Jillian Harris is host of Love it or List It Vancouver (Canada) & Love It Or List It Too (USA), spokesperson for international brands, interior designer, and publisher of original lifestyle content. Jillian is a celebrity who’s highly likeable; she’s perfectly her silly self while showcasing her talents, smarts and lifestyle. These traits contributed to the Jillian Harris personal brand growing fast, requiring a small team. The people who make things happen out of the spotlight fascinate me. These people work with committed hearts because they believe in the leader and the vision. For Jillian Harris Design (JHD), one key person is managing editor Shay Merritt.
Poppy Barley style(s) I own:
After a few emails back-and-forth with Shay (the warmest, loveliest emails ever), she topped my list of people to interview. Since Shay joined “Team Jilly”, the brand has experienced tremendous growth.
As a founder of a company, I know the impact of being surrounded by incredible people. My theory is that Shay brings the intelligence, energy and creativity to drive Jillian’s vision forward. It’s difficult to find someone to share your brain; take your ideas and make them better; and have fun along the way.
After interviewing Shay, it’s clear she’s a risk-taker – she says YES to moving halfway around the world and takes jobs without job descriptions (if Jillian offers you a job, you start the next day). Shay thrives in the unknown and lets passion guide her.
Here, Shay shares her journey and insight into working alongside Jillian.
What’s your role as “Managing Editor” on the Jillian Harris team?
My original position with JHD was Executive Assistant. As soon as I came on board, within the first month, both of the other employees left. Ultimately, I formed both of their positions into one and now have created the job title “Managing Editor”. But my job is so much more than that!!! I would say half my job is “Managing Editor” and the rest changes and evolves on a daily basis. Every single day is different and I’m always learning and doing new and exciting things. I’ve never had a job that has challenged me as much as this one. I’m continuously thinking outside of the box.
Any perks of the job?
There are SO many perks to the job!! Like working alongside Jillian!!! Travelling with Jillian, helping pick out wardrobe, and styling different shoots. I can be as creative as I want, as long as I have a reason behind it. Jill really lets me do anything!!!
We think the rapidly changing digital landscape makes for careers that never existed even five years ago! Tell us about your career path – how did you land in your current role?
I COMPLETELY agree… everything in this world is slowly but surely becoming digital. Simple things that we do in our day to day that you don’t even notice… everything is evolving. Take blogging for example… it never existed as its own business four years ago. Now companies are partnering with bloggers for their marketing campaigns, because it’s completely digital with no print involved. It’s crazy!!! It changes and grows every day and I find it all so fascinating.
But back to how I landed my current role: I was always obsessed with clothing and creating my own unique style. When I was 14 years old, I started working in the fashion industry at a store in Penticton called the Bumwrap. When I graduated from high school, I moved to Vancouver and took Fashion Marketing Management at the Art Institute of Vancouver. After I graduated (top in my class to boot lol), I moved to London, England. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do there or where I would work… but I was eager to go, learn, grow, and travel!! I ended up landing a job at Harrods with the personal shopping suites. Which, I have to say, travelling and working abroad was far more educational than university. My two year visa ran out and I decided to move back to Vancouver. I had always dreamed of being a sales rep… and, well, I worked at two different fashion agencies before realizing that sales weren’t for me. Jill was looking for an assistant and the timing was right, and the next day I had an email address. Everything happened so quickly!!! I wasn’t even really sure what I had got myself into or what my position was!
Take us through a day of being “Shay”.
Oh my gosh … I don’t know if you want me to lol!!!!! It normally starts off with anxiety at about 6AM-7AM … I check all of the emails on my phone that I’ve received over night so that I know how quickly I need to get working!!! First things first though, once I open up the laptop I skim through my inbox and answer by priority. Then I make sure that all of the blogs and social media are ready and set up for the day … I probably would have talked to Jill on the phone twice by now lol!!! I won’t bore you too much … but I’m always re-working Jilly’s schedule, organizing photoshoots, going to photoshoots, having conference calls for potential partnerships, organizing and scheduling blogs and social media for the week to come, researching other bloggers and what we can do to improve, scanning JH.com to look for bugs and improvements, sending 100’s of emails!!!! And, well, I mean, it changes every day!!! … Which to me is exciting. It is definitely NEVER boring and never slow.
You and Jillian clearly adore each other – what makes your relationship work?
Yes, I absolutely ADORE Jilly!!! She is SO inspiring and I seriously learn something new from her every day. She is always thinking about what’s next, how we can improve, how we can make grow the business. She inspires me so much and I think that in itself makes our relationship work lol!!! We joke about being in a relationship. But ultimately I think TRUST is huge!!! Jillian trusts me with everything – from her schedule (I pretty much know when she goes to the bathroom lol) to her website – I plan, organize and manage the content. And same with social media… she trusts that I will make the right decisions for JHD and I treat everything like my own and like my baby.
You work alongside someone with a very public life, yet you remain quite a secret – is this by design?
LOL!!!!! Good question … I’ve actually never thought about it before. I feel like I am Jillian Harris half the time because I live and breathe Jilly lol. I transform myself into her and her mind on a daily basis!!! But it’s definitely not by design… I would love to make more of a social presence, I’m just not sure WHEN or HOW I would find the time!!!
With your expertise in fashion and digital strategy, how do you see these worlds continue to collide in the future? What types of opportunities most excite you?
Everything is becoming digital and so many new tech jobs and start up companies are popping up. I’m really excited to see how the fashion industry will transform and change. Everything is moving towards blogging instead of print and I find that really interesting. It’s exciting for me because my job and many other jobs you can work remotely since all you need is your computer. Being able to travel while working is definitely something that excites me the most!!!