Alana and Ali are the founders of Bulletin, which is not your typical store. Bulletin is stocked exclusively with feminist-minded merchandise by brands run by women. Ten percent of all proceeds go to Planned Parenthood of New York City. Alana and Ali are change retail by helping retail businesses build their business with a data-driven approach. Since launched in 2015, Bulletin has helped hundreds of digitally-native brands access physical retail space.
The Power Thread is excited to be partnering with Bulletin for our event on March 26th.
Where are you both originally from, and what did you do before starting Bulletin?
Ali was born in New York (woot woot) but raised in Los Angeles, California. Alana is from Long Island. Prior to Bulletin, Ali and Alana worked at Contently, a content marketing software startup based in SoHo. That’s where they met and started Bulletin as a digital platform and side project in 2015. Prior to Contently, Ali worked in marketing at Conde Nast and Alana worked in financial software services and at luxury denim startup 3 x 1.
What advice would you give to recent college grads trying to find their way?
Focus on yourself and don’t let other people’s dreams or definition of “success” pivot you away from pursuing your own interests. Ali took a job in asset management her senior year of college, influenced by the fact that finance and consulting jobs were the “it” gig to get upon graduation. That was just the culture of her school, and that was what post-grad “success” objectively looked like. But right before starting, she quit, and took a job that was half the salary but more in line with what she wanted to learn and what she wanted to do. It’s really easy to get trapped on someone else’s path, and it is super important to be honest with yourself about what you want to learn, what you enjoy doing, and what your strengths are. Don’t let other people influence your path or make your path feel unattainable or impossible. When you think about finding your way, think about the world you want to wake up in every day. If you’re a creative person, take that seriously. Make that your superpower and find jobs that will help you flex that super power, rather than jobs that offer some superficial stability and don’t tap into your skill set.
Ali, what does it mean for you to be powerful?
To me, being powerful means having a platform and being able to help people or inspire women. I feel powerful when I meet customers during our events who want to start a brand or business because somehow, Bulletin has made that feel more realistic or attainable for them. I feel powerful when I share Alana and I were one of the 2% of women who received venture capital funding last year, not because I feel like a winner, but because I know that it lets other women know it is possible. I feel powerful when I go through our Instagram Dms and a follower tells me our Instagram story made their day, or inspired them to take a risk, or helped them feel understood. I think being able to leverage a brand for some form of positive impact or influence makes me feel my most powerful.
Largest challenge you faced starting Bulletin, and how did you overcome it?
I think the hardest challenge when starting something is deciding how much you’re willing to give up to make it successful and meaningful. Bulletin began as a side hustle in 2015, and Alana and I chipped away at the first iteration of the company for about a year before going full-time. When you start, it’s in the small decisions where you feel the most tension, I think: deciding to dedicate weekends and weeknights to Bulletin and give up that free time, deciding to cut my spending significantly to save up for our eventual full-time leap and give up that spontaneous dinner or happy hour, deciding to dedicate more mental energy to Bulletin instead of my salary-making sales job. Because you don’t know how successful or “worth it” those trade offs will be, there is always this slight hesitation or anxiety in those baby steps. You don’t know if the sacrifice will pay off. I overcame that hesitant voice by deciding to prioritize my long-term happiness over what felt most convenient. Half-assing the start of Bulletin would guarantee none of those trade offs would pay off. It was a decision to go all in, or not do it at all.