring and giving the customer a chance to look at some new things and tell us what she thinks? Or follow her friend and see some things on her friends list that she likes, and that she made out of known to show her, and now we're showing it to her? So, you know, I think there's huge power in AI, I think you need to understand how it works, what inputs you need, you know, our taxonomy was built by humans who understand the category really well, 


Michael LeBlanc  22:56



Julie Bornstein  22:56

And then the machines sort of pick up and they take and learn from sort of the inputs that the humans initially set up.


Michael LeBlanc  23:05

I mean, what you're describing sounds like an AI canvas, but that's wrapped around or surrounded by judgment, because it feels still like, there needs to be judgment on top of the prediction and the horsepower, or else it can spin off. I mean events, now more than ever, I guess, in the past 18 months have changed, right? Exogenous events that would not be predicted can happen. You know, we're ebbing and flowing, for example, in and out of the COVID era lock downs, not locked down, stay at home, you know, work at home, work in the office. And I guess that needs to be kind of tweaked, as you said, kind of ongoing, always tweaked by the humans behind the code. Yes, is that a fair statement?


Julie Bornstein  23:41

It is except for it's interesting, we talked about how to solve this problem. And there are two ways to solve it. One is you could go in and manually sort of de-rank some, a category, like casual, if its sort of trending less. The other is that you could learn from it and say, what signals should you have picked up that you would automatically know? So, if you're 'yessing', in your most recent weeks, you know, fewer and fewer of a certain category, know, to start showing that less. So, what we try and do is we try and identify the problems at a human layer and then figure out if there's actually more of an automated machine way to solve the problem that will catch, not only this, but sort of the next thing that happens. 


Michael LeBlanc  24:19

One quick follow up question, then I'll pass the mic, so to speak, back to Scott, is this something that needs to be done in house? You, you mentioned you're on the Google Cloud, so I guess the, you know, the horsepower is available in the third party, is there similar horsepower for you or for other merchants to get developing this AI? Or is it all proprietary and needs to be done in house?


Julie Bornstein  24:39

I mean, I would, it's a good question. And I think it depends how strategic it is to what you're doing. I mean, our differentiation is our algorithm at the end of the day, and so that is definitely in house for us and how we build and learn, it's a team of ML engineers, and product people and fashion people who are working on this nonstop. You know, I think if it's something that you're, you know, there are certainly plenty of SaaS businesses that are trying to do work in this realm. So, I would say, you know, whatever is your unique sort of selling points is something you need to own. And then the other sort of things that you need to run your business, you can outsource kind of with anything. 


Scott Silverman  25:20

Yeah, I want to switch gears, go back to some of the things you were mentioning earlier career, on the career side. And you talked about your early experiences at some of these larger retailers and brands, where you were the advocate, the champion of digital and having worked with so many these kind of people I know, I have heard all the stories of you know, here you go, you have an office in the basement, go do your little eCommerce thing. You know, you spent a lot of time doing that, you were very successful with it. Would you recommend that to young professionals in retail? Are there things that you felt like, that helped give you skills, things that you learn that proved valuable later on that you would recommend other people go through something similar?


Julie Bornstein  26:05

I would. And for a few reasons, I would say the first is that you learn much faster when in a bigger organization about different areas and how what's good and what's bad. In a startup or a smaller environment, you're kind of learning by doing. And so, it's a little bit different. But I do think seeing how it's done on a big scale, gives you insight and actually confidence to then go do it on a smaller scale and know how you're going to compete. You know, to start a business and think I could compete with and and NET-A-PORTER, you know, I have to have a lot of gumption, because those are all really successful businesses. 


Julie Bornstein  26:47

But I do know their limits. And I know I'm because I was in there. And so, it's really how I've been able to identify how we can, as a startup come up and really build something different, unique, that they're not able to do. So, I would say gave me that. I would say I learned a huge amount from working for lots of professionals. 


Julie Bornstein  27:09

And I would also say one of the things that was true for me, and I think it's still true today, is if you want to be able to enter fairly young, at a larger company, and you're working in the innovation space, you as a consumer understand that innovation much more inherently than the older generation. And so, when I started at, I was reporting to like three executives who were all a decade older than me. And frankly, none of them really had the skills to understand what needed to be done to build eCommerce, because they had been, you know, in sort of traditional marketing and traditional catalog merchandising, and they were smart and talented. But I came in with such a deep understanding of what we needed to build as a customer. Because I was such that customer that it really gave me a huge advantage. 


Julie Bornstein  28:03

And I think as I move fast forward, and that was 20 years ago, as I look at the landscape today, there's all sorts of new technologies that I think the younger generation inherently gets, in a way. I mean, I look at my 18-year-old daughter, and what she does, and how she uses technology is very different from, you know, I would say Gen X, my generation and even millennials in some ways. And so, you know, there are pockets where they can come into a company and be a real subject matter expert, because they're living and breathing that, that is super beneficial both to the established company and to them in terms of their ability to influence outcomes. So, you know, I do think for people interested in technology, but joining a bigger company, and learning sort of how things work in, in that universe, it's a real, there's always really interesting opportunities.


Scott Silverman  28:51

You know, thinking about, you know, when you were earlier in your career in eCommerce, is there one piece of advice for someone that was getting started that you wish you were given, but you, but it didn't happen?


Julie Bornstein  29:03

Yes, I would say I was very ambitious when I was younger. And when you're more junior in an organization, sometimes that turns people off. And I think the thing that I learned in my career the most is that to be successful in your own efforts you need to form partnerships with your peers and focus on ways that you can help them and that builds a sense of camaraderie that I think sets everyone up for so much more success. So, when I think about some of the painful moments in my career at Nordstrom, where I got my hand slapped for stepping on people's toes, and then I think about you know, my as I sort of got to Sephora, and my experience at Sephora was so much around strong, pure relationships and helping everyone win together. And I just think, you know, not only does that serve me well, but it served the business well. And so, I would say, try and avoid thinking blindly about your own sort of success, or even really, that wasn't my focus so much as just getting what I saw needed to get done, done. And I would do so at the expense of bringing people along. And so you know, I think those pure, building those peer relationships at any level is essential to your success in an organization,


Michael LeBlanc  30:19

I think it's fair to describe you as a shopping, retail visionary. So, I'm going to toss you into a time tunnel. And we're now five years from where we are today, what's different? What's different about retail, what's different about shopping?


Julie Bornstein  30:31

So, I'm a little self-serving in this, but I truly believe this, which is that the thing that customers say to us, that they love so much about shopping on The Yes, is the ability to say yes and no to product, so that they can kind of clear the clutter out of their way. My daughter is the, saying to me, you know, I wish that I could, I'm shopping on Urban Outfitters, and I, it's so annoying to me that I can't actually give feedback as I'm shopping. And I actually believe that in I would say, 5 to 10 years, because I think some of these tech infrastructures are pretty heavy and hard to rebuild, they're the sort of shopping will be a much more dynamic experience where consumers can give input and the experience will adapt to them. I do believe that's going to become kind of the name of the game for all of commerce.


Scott Silverman  31:21

Well, Julie, you've been very generous with your time and your insights, in your advice. And so now's your time to tell us, you know, what's going on, you know, do you want to give a plug for, you know, job openings at The Yes. Why a brand should be working with you differently? You know, you're the, the mic is yours.


Julie Bornstein  31:43

That's really nice. I would say three things. My first thing is, if you haven't downloaded and shopped on The Yes app, please do. And if you have any feedback, send it to me, Julie at The Yes. I literally read every customer comment and feedback. And I'm obsessed with making sure that there's nothing we're missing. So, that's the first plug. 


Julie Bornstein  32:04

The second is, we're hiring engineers. So, if you know any great engineers, or you are one, please reach out. 


Julie Bornstein  32:11

And the third is, I would say from the brand standpoint, we, you know, we love working with new brands, we add about 10 to 12 brands at a time and one of the critical things we had to do, because we were startup, is build a brand integration that doesn't require work on the brand side and having come, you know, been on that side and knowing that world, no one has enough technical resources to do anything that they want


Scott Silverman  32:36

It's just a single line of code.


Julie Bornstein  32:39

That's what they say. So, in our case, you actually don't even write need to write a single line of code. We've built a system that does the integration. So, yeah, reach out if you're a brand and you're not yet on the platform.


Scott Silverman  32:50

Alright, well give Julie feedback, send her your resume if you’re an engineer and, and work with you as a brand because it's super easy. So, that's awesome. Thank you so much for talking with Michael and myself today. We really appreciate it and wish you all the best with which I'm sure it's going to be an exciting future for The Yes.


Julie Bornstein  33:10

Thanks you guys. I really appreciate it was fun to talk.


Michael LeBlanc  33:13

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Conversations with CommerceNext. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music or your favorite podcast platform, where we will be sharing career advice and marketing strategies from eCommerce and Digital Marketing Leaders at retailers and direct to consumer brands. Each and every episode.


Michael LeBlanc  33:29

CommerceNext is a community event series and conference for marketers at retail and direct to consumer brands. Through our online forums, interviews, webinars, summits and other in person events. We harness the collective wisdom of our community to help marketers grow their businesses and advance their careers. 


Michael LeBlanc  33:44

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Michael LeBlanc  33:54

Have a fantastic week ever