Tracy Sun, Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle
The article first appeared on the Business of Fashion.
SAN FRANCISCO, United States — After developing a “curiosity around human behaviour” at a young age, Tracy Sun initially intended to become a doctor and began her career in neuroscience, which she studied at Columbia University in New York. Instead, this fascination for human behaviour eventually drew her towards fashion — leading Sun to switch industries via an internship at streetwear brand Brooklyn Industries.
In just three years, Sun rose to the role of vice president of merchandising at the New York-based company, leading the fashion design team despite her unconventional background. From Brooklyn Industries, after obtaining an MBA from Dartmouth University, Sun moved to Silicon Valley — transitioning into the world of technology — where she co-founded Poshmark, one of the largest peer-to-peer fashion resale platforms.
In its 9-year history, Poshmark has built a community of over 40 million users, raised nearly $160 million in funding and last year, hit a milestone of paying out over $1 billion to its platform’s sellers. In 2018, its revenue was estimated to hit $140 million.
Today, Sun holds the position of senior vice president of new markets at Poshmark, responsible for innovating the company’s digital reach and expanding the marketplace into new areas. In 2013, Refinery29 named her one of the "Women Making Waves in Tech.” Here, she shares her career advice.
What is it that attracted you to working in fashion?
I always thought I was going to be a doctor when I was growing up and the beginning of my career was in neuroscience. I was curious about why people do the things they do; what draws people to certain behaviours, why people react a certain way. That is, in essence, why I’m so interested in fashion.
Everybody in the world touches the fashion industry: you wake up in the morning and you put something on which represents your mood, something about your culture or the weather, and I love that story telling. Poshmark is a fashion and technology company, but the core of what we do is connecting human beings.
How did you transition from a science background to the fashion industry?
It’s hard to switch industries and I’ve done in a few times now. Because it was early on in my career, switching into fashion was very challenging. But I think the transition was more successful because I didn’t follow a conventional path to get into fashion and I was not a conventional candidate.
I thought about what company was right for me and I took a very targeted approach. I found Brooklyn Industries and I loved what they were doing — it was a husband and wife team who are artists, [at the time] recycling billboards and making them into messenger bags.
I pitched myself not necessarily as a fashion person but as a business person. I admitted that I didn’t know everything there is to know about fashion, but that I was a thoughtful, creative, smart individual and they could use a business person on their team. I listened to what the brand needed and positioned myself to fill that.
Read the full article on the Business of Fashion.