Julia Waneka has had an extensive career in communications, PR, and marketing. And today, she’s the Head of Communications at Faire, an online wholesale marketplace for entrepreneurs, independent retailers and brands, with over 170,000 customers! Faire sells everything from handmade candles to amazing up and coming apparel brands and home goods.
In this conversation, Julia shared her secrets about everything from agency life, to taking risks, being curious, and becoming a mom while holding a leadership role in a fast-growing start-up. Listen to Episode 25 now on The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
Every opportunity on your career journey holds valuable lessons.
Julia’s first job outside of college was akin to being a virtual assistant, where she answered phones and tackled various tasks for small business owners. Interestingly, the role shed light on what she didn’t want in a job.
Julia realized she doesn’t like working in isolation. She didn’t want to picture herself five years later doing the same thing, and defaulting to internet rabbit holes during her time in between calls. She made the most of her downtime by taking online courses in subjects that interested her.
Today, she recalls that doing that and having that fire of curiosity inspired her to make braver decisions in her career, and it gave her the confidence to learn new subjects on her own.
When Julia pivoted to a role at agency Fresh Ideas Group, she became the resident social media expert, taking note of new trends and recognizing where she could add value to the team. A big chunk of her day to day was simply learning the media landscape.
The difference between working for a big company and a budding startup.
Do you gravitate towards opportunities at bigger, corporate companies or at scrappy startups?
Julia argued that we need to try both, which may involve taking a leap into the unknown. Bigger organizations help you become more sharp, thoughtful and considerate with your decisions, because so much impact is at stake. Sometimes there are supply chains and big, yet slow decisions and operations at a more governmental level, whereas startups are the flipside of that experience. You’re expected to move lightning fast, wear a million hats, and there may be days where you’re sprinting for weeks at a time.
There is so much value in doing both, (or learning more than one trick, as Julia says!) and that’s the takeaway I want you to walk away with.
While I’m certainly more of a builder at heart and love working for startups, working at Apple helped me refine and polish my career. Which type of company are you more drawn to working for?
Work life at Faire and juggling being a new mom.
When Julia began her role as Head of Communications at Faire just three years ago, they were around 100-110 employees. Today, Faire has a staggering 450 employees, 15,000 brands, and 170,000 customers. Day to day, she seeks out interesting stories and helps discover people who should be on their platform.
Having a baby ignited some anxiety in Julia. She wanted to ensure she was still bringing her best to the team every single day. Her first day back, the team flooded her with questions about being a mom vs. ramping her up right away and it made such an impact.
If you’re interested in working for Faire, Julia has a few pro tips. Embody their company values and care about the mission. Come into it feeling like you are ready to dive into the work and take ownership. In a place like Faire that’s really high growth, be really resourceful, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to have your fingerprints on something.
“Curiosity is such a fuel for your career. If you even stay in the same job, you need to stay curious. Or else you might find yourself in the corner.”