November 4, 2010


DIY (do-it-yourself) fashion has found its home at BurdaStyle, an online social-networking community where creators can share sewing patterns, techniques, and projects, all within their own homes. Nora Abousteit, the co-founder, made her way to a career with BurdaStyle along an unexpected path. Half-German and half-Egyptian, Nora earned a degree in Middle East Studies, Political Science, and Philosophy from the American University in Cairo, and then worked at a German publishing house as a speechwriter, and also as an event planner for tech and media conferences as well as for events hosted by the World Economic Forum. She has since shared her varied experiences and success with BurdaStyle—which is growing by 10,000 members per month—with the New York Times, Wired, Businessweek, WWD, and Fast Company, as well as at Parsons School of Design, the Menorca Tech Talk and DLD “Digital Life Design” media conference, among other notable venues.

Nora has fittingly built her career’s success in a very DIY manner, and has thoroughly updated the experience of sewing for the latest, tech-savvy generation. We can tell that her passion for creation will only lead to more excitement for BurdaStyle’s future.


How/why did you found and develop this site?
Best to watch this video: 

Describe your day-to-day activities:
A combination of meeting and conversing/emailing with people, both internally and externally, checking where the projects that we're working on are headed and making sure that we're on track in terms of our overall strategy. I might check with the sales team, what they’re working on, what the client’s saying, what they need, whether we’re reaching our goals, whom should we approach and how, etc. I’ll discuss with the editorial team how we can get more fresh content and making sure that content is relevant to our users. I find out what's being talked about within the community, reading the forum reports, talking to customer support and the community manager.

How big is your staff?
We're three full-time and five part-time.

Number of members?
We're now at 430,000.

Any notable recognition?
We're growing by about 10,000 members per month!

When did you learn to sew?
I started as a teenager. I was about thirteen and made hairbands (scrunchies) to sell during the breaks in school.

Favorite piece you've sewn:
My first pair of shorts that I've worn FOREVER.

Describe the sewing demographic.
Overwhelmingly female. The average age on our site is 33. Half of our users are from the US, 1/3 from Europe. Biggest cities are New York, London, Melbourne, Sidney.

Are you competitive with knitters?
No, complimentary--we love knitting!

Your current state of mind:
Excited for new ventures.

When are you happiest?
When I can make and build things. I love being creative with ideas, too--brainstorming makes me very happy.

Your greatest indulgence:
Long breakfasts. My newest indulgence, though, is raw chocolate that someone gave me who knows someone that makes it in his kitchen. WOW.

3 things you'd bring to a desert island:
Satellite phone, dancing shoes, fruit knife.

Color that describes your personality:
I don't really know what colors say about personality. I can tell you that I love to wear bright colored tights and besides stimulating my eyes it actually makes others happy.

What about New York inspires you most?
Smart people with great and crazy ideas.

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