Kelly Goldston, VP of Marketing at ELOQUII Plus-Size Fashion

Editor's Note:

I think the best way to describe Kelly Goldston is that she is this magical combination of a fairy tale princess {think Cinderella}, meshed with a fierce, ambitious, New York career-girl {think Andy in 'The Devil Wears Prada'}, resulting in a lovely, warm, charming, affable woman, who is also a complete genius. Her story may sound simple-- Kelly took advantage of a chance phone call that landed her her dream career, but when you really think about this kind of thing happening to anyone else, you realize the chances are slim unless you're truly extraordinary. Her story below describes the rest, but as you're reading I encourage you to take mental notes of her journey; tucking away advice on the value of putting yourself out there, engaging with people outside your 'comfort zone', and capitalizing on any and every opportunity that's thrown your way. And for the record, her q&a at the end is hands down some of the best we've ever received!

Kelly Goldston in New York City / Photo courtesy of Elliot Scott

Kelly Goldston in New York City / Photo courtesy of Elliot Scott

{why she's a boss}

The thing that I find so compelling about Kelly’s journey to becoming VP of Marketing for plus-size fashion online retailer ELOQUII is not necessarily the path she took, which was anything but a straight and narrow one, but her excitement and enthusiasm for her journey’s final destination.

In fact, when this interview was conducted Kelly asked if we could talk about her story in reverse order, starting with her proudest moment working for and representing a brand that she so deeply and passionately admires.

“I’ve been plus-size most of my adult life, and I know firsthand how insanely difficult it can be to find clothes that I actually want to wear that fit me, let alone flatter me.  Like most plus-size women, I’ve come to have low expectations when it comes to choices in apparel.”

Kelly at an ELOQUII photoshoot / Photo courtesy ELOQUII.

Kelly at an ELOQUII photoshoot / Photo courtesy ELOQUII.

{a snippet of background}

Before ELOQUII became the online retailer that it is today, the brand was under ownership by “The Limited” and was, as Kelly describes, a lifesaver for a plus-size woman’s closet.

“When The Limited shut down ELOQUII, I was one of the thousands of women that threw their hands in the air asking ‘where am I supposed to shop now? You just took away my best option for fashion!’”

There was an uproar in the plus-sized community, with women from all over the country taking to social media and the web demanding better options, and specifically demanding ELOQUII back.

Taking notice, a private investor decided to buy the brand from The Limited and relaunch ELOQUII as its own independent label in 2014.

The ELOQUII.com homepage / Photo courtesy ELOQUII.

The ELOQUII.com homepage / Photo courtesy ELOQUII.

{her past explained}

At the time, Kelly was working in Customer Acquisition Marketing for DIAPERS.com, never even considering a career move to her favorite brand.

“When ELOQUII relaunched, I remember being so excited that I nearly fell off my chair! I immediately forwarded the email to all of my friends saying ‘you know how you always ask where my dresses are from?  Well this is the place and they’re back!’”

From the lookbook for French Twist, an ELOQUII Spring 2016 collection / Photo courtesy of ELOQUII

From the lookbook for French Twist, an ELOQUII Spring 2016 collection / Photo courtesy of ELOQUII

{a chance encounter}

Kelly started shopping, and one day received an email from the creative director of ELOQUII who had noticed that a large portion of her order had been returned.

“She had no idea I was a marketer and frankly, knew nothing about me other than I had made a big return. I was giving her all this feedback about what I liked and didn’t like, the silhouettes I’d like to see, etc.”

This strategy, of reaching out to customers personally, is what Kelly considers one of ELOQUII’s biggest strengths. 

“Everyone who works at ELOQUII reaches out to at least a few customers a week to try and get them on the phone and talk to them about the clothing.  If you’re an e-commerce site with no brick and mortar, it’s so important to find a way to interact with your customers firsthand.”

What started as chance conversation quickly evolved into something much more promising.  The creative director was impressed with Kelly’s articulateness and enthusiasm for the brand.  When she dug a little deeper and found out that Kelly was working in acquisition marketing for an ecommerce site, she suggested Kelly reach out to ELOQUII’s CEO.

Kelly at graduation from NYU Stern with her mother, Debbie Goldston / Photo courtesy Kelly Goldston

Kelly at graduation from NYU Stern with her mother, Debbie Goldston / Photo courtesy Kelly Goldston

{a defining moment}

“It was one of those career inflection points that reminded me of the importance of having mentors.  When the Creative Director told me that I should talk to their CEO, I immediately thought back to a mentor of mine who told me to always have these conversations, knowing it could never hurt.”

Kelly was completely blown away by ELOQUII’s CEO and her passion for changing the landscape of plus-size fashion. Her passion was so compelling that Kelly decided to jump on-board, leaving her role at DIAPERS.com to work for a company that she was already fully devoted to as an actual customer.

“My role as VP of Marketing is to be a customer advocate and lead the strategy of how to talk to someone who has been burned by the fashion industry so many times.”

Kelly and her husband Dan, at home in Brooklyn / Photo courtesy Kelly Goldston

Kelly and her husband Dan, at home in Brooklyn / Photo courtesy Kelly Goldston

{the future at her fingertips}

In the past two years since ELOQUII’s re-launch, Kelly has seen the business grow tremendously and the sky’s the limit for growth ahead.

Her hope for the brand is that customers will come to their site with a completely confident and open-mind.  She says that she wants plus-size women to come to the brand seeking ways to express themselves through fashion, and dress in a way that makes the them feel self-actualized where ‘no rules apply.’ 

Kelly at an ELOQUII photoshoot / Photo courtesy of ELOQUII

Kelly at an ELOQUII photoshoot / Photo courtesy of ELOQUII

{DRIVEN q&a}

It is so inspiring to hear you talk about your role at ELOQUII because it’s so clear that you’re truly behind the brand and its messaging.  How would you suggest women go about finding a company and/or career that’s equally as fulfilling to them?

“You must get to know a lot of people and be willing to network to get to know people who are NOT just like you.  Look for people from different backgrounds and who are doing things that you’ve never done and get to know them, because if you only stay within your tight little circle, you’re only reducing your chances of coming across something that you didn’t know you were interested in to begin with.”

You studied fiction writing in undergrad at Columbia College and then received your MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.  You’ve said that your life would be ‘100% different if you hadn’t gone to business school.’  What is your advice on pursuing higher education and taking that leap when it might not have seemed like the most obvious path for your career?

“I never thought I would go to business school because I always pictured it as a place for stuffy corporate suits, but I realized that the curriculum was actually everything I was interested in – consumer behavior, data-driven marketing, brand strategy. I don’t think business school is for everyone, but I do think it’s important in general to keep an open mind about education and try to focus on the actual coursework rather than your preconceived notions. I adored my time at Stern and was completely blown away by how much I was able to learn and grow there. And for the record, it was definitely not all stuffy corporate suits. Some of my best friends in the world I met at Stern, and they’re also some of the most interesting, dynamic, creative people I know.”

What have you learned about working in an industry that you say has been completely burned in the past?

“I think industries where customers have had bad experiences before are some of the most fascinating and rewarding to work in. Every day I feel like I make a real difference in the lives of our customers (including myself!) because we’re serving a very real need that she has. Don’t get me wrong, we are still a for-profit business and have financial goals as well, but the fact that we can do that for someone who really needs it makes it a deeply satisfying line of work.”

Every woman, no matter her shape or size, has personal insecurities.  What are your go-to ‘confidence boosters’ in work and life? 

“Listening to Beyonce! …I’m serious, actually. We asked a question on our Instagram once, “what song makes you feel like a boss?” and we loved the answers so much we made a Spotify playlist. I highly recommend listening to it before any big meeting or pitch.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“I've gotten a lot of amazing advice from mentors over the years, but what comes to mind is something Sheryl Sandberg shared in Lean In; she says to choose a supportive (romantic) partner. Easier said than done, right? But you could also read this as: "Don't settle for an unsupportive partner." I won the lottery with my husband Dan, who is endlessly supportive of my career, whether it's listening to me talk through a complex work dilemma or encouraging me to take the next step. He never complains when work eats into our time together, but if I need a break he's always there with a movie and a bottle of wine. He also happens to be an amazing cook...but now I'm just bragging. :) I know many women (including myself) who tend to make subtle adjustments to accommodate their partners' attitudes and preferences, and over time that can add up to major career and lifestyle changes. By choosing a partner who takes great pride in the work I do, I know that I'll never compromise my own desire for success, wittingly or unwittingly.”

To check out ELOQUII's gorgeous clothing, click here.

Next week, meet Sarah.  She's a 22 year-old woman living in Tel Aviv, Israel, who is the face behind the video messaging app, Glide.  When she started with the company she had no idea that this app would completely change the lives of a remarkable user base, the Deaf community.  Her inspiring story is up next, on DRIVEN for Women.  

Don't Forget To Subscribe And Follow Us To Support Our Incredible Women!