Startup Stories: Q&A With Thrive Market Director of Merchandising Christine McNerney

May 9, 2019

Welcome to Startup Stories, a series that takes you behind the scenes to share what working at a startup is really like. Our mission at Thrive Market is simple: to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. But fulfilling our big dreams take a team of dedicated, inspiring, funny, and tenacious people who show up to work every day eager to make a difference.

Today we’re introducing you to our Director of Merchandising, Christine McNerney. Once she heard about our company mission, she left a career in the fashion industry to join the team and hasn’t looked back. Read on for our interview!

Let’s start with the basics. Can you describe your role at Thrive Market?

I’m on the Merchandising team managing the Health & Beauty categories on our website. I source the third-party brands we sell within those categories, and am always on the lookout for any trends, brands, or items that meet our quality standards, and for products I think our members will love.

Is there anything people misunderstand about your job, or something that might surprise members to learn about your work?

Sometimes the biggest misunderstanding about being a Category Manager is that you only bring in products you’d shop for yourself, which couldn’t be furthest from the truth! It’s really about knowing and understanding who your end consumers are and selecting products you think they’ll love.

Startup Stories Christine

What do you enjoy most about working on the merchandising team?

There’s no doubt I love learning about and trying new products (otherwise I would probably hate my job), but the real answer is: my team! We’re like a little family here in the office and I know I can rely on them no matter what’s happening in the business. There’s no lack of personality within our team, but we all balance each other out in a really cool way. We have a lot of fun together!

What does a typical day look like? Do you have any routines or rituals that help you feel your best? Or a favorite nibble to grab from the kitchen, perhaps?

Oh man, there are no typical days! But that’s why I definitely have my rituals during the week to help keep me sane. In the mornings I always take my dog Yogi for a walk—it’s a perfect start to the day to get some fresh air and enjoy the morning quiet. I also make sure to maintain my supplement and skincare routine throughout the week to keep me feeling my best. At night I use a Gua Sha—a special tool to help massage the face—after putting on my facial oil. It’s so calming and is known for helping reduce puffiness and fine lines.

What inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle? Is there something in particular that drew you to Thrive Market?

Our social mission is a major part of what drew me to Thrive Market. I used to work in the fashion industry and was buying some natural products, but only for personal care. Organic food was way too expensive for me. Once I heard about the one-for-one model of providing a free membership to a family in need for every paid membership, and what the company was trying to accomplish within the food system on a larger scale, I had to trust my gut and take a leap of faith into a new industry. I definitely don’t regret it! Since working here, I’ve made major shifts in how I eat, and my household is basically all clean, natural products at this point.

Startup Stories Christine

When do you feel most successful or proud of your work?

Definitely when I hear stories directly from our members about products they’re loving, voids we are able to fill in their households, and any way that we, as Thrive Market, help them in their day to day lives.

Give us a peek at what you eat during the day—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack!

Typically when I get into the office, I head straight to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle, get a cup of coffee, and make some avocado toast. All of those things are critical to me functioning like a normal human. For lunch, it’s whatever is on the Thrive Market menu! We’re incredibly lucky to have lunch catered here every day. My go-to snack is a few of the Thrive Market Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds, they’re so addicting. Dinner is usually some form of protein with veggies, unless I am treating myself to Sweetgreen, a local salad spot.

What’s one thing you want others to know about Thrive Market, that they might not learn from ordering, reading the blog, or visiting the website?

All of our Category Managers are obsessed with delivering the highest quality products we possibly can to our members. For every single product we launch, we study the nutrition labels and ingredient lists, ask questions about sourcing, and test the product ourselves. We’re making sure everything aligns with our high quality standards and try to provide our members with the products they’re looking for. Also, we’re listening! We look at all of the feedback our members provide and factor that into our product decisions.

Last but not least, what’s your favorite Thrive Market product and why?

I’m really loving our new Coconut Vanilla Body Lotion that we launched this year. It’s on my nightstand right now, and I use it before going to sleep or when my skin is feeling dry. It absorbs so well and doesn’t feel greasy or like it’s just sitting on top of your skin. Plus, the scent is so delicious!

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.


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