Sittin’ pretty — and we mean that quite literally — in its very own corner of the Navy Yard, the URBN campus is as vibrant and colorful as the brands that make up its bohemian-chic portfolio.
URBN is the parent company to cult fashion and lifestyle brands Anthropologie & Co. Free People, Urban Outfitters, and, most recently Nuuly.
Now, it’s funny that a company with east coast roots, planted in Philly’s historic Navy Yard location, is most enjoyed by employees for its west coast workstyle.
Well, that and the fact they can bring their dogs to work.
For its workforce of 2,000, URBN promotes laid back vibes, a hierarchy-free organizational structure and a collaborative approach to working at the intersection of fashion and technology.
The visual elements throughout URBN’s lush campus tell the story of a company that lives and breathes the culture of its brands. Restored buildings peppered with original signage, columns and doors feature lavish, larger-than-life visual displays, bright, textured work spaces and living walls — one of the many elements of the company’s larger sustainable design strategy.
In the ever-evolving industries of fashion and tech, no two days as a technologist at URBN are the same. An active and data-rich customer base offers the tech team endless opportunities to get creative with the brands’ ecommerce experiences and customer engagement.
And because creativity is at the core of URBN’s culture, even learning and development opportunities are presented with flare. Weekly Brown Bag Workshops range from DIY floral displays to how to distress your jeans to home buying advice. Much like its portfolio of brands, there’s a little something for everyone.
For a closer look at URBN’s tech culture, check out the team’s presentation from the 2022 Technical.ly Developers Conference:
“The work here never gets stale. We’re always working on fresh, innovative ways to service consumer needs. Part of that is having the time and flexibility to research and try out new technologies. During the year, we have hackathons exploring new technology and product features. You have access to online learning resources and mentorship. It’s a really unique and creative place to work.”Mark Williams Manager, QA
“At URBN, you can grow into a senior tech leadership role and remain technical, versus at other orgs where a promotion means you manage the people doing the work. It’s really helpful that our senior leaders are able to stay hands-on and align the technical work with the product we’re developing. We’re not forced into positions we don’t want in order to grow within the organization.”Tom Szumowski Principal Data Scientist
“I briefly left URBN during the pandemic, but ultimately went back because I missed the environment too much. There’s a true sense of collaboration here. At the end of the day, for me personally, it’s not about money as much as loving the environment and the people I’m working with."Joe Wang Program Manager
“The culture at URBN is amazing. We get to show up as who we are, wearing what we want and incorporating our individual backgrounds and interests into the work. And the work is so rich. There’s so much depth to what I do. These things make the work day enjoyable.”Ashley Cecere Senior Product Manager
"I feel confident at URBN. I know that I'm getting good feedback from people that care about doing things the right way — all different types of people with a lot more experience than I have. Having access to their knowledge is amazing. I feel like I'm making real progress in my career."Nicole Erkis Software Developer
There’s so much opportunity. Intellectually, it’s an incredibly stimulating environment.Carolina Fojo UX Research Manager at URBN
This is not a super competitive environment. People lift each other up here. Collaboration makes everyone better. It’s an ethos.Than Hedman Software Engineering Manager for Services and Streams at Nuuly
We all have the same mindset when it comes to developing: Take the time to do things the right way. There’s no ego here. We work together, review each other’s code and are good at taking feedback.Yen Duong Software Engineer at URBN
What is the internal culture like at URBN?
It’s all about communication and collaboration. There are no silos, no corporate hierarchy. Execs here are normal people who know everyone’s names.
Everything feels very open; open minded, open offices without many doors, open to dogs (on-leash, except at the dog park). And there’s no dress code. You’re encouraged to express yourself through your clothing and be comfortable.
What’s great about URBN is that it has the stability of a corporate company with a startup mentality. There’s room to play with ideas, try things out. If they don’t work, the team can try again. There’s a lot of opportunity for creativity.
Tell us a little bit about the perks of working on the URBN campus.
It’s such a creative company that even if you’re in accounting, there are plenty of opportunities to benefit from the creativity.
Here are a handful of the perks available at URBN:
● Fitness and financial wellness opportunities
● Alterations and dry cleaning done on campus
● A company newsletter featuring behind the scenes content, pet profiles, people’s side hustles and more
● Mobile Vet Service
● Discounts at the Franklin Institute
● 6 free sessions with a nutritionist
● Discounted classes at the Fleisher Art Museum
Describe a day in the life of a technologist (or three) at URBN HQ.
Yen Duong, Software Engineer at URBN: One of the best things is that most of us are customers of the brands we work on. As a user of my product, it’s easy to understand the feedback we get from customers and the problems we need to solve.
No day is the same. We deploy new code every week. There are always new challenges and we’re allowed to research and introduce new technologies.
Carolina Fojo, UX Research Manager at URBN: Research is such a strategic place to be at URBN. We’re constantly thinking about our customers and the growth opportunities. There’s no end in sight when you’re dealing with millions of customers. The opportunities are endless, which is really exciting.
Than Hedman, Software Engineering Manager for Services and Streams at Nuuly: It’s a collaborative effort between tech and fashion. We talk to everyone from customer service to warehouse buyers to stylists about what the platform needs to do. I work on facilitating that conversation.
It’s so cool to be around people who are passionate about things like packing design and logistics.
What do you look for in job candidates?
The hiring process is a little different for each brand and department.
We don’t expect technologists to know all of our brands inside and out. What we really want to see is your coding experience, your passion for new ecommerce technology and the ideas you have to move us forward. We love to hear suggestions.
Interviews for tech-based jobs will always be project-based. We’ll ask you to do some coding challenges and want to see your GitHub page.
We also want to see what you can add within our laid back, yet entrepreneurial culture. We look for good communicators who can interface with all of our brands and who are passionate about what they’re doing.