Narvar Employee Spotlight: Tara Elwell

We’re kicking off our Employee Spotlight series with Tara Elwell, who heads up retail strategy here at Narvar (and is also a regular contributor on our blog!).

Tara came to Narvar over three years ago, bringing over ten years of ecommerce and brick-and -mortar retail experience along with her. She’s got extensive merchandise, ecommerce, inventory and supply chain chops, and is a self-described ‘retail nerd’.

But enough from us—we’ll let Tara take it from here:

Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do here at Narvar?

Hello! I’m Tara Elwell and I lead retail strategy for Narvar. What does that mean?

Internally, I help our teams analyze, report, and develop industry content. What stories can we tell from customer data? How do we fine-tune our conversations with the beauty industry vs home decor brands? How do we best position ourselves for certain retail trends, such as mattress-in-a-box, resale, or  subscription, or how do we take it into new markets?

Externally, we’re thinking about how to continue to stand out as leaders and experts in the field and be go-to destination and leader in the post-purchase space. I like it because I can work cross-functionally and apply my the experience I’ve gained in retail and with Narvar.

What brought you to (and what excites you about) Narvar?

Pre-Narvar, my career was always in retail. After many incredible years in merchandising and ecommerce at both Louis Vuitton and Walmart.com, I made the switch to Gymboree, and it was there that I realized a retailer stuck in the middle of the spectrum wasn’t for me. I decided to blend my love for retail with the influence of technology in the Bay Area—this started as a side project writing for a retail-tech news site, and shortly thereafter, the opportunity to work with Amit at Narvar presented itself to me.

I’m pretty obsessed with the retail industry and I think the change it’s going through now is exciting. I think the best brands have always had a focus on great product and great customer experience. Narvar is in the post-purchase space to truly impact the customer journey, and thus, customer experience. We’ll let the merchants figure out the great product part, but it’s exciting that Narvar is working with so many great and diverse brands, especially with the complexities of digital, personalization, and a highly distracted customer.

What’s your favorite thing about working here?

At the end of the day, I’d say the people. When we were just one row of desks at Hero City in San Mateo, it was cool to sit next to engineers (all three of them), product (at the time, just one person, Saurabh), and the design “team”. I still love to learn from product managers or see how incredible our designers can make something look. I encourage people to continue meeting new people at Narvar—there are lots of people who are interesting both within the walls of Narvar and in their personal lives! Everyone has a cool story.

What are you passionate about?

My family, including Parker, our black lab. I’m also passionate about great brands, travelling, and wine.

What’s your go-to book or movie recommendation?

I just finished Yvon Chouinard’s, “Let My People Go Surfing”. I don’t get to read as much these days between two kids and work, so podcasts are my jam during my ferry ride/walk to work. I love “How I Built This”.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday afternoon?

In the winter, we’re up in Tahoe as much as the snow is plentiful. If not, we’re hanging out in Sausalito with family and friends, having dinner parties, or taking a day trip to Sonoma or another part of the Bay Area.

What’s something that would surprise people about you?

I’ve completed eight Olympic-distance triathlons and one half-Ironman. And I speak French.

Who’s your favorite retailer (or retail experience) and why? or What brand are you most loyal to and why?

Ooooh this is a very serious question for me.

I’d have to say Louis Vuitton. As a francophile and history lover, I love the beautiful heritage and experience of Louis Vuitton, which is over 150 years old. To this day, they incorporate the history of travel and “voyage” into every piece. It’s an incredible brand.

My latest brand crush is either Away Travel or Rothys, great direct-to-consumer brands changing the way a customer engages, purchases, and connects with a brand.