how i get it done

How Etsy’s Trend Expert Gets It Done

Dayna Isom Johnson Illustration: Lauren Tamaki

As the trend expert at Etsy, Dayna Isom Johnson spends her days combing through the homemade and vintage items on the site, looking for intriguing designs that haven’t hit the mainstream yet. Using data analytics, she highlights emerging trends in home décor, weddings, and DIY crafts, which often get their start on Etsy. She’s a frequent guest on Good Morning America and the Today show, and also serves as a judge on the NBC series Making It, a crafting competition hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Johnson lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with her husband, Ryan Johnson, an actor, and their dog, Paco. Here’s how she gets it done. 

On a typical morning: 
I’m an early riser. I love the morning. I typically wake up between 5 and 5:30 and go work out. I really like [the training gym] F45, or I just go to my local gym. I’m a cardio nut. I love doing anything that’s high intensity, with lots of cardio — all the stuff that most people don’t like. It gets me going. Then I go back home and I meditate. I love the app Insight Timer. I use it every day. It allows you to select how much time you have, and what you want to focus on. Then, before I leave for work, I pull a tarot card to set my mood and intention for the day.

On creating her own job:
I started at Etsy eight years ago, when we were still pretty much in start-up phase. I was on the PR team, and I kept finding these really cool things. Like, when I first started, solar leggings were really bubbling up. I saw them on Etsy, and then, probably a year later, I saw them pop up in Urban Outfitters and other retailers. I was like, Wait a minute. This was on Etsy first. I brought it to the attention of my supervisors and said, “Hey, I think there’s a story to be told about Etsy and these incredible makers who are starting trends on their own. Shoppers are coming to us because they want to find that new thing that can’t be found anywhere else. We’re a hub for people to find that new thing.”

Now, as the trend expert at Etsy, my job is to find the untapped, cool, fresh designs that haven’t been found yet. A big part of that is working closely with the data-analytics team, to really understand what our customers are engaging with and searching on Etsy, and then also looking to traditional forecasters like WGSN and Trend Bible to see what the industry as a whole is forecasting.

On preparing for TV segments: 
I was kind of thrown into doing TV segments at first, but I fell in love with it. I think it’s all about practice. It’s old-school, but I make note cards, like I’m in art-history class. I put the picture on the front, and then write the copy on the back. My co-workers laugh at me, but it helps me memorize. It’s just the way my brain works. I’m extremely visual, so I need to see the product and then all of the information that I need to make sure that I hit.

On managing stress: 
The Capricorn in me is a driven, work-loving person. But I also know that it’s important for me to take time for myself and not overwork myself and get too stressed. I love what I do every day, and I think it’s great to be passionate about the work. But I think sometimes we take things too seriously. Back when I was working in PR, I would always say to myself, This is PR, not ER. If I don’t send this sample by nine o’clock, no one is going to die. I’m not a surgeon.

On how she decompresses after work: 
Walking my dog is always the best wind-down. That’s my routine: As soon as I get home, I put Paco in his harness. There’s a park right across the street from our house, and I sit on a bench and call my parents. Then I’m ready to come back and start my dinner. Cooking is my therapy when I get home at night. I put on a favorite song, and sing along and do a little dance while I’m in the kitchen.

I go to the grocery store every day. Living in New York, we don’t have a car, so we can’t stock up for the week. So I go purely based on what my stomach is telling me. I probably try a different recipe two or three times a week. The other day I went to a restaurant in the West Village, and I had this lemon pasta, and I was like, Oh, man, I gotta get into this. So I tried to re-create the lemon pasta, and then to add a little Dayna twang, I made some chicken-thyme meatballs on top. They were incredible.

On taking risks: 
I always tell people to take a risk. My job didn’t exist before me, and it’s not a traditional job. That was scary. But if I hadn’t taken the risk, I’d never be where I am today. My No. 1 piece of advice is that if you are currently comfortable, something is wrong. I put myself out there every time I go on live TV, every time I put my name on something and put it out there for the world to challenge and criticize. You should always feel uncomfortable in what you’re doing because that means you’re challenging yourself.

How Etsy’s Trend Expert Gets It Done