International Women’s Day: The Women Behind the Watches

BY Taylor Rebhan

We take you behind the scenes of Shinola watchmaking this International Women’s Day, celebrating a few incredible women who help keep the operation ticking.

Shinola is built on the shoulders of a diversity of people making their voices, talents, and value known. We are proud of how much of that contribution comes from women. Molly Wang, a designer; Bailey Zurawski in operations; and Kristen Merollis in assembly are among those using their skill, confidence, and gratitude to make an impact.


The first step to creating any watch is to dream it. For the last nine years, the job of dreaming has belonged to Molly Wang, a senior designer at Shinola.

“There’s no typical day—every day is different!”

That’s how Wang describes the job, punctuating this description with a laugh. But even if variety keeps things interesting, success requires focus and balance.

“My role is creating beautiful watches,” Wang says. On any given day, she juggles multiple watch projects at different stages of development.

First is research: Gathering consumer insights, creating mood boards, getting inspiration such as color and seasonal palettes, then bringing it all together to create watch concepts — many, many concepts.

“Then we come together as a team—always—to give feedback and critique,” Wang explains. They go through many rounds of ideation and modification until every member is confident in the final design. From there, it’s off to the races. Wang and team work with product development to produce first and second samples until it’s perfected for assembly.

Wang has always been captivated by art and craft. Her passion crystalized in her early 20s as she poured her passion for art into design. Watches weren’t immediately on her radar. While pursuing her Master’s in Industrial Design, she happened to use watches as a case study and landed an internship—and the rest is history.

“It’s a surprising journey for me. I never thought I would be a watch designer, but I’m enjoying it greatly. The best part is that I get to spend a lot of time just designing. Creating, being an artist—diving into my own zone. That’s really a pure joy for me.”

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we asked Wang about her experiences as a woman in the industry, and if she ever thought of herself differently.

“I never thought about what I should or shouldn’t do as a female—I just focused on what I would like to do as a person. I liked this industry and wanted to go for it. But I realize that it wasn’t easy for people even a couple decades ago—women were not allowed to work, culturally or otherwise, like me. So I feel grateful.”

What advice does she have for the next generation of women watch designers? “I would be very happy to learn that any young girl has interest in the watch industry,” Wang gushes excitedly. “It’s such a unique industry. My experience is they could start learning the history of watchmaking—that would make them appreciate the industry, objects, and career they want to work in. So much has evolved to make it what it is today.”

Fortunately for us, Molly Wang is part of that evolution.


Bailey Zurawski thrives at the intersection of science and people.

“At my core, I’m an ops nerd,” she laughs. “I love being in a manufacturing plant and I love seeing things get made.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that her hometown, Dearborn, Michigan, is also home to the car company that birthed the assembly line.

After studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Michigan and working operations roles, she started consulting hundreds of manufacturing plants across the country.

One day during a consultation, Zurawski was asked about her dream job. “I said, ‘I want to run operations for a company that I feel really passionate about, in a community that I care about, at home in Detroit. Like Shinola.’”

It wasn’t long before she was living that dream. As vice president of operations “my job is to support the 150 people that call Ops home, to give them the tools, the strategies, and the goals for how to be most effective at their job. And to then in turn affect the business and how we want it to be.”

“Be curious and never stop learning. You’re never going to know it all. There’s always going to be someone who knows more about it than you. Soak it up and learn from them—it will help you figure out what you want to do, where you want to go, and what your best strengths are.”

So, what does a typical day of this dream job entail?

“That changes every single day—whether it’s being on the phone with a supplier who isn’t delivering, to planning a training for my team, to doing a production walk to understand the issues going on the line and how we can eliminate them.” If a curveball is thrown at the makers of Shinola, it’s Zurawski’s responsibility to handle it.

Zurawski is no stranger to curveballs: She started in January 2020—just weeks before Covid-19 gripped the world. “We took a six-week hiatus when the pandemic started, but since then have been coming into work every single day.” She’s been an essential lead in coordinating logistics as the manufacturing environment moves beyond the most acute phases of the pandemic.

Her favorite part of the role? The team, the team, the team. “This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve never been at a place where people are so passionate about what they do on a day-to-day basis and care so much. That really inspires me to come in every day and do better for them.”

Zurawski’s relative youth and gender have affected her experience to varying degrees throughout her career—but she’s learned to turn every challenge into an opportunity to learn more, create relationships, and press forward. “If you’re persistent and you make yourself a seat at the table, it helps you build credibility and keep moving through your career.”

For young women curious about the watchmaking industry, Zurawski has this advice: “Be curious and never stop learning. You’re never going to know it all. There’s always going to be someone who knows more about it than you. Soak it up and learn from them—it will help you figure out what you want to do, where you want to go, and what your best strengths are.”

It’s the same learning attitude that’s propelled Zurawski through her career. “Bring it on, let’s run with it and get shit done.”


Back in 2013, Kristen Merollis got a call from a temp agency for a brand-new watchmaking company that was just starting up in Detroit. Would she be interested in joining? With her experience in quality assurance, Merollis figured it could be a great fit. Almost a decade later, she is still lending her passion for organization, quality, and people to the company where she’s found a home—and a place to grow her career.

Watch movements are a world of their own, and assembling them is an intense game of “Operation” in which a single screw can be as microscopic as a piece of glitter. As the production team lead for movements, Merollis is tasked with overseeing each step.

Shinola’s factory has over a dozen main stations with multiple assemblers at each, focusing on different elements of the movement—from the coil to the battery. “I set up the stations as far as tooling, making sure everyone has what they need and the right quantity,” explains Merollis. Every movement assembler has an individual “magazine” that contains the parts required for the task at hand.

It’s a delicate daily operation, but Merollis feels that she was made for it. “I like working with people and I’m really organized,” she laughs. But watch movements, she knows, are no joke and Merollis is at her best when making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, with everything in its place.

Just like her foray into the watch industry, Merollis didn’t know at first that she wanted to be in a leadership role. But after a few years at Shinola, it just clicked. “Because I like working with people and helping them, I learned over time that it was something I wanted to do.”

How has being a woman impacted Merollis’ career in the industry? “It’s affected my career at other places—but never here, which is part of why I’ve been with Shinola for so long.” But despite any difficulties faced, it’s never stopped Merollis from pursuing what she wants.

“I know that I’m more than capable of doing whatever a man can do, so it’s never inhibited me.”

For any young women interested in the field, Merollis has words of encouragement: “Go for it. It’s something that you learn quickly, because it’s so hands on. Don’t second guess it.”

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