Poured, founded in 2016, is an app that connects retailers and brands in the beauty, fashion and, food and beverage industries with freelance professionals. The positions can be temporary or seasonal as well as permanent.
It’s also a matchmaking service that fosters the growth and professional ambitions of career specialists while offering retailers and brands dedicated employees. Clients include Theory, Gucci and Celine, among others. Here, cofounders Jonny Tucker and Joe Roberts discuss their company, what sets it apart in the industry and how the talent needs in fashion and beauty is evolving — which includes the growth of pop-ups.
WWD: What was the impetus behind founding the company? What challenges did you see in the market that demand attention?
Jonny Tucker and Joe Roberts: We had worked together for many years and a lot of our dialogue would be around how difficult attracting fresh talent into retail was becoming. We knew a lot of the new generation was seeking more autonomy and valued multiple experiences over being tied down. The final realization we had that made us create the Poured solution was when Jonny was overseeing stores for a brand that had a pop-up. The pop-up had talent that was sent through an agency for temporary support.
While most of the talent were young and ambitious, there were a few that seemed to have no work ethic or EQ. Trying to manage who was showing up for shifts was almost impossible. Then one time while Jonny was traveling, the store had a surprise corporate visit that did not go well and Jonny had to handle the consequence.
WWD: How did each of your skill sets and interests converge and evolve into a working solution?
J.T./J.R.: We are both very similar in our core values and even pure thought process. Joe, having developed a strong HR and talent acquisition foundation, really had the lens for what brands were looking for and what can set up talent for immediate business success. Jonny, being on the management side, had an understanding of what transparency and accountability needed to look like.
At first, we had the idea of starting a staffing agency that would have strict interviewing standards and would accept only the best of the best. That quickly evolved into, “let’s do a web site so brands can see the talent” to, “let’s do an app that can be the complete workflow from discovery, to engagement, to scheduling, to payment, to training and accountability,” then, Poured was born!
WWD: How do your past experiences in fashion (and hospitality) inform your business today? Do your collective experiences help understand the needs of brands? How?
J.T./J.R.: Our past experiences really formed the initial concept of Poured (with the headshot, video, digital résumé, and other attribute features of the talent easily accessible). It has since evolved significantly and continues to, as brands and talent see the value in new ways. We take many surveys on both the brand and talent side to shape innovative technology decisions and new procedures, and even rewards.
WWD: Can you explain how the app works and what you mean by, “try before you buy?”
J.T./J.R.: The app has two sides, which means it is one app that both the brands and talent have a separate workflow. For brands, they are able to register and set up their store(s) under their profile. They then can scroll through talent profiles prior to completing the payment setup. This can help verify that the quality of individuals and specialty they are searching for are present on the app. Once the brand is fully set up, they are able to start selecting people for their “roster” which sends the talent an invite to “opt-in.”
The roster feature is a great example of something user-friendly technology that we created for brands. Now all a brand needs to do to fill a shift, send it out to their roster (talent already approved by the user to work in their store) and the first talent to accept, get the shift!
Another feature that was developed for a similar solution is called “community” bookings. This is where the brand sends the opportunity to all talent on the platform that is in range of the location, and the talent can submit interest to work the shift. The brand then gets to make the decision of who to accept and have work the shift. These new features increased our fulfillment time and rate significantly. The talent side allows the talent to register, interview, and view community activity to give them a sense of what the platform can offer for them. They can represent their full selves (not just a résumé) with a picture and video. The talent uses the tool to “opt-into” a request to be added to new rosters, accept bookings, and clock in/out.
They can message brands and get full details of what is required of them for their shifts as well. “Try before you buy” is in reference to our disruptive conversion offer. Any brand can convert talent that they love to their brand for a fraction of the fee traditionally charged by staffing agencies.
WWD: How is the current COVID-19 outbreak reshaping retailing? What will staffing and talent acquisition look like as the industry emerges? And what role will pop-up shops play in this new retail landscape?
J.T./J.R.: We already saw a little trend prior to COVID-19 in the importance of leaders with high EQ and sales talent having strong relational skills and type a personality. We believe identifying talent for the right roles will be more important than ever. There will be less in-store positions and brands having time to ramp back up will take each position to ensure its the best talent they can find.
Operational roles converge more with ops and store leaders will be expected to drive business, environment, and culture. The best way to combat losing clients to online or competitors is having talent that enhances the experience the consumer will get elsewhere. I think pop-ups will be an explosive industry as more e-commerce brands will try to use it as a marketing strategy and landlords will need to be more creative in partnering with them.
WWD: How would you describe the culture of your company?
J.T./J.R.: We all work remotely so there is a great level of trust and empowerment that our entire team has. Our internal values are the same that we expect of our talent community, which is integrity, excellence and unity. We have a strong culture of internal promotion as well. Most of our team we acquire straight out of college and they grow with us, which is one of the most rewarding things to see them learning, growing, and problem-solving.
WWD: How do you see your company evolving in the next five years? What’s ahead?
J.T./J.R.: We see Poured becoming the staffing solution for companies that need to acquire talent efficiently, have them work seamlessly, and keep them accountable. We believe this will be the primary solution for all pop-ups and brands that want to stay focused on primary roles and stay innovative with strategic initiatives. In five years Poured will be the HR talent-arm of your business taking care of all talent-related functions.
WWD: If you both could magically time-travel to meet your 20-year-old selves, what advice would you give?
J.T.: I would say ‘you are smart and have a lot of value … so be bold you just might surprise yourself!’
J.R.: ‘Stop watching other people do things. Start doing things.’