We spoke to the wonderful Zoe Bayliss Wong, Depop's Finance Director (also known as @zoedubs on Depop) about her role at Depop and how far she has come since she started there 5 years ago...
What is your Depop role? “I’ve been at Depop for almost 5 years and have had a variety of roles during that time. I’m now the Finance Director - it might not be the most glamorous role but everyone knows the importance of $$$. In short, my role is to ensure that we’re spending and making money in the best way. Of course, we have investors to please and we’re constantly reviewing our growth plans but as we get bigger, there is also a ton of financial and legal requirements that we now have to meet. It’s a great role, you really get to see every part of the business so even though I’m not as user-facing any more, I feel like I’m always behind the scenes.”
How does working at Depop differ from other job roles you’ve had in the past? “I’ve worked with a few fashion brands before but Depop is definitely the most fun! As a mobile-first platform with a young user base, we face a completely different set of challenges compared to your average big retail company. When you put it all together, Depop is at the forefront of a huge change in the industry and big companies are only just starting to respond. At bigger companies, I was often only dealing with a single area within the business but the pace of growth at Depop has been an eye-opening experience. It really excites me to think about where we can innovate next.”
What is a normal day in the Depop office? “It sounds cheesy but honestly, no day is the same - except for the daily management team standup, which always happens without fail. On a daily basis I work with a number of people to plan, analyse and make strategic decisions for the business. It can be anything from analysing the number of downloads from our latest campaign, to negotiating a deal with a fashion partner or creating a presentation on business performance for our investors. My favourite days are when we meet with users from the community or when we gather for an all-company meeting. Although working in a fast-paced business is often unpredictable and stressful, I love that every day is different.”
What has being part of the Depop team brought to you? “I believe you can learn something new from every team and every person you work with. It’s not just limited to technical experience - you can pick up valuable lessons in empathy, respect and teamwork from anyone. We have an incredibly diverse team at HQ, with a wide range of cultures, ages and experiences that ultimately will help us all to serve
the Depop community better. In my opinion, these are some of the most transferable skills – you can be the smartest person in the room but if you can’t work with people, you can’t achieve success together.”
How does it feel to be working for such a popular, highly respected company that is helping to tackle fast fashion and promotes second hand and vintage clothing?
“I’m just glad that it’s a popular app now! Whenever people used to ask me what I did, I remember always having to follow “I work at Depop” with an explanation of “Depop is....”. It still blows my mind to even think about how well-known it is now. When you think about it, we basically spend at least a quarter of the week at work - so it’s really important for me to spend my time and my efforts working at a company that is doing something meaningful. As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the world but even before this recent shift towards sustainable fashion, I loved Depop because it was giving young people a chance to make their own money, their own way. I still get a rush when I see sellers getting featured in the press or starting a pop up store.”
How has your Depop experience changed from when you first started out being a part of the team to now?
“I mean, I’m not having to come in on the weekend and paint the office walls anymore, that’s for sure! Yeah, we’re in a nicer office with nicer furniture but now that we’re bigger, the stakes definitely feel bigger too. As a company, we now have a huge community of users that we feel responsible for and the target on our back only gets larger as we become more prominent internationally. Not to mention the growing list of legal and statutory compliance that comes with our size, it can be difficult to build app improvements as quickly as we used to. I think of it like building a house - we’ve done a few floors and I know we can build an amazing roof garden but we also need to strengthen the whole building first to make sure it’ll be standing in years to come. Myself and Maria (CEO) have been here for a long time though, so I’d like to think that quite a bit of the agile, start-up culture still remains.”
What has been your greatest achievement during your time in the Depop sphere? “We’ve had some hairy times when our bank balance ran very low, so each fundraising round always feels like an achievement in itself but personally, my most memorable moment was running the Depop re-brand back in 2017, taking our old white and red bubble aesthetic into the punchy colours and font style you see today. I’m a numbers gal at heart so design and marketing aren’t exactly my thing but we didn’t have a Marketing lead at the time, so I ended up project managing the lot. I even wrote the captions for our first social media posts! It was new, it was exciting but also terrifying. A lot of users hated the new look but looking back, I think it was the rebrand that really helped set us apart from other marketplaces and defined the tone for who we are today.”
Do you shop Depop yourself? “Of course! We once ran a competition to see who was the top staff user and it used to be me - before we started hiring top sellers directly from our community. I’m much more of a buyer than a seller now. I don’t believe you can make great decisions for the app if you don’t understand the community you serve.”
Who are your ultimate favourite shops? “Looking at my purchase history, I actually buy from a range of sellers - not just established top sellers either. I can’t pick a favourite, but I do have a special place in my heart for some of the community leaders and sellers who have been around since I joined. I’m constantly browsing the #depopcommunity hashtag on Instagram. I’ve found so many great sellers that way. Hit me up @zoe_dubs! Also, now that we work with charities like @cancer_research_uk and @thebhf it would be remiss of me not to mention them too.”
How do you feel being an OG Depop staff member and watching the company grow into something major? “It’s mental. There have been so many ups and downs along the way! Although it’s taken a ton of work just to get us to this point, I do feel like the work now has only just begun. We’re seeing the beginning of a complete reset within the fashion industry and Depop are helping to lead the way. I just really hope we can do it justice.”
What do you admire the most about the humans of Depop?
“The characters! So many unique and memorable people - of course 18 million users are never all going to get along but I swear you don’t get this sort of spirit at other marketplaces. At the office, everyone is so different but it just works. I think it’s because we all share a strong sense of values, we care about what we do. I see it reflected in the community too and it makes me so proud - I’m constantly leaving high five emojis everywhere, it’s embarrassing. Working remotely the last few months, I realise how much I really really miss the wider team - those chats whilst making coffee or at our Friday ‘Vibes at 5’ gathering. And the dogs! It’s a dog friendly office, and I miss my furry pals too.”
If it wasn’t for Depop, where do you think you’d be now?
“I’m not sure - most likely a finance job for a fashion or beauty company. I used to have a blog and YouTube channel, which I stopped when my working hours got longer so who knows what could have happened! I’d never considered working at a start-up before I joined Depop and now I can’t imagine going back to a big corporate company.”
Do you have any advice or hot tips for anyone wanting to get into the slow fashion world or Depop industry? “I guess I’d say that your dream job is not always a one-move, one-decision strategy. I used to think that I had to wait for a big break or find THE opportunity - but actually I’ve realised there are increasingly more crossover opportunities when it comes to mixing something practical with something you love. The dream combination sometimes needs a series of steps to get there and not all of them are planned.”