Stepping into the Julep headquarters on lower Queen Anne is kind like stepping in the middle of two worlds.
On one side, two women are hunched over an array of nail polish, carefully mixing colors. A few steps away, a row of men are hunched over their keyboards tediously typing up code. The two worlds meet in the middle over fresh fruit, candy and an endless supply of Starbucks coffee. And while they may seem worlds apart, they are creating what Julep's senior director of technology Thomas Martin affectionately calls, "emotional commerce."
What exactly is emotional commerce? It is essentially the merging of the brick and mortar experience with the convenience of online shopping. As CEO and founder Jane Park explains, Julep customers are constantly shaping the direction of the company.
Like most beauty brands, you'll find Julep on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest - but what Park and Martin believe sets them apart is how they use the medium to create and improve upon products.
"We feel the emotion of our customers through our interaction," says Martin. "We feel the emotion of when we're doing good and when we're doing not so good."
Martin, who joined the company one year ago, spends most of his time on the tech side of the business - but he still feels a passion for the products.
"I have four sisters, a wife and five nieces. When I bring a (Maven) box around, they get excited and so I get excited."
"The guys here are into it," laughs brand manager Susie Nalivka. "At our monthly meetings new hires are asked their style profiles and the guys always chime in!"
It's an environment founder and CEO Jane Park never imagined seven years ago when she opened her first nail parlor storefront.
"It's like parenthood," explains Park. "It starts off as a glimmer of an idea and then grows from there."
When the idea of e-commerce came into play, many people in the tech world told her she'd need to change up her approach to lure programmers, engineers and other tech talent.
"One thing I've learned is, you need to play your own game." Park's game has certainly worked. Through the backing of several investors, Park's "child" is now a full-fledged cosmetics company - sold on QVC, Sephora and its own website. Employees of Julep enjoy yoga every Thursday, flexible work hours and free manicures whenever they want.
"It's ok to do your nails at your desk here," laughs PR rep Kari Straley.
What's on the horizon for Julep? "We want to be the most transparent company," says Park. "We want our customers to be under the tent with us."