If you’re ever on Etsy.com and you’re compelled to click on what’s currently trending, you can thank Dayna Isom Johnson for that. The 33-year-old marketing whiz is the company’s sole trend expert and the face of the Brooklyn-based online marketplace for all things trendy and DIY. She’s so good at spotting what’s hot that she makes appearances on The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, and CNBC, and was recently picked as a judge on NBC’s new competitive DIY crafting series, Making It, produced by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, which premieres on July 31.
Whether it’s statement earrings for the summer season, DIY wedding crafts, or home decor trends like the industrial-chic aesthetic, Johnson expertly sources and reports on the sure-to-be trendy items that will have folks asking where you bought it or how you made it. You can call her a modern-day crafty/personal style godmother, as her work helps people across the country realize their inner influencer and DIY-er.
The best part about her job, besides identifying and curating the latest designs and showcasing Etsy sellers, is that she essentially DIY-ed her career, creating this role of trend expert and carving out her unique path with her nearly 10 years of experience.
Black Enterprise caught up with Isom Johnson to find out more about what she does at Etsy, why her role is crucial, and what advice she has for others looking to chart their own tailor-made career path, whether at a startup company or Fortune 500 corporation.
Tell me about your professional journey. How did you go from the Fashion Institute of Technology to creating your own role at Etsy?
I had aspirations of being a big retail fashion buyer but then I realized there were a lot of spreadsheets and math involved in addition to selecting the products, and I realized that that was not the journey for me. I was able to course correct and find what I was passionate about—ever since I was a young child I was creative and into fashion trends, finding new things, discovering things that haven’t been touched yet. I was able to tap into that first working at Chico’s in their marketing/public relations department and I learned quickly that within public relations, one of my favorite parts was engaging with people, being creative, and expressing to editors and influencers what was hot.
How did the Esty.com opportunity arise?
I figured it was time for a new journey, time to tap into something a little more creative and I had heard about Etsy.com and saw a marketing team position open. At that time, e-commerce was a thought, it wasn’t half of what it is today. I was always into the discovery bit and always tried to find and source the things not yet tapped by other team members, so I figured this was an opportunity.
What does the Trend Expert role entail on a large-scale and day-to-day basis?
For the day-to-day, I write a monthly trend guide on our blog based on various topics. I compile my top predictions in various categories, including home, weddings, interior design, and fashion.
My forward-facing responsibilities include appearing on morning shows like Good Morning America and other consumer-facing media outlets to promote the amazing items on Etsy and the unique stories that come from Etsy. What makes Etsy different is that it’s more than just products, you get stories of businesses that people built from basically nothing.
I identify trends by always combing through the website to spot what I haven’t seen before. I work closely with our data team to check for spikes in searches and listings and I compare those things to a third component, which is industry-wide trend information. It gives a good cross view of what Etsy sellers are doing that big designers are not doing and vice versa.
Why is your job so important?
As part of my role as Trend Expert, I have the incredible opportunity to share special items and unique stories from the Etsy community as an external spokesperson. This means I frequently appear on national television such as The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, and more. I am able to communicate these stories of people who may not be able to do so because it’s on such a small scale. For someone like a jewelry designer who is unable to reach those mass audiences, the ability for me to feature her earrings on The TODAY Show or in a blog post is a good feeling. It’s one of my favorite aspects of my job because I love the opportunity to share stories about our sellers and inspire shoppers to purchase from small businesses across the world.
What special skills do you bring to this role?
Everyone has their own eye but it’s a talent to be able to have an eye for multiple audiences. Not many people can choose things outside of what they like. I have the ability to source things for various audiences, whether it’s a magazine, TV show, or marketing partner and I am able to talk about the why behind it.
When did you realize that pointing out trends was your thing and that you should really do something with this skill?
An Oprah “aha moment” had happened. I was doing my first segment on Good Morning America’s livestream and my responsibility as the PR person was to write the messaging and coach the person going on camera. But that person was no longer able to do it and at the last minute, I had to step in. When I did, I felt that was my moment.
What was the process of creating your own job title and convincing your bosses that you should be the trend expert?
One of the great things is that I started at a company in its early stages, a company that was still in its startup phase—one of the great things about it is that there is room. I was able to tap into that discovery piece. I had so many pitches and meet-and-greets with editors, the favorite part of my job was not really public relations. It was really about starting those conversations with my supervisor and feeling confident enough. It was able to work out in my favor and I’m lucky for that.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to chart their own path and create their own tailor-made roles that best suit their interests and skills?
Be vocal. Especially being a woman of color—you’re working with two minority boxes—the woman and the woman of color. Sometimes that can lead to just you doing your work and making sure you’re having a seat at the table. But I think it’s more than having a seat at the table, it’s about being vocal, expressing what you’re passionate about and what drives you. You have to be true to yourself and confident in yourself, and that’s the way to get to the top.
How did the opportunity to be part of NBC’s Making It come about?
The opportunity was such a surprise to me. NBC reached out to see if I was interested and I had to submit a casting video and meet with the executive producers. Months went by before I received the news that I got it. I am beyond thrilled for America to see this show and the opportunity to work with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman is out of this world. Being able to connect with the makers and to see the things they made each day is inspiring and hopefully, viewers are inspired to make after following along the contestants’ journey.
What are some of your favorite current trends?
My favorite right now is Hygge, the Swedish concept of slow living and mindfulness. It’s about taking care of your home, putting time into it, making it an oasis.
If you’re interested in discovering and supporting some Etsy shops, honing in on your personal style, or finding something new, you can check out Isom Johnson’s blog here or follow her on Instagram @daynaisomjohnson. You can also get a glimpse of her expert eye for style and detail when Making It airs on NBC on Tuesday, July 31.