Co-Founder and COO of Bulletin
Ali, co-founder and COO of Bulletin, alongside her partner, Alana, is truly building a platform that has given female entrepreneurs and makers the opportunity to reach like-minded women. Engaging them and us with a unique, social conscience shopping experience.
Ali Kriegsman is the co-founder and COO of Bulletin. Bulletin builds experiential retail stores for women, by women. Each item we sell was dreamed up by a female entrepreneur, and 10% of all store sales go to Planned Parenthood of New York City. Ali began her career in marketing and editorial at Conde Nast, eventually moving to content marketing startup Contently to run West Coast sales before starting Bulletin. Ali is focused on bringing the energy of editorial and storytelling to offline retail experiences.
Vulnerability is key to deepening relationships. How do you foster that within your relationships and community?
My personal goal is to make entrepreneurship seem easier and more accessible to women everywhere. That definitely requires being outwardly vulnerable with my team, our in-store brands, and our customers. So often, we are blasted with picture-perfect images of well-connected founders in high fashion on the cover of this or that magazine. That is awesome, and that should NOT stop by any means, but I think women deserve to see entrepreneurs truly immersed in their hustle, sometimes at their worst, and just being normal people. I am super open about the ups and downs of running a business-- how it affects your personal life, how risky it all feels. I answer honestly when people ask,“How are you?” and I always try to be uncandid, whether chatting with a potential brand or investor or employee. I think it’s just really important to emphasize that founders are just real people who took a big risk.
Who’s been your most significant mentor and how did they help guide you?
My first boss, Alison Monk, has definitely been a major mentor to me since day one. She literally housed me when I first moved to New York, and she taught me the ropes spanning all things marketing, sales, pitching, as well as the importance of really understanding the industry you work in. Alison has a very unique management style and is very “watch and learn.” When she was my boss, she was fast paced and expected me to absorb vast amounts of information while inundating myself with all things content marketing, publishing, and ad tech. She really believed I was capable of anything and everything, and led with believing in me rather than belittling me. I was lucky to have such a generous, thoughtful and inspiring boss at the start of my career, especially at such a big place like Conde Nast where entry level employees aren't typically granted as much responsibility. She saw me as a capable, smart contributor rather than a young, post-college newbie who couldn’t handle anything. That was its own form of mentorship; someone older, wiser and established telling you you’re capable of success. Plus she works full time, is also a mom, runs a women in media community on the side, and still finds time to have super cool hobbies and passions. She showed me that I can do it all.
In entrepreneurship, you wear many different hats and roles, especially as you're starting up. As a boss, there's this understated pressure to have the answers. How do you lean into the unknowing and accept that you don't have all the answers?
This is such a good question. It was significantly easier to accept change and uncertainty before we had a team to manage and support! There totally is this inherent, ever-present anxiety to keep the ship afloat and move the company forward in a significant way. Alana and I have started to bring in short-term consultants to help out in the areas where we face uncertainty. We’ve paid for social media and digital marketing bootcamps for our team to help supplement our uncertainty or ignorance.
Having a co-founder makes the pressure easier to handle, too. Alana and I always lean on each other in the face of grave uncertainty or major roadblocks and try to “un-know” together. Between the two of us we can at least crowdsource an answer. That said, as your company starts to work and you start to see genuine, organic growth, the pressure subsides a bit because by that point, you know a lot. You start to realize you know more than you think you do. By now, even if we don’t have the precise answers all the time, we’re reassured by the fact that we haven’t had the “holy grail answers” for years now, and we’ve still built a working business.