At Yellow, we believe that “Doing Good” looks different for everyone. When you feel alive and are fully stepping into who you were made to be, you are offering the world your unique talent and point of view. Our Do-Good Dozen Award Winner for this month goes to Alexandra Bacchus, who uses her skills in Brand Partnerships to serve the greater good at Nisolo, a brand that creates ethically and sustainably made leather goods. If you’ve seen us mention Nisolo often, it’s because their shoes are versatile and so comfortable to wear during our annual conference, and they’re doing amazing work for both people and the planet. For more on Nisolo’s work, check out our interview with co-founder Zoe Cleary. We chatted with Alexandra about how she found meaningful work, redefining success, and discovering the benefits of various types of partnerships.
Tell us a little about your position at Nisolo and what some of your daily work looks like.
At Nisolo I work on the Brand Partnerships team (we’re small, yet mighty!), with a focus on our affiliate marketing program, influencer partnerships, and press/PR efforts. My job is so much fun because it’s based on building strong relationships and finding creative ways for those relationships to help Nisolo grow. I spend a lot of my time working on our affiliate marketing program, which is a way for bloggers and media sites to earn commission off of sales that come to us through their articles or blog posts. We’re always recruiting new partners, which means I’m constantly researching sites that seem aligned with the brand, or those that have a new audience that we want to reach. I keep our affiliates updated through a monthly newsletter that gives them advance notice on restocks, product releases, and Nisolo campaigns, but I always have conversations going with partners to give them as much information about the brand or a product before a story goes live.
I love the challenge of finding how Nisolo’s brand and mission can be communicated on a partner’s platform when their voice might be entirely different from ours.
What are some partnerships that have helped grow Nisolo in awareness and revenue? Why were they so successful?
A few years ago during the holiday season, our team came up with a new idea that was meant to bring together like-minded brands in the direct to consumer space and acquire new customers. This idea took shape as a multi-brand gift card bundle that offered shoppers gift cards to several different brands for a really affordable price during the holidays. This campaign was exciting because we generated a lot of buzz during a very noisy time in retail and saw lots of new customers discover Nisolo with the gift card they received as part of the bundle.
You mentioned that you use a variety of partnership mediums, including affiliates, influencers, editorial features, and PR. What unique benefits have you seen come from each? For a business just starting out, what do you think should be focused on first when it comes to partnerships?
Each of these mediums achieve a similar goal (acquiring new customers and increasing brand awareness), but operate in a very different way. For example, the affiliate channel is data-driven and those partnerships are usually long term working relationships focused on generating sales. Working with influencers is fun because it’s a way for us to experiment with many types of audiences to see how the brand resonates with them through likes, comments, and hopefully new followers to our Instagram account. Press features might be focused more on telling the brand story or amplifying an exciting campaign or product release we have coming up. These are also extremely valuable because it’s hard for people to know what to trust when we’re always being marketed to.
What is Venture For America and how did it help you find a job that aligns with your values?
Venture For America is an entrepreneurship fellowship that helps recent graduates find startup jobs in U.S. cities that have a growing entrepreneurial community. I discovered Nisolo through the fellowship and immediately fell in love with the company and role we were hiring for. In college, I wrote my senior thesis on the state of regulation in the apparel manufacturing industry, so it felt like fate when I read Nisolo’s mission: to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction – where success is based on more than just offering the cheapest price – a direction that not only values exceptional design, but the producer and planet just as much as the end consumer.
Venture For America emphasized the importance of working for a place that makes you proud and teaches you how to be an active and valuable member of the larger community. Nisolo is such a big part of the growing startup/fashion scene here in Nashville, and I love bringing my job at Nisolo into all of the other communities I’m a part of in Nashville.
What are three essentials that help you be your best self ?
Daily gratitude journal: I write down three things I’m grateful for every day so that I never have to think too hard about a reason to be happy.
Running: I try to run every morning as a way to wake up and think through things I usually push aside during the day.
Staying in touch with old friends: If I ever have 20-30 minutes free after work or in between commitments, I usually call a friend to catch up. It keeps me aware of the fact that everyone else’s life is changing just as rapidly as mine is, and makes me happy to know that physical distance doesn’t have to affect my friendships negatively.
Is there a cultural or societal norm that you’ve had to “redefine” for yourself in life? (i.e. To succeed you must hustle nonstop.)
One norm I’ve learned to challenge was the idea that there is one successful formula for how to build a strong professional network. I’ve always been hesitant to meet with people specifically to ask for targeted advice or to “pick their brain” on a subject. It has always felt uncomfortable to me because I don’t think that type of situation allows me to be myself and truly learn what I want to learn.
The moment I realized that there’s no singular way to successfully navigate the professional world, I was able to feel comfortable being myself and pursue relationships that give me the space to do that. Now, my most cherished professional relationships are built from a place of friendship first.
For someone who doesn’t currently work at a social enterprise such as Nisolo but still wants their work to be tangibly meaningful, what advice would you give?
For someone looking to do meaningful work, but doesn’t feel like their current job allows the space for that, I recommend finding groups or organizations that are doing something you care about, and make sure they know you’re available to help out in any way you can. There are so many women and minority-focused groups out there with local chapters that need help, but don’t know where to find it. Reach out to them! When I first moved to Nashville and wanted to get involved in the community, I said yes to literally any invitation and event that came my way. Being open with your time shows people that you’re willing to say yes, and one day that might lead to you being the first person they ask to help out with an exciting project.
How can we help support you and your work at Nisolo?
Yellow Co. already does so much to lift up women trying to do good in the world – I seriously love diving into your content and reading about new ventures, business tips, and easy wellness practices. As the Yellow community gets bigger, our work here at Nisolo could be supported by helping us de-mystify the barrier to being an ethical consumer.
The price tag on so many ethical brands out there can be intimidating, but taking the first steps toward an ethical closet doesn’t have to mean replacing every item of clothing you own.
It could mean wearing something way longer than we’re used to, or finding a way to recycle that item responsibly. Nisolo has some amazing sustainability initiatives that I wish everyone knew about, like our Shoe Reclamation program in partnership with Soles4Souls. We accept donated shoes in any condition, from any brand, and give them to micro-entrepreneurs in growing economies who refurbish and resell them, giving an old pair of shoes new life. And every donation earns you a $30 credit to shop with Nisolo :). We love Yellow Co. – thank you so much for supporting the work we do here!
Illustration by Hanna Snyder for Yellow Co., Photos courtesy of Alexandra Bacchus