Dedicated to Exceptional Customer Experience

Start talking about customer experience concepts with Jessica Ferrell (’16) and her excitement becomes palpable. “I love to engage and educate customers through stories that show transparency, authenticity and certainty,” Ferrell declares. As Brand Marketing Manager at California-based Bolt Threads, Ferrell brings her genuine approach to customers from the company’s marketing arm in Portland. The nature-inspired fabrics company also owns Eighteen B beauty products, and Ferrell has led product development and launch for five different products. “I’ve had such great opportunities here,” Ferrell says of Bolt Threads. “Working in the apparel and beauty industries has offered me fantastic commercialization experience.”

A first-generation college graduate, Ferrell hails from a very small town outside of Albuquerque, NM. She attended a private college in Chicago where her undergraduate degree emphasized philosophy and sociology. “Philosophy expanded my mind and made me a better writer,” she recalls. “Sociology taught me about people, which complemented the deep, personally focused thinking of philosophy.”

Although she planned to attend law school, the 2008 economic crisis and student loans put her legal dreams on hold. Ferrell became a catering field manager, worked in Chicago luxury hotels, and then set off to Greece to direct an overseas program she’d attended as an undergraduate. But it was a stint in agrotourism in Italy that ignited her passion for the authentic, high-touch customer experience.

Back in the states, Ferrell managed the beverage program at Salt Water Farm’s restaurant in Maine. “The open kitchen behind the bar gave me a stage to tell this beautiful story about open-sourcing and the farmers who grew the food,” Ferrell recalls. “I realized I wasn’t in love with food and beverage – I was in love with customer experience and storytelling.”

Return on Investments

Ready to make a new investment in her education, Ferrell set her sights on an MBA. She sought a liberal, progressive city that understood a maker’s economy and a sustainable supply chain. Portland fit the bill. While attaining her MBA in Marketing at PSU, Ferrell did her Capstone project with Bolt Threads which ultimately led to her job.

Despite her significant work responsibilities, Ferrell remains incredibly active at PSU. To pass along on her customer experience expertise, she developed and teaches the course Pub & Tasting Room Management at PSU’s Center for Executive and Professional Education in the Business of Craft Brewing certificate program.

During her master’s program, Ferrell co-created Open for Business through the business school. Launched in fall 2016, Open for Business is an annual event that brings business owners and community members together to create, support and sustain LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces.

“Working and volunteering with the business school is the most rewarding thing I do,” Ferrell asserts. “I’m a huge advocate for PSU. They listen to alumni and they care. As a result, I’m able to invoke change.”