Katy founded dearduck out of frustration and, well, embarrassment. She fancied herself an exceedingly thoughtful and devoted gift giver. It was one of those things Katy secretly prided most about herself. And yet. She kept giving exceedingly thoughtful gifts (we’re talking upwards of 10 hours thinking, sourcing, putting together) that well, there’s no nice way to put this—they bombed. Like, put-them-in-a-drawer-and-pretend-they-don’t-exist bombed. The forced, disappointed “thank you’s” from the recipients just about broke Katy’s heart. What in the world is going on here? Katy thought.
And because she’s a former IT consultant, and a metrics-driven, solution-oriented person, Katy decided to find out. As is her way, she did a ton of research, talked to bunches of experts, and lo and behold. Katy discovered that it’s impossible to find the right gift for someone without knowing exactly what she wants. So Katy decided to find a way to empower everyone to give and receive truly wonderful gifts without any of the angst, and in 2015 dearduck was born.
Before dearduck, Katy was an independent IT consultant for Royal Dutch Shell, where she used data analytics to design IT roles for Traders, Operators and Accountants in their newly implemented application, Endur. She started her career as an IT consultant with Ernst & Young, where she built her technical skills and developed a love for data analytics. Katy led teams of over 20 individuals to improve efficiencies on cross application security & data analytics projects for a number of Fortune 500 companies (with Wal-Mart as her main focus). She holds a B.A. in Accounting with a minor in Internal Audit from LSU.
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Maura Randall, CPO
Maura signed on to be dearduck’s Chief Product Officer in 2015 because, while she’s constantly thinking of her friends and family (aren’t we all?), she never felt like she could find easy, thoughtful ways to tell them. “I would love for them to know how often they’re on my mind,” Maura says. We hear you, Maura! So when she got introduced to Katy, there was a real Aha moment. Maura thought, “Wow, my friend who’s obsessed with bacon, now with one click I can send her something amazing for National Bacon Day.” To make it easy, fun, and spot-on to show your circle you’re thinking of them just resonated in Maura’s soul. Now, she spends her days helping to build dearduck from the ground up, overseeing the product strategy and development of the user experience so everyone can be as thoughtful as they’d like to be.
Maura joined dearduck with over 15 years of experience leading cross-functional teams in consumer-facing content, commerce and participation applications. At Lucky Magazine, where Maura was the Digital Managing Director, she led the transformation of the brand from a print entity to a shoppable digital destination for women ages 24-45. Prior to Lucky Maura was responsible for leading large-scale global commerce and content initiatives at both Yahoo! and eBay. Maura studied communications and film and TV production at George Mason University and started her career producing documentaries and websites in the travel industry.
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Ariana Speyer, Content Director
Ariana joined dearduck as Editorial Director in 2015 because, well, the concept just resonated. And when she told her husband (who’s had some, ahem, trouble buying her gifts) about it and he said, “I want to go to there,” she knew that Katy was on to something big. Like everyone, she’s had her share of awkward gifting moments, both on the giving and receiving ends, so the thought of helping to build something that could make those problems go away—and deepen people’s connections while doing it—was very appealing. After a lot of personal convos with Katy and some agonizing/comical brainstorming, Ariana landed on the dearduck name. She also established the distinctive tone of voice for the dearduck brand.
Ariana joined dearduck as a writer, editor, and copywriter with extensive experience in building a compelling editorial voice from scratch. At ideel, Inc. the members-only shopping site where Ariana was Editorial Director, she played a significant role in helping to grow the company from $20 to $150 million and a #1 ranking on Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies in 2011. She oversaw all content for ideel’s 5 million members both online and in social media. Prior to ideel, Ariana specialized in design, travel and lifestyle content as a Contributing Editor for domino Magazine and Sherman’s Travel magazine, and as a freelance copywriter. Ariana spent the early part of her career at the independent art magazine, index, where she served as an Editor-in-Chief. She studied English and Italian at Middlebury College, where she received her B.A.
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Tamara Rosenthal, Marketing Advisor
Tamara is a seasoned marketing executive with over 20 years of experience working for multichannel fashion retailers. Prior to joining dearduck, Tamara was the Vice President of Marketing and Ecommerce at Fashion to Figure, a women’s plus size fashion retailer. Tamara has held senior marketing positions at ideel.com (later sold to Groupon), Lacoste USA and Ferragamo where she developed programs across both digital and traditional marketing channels. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.
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Kate Russell – VP of Merchandising
Since she was a kid, Kate has been known for her amazing taste. “When I was a teen, my mom’s friends would ask me to come over and pick their outfits,” Kate remembers with a laugh. After studying Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising at LSU, Kate took her talents to Baton Rouge’s Aria Boutique and Houston’s Hila Jewelry.
Then, at the legendary Houston shop Cotton Club Collection, Kate was in charge of merchandising for clothing, accessories and fine jewelry, including weekly trunk shows.
When they met in college Kate instantly became one of Katy’s, our CEO, best friends. Which means that Katy knew that Kate’s style, attention to detail and commitment to quality made her the perfect person to lead the Curating team.
At dearduck, Kate is most looking forward to users “finding stuff they didn’t even know existed. I’ve discovered all of these sites and lines that I adore and I can’t wait for dearduck users to experience them.” A standout? Little Barn Apothecary. Kate admits to being “obsessed” with them, and soon enough, the rest of us might be, too.
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Annie Duckworth – Marketing Coordinator
From social media posting to product hunting, Annie has her hands in almost all things dearduck. “Helping choose the products is my favorite part,” says Annie, who was thrilled to find Wondermade’s Gold & Champagne marshmallows, which, yes, are as incredible as they sound. “And we all love the surarfina candies,” she continues. “There are 3 boxes in front of me right now,” she admits—purely in the name of research, no doubt.
But it’s not all about candy around the office all the time. The 2015 University of Kansas grad with a B.S. in Marketing is putting her concentration in Entrepreneurship to good use. “It’s been amazing to see everything it takes to go live,” Annie says, “the long hours and hard work everyone puts in.” And the most compelling feature of dearduck, according to Annie, is both personal and universal: “There have been so many times where I have given someone a gift just because I liked it but was unsure if they would. With dearduck, you will know for sure that you are giving a gift someone will love.”
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Andrea Sanger – Creative Lead
Between organizing the marketing calendar and cultivating partnerships, Andrea has been busy hatching ingenious plans to get the dearduck word out everywhere from music festivals to football games. “How can we make an impression that’s memorable?” is Andrea’s rallying cry. We’re not worried—from her spot-on personal style to her uber-friendly way with people, Andrea has a knack for a making a big impression.
Andrea joined dearduck in 2016 after launching her own jewelry company, Andrea Sanger Design, so she’s familiar with the blood, sweat and tears that go into a new venture. Her 2012 BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin (with minors in Business and Art History) was excellent prep for creating the beaded, statement necklaces that were soon a hit in her native Austin.
So why dearduck? “There’s a huge market for it,” Andrea says. “People love giving, but they never know what to give.” Andrea follows that up quickly with, “And our team is amazing!” We couldn’t agree more.