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A day in the life - Helen Kaye

The head of editorial at etailer Secretsales trained as a journalist before moving into ecommerce.

What does your typical week involve?

There is no such thing as a typical week or even day. Every day we host between eight and 10 new Sales across everything from fashion, to beauty, to homeware. I’m responsible for all copy on and off the site, which involves managing a team of writers that writes everything from the product descriptions to social media posts, newsletters and blogs. Every week I meet with the buying and merchandising teams to lock down the campaign schedule. It changes regularly because we get access to new stock at the last minute or we need to push back a Sale because stock is delayed. From that meeting, I plan the blog content and newsletter schedule. Our Sales last for four days, which means all the content we produce is only up for a limited time. Last year, I launched our new blog - The Secret - and more recently I launched our first editorialised microsite on weddings. Our themed microsites help people to shop the many hundreds of products we sell every week in a more editorialised way - it’s a bit like reading a magazine that’s shoppable.

How did you get to where you are today?

My career path has been very varied. As a trained journalist, my first job was in print at The Sunday Times working for The Funday Times - the paper’s children’s section. It was a dynamic and fun-filled environment. From there, I went to work for the BBC across its portfolio of children’s education websites aimed at making learning fun. The BBC taught me that knowing who your audience is and keeping them front of mind is the key to good content - something that has stood me in good stead. I then spent a few years at Bauer Media helping to launch its new parenting website Askamum.com, before taking my first step into ecommerce when I joined [furniture etailer] Mydeco.com as editor. Mydeco was set up by Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman and had a very innovative approach to ecommerce. Using tools such as the 3D room planner and the online moodboard, we encouraged our users to discover and buy new products from hundreds of homeware websites. After that, I went to head up editorial at [flash Sale site] Cocosa, where I launched the interactive style notes section and the blog. These all helped showcase the luxury designer clothes we sold on Cocosa in a magazine-style format, which helped to bring the product to life. I was then headhunted to do the same for Secretsales, which is where I am today.

What has been your career highlight?

One of my most recent highlights was being a judge for the 2013 British Society of Magazine Editors Rising Star Awards, which helps recognise new writing talent in the industry. The fact I was chosen to help judge these awards demonstrates how far ecommerce editorial has progressed to become recognised as credible content within the world of journalism.

Who is your mentor?

I have two exceptional people to thank, the first being Dave Coombs, who was my first editor at The Funday Times. He really helped me hone my writing to be short, snappy and to the point. The second is Gwynn Milligan, who was managing director
of Cocosa [now managing director of Bank], whose vision and passion was a real inspiration to me.

What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?

Gwynn said you should aspire to bring the theatre and the magic of shopping that you find in an amazing department store into the online shopping experience - something that I think is becoming increasingly true as consumers come to expect more and more from their online shopping experience.

How do you see your career progressing?

I would love to continue to head up an editorial team, but within a full-price online retailer. It would be great to create editorial content for clothing that you can shop for a whole season as opposed to just a few days.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

That you don’t necessarily need to start off in fashion to get my job, but that drive and passion will see you through.

  • Salaries for this type of position range from £45,000 to £60,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)

CV

2012 Head of editorial, Secretsales
2011 Head of editorial, Cocosa
2010 Ecommerce editor, Mydeco.com
2007 Deputy editor, Askamum.com, Bauer Media
2006 Online assistant producer, BBC Schools
2005 Writer, The Funday Times at The Sunday Times

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