Our Fantastic Out-of-this-world Team of Cool Bad-Asses

We’re a small but formidable team made up of people from all over the world. 🌎 Our varied experiences & paths towards this company is what gives us our edge… because no matter which client we partner up with, there’s always someone who’s an expert!

(Sidenote: putting this Team page together became a fun project that we were all involved in! We found out a lot about each other… and rather than keeping bios and stories professional and industry-standard, we let our hair down and went overboard. Like we do with everything. It’s part of who we are. We’re a colorful group looking to grow with like-minded people.)

Atul Singh, Co-founder and CEO

Superpower: Mental Math

Atul, aka Raj aka Lau’tul, hails from Rajasthan, India – the place of kings. As the other half of our dynamic co-founding duo (Lauren + Atul = Lau’tul), Atul also does a little bit of everything, and a lot of anything algorithm-driven. He attended IIT then earned a PhD in computer science from Rice University. 🖥️

Atul currently boasts no hobbies. Like, none. But…

He says he likes to buy exercise equipment (although, he never uses it).

Oh, and he also knows the strings on a guitar (presumably – he took two lessons).

When he’s not working, we suspect Atul’s downtime includes activities that help him think through work stuff. For instance, he likes driving, barbecue, and ladoos. Lau’tul also recently welcomed Baby Daphne to the fold!

Fun fact from Lauren: “When I first met Atul, he was working at NEC labs. When asked what he did there he replied (dead seriously) ‘basically, I think.’ ” Ahh… of course. We think all this thinking has led to his extreme knack for coming up with the longest-running cringe-worthy Dad jokes ever. 🙈

Lauren Jung, Co-founder and COO

Favorite color: Rainbow

As one of our founders, Lauren’s our “little bit of everything” person, the true force behind all of our creative efforts. She’s had a hand in everything, from writing blogs and designing infographics to overseeing proposals, sweet-talking clients, and front-end (sort of) app stuff (when our developer lets her mess around with things, which isn’t often).

Lauren majored in fine art 🎨 at Furman University (after dropping out of biology halfway through her first semester). Then she went to the Portfolio Center in Atlanta for graphic design. And then started working at Grey (a big agency) as a junior designer with a fierce competitive streak, and freelanced as a fabric designer on the side.

Of course, like most creatives, Lauren also spent time hustling and bustling for “The Man”. She worked as a waitress for five years while in school – at one point, in an upscale restaurant where a newly-knighted Sir Elton John yelled at her for forgetting his corn. 🌽 (Now we know what that yellow-brick road’s paved with, am I right?)

When she’s not working on stuff for The Shelf, Lauren loves camping, painting, and grabbing furniture off the street on trash day.

In real life though, Lau’tul (what we call our co-founders Lauren + Atul for short) just had Baby Xander… so the most likely after-work scenario would be something a little less me-time and way more we-time. Pretty sure.

Another rando fact: She once made out with the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish… but that has nothing to do with previous mentions of the band on our blog or in our marketing emails. Coincidences all.

Artur Siekielski, Back-end Programmer

Superpower: Beating AIs with custom algorithms

Artur has been with us from the beginning: solving problems, outwitting robots 🤖, and doing other back-end-y things… the results of which we see and enjoy. Gonna be honest here – not quite sure what he’s cooking over there in Poland, and he’s too busy to explain his job to me in words that I can grok. So, let’s just get on with the other introductory stuff. 

Artur is in Poland, originally from Sorkwity, Warmian-Masurian and now living in Gdynia, Pomerania. He studied Computer Science at the University of Gdańsk. And worked with Nordea Bank, developing the back-end of an e-banking system before joining us full time. 

Artur is a developer’s developer, with enough hands-on experience to be able to solve whatever problems we send his way (which is sort of his thing, focusing on problems instead of technologies). He’s developed multiple back-end components and custom algos that leave standard solutions in their dust. 💨

He’s not really one to brag, but he also contributed code to the Mars Rover!!!!!! F-yeah Artur!

And last but not least, he’s not all ones and zeros all the time. In addition to programming, Artur enjoys hiking, bicycle tourism, and listening to music.

Sabrina Fenster, Director of Account Management

Notable clients she’s worked with: Every single client we’ve ever had. 🙂

Sabs heads up our Account Management department, overseeing all of the AMs and the campaigns they run. Sabrina is our most senior team member – she was The Shelf’s first employee, way back in 2014 when we were a SaaS company (talk about a throwback!). Sabrina’s had a pretty active hand in helping the founders drive growth and shape The Shelf culture.

Meaning if this were the 90s, she’d have earned her own special parking space near the door.

Sabrina lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she attended Concordia University, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Diploma in Marketing Management/Communications.

Aside from being arguably the most fashion-forward person on the team, Sabrina is a street style photographer 📸 and micro-influencer (on Insta @streetscout). Before being the glue that holds our Account Management team together, Sabrina (or Sabsaroni or Sabserella… you can cast your vote for your favorite nickname here) used to moonlight in the limelight. She ran an event-planning company called Strut Inc. where she planned fashion, lifestyle and art events, celeb red carpets, and other opportunities for fanfare.

Sabrina is a cat mom 🐱 to Scout the ragdoll (her mascot for streetscout and for life), and she holds the unofficial title of highest kicker on The Shelf team.

Pavel Sukhanov, Front-end and Back-end Programmer

AKA: Toothywalrus

Pavel is a wizard with a keyboard. If you have a programming wish, this guy can probably grant it. As one of the most senior members of our team, Pavel has been responsible for making many a functionality dream come true on our platform. 

As our only Ukraine-based team member (living in Kharkiv), Pavel’s claim to fame is that he somehow finds better and better ways to improve the structure of our client-side application and API layer, to make it more predictable and maintainable. If that sounds fancyish, it totally is – because we have the distinct benefit of being able to request features and have them built out for our clients and account managers in weeks, not years.

Before joining The Shelf team, Pavel developed web applications at AnvilEight. He studied Computer Science at the National University of Kharkiv, and he has a real knack for thinking through and working out problems. He’s pretty awesome. 

Pavel’s a dad and he enjoys bicycle riding in the woods 🌲, listening to classic 60s and 70s records, solving competitive programming problems, playing with Raspberry Pi, reading/watching Math & CS books/articles/lectures, and occasionally reading something to fill his gaps in non-technical knowledge (philosophy, history, etc).

Like we said – awesome.

He also has a particular love for discovering new concepts and ideas and being introduced to old music and movies.

Sorilbran Stone, Head of Content Marketing

Claim to fame: Owns an autographed picture of Richard Grieco

Sorilbran (pronounced suh-RIL-brən) oversees the content for our branded channels. She joined The Shelf in 2015, when she answered a hilarious job posting on Upwork (or was it Elance back then?) to edit blog posts and make them funnier.

Sorilbran is a #girlmom, #stepmom, #dogmom and #hamstermom. When she’s not momming or running The Shelf blog, Sorilbran tinkers around with her own blog… about momming. 🤗

Before joining The Shelf, Sorilbran held a weird little mix of different positions like…

Co-owning a window company and a hair salon, producing Hip Hop, and fronting a vintage soul band. She once ran for public office just to see her name on the ballot. Then she won, and things got awkward for everyone.

Sorilbran grew up in Detroit, spent a little time in LA, and has lived in the sticks outside of Atlanta for 10 years, during which time she raised a show pig (Dr. Schmidt, the Running Pig (RIP to a real one)).

Pretty smiles and little fists are on the family crest. Sorilbran’s mom was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do 🥋 who single-handedly disarmed a man with a gun who tried to ruin everyone’s Christmas. Her sister and niece studied jiu-jitsu. Her grandma was a literal gun-toting granny, and Sorilbran studied martial arts for years… to the chagrin of the guy who tried to snatch her handbag one morning as she walked in a crappy part of town. #GetTheseLittleBrownHands

Sorilbran is a fan of gardening, bad sci-fi movies, cult comedies, the History Channel’s “That Built America” series, and the UFC.

Muhit Alam Razon, Data Management and Lead Gen

AKA: Muhit (it’s a thing)

If you know him well, you probably call him Razon. If you don’t, you call him by his nickname, Muhit. Which is also his first name, by the way.

Muhit is on the data management 📊 side of things (you knew there was probably a data management side, right?). He joined the team in 2016 to jump-start some of our more aggressive lead generation efforts. Originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Muhit has a BBA (Accounting) from Dhaka College. 

Now, here’s a little data about Muhit that you may not know. He’s actually worked in Lead Generation and Data Management for years, providing support for TelcoDR, Busuu, and Affluent.co. He has a deep understanding of the strategies that make B2B lead generation most effective, and he’s an energetic, responsive, reliable team member and problem-solver.

As great as Muhit is at managing data, he’s better at making spicy curry. 🔥 You may find him, spicy curry in hand, watching thrillers. If he’s not in front of a computer or in the kitchen, check the roof (he likes to garden) or else, he may be traveling.

Konstantin Smirnov, Illustrator and Design Ninja

Superpower: Reads minds

Константин Смирнов has been our beloved illustrator since 2018ish. He has an uncanny knack for dreaming up fantastical illustrations that convert complex concepts into really cool visuals… and you barely have to tell him anything (we think he reads minds). Just hand him some stats and he. goes. INSANE. 🎨 He’s also gotten totally on board with Lauren’s love for Rainbows, Unicorns, and Pugs. You’ll find them tucked into graphics everywhere!

So… those whimsically magnificent designs you see everywhere on our website, blog posts, infographics, marketing materials, ebooks, and even these cute little bio pic frames? All Konstantin.

“Hey, Google… what time is it in Moscow?”

You probably guessed from the Cyrillic letters that Konstantin may be Russian. He’s based in Moscow, and studied Environment Design at MGHPA Stroganov.

Here are a few things about Konstantin you may not have guessed: he loves playing chess, he’s a runner, he likes drawing funny things, and he can work on something all day and not get tired.

Any hidden talents? Yes. Konstantin can cook an egg to perfection, without a timer (no easy feat – let’s be real here: Lady Luck pretty much has to be on your side to not undercook or overcook an egg). 🍳

Ryan Kucey, Brand Partnerships Manager

Superpower: Learns new things FAST. Like really fast. 

Notable clients he’s worked with: Zenni Optical, Blued, Avocados From Mexico, Sezzle, Design Pickle, Greenvelope, Hatfield Meats, Nite Ize, Sweet Defeat, and Apple Vacations.

Ryan’s an expert when it comes to influencer marketing – he’s strategic, results-driven, and full of great ideas.

Turns out Ryan’s a bit of a thought leader, too. He’s a regular writer on Medium, he teaches a Udemy course on becoming an influencer (which more than 1000 students have already taken), and he’s a talent manager.

Uh… yeah… that’s what we said.

Legend has it that before joining The Shelf team, Ryan earned his stripes running a media agency that gave him tons of experience managing partnerships with celebrity influencers of the Real-Housewives variety.

Ryan has overseen thousands (👈🏼 not hyperbole) of influencer marketing activations – making him an influencer marketing veteran, of sorts.

As part of our ever-growing Canadian team, Ryan is a native of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia – having grown up in a really small town. He then moved to the big city of Halifax (aka Halifornia), where he attended St. Mary’s University to study Marketing, and he’s been there ever since. Oh, and he’s also got a few honorary degrees from YouTube University on various DIY topics.

When he’s not being a total BOSS in the influencer space, Ryan has a healthy-ish obsession with personal development and vitality -with a particular love for juicing fruits and veggies. 🥕

Elizabeth Hassett, Accounts Supervisor

Superpower: Book smarts (you’ll see what we mean in a sec)

Notable clients she’s worked with: All of them.

Elizabeth is our Accounts Supervisor, and she’s in charge of making all things beautiful. She oversees the day-to-day planning and execution of our clients’ campaigns. She uses her keen people-reading abilities to help clients zero in on their goals. And she helps the account managers nudge influencers toward creating the kind of content that can help clients reach those goals.

Elizabeth grew up on the mean streets of Charm City and earned her Masters in Library and Information Sciences 📚 from the University of Maryland. And everyone knows that Library scientists are ninja-level marketers – what with their mastery of customer relations, problem solving skills, and the ability to mentally catalog all sorts of information just to whip it out when it’s most useful. Well, that’s her. That’s Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s creativity isn’t limited to finding clever ways to get the most ROI from campaigns, though. She’s also an avid crafter – she knits, embroiders, paints, and makes magic with Canva Pro. She’s also also a dog mom to Beau (you can usually spot him in the background of calls, being a really good boy). 🐕

Before joining The Shelf team, Elizabeth worked as the Punch! manager in the DMV area locations, and as a digital imager for the Old Weather Project at the National Archives.

Kirsten Morrell, Account Manager

Superpower: Can stay awake and functional for 22 hours straight to get sh*t done!

From Puyallup to Bend to Coeur d’Alene to Boise, Kirsten “I love a good process” Morell is an Account Manager and our resident mixologist. Firmly planted in the heart of America, the (now) Boise-based gal has worked in the social media space for years, serving as an Event Coordinator and Social Media Manager at Lay It Out Events before joining The Shelf team in 2019.

Kirsten graduated with a BA in Advertising from the University of Oregon, BUT she double-majored (PR and Advertising) for the first three years. So, she’s a mack (90s term that means a BOSS, but I’m going somewhere with it) when it comes time to finesse clients and influencers to make campaigns run smoothly. She’s used her organization and client-whispering skills for brands like Jazwares, Sezzle, and KISS.

Kirsten is the quintessential social butterfly. 🦋 She loves a good dinner party, good food, and a good bottle of wine. Remember how we said she’s a mixologist? She makes these mind-blowing martinis and delicious (but dangerous) mixed drinks. When she’s not hosting a party, she may actually be out looking for one. She’s also our resident “Happy Hour Hunter” – her words, not ours.

Kirsten is a triplet (I know right? We just found out about that, too) who was a cheerleader in high school. Annnd since one of her nicknames is “Tiny,” you can probably guess she’s one of the cheerleaders that got thrown in the air. Ask her to tell you about the time she got a concussion at cheer camp after falling from a 10-ft extension.

She’s a #dogmom to Ivy and she loves the colors pink and glitter (and yes, glitter is a color). Kirsten loves the great outdoors. 🌲 She regularly hikes, and can put up a 10×10 pop-up tent by herself.

Ali Barnes, Brand Partnerships Manager

Notable clients she’s worked with: Carbon Health, Lenox, Quinny, Mommy’s Bliss, Pilot Pen, PureBites, Yelp, Victory Automotive Group, Jazwares, American Standard

Alison Barnes, (or Ali or APB or Barnesy) is a woman who knows everybody. Malcolm Gladwell said it best when he said that some people are just connectors – and Ali is most definitely one of those people. 🤗

Originally from Yorktown, Indiana, Ali attended Ball State University where she majored in Journalism: Public Relations.

A recent transplant to Texas, Ali is trying to get used to the term “y’all” being a legitimate pronoun. While she’s reimagining what conversation means living in the Lone Star state, she’s also getting pretty good at identifying the qualities that make for superior BBQ and Tex-Mex.#justsayin

Ali joined The Shelf in 2019 from NBCUniversal (Chicago) where she worked in Digital Sales + Strategy. As a member of our sales team, Ali is often one of the first points of contact for prospective clients. So we’ve come to rely on her charm, easy manner, and problem-solving abilities to convert clicks into clients. And to get us through long meetings. And to cheer us all on.

Aside from her mastery of relationship building and her amazing team-building abilities (seriously, you walk away from a conversation with her feeling like a superstar), Ali is also the reigning GOAT at making homemade pizza rolls. #lifechanging 🍕

Ashley Zimmerman, Brand Strategist

Superpower: Relentless Hustle

Ashley is one of our brand partnership strategists – she’s the creative engine that helps the sales team formulate cool ideas and dead-on strategies for clients, all from behind the curtain.

Ashley joined the fold in 2020, but not before embarking on the kinds of adventures that make you want to stop and ask questions.

Like the time she was an au pair in Italy. 🇮🇹

Or when she was a bartender in San Francisco. 🍹

Or a farmworker in Hawaii. (Whaa??) 🌴

And she still somehow had the time and energy to open and manage a women’s retail store where she handled everything from inventory to Instagram posts. Here’s a woman who knows a little something about hustling, having too much to do, and still getting things DONE. #agencylife

Ashley originally hails from California and now lives in Texas, where she loves to spend time cooking, gardening, and being Jenny-on-the-Spot for her stepkids. When she’s not being awesome, you can find Ashley in the mountains, loving on New Mexico (she has THE coolest jewelry), making and sipping martinis, and watching Dateline.

That last one was for the normals.

Alex Naess, Account Manager

Special Talents: affiliate marketing, house staging, dog momming

Alex Naess joined the Account Management team in 2020. In fact, she’s one of the AMs responsible for successful campaign activations for Zenni Optical and The Honest Company. 

Alex is a bonafide California girl who lives in her hometown of Santa Cruz. She attended Loyola Marymount University, where she majored in Business Administration. Before joining The Shelf, Alex worked with PepperJam (which was AffiliateTraction when she was there) and Forty-Three PR. 

These days she’s a wizard ✨ when it comes to matching offbeat, super-niche influencers with the right clients… but there was a time when she was a BOSS at staging houses while she worked in real estate. (So, if you ever need any interior design ideas, Alex is your girl.)

Downtime for Alex is all about experiences. She enjoys hot pilates and spending time with her family, friends, and two weird-but-adorable French bulldogs. And if you’re looking for a chill hang, she’s your plus-one for the next dinner party (Italian, please!). Alex can also whip up a mean charcuterie board. 🧀

Alex also loves to travel and can be found van life-ing it up along the California coast, or heading out for a day at the beach with friends.

Nicole Rosen, Account Manager

“I love influencer searching– it’s like a new puzzle every time!”

Nicole is one of our amazing Account Managers, holding down the fort in Boulder, Colorado. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder (go Buffaloes!!) where she studied Public Relations with a minor in graphic design (Hello, Canva alchemy) and learned the ancient secrets of the barista. 

Nicole is a morning person who loves skiing. Like, she LOVES skiing. Backcountry skiing, alpine skiing, water skiing… all of it. She’s a big fan of the great outdoors, and likes to spend time hiking, backpacking, camping, running (she runs half marathons, nbd) road biking… pretty much anything that requires sunscreen, bug spray, and losing a cell signal. For a girl who says she eats two desserts a day, that’s pretty darned good. (Gotta have that life balance!)  

Before joining our team, Nicole worked as a marketing and social media coordinator for The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, so… fancy) and also did PR for Verde Brand Communications. 

And if she hasn’t already won your heart, Nicole, aka Coly aka Pickle is dedicated to sustainability. And not in a slacktivism kind of way, either. In a money-where-your-mouth-is, low-waste, bring-your-own-grocery-bags kind of way. Nicole estimates that she thrifts 95% of her clothes, and she may go through one roll of paper towels per year. 👀

Christy Van der Henst, Content Marketing Assistant

Super Skill: Trend tracker

Haystack, Hayweird, or Haytown – whatever you might nickname the town of Hayward California – it is the hometown to our incredible Christy. Since her move to Redondo Beach, she’s been soaking up the sun between new Reels spearheading our move to video content (bye, skyscraper posts…👋🏽  ).

Christy is rounding the corner on her Advertising & Public Relations studies at California State University – Dominguez Hills. Woot!! Woot!! Christy is a busy busy lady! When she is not up to her neck in content ideas at The Shelf, Christy’s runs her own blog and side hustles as a content creator for a list of brands within her personal portfolio. Christy also spends her time indulging in her hobbies of photography, watching movies, and baking (YUM!).

Christy is also a world-renowned“super aunt.” Her nephews call her “Tia” and they love hanging out with her, especially when she bakes for them! 🍪

We are also anxiously awaiting her romance novel she has been working on for 5 years now, but wrapped up in October! Look for a publication next year! #madskillz

Anthony Nestel, Director of Digital Marketing

Claim to fame: National Team Rugby Player – U17 and U19

Anton (that’s what we call him) is our lead generatin’, click-triggerin’ ninja. Currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia by way of Johannesburg, South Africa, Anton has used his skills to fortify influencer campaigns for years now. Before joining The Shelf team, Anton served as the head of Digital and Affiliate Marketing at The Synergy Effect.

Anton’s a self-proclaimed marketing geek (as all the cool kids are), so you would probably never know that he’s also an amateur chef. 👨🏼‍🍳 Not in the Burger King kinda way (not even with the poutines), but in the culinary-school, best-risotto-around kinda way. No, this one’s a culinary artiste (we added the “e” because he’s also fluent in French).

Anton serves on the board of a charity that supports a crèche in South Africa called “Woodhouse Children Relief Fund”, which was co-founded by his mom. They do really great work, and support children in the local community by providing them with daily meals and after-school tutoring and help.

If you come through our [virtual] doors, you’ll eventually find yourself in a meeting with Anton. He runs the paid digital marketing strategies for all of our clients, as well as for our own brand. 📲

And when he’s not actively marketing, reading about marketing, working with Woodhouse, cooking, or being a pro athlete (this guy…) Anton likes listening to music and watching cooking competition shows.

Taylor Richter, Account Manager

Gangsta Rap Name: T-Rich and Tay is the Go-To

Meet Taylor Richter, a coffee-drinking, beach-loving Account Manager who joined The Shelf team in 2021. Before coming onboard to help craft super-cool campaigns for clients such as Greenvelope, Taylor worked as an account manager at The Synergy Effect. 

 

T-Rich (as her friends like to call her) completed her undergraduate education at Mount Saint Vincent University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. And in case you’re wondering, Mount Saint Vincent is also in Nova Scotia🍁. 

 

Now that we have the basics out of the way, here are the 5 ways Taylor is awesome.

  1. Taylor earned her fear of heights fair and square by partaking in aerial feats such as skydiving, bungee jumping and piloting a plane. 
  2. In her free(ish) time, Taylor teaches local gym goers different workout styles. 🧘‍♀️ 
  3. Taylor digs trashy reality TV – it’s a not-so-guilty pleasure. 
  4. Taylor puts her science chops to good use as an independent nutrition consultant in Nova Scotia. 🥗🥑
  5. For fun, Taylor likes to work out with her friends.

Alex Laskey, Account Manager

Superpower: Insider insight… as an actual influencer 

A recent addition to the Account Management team, Alex (short for Alexandra) or Laskey, as some people call her, is a powerhouse in our client-facing world. She’s working with Lenox and Yelp for Restaurants, among a few others. And absolutely killing it. 

Hailing from the Port City of Saint John, New Brunswick, Alex is a true Maritimer who’s now living just a province over in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And by true Maritimer, we mean that she’s a sucker for ocean sunsets and sailing (probably at the same time). ⛵

She’s also a big fan of lilacs, blogging, travelling (remember when that was a thing?), trying new foods, and hitting up local vineyards in the summertime. Oh – and she’ll never pass up the chance to pet a dog. Some might say she’s obsessed (well actually… she said it herself). 🐶

Did we mention she makes a mean latte? This Self-Proclaimed Barista can truly do it all – and a lot of it is thanks to her dual Finance/Marketing degree from Saint Mary’s University. She comes from a background of working in the influencer marketing industry too, both at a previous agency as well as being an influencer herself. #alwaysinfluencing

Tiwa Omolade, Strategist

A.K.A: Queentiwa, a spot-on, albeit super-fancy name she gave herself at the age of 10

Born and raised in Canada, loved and stayed in Canada. Tiwa is a Maple Leaf through and through. Adding to her royal title, she became a Lancer at the University of Windsor, graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration.

Before becoming a Brand Partnerships Strategist with The Shelf, Tiwa first earned her marketing chops as a content creator, a freelance journalist, and an English teacher in South Korea (nice!) Annnnd she’s also an expert on Korean BBQ. 

Tiwa has more than 5 years of marketing experience and she’s a whiz when it comes to anything social media marketing. Seriously… all the things. 

When she’s not outwitting the algorithm, there’s a good chance you’ll find Tiwa writing about music marketing, fashion trends, pop culture, or international music.

But the good stuff doesn’t stop there. Tiwa’s also an accomplished athlete who enjoys  basketball and sprinting in her downtime. 

Then there are her hobbies (we think these sound kinda like hobbies – not super powers, right? Hobbies) Tiwa also loves editing & filming videos, baking, traveling to new places, or discovering new cafes around Ontario. (Cosign on discovering new cafes).

Lex Ferrier, Brand Partnerships Strategist

Secret Weapon: We suspect she has an actual, working idea machine

As a member of our creative strategy team, we rely on Lex to always be ready to dream up something amazing. And she never disappoints. Coming from a small rural town in Nova Scotia, Lex got a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University, with a Minor in History.

Lex (short for Alexis) paints and writes, is minorly obsessed with flowers 🌻, and majorly obsessed with dogs.

But she’s also a bonafide athlete. Lex was a top-ranking competitive golfer, an avid hockey player (she started in the 5th grade using hand-me-down gear from her older brothers, and got good enough to go toe-to-toe with Sidney Crosby’s sister), she enjoys hiking, and she loves strength training in the gym.

Never one to shy away from a challenge (as if all the other stuff wasn’t challenging enough), Lex also once taught English in Southern Thailand 🌴, to a class of 29 kids who were 4 years old.

These days, when Lex isn’t coming up with creative concepts for potential campaigns that prospective clients absolutely love, she tries to get in a little quality time to enjoy the things she loves in her home base of Halifax, Nova Scotia. That means a lot of time spent at nearby beaches, having kitchen parties with friends, and partaking in the occasional box of garlic fingers (it’s an NS thing).

Emma Kennedy, Account Manager

Superpower: Keeping clients happy and doing it all with a smile on her face

Emma hopped on board The Shelf team in 2021, and has been a rock-solid superstar for brand clients like Reser’s Fine Foods, Nite Ize, and Oriental Trading Company ever since… managing campaigns like no one’s business. 😎

And speaking of business – that’s Emma’s background. She graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Major in Marketing. That eventually led her to another influencer marketing agency, where she dabbled in a bit of everything – from Customer Experience to Brand Management. 

Originally from Summerside PEI, she now calls Halifax, NS her home – which is fine, because as long as she’s around the ocean 🌊 (and great food), she’s happy. We don’t blame her one bit.

Emma also loves to travel, read, cook, and bake, and is a pretzel PRO. Recently, she even upgraded to making homemade garlic pretzel knots. *chef’s kiss* The only downside of our team all being remote is that we, sadly, can’t get Emma to cater our team meetings. We’ll just have to make do with the mouthwatering snaps she can’t resist taking of her food. 

Sally Espinosa, Brand Strategist

Tagline: She delivers (you’ll see why we say that in a sec)

Sally is our eyes 👀 and ears 🦻🏼 in 🌴 Miami – not that we need that much surveillance in  ☀️ Florida… but since she’s there, she may as well. Sally began working with The Shelf as a contractor in 2020, but switched from the Content Marketing side of things to the client-facing side of things 🤝 in 2021, before being exactly what the doctor ordered on the strategy team. This girl puts in WORK!

Sally attended the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) 🐊 where she recently graduated with a degree in PR. Sally’s claim to fame is that she has the uncanny ability to get things done. She graduated from college, sure. But she graduated from college during a pandemic while being home with and taking care of 3 kids (now 4) 👶🏼 👶🏼 👶🏼 👶🏼  working with The Shelf. 

That’s next-level, Rosie-the-Riveter-style, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better kind of #girlpower. 💪🏼

Sally doesn’t fear deadlines, 📅  deadlines fear Sally. She’s a great communicator… and it’s probably no coincidence that all of her hobbies seem to be communication-based – reading, writing, developing her personal style, and hanging out with her kiddos.

Sally humbly admits to being a good cook, but she hates cooking. She enjoys coffee, rainy days, and jazz music (wonder if that YouTube channel by the same name is secretly hers)

Barb Tavares, Account Manager

Special 007  Skill: Makes a mean spicy margarita

Barb is full of surprises! From speaking English, French, and Portuguese fluently to surviving being trapped under a wall from museum collapse, she will always keep you entertained.

Barb is originally from Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil. She is currently kicking it in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. Barb’s undergraduate degree in business management is from Endicott College and her graduate degree studying event management is from Algonquin College. Before making the switch to marketing, Barb was a wedding planner! 👰🏽

Barb T. stays busy with her​​ dog, Bell, a 2-year old Australian Shepherd. She loves any and all frozen treats 🍨 like ice cream, gelato, popsicles, etc.. you name it. If it’s frozen – she’s in. 

When Barb isn’t occupied plotting her next move to her 26th new home and city, she can be caught enjoying Glennon Doyle and all her books. 

Barb is known as the “cool aunt” in her family to her niece (4 months) and nephew (5 years). Which makes total sense with her unmatched humor and people skills.

Ynah Gomez, Account Manager

Communicator. Sushi Chef. World traveler.

Meet Ynah. The UK-born Account Manager joined The Shelf team in 2021, after putting in work as the Social Media & Marketing Executive for John Bell & Croyden, pharmacists to Her Majesty The Queen (👈🏼 pretty cool). 

Ynah attended Kingston University London and California State University where she studied Journalism: Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing. 

Fun fact: Ynah’s first name is actually Imnah, a name she says her grandfather randomly picked from the Bible. But those who know her have always just called her by her nickname, Ynah.

She currently lives in Coventry, England – and while she’s traveled to the US, she actually plans to make Vancouver her next long-term destination. Ynah enjoys hiking, photography, traveling, and babysitting her godchildren.

When it comes to Ynah and good food, it’s a toss-up between eating it and cooking it. She makes a mean California roll (in case you’re in the market for an actual sushi-chef-slash-account-manager 🍣). Plus, she’ll be the first to admit that she’s already invested a good amount of time and energy into perfecting her recipe for Levain-style thiiiiiick chocolate chip cookies. 

Ynah’s a live-music-lovin’ church youth leader whose life was changed by – you guessed it – Taylor Swift. She plays guitar, loves Neo Soul, and is obsessed with the color (flavor, nut, ice cream) pistachio. 

Mariah Zegers, Account Manager

Super Skill: Adobe Creative Suite

Greetings from “the frozen tundra” that is Green Bay! Mariah joined our team in 2021 after working with Minnow and BVK as a Graphic Designer and Art Director (respectively), where she oversaw creative efforts for the likes of Michelle Infusino, Crunchmaster, General Mills, and Polaris (among many others!).

As part of our Midwest entourage, Mariah is one of the Account Managers who oversees client campaigns (Zenni Optical, for instance) from the Milwaukee branch (and by “branch”, I just mean Mariah’s workspace – because she’s our sole team member in Milwaukee).

Mariah attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout for Graphic Design & Interactive Media, and is a total ninja when it comes to Adobe Creative Suite. 🥷🏼

When she’s not crafting creative (or creatively crafting), Mariah is all about that Soul Cycle life. Throw in some yoga, a little good food, plus some wanderlusting ✨, and you’ve basically filled her days.

Emma Bergin, Account Manager

Notable clients she’s worked with: Labatt Breweries (Corona, Budweiser, Palm Bay, BABE wine, etc.), Revlon Canada, Subway Canada, Tangerine Bank, Wine Country Ontario, and Moroccanoil

Meet the cool, calm, and creative reigning queen of organization, Emma Bergin. She’s originally from a farm in Alliston in Ontario, the potato farming capital of Ontario. Emma attended Wilfrid Laurier University where she was a proud Golden Hawk (school mascot – if you emphasize the word “golden” over the word “hawks,” it sounds very super elegant) studying sociology and community engagement.

Fun fact: The next institution of higher learning that Emma attended, Humber College, also had a hawk mascot. At Humber, Emma studied public relations and communications.

Emma’s a bona fide, card-carry member of the Jetsetting Ballers Club of Canada. ✈️ Okay, not a real club. We made that up, but really – how many people do you know who have been to 30 countries by the time they’re 30? Well, our girl Emma has been to 22 countries and is on the fast track to accomplishing her goal. 🌎

Emma lived in Australia 🦘 and has legit backpacked through Europe! WOW! Now she is back in Canada and in gorgeous Vancouver, British Columbia.

Emma loves keeping busy with hiking, road trips 🚗 reality TV, sushi, dogs, coffee, travel, Tik Tok, good book reco’s, GF treats, and art – especially painting. And though this superstar is originally from a farm, she was born to be on SNL!

Becca Manzo, Account Manager

Super Skills: Fearless risk-taker and master pivoter

Becca/Bec/Becs joined the ranks of our legendary Brand Partnership Managers in 2021, armed with the B2B sales expertise she honed while working with Interior Designers at Wayfair. Her transition into the influencer space was actually the result of Becca’s decision to pivot into a fresh, fun, and creative new field of work. In 2022, Becca is lending her sharp-shooting sales skills to the Account Management team. Master pivoting.

Becca hails from Boston – bahn and raised (in my best Good Will Hunting). City of Champs. She attended Westfield State University where she studied Communications with a concentration in PR. So, she’s like wicked smaht with her words. 

Okay, so that’s the 9 to 5 Becca (so to speak – #agencylife isn’t really  a 9 to 5 kinda life). 

Off the clock, Becca is always finding ways to get to the water. The beach, boating, sun-soaked lounging… all the normal aquatic things one would associate with living in BOSTON. 🙃 

Either way, whether she’s on or off the water, Becca enjoys hanging out with funny peeps, finding memes, listening to Drake, and spending untold hours scrolling TikTok. #same

Becca also makes time for traveling, working out, shopping, and trying [any and all] new foods. 

Aside from marketing, interior design, traveling, decompressing, and being Beantown’s resident thalassophile, Becca has another unique talent: she can do a back handspring. A decade of cheerleading = worth it. 🤸🏼‍♀️

Lira Stone, Content Marketer

Super Power: Love

Lira was born in Motown, AKA Detroit, Michichange, and she still lives there today (though she’s spent her fair share of time living in Houston and Atlanta). Lira didn’t have to leave the Great Lakes to attend Southern New Hampshire University where she cheered on their mascot Petey Penmen (that’s genius) while getting her degree in marketing. 

Lira’s marketing savvy earned her a pretty cool spot on the Sales team with Rocket Companies where she was one of the top performers in her region. She’s a natural salesperson, actually. She was a top-selling newbie within just a few weeks of joining Toyota’s sales team when she lived in the Atlanta area. 

Sales is a natural gift for Lira, but marketing is more of a passion. Before joining The Shelf’s writing team (where her content consistently ranks well and draws traffic), Lira freelanced as a social media manager and a writer for an MMA publication. 🤛🏽 

Now for these hobbies… writing, reading, writing, writing, and 💻writing. Apart from being a write–a-holic, Lira is the world’s dopest chocolatier (no joke – just no one knows yet). She makes gourmet chocolate. 🍫

Like many on The Shelf team, Lira’s also a data junkie, trend spotter, and wickedly accurate pattern identifier. And she’s good with people. Like, really good. She gets what makes them happy, sad, excited, and what makes them buy.

FROM LIRA HERSELF – “Finish this line: ‘I said a hip hop the hippie, the hippie to the hip hip hoppa you don’t stop, Rock it to the __________’   Did you get it right? If you did, let’s be friends.” 🎧

#oldschoolrap

Tracy Campbell, Account Manager

Super Power: Can fall asleep anywhere

Notable Clients – Nestle Philippines, Tanduay International, 7 For All Mankind, Tous Jewelry, Unionbank, AirAsia Airlines, Bo’s Coffee, DMark Beauty

All the way from Mindanao, Philippines, now living Winnipeg, Canada, Tracy is the ultimate problem solver. Her creativity and passion for her work are encouraging! Tracy is a tropical girl  🌴who is somehow still thriving despite the -40 degrees Celsius wind chill in Winnipeg.

Tracy spent her undergraduate at St. Scholastica’s College Manila and went to grad school at De La Salle University-Manila. Tracey finished her studies with a major in Marketing Management.

This plant mom 🪴 loves cooking, yoga, booking, scuba diving, reading, photography, and of course – plants! 🌱🪴🌵🌿☘️🏵️

Bonus: Tracy’s a quick-and-dirty-design GENIUS thanks to Canva Pro.🎨🖼️

Laura MacDonald, Account Manager

Notable Clients – Mommy’s Bliss, Greenvelope, Ashley Stewart, Central Gardens

Laura goes way above and beyond! She is an accomplished-self-taught-amateur in digital content creation and graphic design. Laura taught herself Photoshop in high school and is among the best of the best when it comes to Canva. (Big fans of Canva over here).

You could say Laura is from “a little bit of everywhere”—because she moved, like, A LOT growing up––but mostly she was raised in Ontario (except for that time she lived in New Jersey). She earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature & Cultural Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, then went on to earn her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at THE University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC *and* dabbled in some continuing ed publishing courses at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. 🤓

Laura joined our team with 5 years of experience working in sales and marketing in the Canadian publishing industry. Outside of her crazy-good marketing skills, Laura’s also a master at the well-timed pep talk. If you need someone to talk you through a tough spot, or just generally convince you of your own worth, Laura’s your girl. 

Some of Laura’s other most defining characteristics include: fantastic napper 💤, 3rd of 4 daughters 👭👭, home-decor-DIY-er 🎨, The Cool Aunt™️ 😎, and dog mom 🐕. 

Ariana Newhouse, Content Marketer

Special Talent: Comedy! (she was a finalist for the 2021 Indiana’s Funniest Person Contest.)

Penning content for: USA Today, Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Starbucks

Ariana is originally from Indiana, Indianapolis – home of the Indy 500 and known as the Circle City. She became an Eagle at Emory University to study English and Creative Writing. With her degree, she became SEO Copywriter for USA Today and Creative Copywriter for Salesforce!

When Ariana isn’t packing complex concepts into kick-butt content with The Shelf, you could catch her cracking a joke and keeping the crowd alive as a standup comedian! 😆😅😂🤣

Ariana loves all things funny🎭 writing, reading, running 👟 mindfulness 🧘🏽‍♀️ music, and parody songwriting! She has the ability to make up songs about what is currently happening, on the spot, with intricate rhyme schemes! What a fancy brain she has!

Now Ariana lives in Washington, DC. She is still finding the humor and humanity in everything, from influencer marketing to stepping in gum. And did we mention she’s an SEO wiz!

Jessica Bovee, Content Marketer

Interesting tidbit: Jessica’s a legitimate digital nomad

We all know her as Jess the full-time traveler! 🚗✈️🚉 Jess was born in Renton, around the Seattle area, in Washington. Currently, Jess doesn’t have a “home base” 🏡 but is living the life traveling all around! 

Jess got her Digital Media and Broadcasting degree at the University of Idaho – GO VANDALS! Before joining our team, Jess mixed things up a bit as a traveling leadership consultant/speaker, account manager at a full-service marketing agency, corporate marketing trainer, and SEO content writer. 

Jess lives a creative life that allows her to express herself freely and find solutions at every turn or obstacle. She has an appetite for information and an unlimited amount of curiosity that lets her openly learn and share her findings with the world. Needless to say, she is an asset to our team.

Some of Jess’s hobbies outside of travel include photography, videography, reading, nature walks, and meditation. 

She is OBSESSED with her skincare routine. 🧼

Jess loves writing poetry and doodling. And she listens to music almost nonstop – usually live, sometimes loud.

Ana Takakuwa, Account Manager

Freakishly good at… calling customer service and receiving free or upgrading items.  (even some money back)

Ana T – she was born in the sunshine and has stayed in the sunshine. Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ana got to experience that world-famous Florida sunshine while attending the University of Central Florida. Ana Major in Communications with a Specialty in Radio/TV production and a minor in Digital Media. Now, she is soaking up the sun on the opposite coast in Palo Alto, California.

Ana’s been in the media biz for a while now. She is a legit Comcast advertising guru. First, she was the Supervisor,  Account Management for EffecTV, which is the Comcast advertising division that managed ad space for major networks like HGTV, CNN, and ESPN. Second, Ana became the Account Executive at EffecTV. 

And to think, she originally planned to become an architect! She did spend some time in the construction industry, though. Ana worked in a kitchen/bathroom tile company calculating how much material each project needed.

We’re happy to have this cross-functional (resume buzzword) talent on our team. Ana enjoys helping out with different projects and she’s super creative. Plus, if you need help brainstorming, creating timelines, taking photos, or setting up your next art installation, Ana is your girl!

Okay, so a few other interesting tidbits about Ana: She worked at a chocolate factory 🍫 and actually got work done. She loves wildlife🦉  coffee, portrait photography 🖼️ and anything caramel. Ana is a 🪴 Plant Mom, a watercolor enthusiast, and she’s always down for a hike. 🚶🏽‍♀️

Naina Grewal, Brand Strategist

Hobbies: Dancing, singing, writing poetry, playing badminton, and creating handmade gifts

Everyone knows her as Naina, but her full name is actually Kanwalnain, which means “beautiful eyes” (true, by the way). 🤩

Naina (pronounced NAN-na) was Born in Punjab, India. Punjab, also known as the land of the five rivers, is considered by many to be the Manchester of India due to its rich culture and bustling industries. Fun fact: Punjab is well-known for its production of shawls and stoles. (A fun, little conversation starter for you, there).

Naina moved from India to Canada when she was just six years old, and remained in Canada into adulthood. She attended Simon Fraser University 🎓 in Burnaby, British Columbia, where she studied business marketing and communication. Annnnd… SFU has probably the coolest mascot of all time – McFogg the Dog, an anthropomorphic Scottish terrier who wears a kilt. 

Before joining The Shelf, Naina was an account manager at Procter & Gamble, where ​​she managed multiple big-name CPG brands (ex. Febreze, Olay, Dawn, Old Spice, Tide) at major retailers like Save on Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart!

Naina’s faves include family time, Spongebob, Minions, and Bollywood. But one thing that doesn’t make the list – chocolate (CRAZY TALK)!!  But we’ll overlook that because she’s pretty awesome. 

Kristel Starke, Account Manager

Special skills: International Super Communicator Extraordinaire

Notable Clients Kris has worked with – New Balance, Budweiser, Marriott Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Barardi, Coppertone, LG and Alka Seltzer. (DANG!!!)

And in the red corner! Fighting out of the gorgeous Costa Rica by way of The Rain City, Vancouver, BC Canada: KRIS, THE COMMUNICATION KUNOICHI!

During her stay in Costa Rica, home to the slogan “pura vida” or “pure life”, Kris studied 🎓 Public Relations at ​​​​Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. This is when she first cemented the inkling that communication was her superpower. 🦸‍♀️

Since then, Kris has worked as a Social Media Manager 📱 Project Manager & Marketing Strategist for the goddesses over at DIVINIUS, a super cool ethical & sustainable fashion brand. 

Kris also wows the team with her beautiful singing voice! 🎶  This comes as no surprise with her years of experience performing at concerts and being on stage.   And it’s not just her voice that makes Kris so remarkable (although…), it’s also her skincare routine. If anyone needs skincare recommendations. When it comes to skincare and skin health, Kris is your go-to person. She has all the latest details on the best products on the market, and she knows exactly what you need to do to glow all the way up.  

When she’s not songbirding or skin-caring or communicating, Kris is a CREATIVE GENIUS🎨  when it comes to this social media thing. Plus, she is known for delivering her world-class support to both clients and the other AMs on the team.

Taylor Strickland, Account Manager

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Skill: Turning Facebook Marketplace finds into utter beauty

Notable Clients Taylor has worked with – Loloi, Crayola, Pop Chips, Ettitude, and Rent the Runway

When Taylor isn’t creating butt-kicking campaigns, she is filling her newly-renovated home 🏡 with Facebook Marketplace steals. Taylor has such a knack for FB shopping, she even helps her friends and family do the same. She’s such a BOSS at it, in fact, that Taylor’s apartment, design skills, and 300+-book library (baller move)  were featured in Apartment Therapy

Taylor was born and raised in Cream City, AKA Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She became a Panther at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she studied Public Relations & Media Studies. 📢📺

Does Taylor spend all her free time making spaces look cool? Nah. Too many levels for that. During Taylor’s downtime, she’s also developing her English accent and lingo through💕  Love Island — I mean come on, who doesn’t love Love Island!? Similar to Love Island, Taylor watches other competition reality TV including Survivor, ANTM, and the Great British Bake Off. 🍰

As every Sunday is scheduled as “lazy Sunday” in Taylor’s calendar, she fills her time reading books 📚  including a bunch by author Taylor Jenkins Reid. Outside of competition reality TV and books from another Taylor, Taylor gets everyday simple pleasures from her favorite things like… spicy tuna rolls, peach martinis🍑🍸, and the color orange!

Nor’Quera Townsend-Hopkins, Account Manager

Future Nickname: Nor’Quera the Nose

In her own words: I am an Air Force wife, which is why I currently live in Vegas. I’m a toddler mom and soon-to-be a dog mom. I used to be a cheerleader and won first place overall at a national competition in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I also produce podcasts and am responsible for the last interview Megan Thee Stallion gave before she “made it.” I’ve also been a production assistant on a movie.

My initial goal in life was to be a pediatrician for special needs children, but chemistry and blood are not my things, so I changed majors. Undergrad: Associate of Applied Science + Bachelor of General Studies concentrations are Woman’s Studies and Government. Graduate: Will be Master of Business Administration, IT Management. (But the only mascot I claim is my High School alma mater: Eagle)

I am creative at heart. I’ve been creating since childhood, so it’s only natural that I would choose a creative career field as an adult.  I can get through an entire book series in a week if I am interested. Also, I am pretty good at interior decorating.

If it involves food, I am there. I’m a fantastic cook and have never met a person who did not like my food. I recently started an ever-expanding perfume collection and would like to be referred to as “Nor’Quera the Nose”. 

I have a “can-do” attitude. I am always willing to help, willing to try, and I’m not afraid to ask questions.

Shania Clarke, Account Manager

AKA Cha-Cha (not slide)

A marketing savant, Shania has honed her skills from majoring in Media Studies 🎞 at the University of British Columbia to gracing AvenueHQ as a Marketing Specialist and eventually starting her own business consultation business (say that three times fast). If being fluent in advertising weren’t enough, she could moonlight as the new ‘20’s Roger Ebert🎬📽  with her background in film studies and critical eye for cinema.

Born and raised in Cowtown 🐮 Canada, Shania made a hop, skip, and a jump from Alberta to British Columbia while studying at university.  Her Canada-to-Canada transfer wasn’t her only big move. From bringing it in the virtual boardroom to bringing it on the court, Shania’s love for a challenge shine in her campaigns for brands like Blue and Lizard, and soar in her routines as a competitive cheerleader 📣 on Team Canada Cheerleading Academy. She even competed in the World Championships this past April!

When she’s not doing mental or semi gymnastics 🤸🏻‍♀️ she loves to bring her imagination to life. Where standing still and still-life aren’t her strong suits, she’s a girl-wonder at crocheting, sewing, baking, and all things DIY. 

Our Story...
Through the Years

Hello!! I’m Lauren. Here is the TLDR version of our story: Atul and I are the founders of The Shelf. We started this company ten years ago. It’s evolved a LOT. And through many ups and downs, we’ve gotten to a place where we couldn’t be more proud. We’re a team of 50, working with hundreds of the world’s largest brands! We’re growing our team too – so if you’re interested, please check out the careers page!

(Now… if you’re the type of person who enjoys some super low-level, tangent-ridden timelines, read on below. We’ve got your back, Jack.)

2011

Atul and I met at a salsa class, dated for like a month, then moved in together (Move #01). My southern parents weren’t pleased.

Also in 2011

We quit our jobs in tech because we had a vision (albeit a slightly superficial one). We wanted to build a sale-alert app so that no one would ever have to pay full-price for anything ever again. (In the back-end, we also analyzed consumer shopping habits… just to give the idea some legs.) We called it “The Shopping Elf”. Which we then condensed to “The Shelf”... Shopping Elf --> Shelf.

2011 relocation

We also moved to the middle of nowhere in New Jersey (Move #02).

2012

We worked on our idea for a while until we had a prototype. Then, after reading too much Hacker News, decided that the obvious next step was to apply to Y Combinator (the do-all-to-end-all in accelerator programs). We actually got to the interview stage! But ultimately didn't get accepted. A guy on the evaluation team named Sam was shooting us the stink-eye the whole time. Thanks Sam. We were accepted into a much better program though... AngelPad. Thomas and Carine were amazing, and they were actually the ones who pointed us in the direction of influencers.

Also in 2012

We moved to San Francisco packing whatever we could fit into our Honda Civic (Move #03). Everything else went into a cheap storage unit. (Note to anyone renting a storage unit... cheap isn't always the way to go. Ours was both robbed and flooded.) We rebuilt our platform to be an influencer discovery engine that analyzed influencers based on shopping habits (thus allowing us to maintain our core tech, as well as provide us with a pretty unique differentiator). We decided to keep our company name as The Shelf, even though it didn’t really mean much at this point. We had already paid some guy $600 for the domain. Plus, we had run out of most of our savings by this point - so it seemed like the prudent thing to do.

2013

We tried for months to raise money to fund our little startup. This was traumatic, to say the least, and it made us truly understand what rejection felt like. (One investor told us, and I quote, “your startup makes me feel sad”.)

A few months later

Eventually, we managed to raise a small round of funding that came with a few strings… we were required to move to Vegas… so that’s what we did (Move #04). Why the hell not at this point, right? We moved into an apartment in sort of a dodgy area of town… One time, from our balcony, we got to watch an actual SWAT team bust happen with 5 tanks rolling in, and men with guns hanging off the sides. It’s true. I have pictures.

A thank you to our investors

All kidding aside about the fundraising... because it truly was terrible, and for a while, we didn't think we'd be able to do it. We are, and will always be, forever grateful to those who believed in us. And we hereby promise, you will all be glad you rolled the dice with us. Brett Bouttier was the first one in, along with Lisa Hackner. (Thank you Brett and Lisa, you got everything started for us!) As I already mentioned, Thomas and Carine from AngelPad. Then came Kyle Fugere, Dave Balter, and Raphi Savitz with Dunnhumby Ventures; Will Young and Tony Hsieh from the Vegas Tech Fund; Judith McHale and Brian O'Halloran from Cane Investments; Chua Boon Ping from SPH Media Fund; John Tan and Firas Alsuwaigh from BWB Ventures; plus our wonderful angel investors: Sam Choi, Cleaven Yu, Ashwin Navin, and Selina Tobaccowala. Additionally, our advisor Mickey Goodman was a guiding light for us during this time.

A few months after that

We were finally able to hire our first employees - yay! Welcome Artur and Pavel (both of whom have stuck with us through all of this and have single-handedly built our platform... something that would typically require teams of 20+ in a normal company). Honorable mention to Bobby, another developer who we’ll always have a soft spot for. And then we also began working with Sabrina, who was hired as a contractor to write a weekly blog post for us. Over the years, she's climbed from position to position, all the way to the top, and is now leading the largest team in our company. She's been with us for 9 years... she's worked with every single client we've ever had... she knows more about the biz than just about anyone... and she's a force to be reckoned with.

At the end of 2013

We landed our first four clients at a tradeshow! They paid us $25 dollars a month. We felt like we were finally making it.

Some personal stuff in 2013

Atul and I got engaged. And we adopted the smartest, most chilled-out little pug, Toggle. He had severe separation anxiety so he was attached to our hips for the next 8 years.

2014

Vegas was fun, but we decided to move again, this time to NYC (Move #05). Armed with only the advice from my highfalutin friend, we signed a lease for the tiniest most over-priced apartment one could find in Gramercy. It was 250 square feet. We proceeded to give away most of our furniture… because, well… 250 square feet is like the size of a bathroom.

Also in 2014

We hired our first sales people. We got a tiny office. (Shoutout to Desirae who was with us during some dark days.) Sabrina joined us full-time to help us with marketing. We figured out how to use the subway. Toggle tried to attack a very old golden retriever. It was the first and last time we ever saw him lose his shit…

2015

We decided Gramercy was too uppity. Plus, we were running out of money again… So we moved to a small apartment in the Lower East Side that had a hole in the floor (Move #06). It also had a pretty severe mouse problem (possibly because of said hole). We went through 151 mouse traps that year. The mice in our apartment were intelligent too… it’s like they passed their learnings on to the next generation. And they learned to evade the traps. They also got super ballsy and would shimmy their way up the back of the couch while we were working and dive bomb onto the couch next to us. Yes, really.

Also in 2015

We hired Sorilbran part-time to help us with content, because she sent us a super funny cover letter that of course resonated with me… lover of long-winded quirkiness. We also postponed our wedding for the first time.

Also in 2015

We began offering services, where we would run the campaigns for our clients instead of providing platform access. This year we also had a big presentation with Ralph Lauren that we worked on for months. We included some slides on what we felt they were doing wrong. This wound up pissing off their entire marketing team and we were never invited back.

2016

Finally we started making some money. We closed our first big client: Famous Footwear. We will always love them for that! And with that big win under our belts, we were able to use the resulting confidence and momentum to close more deals! Sabrina moved over to Account Management, but still helped me do marketing stuff. Pavel and Aartur were busy adding features and pushing updates.

Also in 2016

The combination of the mice problem + the hole in our floor was starting to get to us. So we moved again (Move #07). This time to Park Slope.

2017

eos became a client of ours. Our point of contact over there was a little more on top of us than our typical client. Over the course of the following year, she had a barrage of requests that over time became sort of draining, BUT… she single-handedly pushed us into creating a super extensive client dashboard that handles everything from approvals, to scheduling, to content downloads, to report generation, and more. We’re forever grateful to Alexandra and her get-shit-done-or-else attitude. (We even tried to hire her but she said no.) Other notable clients that year were : Natori, Evenflo, Cybex, Diamond Producers Agency, Bustle, Graze, and Pepsi.

Also in 2017

We expanded our Account Management team. Sabrina became the manager! We offered Sorilbran a job - and she expressed interest - but we were kinda swamped and - hate to say it - forgot for another six months or so.

Also in 2017

We decided to move again (Move #08)… why? This time we just felt like Park Slope was a little too boring. Also, the commute took us forever because of our elder-state pug who ambled the 7 blocks to the train station at snail-speed. So we moved to Dumbo, 2 blocks from our office. We also postponed our wedding for the second time.

2018

Much like our apartment hopping, we office hopped as well. We switched offices for like the 5th and 6th time this year. Our team also grew quite a bit! Sales were really picking up. Welcome Konstantin, the fantastic and over-the-top illustrator who created all the magical graphics for our rainbow-colored site! We also hired Sorilbran on full-time to head up the marketing department. Also, some fun new clients included: Lenox, Simon, American Standard, GAF, Regis, and Moosejaw.

The wedding that finally happened

Atul and I finally got married! This time we didn’t allow ourselves enough time to cancel. We planned the entire thing in 2 months. I DIYed it up and made 12 enormous paper flowers to be the backdrop for our ceremony (they were huge… like 7 feet tall). When I made them, I didn’t account for a windy day. So as we were setting them up an hour before the ceremony, they kept blowing over. I pole-vaulted one of them into the woods and then cried for a few minutes. Honestly, in hindsight, the wedding could have benefited from a little more prep time. But it was still beautiful.

2019

By this point, Sorilbran had assembled a full-blown content-marketing machine with us showing up in search results. She also had tons of spreadsheets and a small crew of contractors. (And the super impressive thing to note here is… we hired her, then got super busy and really didn’t touch base with her for like a year. She just chipped away and got shit done.) Also, we added a ton of wonderful clients: Pilot Pens, Susan G. Komen, Funko, RefrigiWear, Head & Shoulders, Nite Ize, Rover, Quinny, Maxi-Cosi, Herbal Essences, Square... Courtney kickstarted whitelisting as a service. And then also... more team growth! (Welcome Ryan, Ali, Elizabeth, and Kirsten.)

Also in 2019

We moved into a super large office in Dumbo with the idea of turning it into an experiential space, where we could host events for our clients and their influencers. I worked on designing and building this space into a magical realm of rainbow colors and whimsy for over a year. We launched it by renting it out to party-goers, and got fantastic reviews… While working on this project I also became Olympic-level good at papier-mâché.

Also in 2019

We found a feral cat on our fire escape and adopted him. We named him Django. We also got pregnant with our first little baby! I loved the name Django so much that I considered changing our cat’s name to something else so that we could use Django for the baby, but Atul thought he’d get made fun of.

2020

2020 is sort of synonymous with COVID-19. I think most companies got hit hard by this, so we’re not complaining. We feel lucky that we were able to come out on the other side of it, and we’re thankful that our team was so understanding and stuck with us during this time despite pay cuts and a significant amount of upheaval and stress. We love you guys! (I didn't think anyone would actually read this far down, but a recent candidate asked about the pay cuts. So as an update, everyone is back to their original salary or more. And, we back-paid the entire amount amount lost from the pay cut to each person on the team after we were back in the clear. Regardless though, everyone took the cut without thinking it would be paid back and that meant a lot to us!!)

Also in 2020

We had to close down our physical office (the one that was supposed to be our experiential events space). This hit me especially hard. Actually… if you scroll back up, the photo above is pretty bittersweet for us. On that particular day, Atul and I had gone to the office to start packing it up into boxes. The client frames in that photo were glued to the wall so… before I ripped them down to pack them up. Atul and I stood there together along with our best boy and forever mascot to pose for this little photo. I was also 4 months pregnant at the time, so this depressing little tear-down-our-office photoshoot also served as my pregnancy photoshoot. (2 birds.) On another sad sidenote, we lost our little Toggle a few months later. He was our everything and it's been a struggle to figure out life without our little potato loaf.

Also in 2020

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. We welcomed Ashley, Anton, Alex, Nicole, and Jess to the team! Some fun new clients were Brilli, Healthade, Central Garden & Pet, Greenvelope, Carbon Health, The Honest Company, Country Crock, KISS, Zenni, and Feit Electric. We also moved to Connecticut (Move #09) to get away from NYC during the pandemic. We had our baby!!! He has a huge head, just like his dad.

2021

We created a branch in Canada, yay! Welcome to all of our Canadians who joined this year (Lex, Alex, Emma, Amber, and Ynah)! In addition to that crew, we also welcomed Destiny, Lizzie, Mariah, Jonah, Becca, and another Ryan from the US! Everyone has really been kicking butt and taking names!

Also in 2021

We redesigned our website (along with this fancy new Team page that in all honesty, you probably aren’t still reading). My mom told me my writing is cheesy and that people don’t want to read this much. (Noted Mom, but disregarded.) We’ve also been working super hard on SEO and are now showing up on the first page! We’ve restructured our AM team. And Elizabeth was promoted to a manager. We’ve also been informed by Pavel that our site is completely running on React instead of Angular. He told us Angular is officially not cool anymore.

I'd also like to mention

I've called out a few team members above throughout the course of our story, like Sabrina, Sorilbran, Pavel, and Artur... because they've done a lot over the years. But also, because they have been with us for such a long time (5 years +), and weathered so many storms with us (many of which were left out for the sake of brevity... hahaha, that couldn't be the right word, you must be thinking... it is. I promise. This is my condensed version of our story)! But I want to say, we couldn't be happier with the team that we've grown. Most teams have only a few people who are considered to be mission critical. But our entire team... every last person... is exceptional, and we feel lucky to have assembled such an amazing group of people.

Still to come in 2021

We’re working to expand our Sales and Account Management teams, so check out our careers page if you’re interested. And… last but not least... we’re moving one more time, just for good measure (Move #10). The north is sort of cold. We’re a little too far out into the country (like… where bobcats and coyotes are a regular occurrence). Next, we’re headed to Atlanta. And despite our habit of moving almost every year like a bunch of weirdos. We hope that this is our last move for a while. We're experts at moving. But we're sick of it. And lastly... in December, we're welcoming baby #2 to the mix!

And some concluding thoughts

All of the above is probably TMI, so I’ll finish with this. Starting a company isn’t the most fun, but we didn’t really find that out til we were in the thick of it. Each hurdle that got thrown at us, we’d think… oh, if we can just get past this, we’ll be fine. But the hurdles kept coming. Until eventually we got used to them. And now when there’s a period of quiet, we start to get antsy… It’s probably helped that we’re in a relationship. This company was our first baby of sorts, and we’re incredibly passionate about growing it and making an impact! We truly believe in our mission. We're constantly working to improve and evolve. We always try to take feedback. We incorporate what we can. We grow. And we improve. We might not be perfect, but you can make damn sure that we're trying to be. And if you work with us, whether as an employee or a client, we will give you absolutely everything we've got!

We're hiring!

We’re growing! And we’re always looking for friendly, smart go-getters to join us in our quest. Below are some positions that we’re hiring for right now. You can also visit our careers section…