In Conversation With Brøgger Co-founder & Designer Julie Brøgger

Selective Attention caught up with UK based womenswear brand Brøgger to chat with their co-founder and designer Julie Brøgger about how she got started, multicultural design inspirations, the changing definition of luxury and inspiration for tomorrow’s aspiring designers.

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Could you tell us a bit about how you got started?

After almost a decade of working for other brands, I had a dream of bringing my own vision to life, but the world never really needs a new fashion brand. I needed that decade of learning and honing my skills before I could circle in on a tangible concept of what I wanted to add to the saturated world of fashion. It started with and is still the main focus, to create a brand that offers women standout pieces that has longevity and desire in equal measures. There is so much talk about about sustainability and the challenges for fashion to live up to any standards in that regard, but to me longevity is where sustainable fashion really excels. I aim to create clothes that will be cherished not only for one season but for many and in a quality that allows that. Like I did from my own mum, the dream is that in the future the Brøgger customer will pass on her Brøgger items to her's. In order to do that people really need to fall in love with the clothes!

From the beginning it has been important to me to be conscious not only about the quality but also the circumstances of manufacturing. Brøgger stays committed to keeping the sourcing and manufacturing within the EU, keeping the supply chain as close to our London base as possible. All our tailoring is made locally in London by specialist manufacturers, and that is a decision based not on pricing vs quality but on supporting what London is best at.


How does being bi-cultural inform Brøgger's design aesthetic?

Danish design and architecture relates to an aesthetic tradition that that builds on functionality and is stripped of unnecessary ornamentation. They beauty is often found in the craftsmanship and an elegant form that seams to be an inevitable consequence of its function. It is a great privilege to grow in a society where design is valued and public buildings are filled with design classics. But it does also create a normative approach to taste that can seem uniform, and London offers a clear juxtaposition to that. London is wilder, colourful and a true melting pot of influences. Working creatively in London taught me the love of florals, colours and that things should be a imperfect, unfinished at times. My favorite London local is an older woman that always wears florals from top to toe, all mixed up and it has nothing to with fashion it is just what she likes. That level of eccentricity is very rare in Scandinavia and exists in abundance in London.

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Who is the Brøgger woman?

The Brøgger woman is confident in her choices and want wearability from her clothes but will not compromise on the desirability. She likes to stand out in a crowd and to discover new brands that will add uniqueness to her wardrobe.

Based on your team's design experience, what is today's luxury consumer looking for?

I believe the luxury consumer has changed over that last decade of recession and shift in spending, most luxury consumers focus more on displaying their individual taste and style than their wealth. She doesn't only buy luxury any more but across the categories. It is a consumer that demands much more now than ever before from brands. Shopping smaller independent brands like Brøgger offers that sense of exclusivity and a contrast to the worldwide exposure of big luxury brands, which is attractive to a conscious luxury consumer.

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In Asia, the brand is currently stocked in Joyce (Hong Kong), Saisons (Chengdu) and Tom Greyhound (Seoul). Compared to Western markets, what are some key differences in taste or market demand that the team has observed in these cities? What's similar and or different?

The Asian market is of course difficult to describe a one unit, but with the danger of generalization, I think it is a much more explorative luxury consumer than in Europe. One that takes chances with fashion. The before mentioned stores always do very interesting selections. Our bold floral prints can be challenging to some areas of Asia but general we do well across the collection.

Does your team have any advice to offer young designer brands who are interested in expanding their stockists into Asia?

First of all you have to stay true to what your core aesthetic, authenticity is key for a fashion brand in any market.

Be aware that not all shapes and lengths work for an Asian market, so adjust your ranges but always within your brand aesthetic. It is a dangerous path to try to please one market at the price of your identity.

Music Collective Yeti Out On How They Got Started, Their New Fashion Brand And Top Travel Picks

Founded by brothers Arthur and Tom Bray together with Eri Ali, Yeti Out has become one of the best known DJ crews for youth nightlife and fashion marketing activations in Greater China.

What started out as a party-promoting music collective has evolved across several verticals. Selective Attention caught up with the founders to chat about their new clothing brand launch, how they made the crossover into fashion and their favorite spots to visit while traveling for gigs.

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Could you tell us a bit about your music collective?

Arthur: Yeti Out was formerly named Yeti in the Basement, a music blog-turned-party series founded in the pre-Instagram era. Eri and I met on Myspace circa 2006. We then lived together during our University years in the UK, and founded a few years later.

Eri: We were going to so many club nights and raves every week, and wanted to document all the madness. Having a blog also meant that we could blag press passes and guestlists – we didn't sleep much back in those days.

Tom: ...We don't sleep much now!

Arthur: Yeti in the Basement then became a party in East London, taking over basements in Dalston and Shoreditch. In 2012, I moved back to Hong Kong and Tom to Shanghai, and we revamped things as Yeti Out. In essence, the Yeti left the sweaty London basement and returned back to Asia - an analogy which reflects our own journey back to China. We wanted to bring the same vibes to these cities, so we continued booking artists and throwing club nights. With Eri in London, Tom in Shanghai and myself in Hong Kong, Yeti Out expanded to become a booking agency, planning EU and US artists' tours around Asia.

Tom: The family also grew. Yeti Out is now a crew of DJs, graphic designers, photographers and editors, with a record label titled Silk Road Sounds and a number of subsidiary club nights: Yeti: Disko, South Canton Soul Train, Mean Gurlz Club and United Airwaves.

You’ve recently launched a brand. How did it happen? What inspires the brand’s designs?

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Arthur: We've been doing flyers and artwork for so many years, so last year we started a brand as just another medium for us to share our visual identity. Hedonism, self-indulgence, late nights & early mornings are some of the aesthetics of the brand, alongside early 2000 rave flyers and visuals from the dial-up internet era which we grew up on.

Where can we buy the product?

Eri: We release limited piece on our online store and sell collaborations at our parties and pop-ups.

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Late last year Yeti Out collaborated with Coach for its Shanghai fashion show, launched collaborative product with Under Armour and regularly DJs at fashion events. Could you tell us a bit about how your crew crossed over into the industry?

Arthur: We've always had one foot in fashion, I used to work at Hypebeast and Tom's consulted for Dior and Nike. It's nice to be able to turn our ideas into reality with the help of another brand's expertise and resources.

Tom: For Coach, we connected with British creative director Stuart Vevers over a shared love for The Hacienda, so the rave-inspired capsule felt very natural, while the Under Armour collab stemmed from a Yeti & Friends Boiler Room party we did in Hong Kong.

Eri: We have a lot of friends who also have brands, so really, the fashion week parties are just an excuse for us to catch up and have fun!

Although you guys are based in Shanghai, you regularly travel for gigs. What are some of your favorite shops, restaurants, bars and clubs by city?

Eri: Oil is a sick club, Beam Bangkok too. For food, Supanniga in Bangkok L'Avant and Chicken N Sours in London.

Tom: In Shanghai, my favourite club is ALL, then ArkhamLe Baron and Dada too. For food, i'd recommend Spicy MomentDi Shui Dong (Hunan Cuisine) Old Jesse (O.G. Shanghainese cuisine).

Arthur: My favourite club is still Blackmarket in Manila, because it’s so ratchet. As for dive bars, it's got to be between Cha Cha Lounge in LA or Bridge in Tokyo.  Food: 5th floor curry in Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong. Oh, and Felix in Venice Beach.

In Conversation With YSM8 Supper Club Founder Poonam Dhuffer

Selective Attention caught up with Poonam Dhuffer, the founder of London based supper club YSM8. Since the events look like a lot of fun, we asked Poonam to give the low down on YSM8.


What is YSM8?

YSM8 is a supper club event series all about celebrating vegetarian Punjabi food, curating world sounds, and creating affordable events for an inclusive community.

YSM8 (yes mate!) is my motto when I greet my friends. It's what I say when I eat something that is delicious. It's my way of celebrating life - in an energetic, upbeat and positive way.


How did your personal or professional interests lead you to found a supper club?

I left my full-time job to go freelance as I wanted creative freedom to create something of my own.

I’ve always loved cooking, sharing food and stories with people from a young age. It was quite a natural transition.

What has been the hardest part of starting up YSM8?

I was doing a lot of running around at the beginning, looking at venues. Figuring how the logistics of running events. Sometimes you just have to throw yourself in the deep end and have faith in yourself.

And the most rewarding moment so far?

There have been various moments since starting from people complimenting the food, strangers interacting with each other and my talking to my parents.  There was something really special about the last supper club, I remember my Dad saying in the car home, “YES MATE, you smashed it” I laughed and a few tears rolled down my cheek. “ I couldn’t have done it without you or mum supporting me.”

Also in the middle of one of the events my twin brother had to leave early, he text me saying ‘the buzz was decent”.

Lots of people sent me feedback all via Instagram DM.

At the last event, we donated 50% of the profits to Help Refugees charity. It felt rewarding to be helping others in need.

What kind of individuals show up to the dinners?

It’s a complete mixed bag of young creative females and males, parents, friends of friends, neighbours, people I’ve met through IG.

We welcome everyone to YSM8.

How do people find out about the dinners?

At the moment we have only be hosting breakfast / brunches.

Most people find out through Instagram and word of mouth. Hardly anyone connects with me through FB or Twitter.

What are your plans for 2019?

I would love to do collaborations with brands, small business and agencies who align with values and believe in the power of inclusive communities. There will always be a charitable element to our events.

Creating A New Algorithm For Your Perception Of Reality

We all live in bubbles relative to who we are. Nationality, gender, age, socio-economic status, industry and our individual realms of knowledge. And as we move beyond our pre internet knowledge orientation that focused on institutions, timelines, periods, prominence, geography - it’s a wild west world filled with digital platforms and algorithmic discovery powered by our past behavior that pushes us content based historically who we have been, rather than who could become. With on demand information available at the tip of our touch screen or possibly a laptop scroll, we may not even realize we’ve been swimming around in tepid waters that offers multiple reiterations around our currently fetid cesspools of thinking or socializing for that matter.

It is what it is, but what we might want to try to do is be a bit more expansive, to shop around for new knowledge or perspectives. To stop being stale just because it’s easy to slip into auto-pilot.

Sometimes it’s good for your career, creating a diversified dating pool or other times for a laugh - just this month I went to a Hacker X event at Nike’s Shanghai headquarters thinking it was going to be a tech related talk, my weakest area of knowledge I’m trying to beef up in, it turned out to be a recruiting event for developers. I almost died laughing in my neon green windbreaker, faux Issey Miyake plisse pants from Korea and clown boots from JNBY that are likely inspired by Guidi a brand that had been popular among those more directional fashion types in say early 2010s?, only to be the odd one out surrounded by Mark Zuckerberg types as my friend hilariously pointed out.

Whoopsies I definitely dressed for the wrong occasion.

Well at least I learned something new. I don’t know why I assumed it was more of an educational talk. I slipped out as soon it was time to do speed networking, but was happy I was getting out of the fashion silo even if I happened to be dressed in my own hodgepodge of trend vomit when doing so.

Wondering about that mis-attribution my own behavior had caused I postulated they must have gotten my email from either:

Le Wagon, a coding boot camp that held a free talk about marketing that I went to or from General Assembly, which offers some free webinar classes - I had recently taken online. I really enjoyed the user experience design one which made me realize that content strategy, writing and information design is all part of UX. Check this read out: The UX Careers Handbook which made the Mixed Methods podcasts a researcher had recommended make a lot more sense.

So yeah how did small things end up helping me find these talks and or classes that ultimately had me laughing at myself for being such an idiot?

  1. Decide on a purpose. For now I’m trying to beef up my knowledge in certain topics, but this process is something I’ve also used to increase my likelihood of meeting someone IRL for dating when I was single. Back then it was all about diversifying my social pool to improve my prospects. While this is totally irrelevant approaching discovering in a gamified way makes the whole process more fun. After all life is a lot like a video game, only we take it much too seriously.

  2. Look for free or affordable events in your new area of interest. Check your local city publication for events. I also scroll WeChat group chats, accounts and people’s Moments updates for events to attend. On LinkedIn and Instagram as well I follow accounts in newer areas of interest whether it’s a company or a hashtag. If you’re feeling ambitious you can check who they follow on Insta or similar companies on LinkedIn to add more accounts. That way your new behavior will help push new events or content to your feed. I sometimes also comb Meetup and Eventbrite for suggestions. Click on them, like the content. You’ll get fed more.

  3. Ask people you know who either work in a field or are interested in a topic for suggestions about events, publications and people. Shy? Just check what they post on social. Do a good old Google search. Click around. I’ve been finding more articles, companies and events in industries I am interested in learning more about after trying to re-jig things whether its on my LinkedIn or Instagram feed or suggested articles from Pocket.

Thanks For Reading Selective Attention In 2018!

Wow, I’ve stuck with the blog this year and it feels great! Thanks for reading what I have been randomly writing.

If you’re enjoying Selective Attention I have a major ask! If you like what you’re reading or just want to help hype me out of the kindness of your heart ;) and could help share this digital publication with your network on social that would be amazing. So far it’s been really cool to see which geographies I’ve reached on Google Analytics. Who knew a girl from suburban Michigan would be doing this?

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Over the last year I've reached more than 1,600 readers - who are you?? Leave me some comments. Super curious how you found me.

Also interesting to see the demographic breakdown. For a while the readership leaned towards male. Guess I have mannish interests. Ha.

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Next year it would be great to grow the readership by x10.

I should be focusing on deep dives across fashion, lifestyle, culture and tech, monthly global events, original interviews, meditating on greater thinkers, explorations of novel concepts, happenings and hopefully tested reviews of things. Beyond that I have 0% of my content plan done. :/

If you have anything you’d like to read about please leave me a line! I usually try to crowd source inspiration because writing is basically like having a long conversation with yourself, which can be fun but sort of lonely if you do it for your day job, freelance work and also in your free time too. Jeez, no wonder I can’t stop myself from being way too friendly lately and asking everyone what’s the goss(ip)?!?

Thanks for enjoying all this wonderful awkwardness.

Getting To Know Sara Radin

One of the perks of working at a trend forecasting company is the brilliant people you’re surrounded by. Everyone tends to be open minded and falls across the spectrum of innovator to early adopter. With their quick minds and wide variety of interests conversations are never a bore. 

Sara Radin is one such person. We first met through work when she joined WGSN as a travel associate editor before she applied for an internal promotion to become a youth editor. I always enjoyed reading her reports. But, as bright lights go they tend wander off to better pastures when the time is right.

Having left the company in the spring, I see her updates on Instagram and find she is going for her dreams which is inspiring. It's easy to go for the adulthood realm of shoulds but instead she has opted for could. 

Sara Radin photographed by  Lauren Tepfer

Sara Radin photographed by Lauren Tepfer

Now working as a freelance writer covering culture, youth, mental health and identity she also speaks at events and organizes her own, one of which was featured in The New York Times. Keep reading below for her personal reflections on her career and life.

Can you walk us through how your personal interest, personality, education and work experience led you to writing?

I never really considered or planned for a career in writing. I like to think writing found me. Sometimes I even wonder if I really am a writer? Maybe that sounds ridiculous or perhaps it's my impostor syndrome, but I guess it's really more about storytelling for me. This is just a channel that allows me to be me. It's a way for me to tell my own stories, and use my voice to lift up other people's stories too.

When I was younger I struggled to pick a creative medium that would allow me to explore all of my different interests. I went to school for art and design, but realized I wasn't an artist, maker or designer. At the same time, I was full of ideas and fascinated by the world around me. I'm an Aquarius and I live with chronic anxiety, so I'm innately an incredibly curious person who has to know the WHY behind everything. Whenever I can't sleep, I like to spend hours on Wikipedia reading up on random topics (mainly the career trajectories of different celebrities or historical movements). But for a long time, I didn't know how to translate a creative mindset and the desire to ask questions and find answers into an actual career.

I wound up working in the fashion industry when I first graduated college, doing concept design and trend forecasting for Converse, the footwear company. Once I left that job, I decided I wanted to share some of the art that was inspiring me, so I launched a personal blog back in 2015. I desperately needed a space to learn about the things inspiring me. So, I started interviewing artists and designers, and also began reflecting on my own creative process through blogging. From there I eventually started writing for some publications (mainly for free!), and then ultimately landed a job at WGSN as the Youth Culture Editor. Over time, I realized that writing really suited me in a lot of different ways, and got more serious about it in the last year or so. I went freelance full-time in April. It's been a challenging but amazing experience. I'm still really figuring things out, but I love waking up everyday knowing that I am able to turn my diverse interests into shareable and monetizable content.

How did you decide to focus on culture, youth, mental health and identity?

I've always been interested in how culture is shifting, and I think the youth are more often than not the people who are really pushing it forward. As someone who learned they were living with mental illness fairly recently, I try to use my voice to challenge some of the stigma around it. Writing about this topic and approaching it in different ways has helped me heal, and it is my hope that sharing my experiences and learnings can also help other people heal too.

What are the positives and negatives are being a freelance writer?

I love how much freedom I have to create my own schedule and pitch all of my own ideas. When I first went freelance I was worried I would feel alone, but I've actually found a lot of community. There are some amazing resources out there for freelance writers - like Facebook groups and newsletters that share opportunities and contacts. Managing the financial aspect of this lifestyle has been hard, though! I mean, I'm basically running my own company. I'm my own HR person, finance department, CEO, marketing team and so on. Figuring it out as I go, and staying patient though!

You've managed write for several well-known publications since going freelance, can you tell us how that happened?

There isn’t a simple or straight-forward answer to this question. Honestly I think it’s been due (very luckily) to a lot of different things… In the last few months, I’ve been honing my pitching and writing skills, and also discovering the work of some amazing creatives who use their platforms to discuss critical, intersectional issues. Connecting the dots to help these individuals get their stories out there in a larger way has become my mission, and I’ve grown more fearless in my pursuit of this type of work. This is my calling.

Beyond this, I’ve been finding creative ways to track down editors’ email addresses, cold pitching them, as well as connecting with other writers, who have graciously taught me everything they know about the freelance pitching and writing process. Finding community and believing in yourself are so necessary to following this type of alternative path.

You also organize events, could you let us know how those happened?

In the past, I was organizing events every month but I recently have been slowing down on this to focus more on my writing. I think both are a way of fostering community. Planning events can be physically and emotionally draining, so taking this break has been really nice.

What's your favorite part of organizing events?

Giving people a platform to share their own experiences. Bringing people together to help them feel less alone.

Do you have any upcoming ones planned?

Not right now but I have something in mind for next year!

What is your advice for aspiring creatives?

I think often the hardest step in doing anything is starting somewhere, so try and start with what you know. 

You're very open about your personal struggles on Instagram, as a mental health advocate why is this important for you?

I try to be vulnerable and open about my life as much as I can, on and offline because I'd love to see more people doing that on the platform and in real life. I'm tired of seeing overly-filtered posts and content on Instagram. It's an amazing tool for connecting people, and I believe showing our full spectrum of emotions and experiences could help us foster more empathy.

What are some of your favorite places in New York?

MoMA PS 1, The Wing (my co-working space), and recently any place that sells oat milk lattes.

Interested in reading Sara’s work? Follow her on Instagram or check out her website here.

Emulating Great Thinkers: Einstein

This year I’ve worked on becoming more numerate. One of the ways I’ve done it was to use LinkedIn data, which in and of itself, is really not that interesting.

While I already knew I was an anomaly as the only American staff for the company I work for in Shanghai, and only Chinese American English report editor on the global team (discounting the translation team), the statistical likelihood of me being hired was further illuminated as being an absolute fluke when accounting for the school I went to, MSU.

On LinkedIn, in case you are unaware, if you pay for premium you can see company insights to see number of staff, turnover, headcount growth or shrinkage, average tenure and how staff count breaks down across role types. You can also click on a job description for roles that are open at a company if you want to see where companies hire from, aka you can identify hiring biases you can try to address. With 601 staff listed according to LinkedIn premium, I was the lone wolf who went to MSU. As a percent point that’s 0.16%. Pretty low.

Which brings me to today’s topic. I’ve been trying the conventional approach to career planning and I would say sure, I learned a lot. Yes, this is probably a great way to validate research findings but in terms of personal effectiveness in personal or career growth I would say it’s an approach that might be an interesting reality check but it reeks of a scarcity mindset. So, as I’ve written in my last career related LinkedIn post, I’m not going to drink the career Kool Aid.

You never know what can happen if you analyze for probability. Instead, what if you emulated history’s great thinkers? Like Einstein?

A quote I read from him from maybe a year and half ago that stuck was:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

I’d rather be a 0.16% and make it by being open to possibility than to focus on historic data. Wouldn’t you? Instead of lumping yourself into that horrid term outlier, what if you just maintained the open-mindedness of your pre 25 year-old self that you will always be an individual first and foremost. That you’re here to explore, and see what happens? Do or die, sink or swim. In it to win it? That’s where personal innovation is found.

Thinking About 2019 & Beyond

December feels like an immediate projection into the future even when the month has just begun and lately there’s been a lot great research that’s been published for either continuing education in your field or thought starters to expand your mind. I haven’t had time to read most of this, but hopefully I will have some time soon!

Check out what I’ve been finding on LinkedIn, you got to love algorithm pushes and premium which enabled me to look up companies I know and check what other companies people looked at that were similar to map out my business knowledge across less familiar industries.

Trust 2030, Method x Hitachi

5 Trends For 2019, Trend Watching

Top Graphic Design Trends For 2019, Digital Synopsis

Media Predictions 2019, Kantar

Game Changing Startups 2019, CB Insights

Blockchain Trends 2019, CB Insights

Spotlight 2018, China 20 Retail Cities, Savills

Recommend Reading From November

As a trend analyst I spend a lot of my time reading to add to my baseline knowledge for reports or advisory research. It also helps me to see what’s on other companies’ radars and how they are talking about it which will help me think from a broader industry perspective that accounts for a wide variety of angles ensuring my findings are more reflective of market trends.

Seeing how someone else put something together something also lets me think about how I can continue to improve and perfect my own work when I consider their approach.

Anyways my general point is reading not only helps you build knowledge if you have a more expansive or imaginative mind it can also help you generate new ideas on how you’re approaching your own work. If you only read for information rather than to get out of your own mindset I think you’ve missed at least 80% of the point of reading. Literal thinking is dead thinking. Just saying.

So here’s a few things I found in November or that were shared with me that should make for good reads!

The State Of Open Innovation, Luminary Labs

Year In Fashion 2018, lyst

The Future 100: 2019, JWT Intelligence

The State of Fashion 2019, BoF x McKinsey & Company

The Digital Consumer In Asia 2018, Tofugear

(WeChat) Industry Best Practices: November 2018, Curiosity China

ICYMI: My LinkedIn Career Posts

In May I wrote a post titled ‘Career Planning: Building Knowledge’ where I shared a few links to posts I’ve been writing on LinkedIn. After seeing some people in China repost WeChat articles on LinkedIn, I was thinking about how cross-pollination across different networks enables users to extend their reach, so I though it might be a smart move to link to the LinkedIn posts I’ve written since then ICYMI!

Please find them below:

How To Plan Your Professional Continuing Education

How To Become A Ham

Are You In Professional Shape

How To Get Over Your Fear Of Public Speaking

Authentic Networking 101

How To Stay Competitive In Today’s Talent Market

How To Use Social Media To Develop Subject Matter Expertise

Developing Visual Literacy

How To Rise In Your Career

If I were to create a map of the year of the amount of posts I was writing versus my day job work load the two would probably indicate an inverse correlation trend. Basically what I’m saying is I’ve been working quite a bit so I haven’t written much but I’m trying to redevelop the discipline I had in my younger years to do all the things I set out to do! Like writing more.

Today’s post is short and sweet - a collection of videos from a book a colleague recently lent me called How Women Rise. I wouldn’t say the tips are necessarily gender specific as they might apply to anyone depending on your seniority, industry or if you work in a work place culture where you are a bit foreign or an anomaly you might be hitting some of these roadblocks. If you don’t have time for the book check out the videos below!

What Is Happiness?

When I started this blog earlier in the year, I had grand plans to write ideally a few posts a week, if not daily. But sometimes, inspiration just doesn’t strike.

While I’ve basically stuck to the monthly career related posts on LinkedIn, tried to contact a few publications about contributing in an effort to branch out and have continued to do the work blog post when I have time, I’ve essentially failed to live up to my type A expectations.

But, realistically I just have less time as a mid-ish level professional compared to when I was an entry level worker. It doesn’t help that I feel like I am going through a bout of adulthood puberty, you know that adolescent awkwardness you thought would get over, I’m in a state of limbo wondering what’s next which I suppose happens at the start of any new-ish decade of age. Wish someone had told me earlier. Ha.

At these sort of points in life you’re either brilliant, inarticulate or meh. Leaning towards the latter half of the sentence, I’ve been desperately wondering when I’ll have time to analyze my content plan and write more regularly. Even if it turns out to be stream of conscious crap I would never dream of sending on for anything paid. But then again writing is cathartic, challenging, invigorating and one of the only talents I have managed to make some career progress with, so I guess I better stick with it.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Since I’ve been a bit stuck I’ve turned to social media to crowd source ideas and one suggestion was ‘What is happiness?’.

It’s a great question and one I wonder about often. A younger version of me would have been profoundly unhappy for failing to write more posts, but somewhere along the way of adulthood I realized that was more of a conditioned response based on an externally defined identity vs focusing on an internally defined self.

Without being contrite, happiness is something that’s different for everyone, so I can only wax lyrical. Maybe my thoughts will be a nice little cognitive meander though.

If you are looking for more of an analytic answer check out World Happiness Report 2018 or the Gallup 2018 Global Emotions report. Look up Malsow’s Hierarchy of needs. Read up on psychology (you’d be surprised how many psy classes advertising majors can take to engineer your emotions) and the emptiness of consumer culture.

From my personal perspective I would say:

It’s a ratio. Expectations vs. reality, which is why gratitude or even thinking about some fundamental aspects of philosophy can really up one’s happiness game.

It’s being social, but ideally with the right people or it could be accepting you like your solitude.

It’s about understanding who you are and what matters to you, irregardless of who society tells you to be, what you need to buy or how you should live. One of the things everyone has to do as an adult is develop a strong sense of self.

Remembering what matters. It’s easy to get caught up in the noise of life, sometimes you just need to pause.

Figuring out and doing what’s right for you.

Establishing barriers if you are too open or being more open if you’re too reserved.

& Trying new things and balancing your comfort zone with life’s practical realities.

Anyways my two cents!

Thanks Elliott for the inspo.

In Conversation With Market Researcher Lee Abbas

Based in New York City, Lee Abbas is the Managing Director at Kadence International, a marketing insight agency with offices in the USA, UK, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and China. Keep reading below for Lee's inspiring insights about market research, US market trends to watch and her favorite NYC restaurants. 

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You've had an interesting career path, can you walk us through it?  

I started my career in marketing launching new digital technologies into the U.S. market for Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. This set the tone for the rest of my career as I fell in love with new technology and new digital platforms and how consumer insights shaped the efforts of good marketing.

I made the transition to Ad Agency side through an OgilvyOne YouTube competition called “Search for the World’s Greatest Salesperson.” I was one of three finalist that were chosen to speak at the Cannes Lions Festival. I have spent nearly a decade helping consumer financial brands like American Express, Bank of America, and Citibank develop there acquisition campaigns and strategies.

Now, I have taken my passion for consumer insights one step further as I take on the role of Managing Director to launch Kadence International’s New York office. Kadence is an award winning global boutique marketing research firm that has 10 hubs around the world, mostly positioned in key markets in Asia.

Could you tell us about what your current role as a Managing Director entails?  

Launching Kadence | New York is a one of a kind role that I am very excited to be a part of. The founder of our parent company, Cross Marketing Group, started his company as a start-up, so this is part of our corporate DNA. I have the opportunity to create from scratch a new strategic hub for Kadence International in the city I love - at the cross roads of the world’s culture, data, and innovation. Kadence is a very well-known and well-respected brand throughout our global hubs, and now I get to build that same level of prestige here in New York.

What's your favorite part of working in market research? 

I learned early on in my career the importance understanding your consumers. I moved up very rapidly on the corporate ladder not just because I understood tech and digital, but because I was able to relate the features and specs to real consumer benefits. Now in market research, I get to focus on the aspect of my past positions that I loved the most, and had the most passion for - consumer insights.

What trends are happening in the US that market researchers should be watching?

We are moving beyond big data. Brands have figured out that data without meaning is a waste of time, and there is nothing worse that wasting time in the world of business. In order to be valuable to your clients, you need to be able cut through the waste and focus on the insights that are going to help their business grow. That is why at Kadence we stand behind our mantra of “Insight Worth Sharing.” We not only connect the dots for our clients, but we tell the story behind the data in a visual format that helps it spread throughout their organization and ultimately ignite action.

How has being an English major helped you in your career?

My favorite period of literature is the Victorian era - which really launched the format of the novel into popular culture. What novels have done, and continue to do, is tap into the natural human instinct to share our experiences in story form. Storytelling not only helps convey valuable information, but it is a format that intrinsically lends itself to being memorable and shareable. In my English studies, I studied storytelling formats from around the world, including East Asia, Europe, and in the Americas. I like to think that it is my ability to weave a story, make it memorable, relatable and most importantly entertaining is one of the reasons that I have been successful in my career. 

You're currently based in New York City, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

One of the best things about NYC is that you can get great food at every price point, and from nearly every country. Around the corner from my office (which is located at the heart of the financial district in downtown NY), is Delmonico’s which is one of Manhattan’s oldest restaurants. It’s famous for it’s steak and very well worth the high price tag. K-town has fond memories for me as I grew up near there, hanging around my parent’s store when I was young - any place on 32nd street between Broadway and 5th Ave is a guaranteed good meal. But growing up, my family always hit HanBat on 35th street - good traditional cooking with very reasonable prices. But everywhere I travel, I am most enticed by everyday street food. The growing popularity of “Halal Carts” has made the availability of tastes from the Middle East a New York staple! If you want to take it off the street and have some authentic Shawarma sandwiches though, go to Mamoun’s - inexpensive, flavorful, and surrounded by the heartbeat of the village (there is one at both East Village and West Village).

To get in touch with Lee find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Kushal Arora

Based in Mumbai, India Kushal Arora works as a Senior Manager of Knowledge and Marketing at social media intelligence company Germin8. Kushal shared a bit about his current role, trends in his market and what skills are needed to excel in the field.


Could you tell us about your current role? 

In my current role, I overlook customer success managers who've been assigned to enterprise level customers. They are the caretakers of those brands' online reputation management and any campaign or crisis monitoring and reporting. I tend to supervise them and ideate ways to help them deliver client expectations. I also take care of any ad-hoc social media research projects and digital audits, wherein we help assess the effectiveness of brand owned social media properties.

What's your favorite part of working in market research?

Every new digital research project forces to learn new things, about a previously unknown or not-that-well-known service or product category. This way, each project is new in itself which thus makes it exciting for me.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

The trend about actual relevant and comprehensive conversations happening outside mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For instance, forums, blogs, even YouTube has a lot better content to study and analyse as opposed to conventional chatter on Twitter and Facebook which is too shallow for the most part.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

Research methodologies can be learnt while being on-the-job. However, command over language, ability to grasp people's intentions through their online writings, attention to detail, willingness to learn and ability to think from a 100-1000 level view is what, in my opinion, are essential to people entering social media research field. 

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I don't have a specific book or a course to recommend. Most of what I've learnt is while being on the job or having read blogs, news articles or LinkedIn posts.

To get in touch with Kushal find him on LinkedIn

Guest Lecturing for the Condé Nast Center For Fashion Design

A little over six months ago I realized if I were to re-contextualize my current approach to career progression as an investment portfolio it would be woefully lacking in diversification. While I hadn't managed to so clearly articulate this thought, small tweaks I have been making over the last half year or so helped me achieve this now crystal clear perspective. 

In case you haven't read any of what I've previously written let me bring you up to speed!

At the end of 2017 I realized I was in a bit of a rut. Since I wanted to create a career action plan I signed up for 5 sessions with a career coach, after trying some new things I realized I wasn't in professional shape for anything besides my current role. So besides launching this blog in February I have been mulling over many things. 

Two of the things that stuck out while I was exploring included an Inc. article, Steve Jobs on the Remarkable Power of Asking for Help which reminded me of the power of asking and a Medium article (sorry for being a Millennial cliché) 40 Ways to Reinvent Yourself, Stop Feeling Stuck, and (Finally) Find the Motivation You’ve Been Looking For while the whole article was good, this one point stuck out:

Follow the Warren Buffet rule

Write down twenty-five things you want to achieve in your lifetime. Pick the top five. Forget about the remaining twenty and work on those five.

So I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and I asked someone who worked at Condé Nast Center for Fashion Design if I could potentially do a guest lecture which came to fruition yesterday! 

Initially I though the lecture could be in English but after the plan was agreed to the suggested language for delivery was Chinese. Last year I might have backed out but after some long term goal reflection over the last half year I decided, hey why not. I've been in China for 10 years, worked in fashion for 9 and worked in a job that requires some Chinese language research for 6 six years. I've got this. 

The two hour class I presented yesterday probably took 10 hours of prep to put together, from designing the class to taking some LinkedIn classes about teaching and also doing a free practice test class. 

Yes, I think it could have been better and yes I forgot or said a few words wrong but overall the class was well received. The point of this post is more to mark a moment in my professional career, the first time I delivered a lecture for adults and to encourage you the reader to step out of your comfort zone. Sure it's scary but that's where growth is found.

I never thought I would ever be able to give a speech publicly as a lecturer, particularly in Chinese but this year I've done what I once thought was impossible. I think everyone can embrace growth if they practice the power of asking, saying yes and thinking about where they want to arrive at vs. what their afraid of doing. My August post for LinkedIn is definitely going to be about how I got over my fear of public speaking. Ha! 

In Conversation With Market Researcher Eric Msombo Wa Msombo

Based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eric Msombo Wa Msombo is a Field Manager for Sagaci Research a full service market research firm focusing on market intelligence for the continent of Africa. Eric shared a bit about his role, his favorite part of his job and what changes researchers should be watching for in the DRC. 


You are currently a Field Manager at Sagaci Research, could you tell us a bit about what the role entails? 

As Field Manger in a research firm I do the following:

1. Recruitment of agents according to the nature of project

2. Training of agents

3. Logistics of movement of agents in the country or region

4. Field monitoring

5 . I'm in the field everyday for control of data collection so we can have quality data for clients

6. As a Field Manager I'm assisted by team coordinators who supervise 4 agents in a project, we can have four to five teams it's depend on the nature of study.

7. Finance and administrative tasks during the field study, for example - apply for legal documents, contact local administration and brief them about research.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is when the project is closed without incidences as my field regions is Bukavu and Goma, they are war-zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to minerals. I'm happy when analysis is done and the client is happy with the outcome.

How has being trilingual helped you with your market research career?

It's an advantage because more clients are English speaker so I don't have a problem writing my reports, for oral communication it's an asset for me and helps me keep my job. In addition I can speak four mothers tongues and ear 14 of them as the the Democratic Republic of the Congo has 455 tribes.

What trends are happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that you feel market researchers should be watching?

For now DRC is recovering, if we will observe transition of power after election this year end DRC will be huge for market intelligence for manufacturers and or investors. As a researcher I do understand that we have to influence changes on regulatory to give development room. 

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

Qualtrics, What is a survey

To get in touch with Eric find him on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Mireya Arteaga

Based in California's San Jose city but working in San Francisco, Mireya Arteaga is a freelance research profession who is currently Research Director for Magna Global. Having joined the company in January, Mireya mentioned she is loving her role.

Having spoken at a conference recently she kindly shared her bio which provides a great overview of her work experience. 


"Mireya is a research director at Magna Global where she tests the effectiveness of new advertising products and strategies to help marketers make better media buying decisions. She has extensive experience running both domestic and international research studies related to Virtual Reality, Connected TV (CTV), advertising best practices, and brand engagement. Mireya has worked with Verto Analytics, Nielsen, Kantar Millward Brown, YuMe, Ipsos, Isobar, and Interpret, LLC. She holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from UC Santa Cruz."

Keep reading below for her input about her career, work day, industry trends she watching and her favorite places in San Francisco.

Could you tell us a bit about your career? How did you transition to market research?

I was a freelance data analyst for about a decade prior to managing research studies. I worked in a variety of industries which included financial, gaming and bioscience. About three years ago I applied for a job to work in research management and it was love at first sight. I was mentored by Paul Neto, (now VP at Milward Brown in Canada), and when he left our company I was given opportunity to manage the research department. It was a difficult transition as I was the only employee in the department, but I had the support of other teams as well. It was a steep learning curve and I loved every challenge. This year, had the great fortune to transition to freelance work again and land a position managing research studies at Magna. Working with a team on an international scale every day is exciting. I have found my niche in life and I intend to work in research for the rest of my career.

What's a day in the life or week of your current career like?

I love this! Every day falls into the following tasks:

1. Morning:

1. Project management: This is the bulk of any researcher’s day. Every morning I go through each study and review where we are and where I want to be by EOD. I review timelines, read and respond to emails, negotiate pricing, track down deliverables. Although this continues throughout the day, mornings are where I get reorganized and set the goals for the day through listing tasks by urgency.

2. Mid-morning to afternoon:

1. Meetings: Both internal and external meetings to manage workflow and set expectations on deliverables. The team I am on works as a group for all studies, so we are all expected to manage our own studies but can rely on everyone on the team to pitch in when times are tight.

3. Afternoon to EOD:

1. Study design, data work: This is the time of day when I usually sit down and perform the more hands on part of my job. If a study is underway, I work on pulling data for a storyline. If a study is about to launch, I spend hours reviewing test cell design with our SVP. If we are in the midst of creating a new study, sometimes I just sit and think and write notes on a scratch pad or chat with a team member. That time to sit with the idea and think of what we are really trying to say is invaluable. The execution is much faster if the idea is fully formed before any study design is undertaken. I try to follow the measure twice, cut once edict.

4. EOD:

1. Review of day: At the end of the day I review what is outstanding and clean up my notes for the day. Often I will send out final emails and send a request for review if I feel the task needs a new set of eyes.

Industry wise, what trends are currently happening in your sector that you find interesting?

Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are carving out exciting new entertainment categories, such as voice response games via the Echo. With this new media comes a brand new type of consumer interface. We are witnessing the dawn of a new means of communication and entertainment and I am looking forward to seeing how research companies respond to this new touchpoint.

You're currently work in San Francisco, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

Finding good cafes is my number one life goal outside of research and reading books. I love Atlas Cafe in the Mission [district] for good salads (beet especially), and Craftsman and Wolves for pastries. I live in San Jose so anywhere on the way to SF is fair game. Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park is my all-time favorite place for excellent chicken salad and huge carrot cake slices. Top it off with a visit to Kepler’s Books and I am set!

To get in touch with Mireya find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Arun Upadhyay

Arun Upadhyay currently holds an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown. Based in Mumbai, India he has experience in healthcare research and project management covering the EU and APAC.


Keep reading below for his insights around entering the industry, developing expertise and current market research trends in India.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

I believe a bachelors and or graduate degree works here the best (in science, sociology, psychology, mathematics or marketing etc). But nowadays, a great importance is given to masters or post graduate programmes like MBA, business analytics etc.

To start working in this industry a person should at least be aware of the methodologies quant/qual [quantitate / qualitative].

You are currently in an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown, could you tell us about how that happened and what sort of work it entails?

Kantar is a global brand to work with and I was always keen to join Millward Brown as the work done here is more interesting which focuses more on catering to the end clients rather than helping the MR [market research] agencies to collect data. I deal in handling field operations and client servicing. Say, coordination among all the stakeholders involved in the projects.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

We cannot miss the digital world and this is taking over all other methodologies of collecting data. Though this is bit limited to qualitative methodologies. But that being said qualitative can always be more efficient if it remains to its original format. (Communication among the moderators and respondents is more effective here).

I believe data authenticity plays a very important role and thus researchers should see that it is coming from a right source and has been validated and is correct before processing it and presenting the insights to clients.

Again, I believe storytelling nowadays is gaining importance to get the insights from the consumers. Storytelling to collect feedback helps the researchers to keep the survey respondents engaged throughout and get a better responses over a period of time.

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I have enrolled myself to some of the LinkedIn Learning programmes. This is easily available on LinkedIn.

Below are some that can be reviewed:

Intuit, QuickBooks: 5 Resources to Conduct Market Research 

Government of Canada, Guide to Market Research and Analysis




To get in touch with Arun find him on LinkedIn.