Revolver New York

Zola Interview

ZOLA Q&A

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Jacqueline Risser

Senior content strategist, zola
Brooklyn, NY

Company Mission
To guide couples and their guests from engagement to wedding and through life as newlyweds.

 
 

 

Getting to Know You

 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Turning my creativity into a profession. The fact that I get to tell stories for a living is magical. I don’t take that for granted.

 

What is your most treasured possession?

My mom passed away when I was 14, so I really treasure photos I have of her. We’re a picture-taking family (all the doors and many walls of my childhood home were covered in them) and my mom’s father dabbled in photography, so thankfully I have tons from all points of her life. There’s that saying, “The first thing you’d grab if your house was on fire.” For me, it’s photos. Come to think of it, I think that was my mom’s answer, too.

 

What is your motto?

If you can’t laugh, you’re doing it wrong. Life is hard and if you can’t see the lighter parts of it, you’re going to have a hard time. Some days it takes more effort than others. That said, I really like to laugh. There’s a man in my office who’s coined a certain time of day “Jax laughing time.”

 

Which talent would you most like to have?

So many! I could watch a graphic designer or video editor work all day. I’m in awe of how they think and would love to have those skills. I get chills watching someone negotiate their ass off but my people-pleasing tends to get in the way when I try it out (working on that). I’m also really impressed by people who are able to identify trends before anyone else. If we’re talking superhero talents, I’ve definitely had dreams of flying and I’m pretty sure I had a great time.

 

What is your most memorable hotel or hospitality experience?

My first big-time job after college was as a fashion assistant for SELF magazine. I got to travel the world doing photo shoots, staying in a variety of places from Holiday Inn Expresses (highly underrated) to crazy places I would never be able to stay on my own dime. Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas sticks out as being an unmatched luxury experience. I remember pulling up in our production van and my jaw dropping – it felt like I was on the edge of the world. I also got to shoot and stay in this amazing English manse in Northumberland (the one from all the Tim Walker photos). Not only is it an amazing location, but the woman who owns it (this badass English rock and roller) cooked us all our meals, too. I have this specific memory of one morning when she went to the chicken coop to grab some eggs to cook us breakfast and on her way back up the stone steps, she picked a strawberry growing through the cracks and plopped it in her mouth. Very different lifestyle from the one I was leading back then. Also, definitely the best eggs I’ve ever had. I also really loved staying at the Sunset Marquis in LA regularly. Despite being on a hill (cue 24 clothing trunks rolling down), they’re amazing at supporting productions and every person on the staff addressed me—a lowly fashion assistant—by name. They didn’t make me feel like a celebrity, they made me feel like part of their own family. Plus, I saw Mick Jagger there once and that was fun.

 

What’s a brand (or product) you’re loyal to above all others and why?

I hope it’s not weird to say the brand I’m building, but there’s a reason why I dedicate so much of my time to Zola. I really believe in the Zola brand. Out of all the wedding companies out there, it feels the most authentic. We’re truly inspired by the people we exist for. We listen almost-obsessively to our couples and their guests and I feel proud knowing that what we create, whether it’s a marketing campaign or a product feature, derives from an actual request or need from couples and their guests.

 

How do you practice wellness (how do you stay sane)?

This is a constant work in progress. General things that help me are: reaching out and connecting with friends and family, trying to limit screen time, therapy, yoga, meditation, theater. I really enjoy playing with babies and children… a good reminder of the simple joys. Of course sometimes I just really need to sleep or binge on a TV show or order (and eat) an insane amount of dumplings, or have, like, three martinis. The key is doing that not-awesome-for-you stuff in moderation so it still brings you joy and doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a glass case of emotions.

 

 

Down to Business

Describe your day-to-day.

The great thing about working at a startup is that there isn’t too much of a “day-to-day”—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my role, I help develop our messaging and make sure that it’s consistent whether it’s in advertising or marketing, in an experience at our pop-up, on social media, on our site, or in using our registry, wedding websites, or any of our other tools. So I am constantly communicating and collaborating with my director of brand and marketing team at large, my art director and her team of designers, product managers, product designers, and my content team. Of course, there’s a good amount of writing and editing in there, too. I’m also big on getting feedback and results, so I check in frequently to see what’s resonating within our various initiatives and have it inform my work.

 

What’s the secret to talking about weddings?

Keep it warm. Keep it inviting. Keep it real. And for goodness sake, enough with the exclamation points. For us, weddings are more than just the one day. It’s about a journey leading to an amazing day, and the many, many days after. We want to make sure our couples and guests know that we’re there to help them enjoy the ride.

 

If Zola had a wedding, who would be the band or DJ?

I’m going with Questlove. We’re a diverse crowd at Zola in so many ways. The couples and guests we serve are a diverse crowd. Questlove knows how to get everyone moving.

 

Cash Fund or Housewares?

You gotta have both.