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Voices: A Route Interview Series Feat. Giovanna Alfieri
Staying Human with Giovanna Alfieri
Giovanna Alfieri has a track record of combining her marketing prowess with supporting the greater good, and her work at The Honey Pot Company continues to carry that torch. As Director of Digital and Ecommerce, she’s building a community of people who support The Honey Pot Company’s mission, which is to craft a complete feminine care system that cleanses, protects, and balances the vagina using the power of herbs.
Beyond the goods stocking the digital shelves, the company also gives menstrual care products to people experiencing homelessness, who have low income, or who are living in poverty. It’s a set of values to be proud of—especially in a world where talking about menstruation and vaginal care is still kinda taboo—and Giovanna is helping spread these vibes far and wide.
Q: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
A: The biggest investment you can make is the investment in yourself. I think that, especially as what I like to call a self-made marketer (I was a humanities major in college and double majored in Italian and ethnic studies), I saw college life as an opportunity to explore, research, and gain more information that I felt like I wouldn’t really find elsewhere.
So while my career trajectory wasn’t mapped out for success in marketing, ecommerce, or in these narrow verticals, I guess one thing that I wish I would’ve known was that investment in self is ultimately lucrative and has tremendous value.
And even though I felt like I was drowning underwater and hustling all the time, those commitments and investments, that attention to myself, and that willingness to trust myself was going to be exponentially more valuable at the end of the day.
Q: What does the future of ecommerce look like in your mind?
A: I think the future of ecommerce is really about finding this acute balance between transactional and community-driven experiences. So while we all get hung up on the metrics of how XYZ pages perform, how engaged certain cohorts are, what those conversion rates are, etc., the KPIs and the metrics that we use are extremely black and white. It serves us to start looking more intensely at that gray area. How does that gray area manifest in terms of the ecommerce ecosystem? What technologies are we employing to actually beef up those systems? What marketing stacks are we evolving to really humanize those experiences and to step away from the clear-cut nature of KPIs?
I think that we have this rich amount of information around the customer journey and behaviors, the way that they show up both online and offline, but it’s the brand’s or the organization’s responsibility to create really humanistic, one-on-one dynamics and I think that’s really going to be the future.
From my perspective—and I actually think that that trickles all the way down to the supply chain and the way in which products are produced and manufactured—I’m expected to use the general jargon of authenticity. But I actually think it’s like applying that same ethos to every function in the organization and then how that gets presented in the ecommerce environment. It’s a matter of humanizing the journey and finding those mechanisms and technologies that impact customers.
Q: What is your best failure?
A: Truthfully, I think my best failure is the movement that I’ve had in my career. When you look at it on paper and you’re like, “wow, she was only here for a year and a half or elsewhere for two years,” or what have you. But because I had that flexibility and level of adaptability, ultimately every kind of move I made was really geared towards accelerating my growth and my understanding of this space.
It felt like a failure because I was often placed in positions of change and really having to challenge myself to understand new environments and new verticals. But it has allowed me to be this unicorn, which I actually think speaks to my truest self, in that I can really plug into the dynamic needs of a growing organization without skipping a beat.
It’s a failure in the sense that I’ll probably never really have Fortune 500 or hyper-specialized experience, but I can walk into any organization, suss out their pain points, and create strategy and successes around that. So it’s a failure from the norms or expectations, but I think that it served me well.
Q: How have you pivoted strategy during the pandemic?
A: It really comes down to being vulnerable about the way that the pandemic has influenced businesses, how it affected us as individuals, and how that ladders back up into our own organization.
When the pandemic started, our whole supply chain was impacted. We are technically an essential good, so the demand for our products scaled exponentially. Of course, none of us were able to anticipate that and so what we had to do—because we literally, especially in the ecommerce environment, were out of stock for months upon months—was to find these deeper ways to connect with the consumer.
Whether it was by being incredibly candid and saying, “Hey, we’re out of stock and shit sucks really hard. We know how frustrating it is for you and we also recognize that the powers that be aren’t considering your needs essential, right?” For women who menstruate, that is a critical experience. Having access to those products that support you during that time on a monthly basis is hugely important. So we’ve incited a level of vulnerability, but also give the consumer exposure to systems and processes that they are otherwise foreign to: What is supply chain? What is manufacturing?
Additionally, I think what’s interesting is that we’re in the pandemic still. This is now a second wave. It’s incredibly aggressive and it’s changing. Now our strategy is pivoting into 2021 and what that looks like for us is changing from a brand that was once centered around awareness, acquisition, and trying to get our arms around a larger demographic of consumers into a brand focused on retention.
How do we keep those folks who are already here engaged in that rich community? How do we keep them loyal and understanding that the supply chain could get impacted yet again but that we’ve got their backs? I think it’s interesting to think about how our marketing spend will evolve and how those conversations might change. That pivot is actually happening more deeply as we’re planning out 2021.
It’s been great to recalibrate, and now that we’re in that recalibration phase, we have to be able to nurture the customer again and let them know that not only do we want them to be loyal to us, but we want to continue to uphold our same dynamic of vulnerability and understanding.