In a bi-weekly series, we're asking female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—about their "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
When you get the chance to speak to powerful leaders in their fields, you use the opportunity to learn all you can from them—how they got to where they are, their goals and values, even why they make the wardrobe choices they do. That's precisely what I did when I hopped on a call with Squarespace (opens in new tab)'s chief marketing officer Kinjil Mathur. Mathur has been with the company for almost four years, overseeing the business's growth strategy. "What that boils down to is: How do we help as many people as we can to get our tools into their hands and help them become successful?" she says. "We don't stop at just getting an ad in front of someone and buy/convert. We want to nurture and grow the business, to stay with the entrepreneurs through their whole journeys."
Squarespace is a platform that helps people create their own websites via easy-to-use templates and other software services for brands. Mathur says that the company empowers millions of individuals to build their personal brands and make their mark on the world.
This message was especially important during the pandemic, when, she notes, many people—small business owners, the newly jobless who wanted to market out a side hustle—were in need of the platform's services, whether that be selling merchandise or scheduling appointments via a website.
Mathur's passion for tech started at an early age, influenced by her parents. (Her dad was an engineer while her mother was in medicine.) She got into computer programming in high school and, post-college, found herself working as a technology risk consultant. However, she found that path a bit too technical and soon an opportunity to join Neiman Marcus came knocking. There, she would dive head first into the space between data and marketing strategy, what Mathur calls the start of her actual career.
"I went into Neiman Marcus, where it was super intimidating," she recalls. "I had the task of [helping a traditional company] use consumer data to build an online business. That kick-started my understanding of how to apply statistical modeling and data analytics to lead marketing and business strategy."
She went on to spend a long stint in fashion media, adding names like Saks Fifth Avenue and Conde Nast to her resume. She then took all the knowledge she had gathered and finally planted her roots back in tech again at Foursquare (she was its CMO from 2014 to 2017) and now Squarespace.
Having experienced so many different industries, Mathur says that her one piece of advice for young women (and men) who want to get into tech is to keep an open mind about their careers. "Don't ever think there is a perfect career path for you because that's what you've been told you should be. The best [job], even in my own [career], is when I am open to anything. I am industry agnostic. I just want to go where I think the challenge is super interesting and the problem I'm going to solve is what I want to spend my time on," she says.
She advises aspiring techies to talk to people, absorb content about the different roles they're interested in, and figure out what is a good match to their skill set instead of being completely set on something specific. Finally, if anyone is really, truly stuck, you can just slide into Mathur's DMs—she's always happy to chat with those seeking advice.
This desire to share her experiences and give back extends to the committees she's part of. Mathur is a member of the CFDA Fashion Trust and a member of NYCxDesign, where she helps up-and-coming design folks think about what is the business of fashion or business of design, how to build a brand, and how to get people to pay attention to it.
Ahead, Mathur chats candidly about what she wears to work (at home) as an executive and what her personal style is like. (Hint: This tech powerhouse's style is more in line with the who's who of fashion you follow than Mark Zuckerberg.)
"It definitely has changed because I have a little baby boy, Ceyone; he's a year-and-a-half and I'm now at home with him in the mornings. We're all playing a lot of different roles at home: I'm playing a full-time Squarespace exec and a full-time mom—you don't get to turn it off even if you have help. I'm in his space, he's my coworker. My morning routine is when I play that first role, I am a mom from the minute I wake up to when I take my first meeting.
I wake up every day at 6:30 a.m.—Ceyone's my alarm clock. We both have breakfast together, and he's kind of like me: We're the brightest and most alert in the morning. I launch straight into reading sessions with him, so we probably crunch through five or six books. The saying is 'to be a good human is life's work' and I believe that. We're reading books about what it is to be a kind human. We're going through the Pantone colors, we're looking at shapes and architecture, we're reading books all about diversity and inclusion. I'm trying to take him through everything I want him to experience all that he's not experiencing in the world right now."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"Pre-pandemic, I would think about what I was going to do that day and dress for it. For example, if I had a board meeting, if I was going to events after work, if I was doing a creative brainstorm or strategy sessions. My style has always been in service of whatever agenda I had for that day. I don't think that's changed [for COVID], it's just a different type of agenda. Now, truthfully, I am not moving a lot, so comfort is first and foremost. Before it was about cuts and structure and now it's texture. I want soft, huggable materials where I can pick my son up and, if he's getting something on my shoulder or snuggling in, it's all good.
There are moments when I'm still thinking through my agenda and whether I need to make a statement. Statements are different now—you don't get the whole look, you get it from the chest up. I have a no-shoes-in-the-home rule, so I don't even wear shoes anymore. That's a big part of a whole look that's out the door. Now I've been wearing written statements when I really want to make a statement. All through [the] Black Lives Matter [protests this summer], from an executive stand point, it was really important we were declarative and prioritized efforts in making space to have the conversations we needed to have, [so] I really turned to wearing my Lingua Franca sweater that says 'give a damn.' That was my power piece and it was a literal statement. It was worn very purposefully. I still think about that when it comes to dressing: Who am I going to be in front of and what am I trying to say?
[When the pandemic started], my husband and I never fled New York City, we stayed here and hunkered down. We felt like it was important to support the businesses around us and we were buying merchandise. The Grand Banks group is a Squarespace customer and are so awesome, and they were struggling. They launched all this new merchandise so I bought sweatshirts from them to support, and I wore those every time I was meeting with the team and [thinking about] what our COVID relief plan was."
Her Work-From-Home Uniform
"I am a big Isabel Marant fan, always have been. What the beautiful thing is, everybody's come out with their own versions of sweatshirts or sweatpants. Marant has these wonderful sweatshirts and over-exaggerated styles. I have these really baggy paper bag pants from her and these sweaters that I wear a lot. Aimé Leon Dore (opens in new tab) has these amazing sweatshirt and sweatpants combos. They're thick and fitted, so I still feel put together. I have the all-black and all-cream, which I alternate between.
I'm in meetings all day. I keep my yoga mat next to me, and if I can get a stretch session in for 15 minutes in-between meetings, I'll try to do that, so I'm not opposed to wearing fitness outfits. I switch between Nike gear and Alo Yoga. Another brand called Twenty Montreal (opens in new tab) is a go-to for me, too, because they have biker shorts, sweats, blouson sleeves, and crop tops so you can wear high-waisted leggings with stretch. I've worn two pairs of jeans and they're both these Isabel Marant—super baggy and comfortable ones—but most of the time I am in elastic-waist pants, and it feels really good.
I think it's important to find those moments to still dress up. Like if I happen to step out for dinner, I'll use that as an opportunity to dress up. Otherwise, it's more about the practicality when you're at home. I try to wear jewelry when I can because you only have so much real estate to make a statement. I love Soko (opens in new tab), which is this brand that finds female artisans in Africa and micro-finances their businesses.
I never have a bag anymore because I am always in pants. If I leave the house, I put my wallet in the back pocket and keys in the front pocket. Before, I was using this canvas Saint Laurent fit-everything tote. I love Cuyana bags, too, for work. They're structured, not labelled, and perfect for laptops or when I was carrying all kinds of baby, new mom-related items."
The Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"This year, it's my 'give a damn' sweatshirt (opens in new tab). You really had to be a leader that wanted to have those tough conversations [this year], and come from a place of vulnerability and that takes a lot of empathy. It starts with giving a damn. That was the sweatshirt that I wore a lot and those three words have come to mean something [more] than when I originally bought it."
"This year, the thing that stuck most with me is the line 'you may be too much for some people. Those are not your people.' I love that so much because with everything we've had going on—from social movements to major conversations around the elections—you can always get 'you're too intense, you're too vocal, you're too passionate, you're too emotional, you're too idealistic, you're too realistic.' I am over the toos. If you really want to have a sense of belonging, you have to be true to who you are, and I feel that more this year."
Shop some of Mathur's favorite brands, below.
Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.
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