Kima Cooper, the Brains behind Birchbox Community
July 15, 2019
Kima Cooper produces targeted content and cultivates community for Birchbox, an online monthly subscription service that sends its subscribers a box of selected samples of makeup, or other beauty related products. Studying Law, Intellectual Property, Press and Broadcasting in college, Kima started her career providing data analytics and customer insights to the Sales and Marketing team at a radio group. This role led her down a career path focused on marketing and better understanding the consumer. Through her work at various marketing roles, she recognized the power of having an inquisitive and innovative spirit, and how impactful it is at today’s digital age, to have the ability to tell stories. She credits her wide range of experiences to landing the coveted role as Director of Content & Community at Birchbox.
In this feature, Kima shares with us how her varied experiences led to a focus in marketing, her recommendations on exceeding in your role, and her passion for inclusive and diverse stories. Read along to soak up her incredible career advice for ambitious women, such as yourself.
When you went to college, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do for a career?
I 100% thought I did. Prior to going to college I took a year out to work as an administrative assistant at a local law firm. I mean, did I have a little niggle because deep down I felt like performance art was calling me? Absolutely! But I felt comfortable in my choice - I have a side of me that’s creative and another side that loves logic and strategy.
After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Law, Intellectual Property, Press and Broadcasting, you started your career as an Assistant in Radio. Why did you choose this field?
So about halfway through my bachelors I had a moment where I realized that the content was interesting but the day to day reality of what a job as a lawyer would entail just didn’t appeal to me. My intent with studying law had always been to be in the media space so that’s where I started looking. I had a thought that I would like to end up in advertising or marketing but I didn’t get a lot of interviews right out of the gate.
I had to rethink my plan. I thought about what my transferable skills were (research, analytical and critical thinking, attention to detail) and how that could translate to other marketing related fields. Marketers need to understand their audiences so I found an in working as a part of the Insights team at a radio group. I provided sales and marketing teams with data on audiences to inform different marketing and sales strategies.
That role led me to me working on the Insights team at BBC and that role led to my first marketing position at the same company.
What skills did you realize you needed to have in order to excel in media companies and marketing roles?
An inquisitive and innovative spirit - the nature of media is changing so fast and it’s an understatement to say that you have to keep up with the times. When a new feature/platform launches or when you notice a particular type of user behavior, you have to be able to re-think and re-evaluate what you have been doing, how you’ve been doing it, and iterate on that quickly.
An ability to tell stories. Today more than ever people don’t want to be ‘sold’ something. They want something real, something true, something they can believe in. Being able to handle things with thoughtfulness is key.
This last one may seem boring but ‘soft skills’ like communication and influencing others will take you SO far. A lot of what you do is just connecting a business goal/mission/objective to a consumer and the process of translating that for your audience involves a ton of work behind the scenes talking to different teams about what the product is, when it’s available, sourcing for shoots, checking messaging off with legal, designing and building pages on websites (and so much more). You need soft skills to get people on your side to deliver a project.
Your role as Director of Content & Community at Birchbox is the dream job. How did you land such a coveted position?
I have no idea! (JK) So here’s what I can say about this. My path to where I am now has been a winding one. I think people sometimes think that the road to what you want in life is linear.
What I have learned is that you only need to figure out what the next best step for you is while keeping an eye on your long term goals. It opens you up to so many more possibilities. I had no clear sense of wanting this job specifically but I had a sense that I wanted to be more creative, that I wanted more room to shape a narrative (outside of the confines of older established brands with stricter brand rules), and that I wanted to use my prior experiences to have a bigger impact.
I don’t think I’d have gotten my job if I didn’t have the varied experiences on my resume. I felt I had more to say while I was interviewing and I could stand out more because I truly learned something from every single experience (even what didn’t work for me).
What do you do in your day-to-day as the Director of Content & Community at Birchbox? And what gets you the most excited?
My day to day is so varied which is something I think is important for me. Depending on the day, I might be doing people management, budget management, brainstorming and coming up with new ideas for content features, on set shooting videos or giving edit feedback, reviewing copy and articles, working through pre-production of a shoot, working on diversity and inclusivity goals, or working with the CEO and my boss to define content strategy - and everything in between.
How do you see Birchbox continuing to revolutionize the beauty industry?
Oh the possibilities are endless. As far as one thing that I can have a bearing on, is how we go deeper on more diverse and inclusive stories. It’s more important than ever that people see more than one narrative and one definition of beautiful. We have a voice that’s powerful and it’s my goal to harness it to be a powerful agent for change.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting your career?
That success can take many different forms and I shouldn’t be afraid to think BIG.
Advice for aspiring business women hoping to or currently working in marketing and community-oriented roles?
Try to work on something that you can feel truly passionate and excited about. It’s so important that you do that because the quality will come through in your work when you’re called upon to create stories about the same thing time and time again.
*Follow the incredible Kima Cooper on Instagram (@elekima)! We know we do ;) She shares fun and exciting Birchbox updates. Don’t want to miss out!
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