Joining Xero Shoes

Joining Xero Shoes

I'm excited to share that I'm starting something brand new. I'm joining Xero Shoes as a Sr. eCommerce Engineer. 🎉

What Have I Been Doing This Year?

It's been a challenging year for me. In October of 2022 I was laid off from Paid Memberships Pro. It was the start of big lay-offs all over tech. The tech industry has been such a good industry to be a part of for the last decade. But the past year has been hard.

Close but not Quite Right: Joining eCommerceFuel

I initially started applying to jobs and I actually found something relatively quickly. I wrote a trial piece for eCommerceFuel in December and by February I joined eCommerceFuel as Head of Research and Content.

I was able to join ECF Live, dig into the community, and answer some of their most important questions in the form of content on the site. It was an incredible opportunity to work with real 7-figure eCommerce stores but unfortunately there was a fundamental problem.

ECF only had enough budget to pay for me 30 hours a week. This meant I had to split my focus on my main job and bring in an extra 25% income through my side projects. This may have worked in a different environment but the standards on my position were very high and I ended up working 40-hour weeks for ECF to deliver quality work and then spent the weekend and evenings on my side projects to bring in a full-time salary.

While I'm happy with the work I produced it's clear now that fundamentals, like a salary range and expectations of the position, are more important than the work environment and being able to work with one of your favorite podcasters.

After our initial 6-month contract ended ECF decided to end our arrangement. And it was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to start looking again for full-time work.

After a few months I found a WooCommerce developer position at Xero Shoes.

What are Xero Shoes?

I met Steven Sashen, the CEO of Xero Shoes at WooConf Austin back in 2016 and had lunch with his lead developer back in 2018.

While Xero Shoes was very successful in 2016 they've grown a lot in the past 7 years. By the time I joined the company in early December I'm officially employee #99. And the company brings in a ton of revenue. 📈

Real products

I've always been excited to help real people ship real products. And that's what Xero Shoes does. They pioneered the space for minimalist footwear. They ship sandals, shoes, running shoes, and even boots.

Xero Shoes Denver boot
My first Xero Shoe: the Denver

High Quality Products

The company believes in their product and they know that to really judge shoes you have to wear them and experience them. It's one thing to say you sell comfortable shoes. It's another to believe it.

We have a very large product division within the company. And the co-founder Steven does his best to make the products perfect. While some shoe companies are content if 97% of shoes fit their customers. We think there's opportunity to be the best. We want 99.9% of customers to have shoes that fit them perfectly. And we put that effort and energy into making the best product.

It feels good to work at a company where we really believe in the quality of the product.

About the Company

The co-founders are a husband and wife duo: Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix. They are one of those peanut butter & chocolate couples when it comes to business. Steven is relentless with his enthusiasm for the product and marketing.

Lena is the yin to his yang. She's been focused on growing the business slow and steady. There is seasonality to eCommerce and managing your cashflow, headcount, and inventory and she has the discipline to get enough product in the door while also growing headcount to improve the business.

They were both on Shark Tank back in 2013 and ended up turning down an offer from one of the sharks:

Hybrid Work Environment

The company has an office in Broomfield. That's only a 13 minute drive with no traffic. So the office is remarkably close while they also work in a hybrid fashion. Many of the employees are local and go in a few days a week.

I've been going into the office Monday & Wednesday for that face to face time and then spending the rest of the work doing deeper work and solving bigger problems.

While I'm a huge fan of remote work and have been doing it for over 10 years there are benefits to seeing people in person regularly. And I'm excited about a different the changeup.

About the Digital Team and My Role

High quality people

One of the first things I noticed about my team is that they're incredibly passionate. They care about the company and act like owners. That's exceedingly rare in today's work environment.

There is the jack of all trades who found a drop-shipping partner to expand the UK business and also installed WiFi in the new warehouse. And then there's the lead engineer who knows how to scale the website to handle millions of dollars in revenue over Black Friday weekend.

And there are two newer employees like myself who are trying to figure out the best way to contribute and grow the business.

High quality code

Normally when I enter an organization I notice gaps in their tech stack. Obvious things they could install or setup to improve the site. This is the first time I didn't notice anything. Besides needing to a hire a few more team members the website itself is remarkably well put together. They've considered every factor and there is no low-hanging fruit.

One of my goals is improve our processes to we can move faster. Since there are no easy wins we want to get better at improving the website. With a prioritized backlog we will be less reactive and can start chipping away at all of the medium-hanging fruit. There's a lot of it. We just have to improve our processes to harvest that fruit quickly.

The Right Time to Change

It feels good to join a company in December. They just finished their Black Friday craziness, I've been digging into some easy HTML & CSS changes to get familiar with the code base. And as soon as the rest of the team comes back from break I'll be ready to contribute and help move this company forward.

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