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Featured on Jan 06, 2011

Jessica Marati

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do."


Dreamer. Writer. Explorer. Born in San Francisco, raised in Guam, studied at Princeton, traveled the world. Currently living in Manhattan and rockin' community and content at Quirky, a social product development start-up that makes invention accessible. Also blogging about ethical fashion and design at Tout Le Monde. Lover of big cities, small islands, old memories, and new ideas. Perpetually in wanderlust.

  • Title: Head of Community at Quirky
  • Age: 24
  • Location: LES
  • Contact: @jessmarati

What are your day-to-day tasks as the Head of Community for Quirky?

Changes every day! The Community umbrella is pretty wide; we take care of customer service, content projects, social media, and communication with our very active online community. I'm also pretty involved with media production, partnerships, and other special projects. Basically, since Quirky's been ramping up at a dizzying speed from day one, I have to be ready for whatever gets thrown (sometimes literally) my way.

Quirky builds consumer products “by enabling a fluid conversation between a global community and Quirky's expert product design staff.”  With a large group of people helping to create a product, how does Quirky overcome the problem of “design by committee”?

We're definitely bigger fans of horses than camels. One of the strengths of the Quirky model is that we engage our community to provide ideas and input during a product's development, and then our super talented in-house product designers transform those collaborative efforts into cohesive designs. That back-and-forth between expert and amateur is what makes our process special and, well, quirky.

You mention that you have “picked up your fair share of random gigs” while you were traveling through almost 30 countries.  While outside of America, what was your favorite gig?  How about your least favorite?

My favorite gig was interviewing independent designers and social entrepreneurs in India, Southeast Asia, and South America for the Sundance Channel's fashion blog ( Inspiring stuff. Least favorite? Writing dozens upon dozens of 400-word SEO-friendly web articles on the subject of Alaskan seafood for $10 a pop.

There’s a lot of talk these days (usually in regards to the food industry) about being sustainable, socially responsible, ethical, locally sourced, fair trade, cruelty free, etc.  How do these terms apply to the fashion world?  In economically tough times, how do you convince others to uphold such lofty ideals?
Trust me, I know how tough it is. In fact, one of my new year's resolutions is to make more responsible day-to-day purchasing decisions, and I'm chronicling the experience on my blog. I find the idea of "ethical consumerism" incredibly exciting. It maintains that spending money is like voting — you can show your support (or distaste) for certain practices (animal cruelty, sweatshop labor, etc.) with every dollar you spend. When you think of your consumption from that perspective, it really changes things.

You’ve been to almost 30 countries, how many languages do you speak and what is the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten (excluding Hoagie Haven in Princeton, NJ)?

I speak Italian and decent French and Spanish. I also know how to throw around some words and phrases in Chamorro (the indigenous language of Guam, where I'm from originally). And sandwich? Has to be a tie between a caprese (with fresh mozarella di bufala) in Capri and "choripan" (stuffed with chorizo) in Argentina. Delish. That's excluding Hoagie Haven, naturally.

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