Jinal Shah might be only 38, but she’s already accomplished more than some people do in a lifetime. Shah, born in Mumbai, India, published a children’s book of short stories at the age of 17. Soon after, she moved to the U.S. to major in communications at Temple University, which then landed her a reporting job at InStyle magazine. Yet a cultural blog Shah founded to keep in touch with her family back in India helped her realize she had a future in advertising.
How Jinal Shah went from culture blogger to CMO
“Bloggers were the original influencers at that point,” she says. “I realized there was a word for what I was doing—it’s called marketing.”
After working agency-side at J. Walter Thompson, Shah honed her skills at water bottle brand S’well before landing at Feather, a furniture rental startup, in early 2020. As CMO there, she helped grow new bookings by 32% in 2020 and led the brand’s first foray into streaming TV with a commercial earlier this year, all while keeping an eye on brand strategy and data.
“Making sure you have a product and service customers want to pay for—as a marketer, to be all over that was amazing,” she says. “It’s not just that creative fairy dust—marketers can and should be strategic players in the shaping of the business, which is what I got to do at Feather.”
As of last month, Shah is helping to rethink consumer credit as the U.S. CMO at Zip, the buy-now, pay-later financial brand formerly known as Quadpay. She plans to grow her 25-person team and put the brand on the global map at a time when such payment operators are gaining traction as credit card alternatives.
If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Alain de Botton. I have a mad crush on his intellect.
What are the top two social media sites you use on a regular basis?
LinkedIn and Instagram.
What’s currently on your bedside reading list?
Some great books! “Words That Work” by Dr. Frank Lutz, “The Gilded Ones” by Namina Forna and “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon.
What was the last show you binge-watched?
“See” on AppleTV+.
At what age do you hope to retire?
Never! I hope I always feel engaged with meaningful work.