Zulily Shares How Diversity and Innovation Are Critical to Its Future
Photo Credit: Afrotech / Zulily

Zulily Shares How Diversity and Innovation Are Critical to Its Future

They say it always rains in Seattle, but there’s something much more fascinating about the city. Amid its cloudy skies is a bright glow: e-commerce brand Zulily, a company that brings the best in fashion, décor, toys and more at a fraction of the price. With daily sales and price-matching guarantees, customers can browse and discover the perfect item at a price they can brag about. 

While moms are its core customers, Zulily has something for everyone. With over 15,000 brands and thousands of new products available each day, anyone can tap into the network of savings and offerings.

More than an online retailer, Zulily is a tech company making its mark on how people shop. With a curated experience that feels like a personalized boutique, customers can navigate the mobile app or website to discover what’s new and next. Zulily uses its data science and machine learning models to ensure customers have the best experience with 1:1 personalization and seamless implementation of its fulfillment model. With a commitment to excellence and expertise in technology, merchandising, operations and logistics, studio and marketing, Zulily is positioning itself as a leader in the e-commerce and tech industry while building excellent customer experiences that deliver the best shopping experience for moms everywhere.

 This people-first perspective resonates with Zulily’s employees as well. Software Engineer Lola Llanes and Senior Software Engineer Nanya Origbo are direct beneficiaries of the work culture Zulily has curated to ensure its teams are supported and positioned for success.

Innovating Her Way to the Top: Intern to Full Time

Lola Llanes, Software Engineer, Merch and Vendor Platforms

Lola Llanes was immediately drawn to Zulily during a presentation she heard as a student at the Ada Developers Academy. “The one time that always sticks out to me was when he [John Grasel, Zulily’s Director of Software Engineering] talked about a moment when a higher-up asked him if he had broken anything lately,” says Llanes. She recalls John explaining if you aren’t breaking anything, you might have to question whether you’re learning anything new. That perspective — the ability to be challenged to experiment, innovate, test and learn — intrigued Llanes.

 

To drive ongoing innovation, Zulily provides tech team members with dedicated “technical skill development” time. These are days when employees press pause on their current projects and instead work on other innovative projects of their choosing — and some of these become implemented initiatives. It’s this out-of-the-box thinking that confirmed for Llanes that Zulily is more than an e-commerce company. It’s a place where talent can have a meaningful impact on the business.

 

Transitioning out of the Ada Developers Academy, Llanes joined Zulily as an intern during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While onboarding, Llanes learned about the company’s five guiding principles, one of which is focused on empathy.

 

“My team acknowledged [my starting during a pandemic] and was consistent in helping me as a new member,” says Llanes. As someone new to the tech space, Llanes found her team’s attention and support key to her career journey.

Llanes has been greatly impacted by Zulily’s culture and development opportunities, and she hasn’t been selfish with her journey. After all, transitioning into tech and navigating from intern to full-time employee was no easy feat — especially as a woman of color. So, Llanes participates in Zulily’s Women in Tech (ZuWIT) resource group and stays connected with her fellow Adies (Ada Developer grads). “I share my journey from Ada to Zulily and how to navigate through everyday challenges as a woman of color to get into tech,” she says. 

From Stay-at-Home Mom to Designing for Moms


Nanya Origbo, Senior Software Engineer, Shopping Experience

Zulily is committed to all employees’ ongoing growth and development. Part of that comes from its established affinity groups. Team members are encouraged to join these groups and hold forums that encourage them to give back to their communities and be proactive in Zulily’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Senior Software Engineer Nanya Origbo serves as a leader of the ZuWIT resource group. Origbo is also on a team that creates tools and resources related to the customer’s shopping experience. Her journey to Zulily started as a member of the organization’s core audience base: moms.

After being a stay-at-home mom for 18 months, Origbo decided to reenter the workforce. “I spent a lot of time as a Zulily customer, shopping for items for my daughter and me. So when it was time to look for a job, I connected with a hiring manager on LinkedIn. And the rest is history,” she says.

 From the very beginning, Zulily’s culture stood out to Origbo. She saw it in action while waiting for her official interview because a product photoshoot was happening at the same time. But it just wasn’t the atmosphere and intriguing work that captivated her. Zulily’s culture radiates from the people that work there. “It didn’t even feel like an interview. Each conversation was more about sharing stories and experiences,” she says.

 Origbo integrated her experiences as a customer and mom into identifying possible pain points and ways to improve the shopping experience. This brought a sense of community and belonging, which has translated to her leadership of ZuWIT. “One of the goals is to drive higher representation and retention of women in tech at Zulily,” says Origbo. Some of this work is done through a mentorship program, which ZuWIT leaders started in the summer of 2021 to allow employees to connect with senior leaders who provide wisdom and tools beneficial to their careers.

Another way Zulily is building community and its commitment to diversity is by ensuring there’s a diverse pool of applicants. That work starts early by promoting STEM education through partnerships with organizations like Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code.

Zulily thrives on the success and development of its people. Lola Llanes and Nanya Origbo are prime examples of how investing in people can shape the success of an organization. Giving people the ability to be authentic and have ownership over their projects allows for diverse perspectives and innovative processes that can drive innovation and accelerate growth. This holistic approach and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are rooted in Zulily’s principles, which call on employees to drive progress, act with empathy, be brave, embrace the future and do what’s right. 

If you’re interested in being a part of this innovative organization and want to learn more about the work Zulily is doing, visit its career page.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Zulily.