A seat at the table: furniture company Feather’s brand boss on how she made it in marketing

The Drum 30 Apr 2021 11:02

Test driving a Maserati isn’t a bad way to start your professional life. But for Erin Abernathy, this wasn’t just an early, memorable career experience, it’s also a fitting metaphor. Throughout her journey she has moved fast, testing and learning along the way.

Feather is a DTC furniture rental company. Core to its original business plan is servicing upwardly mobile professionals living in crowded city spaces. Enter the pandemic. Now what?

For most young marketing professionals, pivoting an entire brand would seem daunting. Not for Abernathy. You see, Feather’s brand marketing lead has been testing, learning, pivoting and growing her entire career. She even left a successful, ahead-of-its-time influencer marketing company that she founded herself – but more on that later. First, let’s go back to the beginning.

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So she went out and got the experience. Lots of it. While at the University of Georgia, she secured a summer marketing internship at with Macy’s merchandising group in New York. Then, back in Atlanta where she’s originally from, she interned at Coca-Cola in the global brand PR department. There she got a front row view of PR activations for the Sochi Winter Olympics and the World Cup in Rio.

Way back in 2014, Abernathy and her roommate started a blog called My Life OOO where they ran around the city covering high-profile events. Celebrity influencers were just starting to come to power. (Remember Paris Hilton?!) However, she realized that there was no community for micro-influencers “which was a little bit crazy since we were in New York City”.

Still, after four years, she wasn’t happy with the way the influencer space was headed. “I was constantly selling in why influencers matter, but they don’t really work for every brand. Things started to get a little tricky when all of these platforms popped up claiming they could drive revenue directly from influencers. There were also influencers buying traffic and followers… I was ready to focus on something else that was more of a mix in terms of marketing.”

She joined in March 2019 and was immediately able to help launch the brand in Orange County, California, delivering to more than 300 new zip codes. There was so much else to be excited about for the furniture rental company that embraced the fact city dwellers don’t want to buy expensive furniture only to have to get rid of it when they move two or three years later. It also recognized that younger consumers were concerned about how much discarded furniture ended up in landfills.

Moments like finding a husband and wife team to photograph 200 new SKUs of furniture “shows how resourceful we can be when we have constraints”, she says. The new line has been a success thanks in part to the office furniture it added. Search traffic for those items is currently up 400%.

One thing that anyone who has worked with Abernathy could have easily predicted is that she would be a successful marketeer with a bright future ahead. And who knows, maybe someday she’ll have her own Maserati. But for now, it’s all about jogs in Central Park in her beloved NYC where (go figure) she just moved into a new apartment decorated with Feather’s finest furniture.

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AbernathyMacys merchandising groupRogers CowanBertolliOut Of Office Media
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