Luckily (and happily) married for the past 8 years, I have not been exposed to the drag and difficulty of registering for wedding presents. I remember too well the agony of registering, dealing with the stores and returning items, getting the word out to people where we were registered, and suffering through one of the three stores we dealt with suddenly going out of business (and us not getting any of our items). Thankfully, people are way smarter than the rest of us, and there is a new and innovative way of registering… Zola, an online registry where couples easily build, manage, and create registries with a variety of products and services. One of our dear friends, Laura Wales Holliday, is now the CMO of the company and I was able to sit down with her and get more information on the new way to register!
How does Zola work?
Zola offers couples a completely customizable wedding registry where they can add the gifts, experiences and cash funds they want in a single place. It features next-generation technology like group gifting, the ability to control when gifts ship, and even enables couples to exchange products before they are shipped.
Is it just online or is there a physical store? Is there an app?
There’s not a Zola store, although we’ve had trunk shows so couples can touch and feel the products. But we do have a wonderful iPhone and Apple Watch app. (iPad app launch later this month.) There’s even a swipe-left, swipe-right feature that lets you add products to your registry just like Tinder!
Do you buy directly from the curated site or does it direct you to the original seller site?
We work directly with 250+ brands, so couples can register through Zola for most of the same products that they’d find at a department store. And if there’s something we don’t sell directly, like a special gift from a local store or product that is exclusive to another company, couples can also import any gift from any store on the web with the click of a button. Then guests are directly to the original seller site to purchase, or provide the couple with cash to buy the item themselves.
What are the benefits of shopping / registering on Zola vs. the more traditional registry site?
For one thing, Zola allows couples to customize their registry with pictures and messages to guests. It makes the whole interaction feel so much more personal for both the couples and the guests. Zola is also easier and more flexible than traditional registries. Couples can add products and create their own cash funds in one place (House down payment, anyone?) There are even experiences to register for, like wine tours and cooking classes. And there’s no other registry that lets couples decide WHEN to ship their gifts or exchange them before they ship.
How do you choose the merchandise that is sold / routed through Zola?
We offer all of the essentials gifts that are part of a core registry (think a Kitchenaid mixer or Le Creuset cookware set) plus items from up-and-coming designers that we believe will add flare and personality to a newlywed home, like Brooklyn Slate and Mud Australia.
How do people find out about Zola?
Word of mouth has been a huge driver of Zola awareness. Couples and their guests have had great experiences and want to tell their friends! We’ve also gotten some amazing press from publications like Refinery 29, Martha Stewart Weddings, Town & Country, and Vogue.
Obviously engaged couples are your target group, but is there a more specific customer?
Our couples are early adopters and tech savvy. They also tend to care a lot about aesthetics. We have a wonderful UX and design team here, and the site is beautiful and so simple to shop. We are seeing a lot of couples where one is an ex-pat. We are the only registry that supports international credit cards and billing addresses, so it’s easy for couples who might have friends & family abroad.
How has the wedding retail community taken to Zola?
Open arms! There’s definitely a community among the new wedding industry disrupters and we’re always trying to help each other out. And even some of the more traditional retailers have reached out wanting to partner with us.
What do you love most about Zola as a company?
I love that it solves a problem that I once faced myself. When I got married we lived in a NYC-sized apartment without a doorman. Dealing with missed UPS deliveries, boxes piling up, and having nowhere to store gifts was a real drag. I love that future couples won’t have to deal with any of that!
What does ZOLA stand for?
Zola means tranquility and love in Zulu. And that flows through to our company culture as well. It’s a very warm, collaborative, and happy place to work.
What are some of the most interesting things that people register for?
We see it all! Some make me laugh, like a lifetime supply of avocados or pet toys. And then some are incredibly heart-warming, like adoption funds, education funds, or those that incorporate a charity. One of my favorites is the couple who registered for a year of education for a girl in Afghanistan.
Thank you so much, Laura! If I were to get married all over again, I would certainly use Zola (can I register for our 10th year wedding anniversary?) If you know of anyone who is getting married, please pass on the good word (and work) of this brilliant company!
And for those of you wondering, yes, this is the same Laura who is the Tsunami Survivor. If you haven’t read this post before, I highly suggest doing so. One of the most amazing stories ever…