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Power Player: Mandana Dayani

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Mandana Dayani knows how to build a brand. In 2010, she joined Rachel Zoe, Inc. in part to help launch the Rachel Zoe Collection. Five years later, Dayani joined Everything But the House (EBTH), a pioneering company that has brought estate sales to a convenient online marketplace. EBTH handles pretty much every aspect of the sale—with a range of furniture, jewelry, rare antiques, original art, and collectibles on offer—opening a new world for collectors, buyers, and sellers. Also cool: the bidding for every item starts at $1. The company is based in Cincinnati, but Dayani serves as Chief Brand Officer out of their Los Angeles office. Below, we ask her to share some of the tricks of her trades, namely: how to do something new in business, how to shop vintage and antiques, and where to take kiddos in LA (Dayani is mom to an adorable little girl, Anderson).

A Q&A with Mandana Dayani

Q

You joined EBTH last year. What drew you to the company?

A

I’m an avid vintage collector, something that dates back to my days in college when I started scouring boutiques and flea markets for vintage Courrèges. When I learned that there was a platform that would allow me to shop estate sales from anywhere in the country, I knew instantly what a huge opportunity there was. EBTH is disrupting an entire industry that hasn’t experienced any real innovation or advancement. By offering end-to-end service for the sellers behind the 200 estate sales we host every month on our platform (we sort, photograph, catalogue, and process payment and delivery), we’ve also created a marketplace where people can discover anything they love—from art, collectibles, and antiques, to furniture, fashion, and cars. Did I mention everything starts at $1 with NO reserve?

Q

EBTH essentially launched a new online industry. What have the hurdles been along the way, and where do you see the company going?

A

We have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. Last year our headcount grew by 350% and now we have over 500 employees across 22 cities. Maintaining our company culture and constant lines of effective communication is something we care deeply about.

Our mission is to be the world’s largest and most trusted marketplace for estate sales. This business was created with the simple notion of providing a transparent and seamless solution for anyone looking to sell a collection. Eight years later, we are still committed to our vision of a revolutionary platform for one-of-a-kind discoveries, powered by the same unparalleled service and our innovative technology.

Q

What’s the #1 rule of estate sale shopping?

A

I try to avoid having a predetermined list of what I want or need. Instead, I try to look for the pieces that I love or that complement a vignette in my home—like that last vintage oil painting to add color to a gallery wall or the perfect antique to display on my bookshelf. The discovery of unexpected finds is always the most rewarding.

Q

Your favorite vintage or antique find ever?

A

A Franco Albini Ottoman that I found on EBTH. I had no idea how much I needed it but it added the perfect midcentury punch to our family room.

Q

What’s the most important lesson you learned while working at Rachel Zoe?

A

There are almost too many to count, I learned so much from Rachel Zoe and Rodger Berman about how to grow a brand and a business. The most valuable lesson I learned was how important it is to hire the right people—those who share our company’s core values and goals, as well as our work ethic. When you have the right team and you set the right example, the synergy and productivity is pretty remarkable.

Q

What’s been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

A

I joined EBTH to launch our brand division in LA: merchandising, brand marketing and partnerships, PR, social, email marketing, art, etc. Over the last few months, building our incredible team and developing our new offices, all while overseeing our site re-launch and our rebranding—has definitely been the biggest challenge I have ever taken on. Having the support of our senior staff and the entire company made all the difference when it came to overcoming challenges along the way. Not only was it an epic undertaking from a project management perspective, but it was a fascinating study in how to strike a balance between staying authentic to our legacy while also speaking to new consumers. The estate sale business comes with an innate quirkiness: you never know what you’ll find when you ask someone to walk you through the pieces they’ve collected over a lifetime. We want to make sure we deliver an innovative and engaging user experience while keeping that spark and authenticity along the way.

Q

The best and worst surprise of your career yet?

A

The best surprise was re-launching our entire site without any errors or hiccups. With millions of visitors to EBTH.com every month, it really felt like we were changing the tires on a moving car. The response has been amazing! Our audience has loved our original content and all the enhancements to our user experience. I can’t remember ever being this proud.

The worst surprise was definitely the reality of student loans when I stopped practicing law at a big firm.

Q

Any regrets?

A

I wish I had gotten a J.D./M.B.A. (instead of my J.D.). There were some moments early on where I had to teach myself a lot about business, and it would have been so great to have had that extra training.

Q

You’ve also worked as a lawyer and a talent agent. If you weren’t working as Chief Brand Officer of EBTH right now, what would you be doing?

A

Since I was a child, I always believed I would be a senator. (I wasn’t born in the U.S. so I knew I couldn’t be president!) I was really involved in politics all through high school and college. Right now, however, I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Between my passion for EBTH, my beautiful daughter, and a husband who’s also my best friend I feel the most fulfilled, challenged, and balanced that I ever have. I wouldn’t change much—except maybe to find more time to travel.

Q

What books are on your nightstand? Any great reads that have helped you in business?

A

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman. I just started it but I am so curious to learn more about his perspective on the mobile workforce.

Q

Where do you like to hang in LA with your daughter?

A

We love to eat! Lately we’re obsessed with Au Fudge, an amazing restaurant with a creative space for kids. We spend a lot of time with our extended family as well, either in my mom’s kitchen eating all her food or anywhere with good Mexican (my daughter and I share a very strong affinity for guacamole)!

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