Office Hours: I’ve led marketing for companies like Kate Spade, Equinox, and Amazon Fashion. I'm CMO of Foxtrot Market. I’m Carla Dunham.Featured

Hi Everyone! I’m Carla Dunham, CMO at Foxtrot ( - a contemporary evolution of the corner store and café. Foxtrot is reimagining the corner store experience through combining all the most-loved aspects of neighborhood cafes, with an app that offers the best local beer, fine wines, curated gifts and everyday essentials, delivered from the store to your door in under an hour. As CMO at Foxtrot, I oversee merchandising and marketing, leading efforts to redefine what a healthy and fresh convenience store, with a core focus on local food sourcing and new product discovery, can be in today's on demand world. Prior to Foxtrot, I was Vice President of marketing at Equinox, Vice President of global brand strategy at Kate Spade, Head of Social Media and Digital Partnerships for Amazon Fashion, and Senior Director of Social Media at Saks Fifth Avenue. I have an undergraduate degree in English literature from Purdue, an MA in art history from the University of Chicago, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Ask me anything about marketing and brand storytelling, from large scale brands to fast-growing startups, how to create innovative marketing strategies that are customer-centric, data driven and digital first, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us, @carladunham. Elphas: please reply in the comments with your questions for @carladunham before this Thursday. She may not have time to answer every single question, so please emoji upvote the ones that interest you most. Thanks!!
Hi Carla- thanks for being here and what an inspiring career! What do you look for in an up and coming director on your team? What separates a marketer from the pack when they’re applying for a more director role? What do you look for? Thanks!
Hello! When considering hiring a director, I'm really hiring for leadership potential. One way to demonstrate leadership if you haven't had the chance yet to guide a team is to have a point of view - an opinion on the work that you do and the space you operate in. And research the company you are looking to work for - and be critical of what they do - it shows you are thinking! I look for candidates who can articulate which brands are succeeding and why, what ad campaigns are compelling and why and who can explain their career as something that they influenced through proactive choices. For me, being able to look around critically and independently is really a sign of curiosity and vision - both hallmarks of inspiring leaders. As you advance, it becomes critically important that you have the skill to synthesize disparate information and the willingness to continue to learn - so I also look for candidates who have had experience doing something that was uncomfortable or unfamiliar. It shows a willingness to be challenged and a high degree of self motivation.
Thank you so much Carla! This is great advice and I love what you said about having a POV and understanding the space. Super helpful!
Hi @carladunham, thanks for your contribution to this community!When you're in a start up scenario, how do you think about how to allocate your initial marketing spend? What do you try to test quickly and when do you persevere with a channel even when you're not getting the results you want?Thanks!Rebecca
Hello! I think it is super helpful to really evaluate all options through the equation of investment vs. results. In lean environments, you have to be super mindful of how and where to expend time, talent and dollars. And then to overlay that with where you are in your growth cycle (are you still defining who you are, do you have a brand awareness issue, are you trying to engage existing customers). So you might want to start by listing out all marketing options and consumer touch points available to you - everything from email, social and even include things like sampling events. Note each lever's strength (i.e. driving awareness, conversion). And then assess the investment (time, energy, budget) to execute vs. the impact (audience size, likelihood to convert, revenue), prioritizing anything that gets you directly and immediately in front of your customer. It's really important to consider time and talent as major "cost centers" in this exercise. I think a lot of start ups seek to avoid spending on marketing for understandable budgetary reasons. But the reality is you could be far better off using targeted paid media spend to acquire customers quickly and at scale than expending time and energy trying to do so organically. In terms of measuring success - when testing or otherwise - define at the outset what success will look like and use that indicator as a way to right size what the initial $ investment should be.
Thank you so much, @carladunham! This is a great to frame my thinking.
Dear Carla,so great to see you here! What would you recommend to pay attention to when building the first marketing strategy for a pre-seed start-up? And what are the qualities and expertise, which you are looking for in a senior manager?
I would focus on really getting close to your customer and being able to describe him / her in great detail. I would also focus on being able to describe accurately and with firsthand observations exactly how your customer would purchase your product. Potential investors are going to be evaluating your go to market strategy and how specifically you are able to describe it. You should literally be able to map out the path to purchase - from discovery to payment. Your marketing strategy is really then about enhancing / amplifying / expanding this core PTP. In terms of hiring a senior manager, I would be looking for someone who has show subject matter mastery - so if you are applying for a growth role, I would want to see depth of experience across various platforms. I would also expect that you would be able to speak to projects that you initiated and led independently.
Thank you so much for your reply! I really appreciate that.
Hi @carladunham Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights ! I am a firm believer that building a customer base pre-launch is key to a successful product launch. I am launching an ethical and sustainable chocolate company and am initiating an instagram page to build a community, educate individuals and share valuable content. Are there any platforms that you recommend exploring to build a community pre-launch?
It would also be interesting to hear everyone's views, especially yours @carladunham, on how VCs evaluate community growth for pre-product companies.
Curious about this too. I’ve looked at programs like Mighty Networks but unsure about success of using them.
Hi Carla! What has been your toughest marketing challenge to date and how did you tackle it? What would you do differently given the chance?
Hello! What I really love about marketing is that the challenges keep changing. Your job as a marketer is really to push and inspire the company forward. You are your customer's antennae - focused on the future and aware of what is going on the marketplace. As a result, you are often the person in the room advocating for change and innovation. And that can be tough - it's work to change! I think earlier in my career, I thought I could advance change simply by presenting the facts once. But it's much more nuanced than that - and you have to be committed to taking the team on a journey. You have to bring enthusiasm. You have to bring passion. It helps to have humor. And you have to recognize that the person disagreeing with you cares a ton, too - and their passion deserves to be heard, respected and incorporated as a new direction is forged.
Hi Carla, we are building a beauty brand. We’ve launched one product and got great initial traction by partnering with influencers on an affiliate model. We are now in a situation, where we’ve got great reviews, strong repeats but need to expand awareness about our brand. Would love to hear how you have thought about putting together a budget for brand awareness at your current startup? More specifically, when you spend on influencer marketing, video advertising or other above the line marketing to drive awareness of the brand what metrics do you track to measure efficiency of the spend.
Hi there,I have a platform that helps beauty products build brand awareness for free by offering their product in a marketplace where trendsetters can try and promote the products to their own following. Msg me if you're interested in learning how it works!
Thank you for sharing your time with us! 1. What has your experience been with micro influencers? influencers? Advice on using them to a small, low budget startup? 2. What is your go to market strategy for foxtrot? word of mouth? evangelists? FB/insta/google ads? Pandia Health is ‪the ONLY #WomenFounded #WomenLed #DoctorLed birth control delivery company‬. We'd be happy to partner with you and do some co-marketing...
Hi Carla,I love your career path as a woman who works in social role. What I’ve enjoyed the most about my roles is being able to collaborate across marketing and break down the social silo. I’ve wanted to expand into integrated marketing however I think my “strictly social” experience is making it hard to land interviews. How do you recommend making this pivot?Thank you!
Thanks for sharing, very interesting career path @carladunham! Wondering what advice you have on networking during Covid? For jobseekers, especially in Marketing/Partnerships during this time when in person networking is limited and we're all moving online. When would you be willing to connect if people/potential candidates approached you virtually?
Hi @carladunham! I was excited to see your post, thank you for joining us! I’m currently a first marketing hire at a new B2B2C startup in the verified identity space called Merit. What are your key considerations in developing the right portfolio of marketing approaches at each stage of a growing business like Foxtrot? And as a CMO of a marketplace-driven business, how do you balance your efforts for both businesses and consumers alike?
Hi @carladunham! We're building an online platform for upskilling of school teachers. We already have over 40K users registered through our free webinars and workshops. What marketing advice would you have for us, as we move towards testing out the paid version of our product?
Foxtrot seems super cool. How are you guys rolling with the COVID-19 punches?
Hi @carladunham, thanks for dedicating your time to the community! You've had such an exciting career path. I am wondering how you've presented your experience when shifting from one industry to the next? I am looking to switch from agency side to client side and curious to know how much direct industry knowledge comes in to play versus understanding how to handle a certain challenge. Thanks!
When planning brand storytelling and customer success storytelling content, what results do you typically look for and how would you pitch it to upper management?
Hi Carla - Given your experience in fashion, how do you think influencers are changing the luxury fashion landscape? Do you think there's room for a new social platform focused on fashion?
Hi Carla! Fellow English degree here. I work in partner marketing and I'm curious how you approach partnerships—How did you identify your most valuable partners and what made them an asset? What have you found to be the most successful co-marketing initiatives? (Specific examples of successes and failures would be really helpful)
Hi Carla, thanks for the intro and wow what a great resume! I am the co-founder of HANX - a sexual wellness brand creating products for women that are kinder to your body. Our current offerings include condoms and lubricant - with that in mind, we often face challenges with ads and partnering with influencers to openly talk about condoms / sex. Do you have any creative marketing ideas to push the brand into the ether on a limited budget that doesn't involve these two traditional marketing methods (influencer and performance marketing)?
Hi @carladunham! Fellow English Lit major and MBA here :) I work in the fashion tech space, specifically in marketing and strategy. I’d love to know how you evaluated applicants for your teams at Kate Spade and Amazon Fashion - and how you do it now at Foxtrot - to make sure you’re not just “filling a vacancy” but really pulling in great people. More specifically, what has stood out to you on CVs or cover letters that got you excited about a perhaps “non-traditional” candidate? And what advice have you received throughout your career as you’ve changed roles/companies that has helped you in these moves?
Hi Carla!I am trying to brand myself and am having trouble creating a concise image of who I am and the services I want to provide. What advice would you give for someone who is just starting out and what, as a marketing/branding professional, do you look for when scanning the marketplace. Any advice you can provide is greatly appreciated. Thank you for you time :)Katherine
Hi Carla -- I would love to know, what has been the most unexpected change in marketing you've seen in your career so far, and what do you anticipate will be the next big shift?