It has definitely been a hot minute since my last post. When life gets crazy busy and I’m stuck in the dust storm, I always find myself back here – wanting to write and create.

Since my last post, a lot has happened. Just last week our country elected a new President and as the political uproar starts to settle, I’m looking forward to uniting and seeing the change America hopes for. In my professional life, last week also brought some big changes as we faced layoffs and a restructure.

This is the third time I’ve been through corporate layoffs and they’re brutal in every sense of the word. In two of these instances, employees were given notice regarding the changes to come, which I believe to be a blessing and a curse at the same time. As opposed to my first corporate layoff experience which happened without notice, our desk phones were shut off to avoid any news leaked to the media, and phones randomly rang if you were called into HR. The weeks leading up to “D-Day”, as we liked to call it in the office, were tense and full of uncertainty. Change isn’t always easy, especially when it directly affects you. Co-workers who become friends, sometimes even family, are left jobless and that’s a difficult reality to swallow. I’ve been fortunate to withstand the storm and continue to work for a company that I truly love being a part of. However, I’m not naïve to the fact that I will likely face layoffs again and may not always be left standing.

My advice to those in a similar situation is to remain valuable. I promise if you’re an asset to the company, one that would be difficult to live without, will most likely surpass any impact. Be the most valuable person in your expertise and push yourself to go above and beyond. A company will always keep you if they can’t afford to live without you. If you’re swimming with the rest of the fish in the sea, you’re not setting yourself apart or proving your significance.

However, sometimes a layoff is necessary for you personally whether you can see it at that time or not. You may not be happy in your position, you feel stuck, or dread coming to work and receiving your layoff notice was the final kick in the butt to see what greater opportunities lie ahead. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so if change happens to come your way – embrace it. As difficult as it may be to see the positive, it’s out there.

In the weeks that led up to the layoff news, I read a few articles from those who have been through this. I wanted to be prepared if it was me. This article from Refinery 29 talks about coping with that reality and it’s bound to give some reassurance and encouragement.





Morning Routines

Let me start by saying I am not a morning person. Getting up at 5am to work out before heading into the office isn’t logical for me– mainly because I physically will not get out of bed for the gym. For some people it’s a must and that’s great, I wish I could be more like you! However, just because I’m not waking up to go to the gym doesn’t mean that my mornings can’t be productive.

I’ve tested a few techniques after reading through articles over the past few months from successful people and how they spend the first few hours of their day. Some are at the gym, some read or meditate, some spend their morning with coffee and breakfast with their kids. Getting your butt out of bed when your alarm goes off is the hardest part. Overcoming that was really hard for me because I love sleep. I mean who doesn’t, but I now go to bed between 9-9:30pm so I can wake up earlier. For example, this morning I had an early conference call with my China supplier so had no choice but to get up before 6am to be in the office before 7:30am. It’s these mornings that I’m able to appreciate the extra time. Here are my techniques that I’ve adapted for a more productive morning:

  • Shower at night. I always hear that people don’t like to shower at night because they sleep with a wet head and wet pillows are gross. I beg to differ. I personally love to shower at night because it helps me to relax and fall asleep faster. My after-shower routine is actually one of the longest for me so it helps to do this at night when I have more time.
  • Oils. If I have a lot going on and know that I need the extra help to stop my brain from thinking, I’ll rub Lavender Oil on the bottom of my feet and back of my neck. It knocks me right out!
  • Pick out your outfit. I use to be religious at doing this and I’ll be honest, I need to get back on the wagon because I spend too much of my morning staring blankly inside my closet. Having what I’m going to wear ready and waiting ensures a seamless start.
  • Do something you love. I’m obsessed with my English Bulldog, Morty, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me. I love to spend my mornings chasing him around, playing tug-a-war, and stealing a bunch of squishy kisses. When I get to spend just a little bit of my morning with him before I leave for the day, I’m in a great mood. For some, this may be spending the morning with your kids or helping them to get ready. Whatever it is that gets you, do it before your day of commitments begin.
  • Morning drive. I have a good hour commute in the morning to work and I use this time to collect my thoughts and top priorities for the day. I actually typically enjoy my morning commute, it’s a guaranteed hour alone where I can listen to whatever music I’m feeling in the morning (sometimes I choose silence, my brain is loud enough!) and walk myself through my day. Now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably start listening to NPR or a few podcasts to make my drives more productive – 2 hours a day is a good chunk of time!
  • Warm cup of coffee. I’m an addict, a Starbucks latte addict. But, it’s part of my morning routine and helps kick my gears in forward motion.

What helps you to be productive in your morning routine? I’d love to hear about it.





How to Build a Badass Resume: College Years

It’s been six years post college and that’s a little terrifying to think about. How am I getting so old? Looking back, college is the stepping stone to begin building a unique and competitive resume. I’m going to share a few opportunities I chose to pursue out of my deep passion for the industry, but also inadvertently put me in front of the competition.

I graduated college in the Fall of 2010 with my BA from a private art school in Chicago. During those three years I studied abroad in Paris, completed my internship at Marie Claire Magazine in NYC, started a fashion blog, and incorporated my first LLC.

Here’s what worked for me and what advice I can share:

I instinctively had a very clear vision of what I wanted to study in college my freshmen year of high school. I understand having this insight so young doesn’t happen to everyone, so it’s important to hone in on your interests during high school by taking different classes (even if they’re unpopular), research areas of study, degrees, and potential careers that peak your interest off the bat. Now is the time to explore instead of paying for that time in college.

I’ve always had an affinity for travel, so the opportunity to study abroad was a no-brainer for me. It forced me to immerse in a completely new culture, learn, study, eat, drink and explore everything French for three months. This was an experience I can now truly appreciate, but it was something that added talking points and credibility to my resume. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend studying abroad, your student loans will already be there anyways.

When it came to my internship, I was one of the first students to apply out of state. Attending college in Chicago, there was a very slim selection of fashion-related internships that didn’t involve retail. I’ve always been an all or nothing person, so if I had to do an internship to receive credit, it was going to be one that was meaningful on my resume. I started to research and ultimately did my internship at Marie Claire in NYC.

Side story: On my flight to the interview I sat next to a girl a few years older than myself. We didn’t speak to each other most of the way until I noticed she was sketching model illustrations. Dana was a fashion designer at FIT in NY and was on her way back to the Big Apple after visiting family in Chicago. We started chatting and I told her I was on my way to interview at MC. Low and behold, her apartment was a mere two blocks from the MC office and she needed to find a sublease while back in Chicago on break. I hit the damn jackpot. You put your dreams out there and you get rewarded.

My dad was an entrepreneur and I had this innate desire to own my own business. I began working on a business plan as part of my portfolio and a few weeks before graduation incorporated my first LLC with the desire to launch a men’s and women’s accessory collection. While I was ready to start my first proto-sample, I knew that I wanted to be part of something larger than myself as an early twenty-something in the working world. Even though this wasn’t a business that fully came to fruition, more than anything it showed my dedication and passion to potential employers.

I took my first corporate job in apparel product development in July of 2011. It took me about 10 months to find an apparel company that was hiring an entry level position. Finding someone to give you a chance right out of the college gate is hella hard. Typically, you hardly have any work experience and your major accomplishments can be summed up in your GPA (hopefully), your involvement in school clubs or the community. While these entry level positions are necessary for companies, they aren’t the highest priority on their totem pole.

In order to get recognized by HR, your resume needs to include experience that stands out. It can be challenging, but it also can be done. Just about every college student graduating with me would have the same experience that included part time job in retail.  Why would an employer want to hire me over the next Fashion Marketing major? So, I gave them a reason.

I went into my first corporate interview armed. I had to be, it was a grueling 5 hour interview. I had built my resume with as much degree-related experience as I could cram in those few years. When you don’t have years of work experience yet, you need to figure out another way to stand out. This isn’t to say you need to create a company out of nowhere or go further into debt to study abroad. The point is to find things you’re passionate about and follow them fearlessly. They will lead you down paths you never imagined and into the arms of employers looking for your passion, experience and credibility.

Next installment coming soon, Working World: How to Build a Badass Resume.


{Carnival in Milan during my trip abroad}




It Does Matter if People Don’t Want to Work with You

There’s a misconception that it doesn’t matter if your co-workers like to work with you because your boss holds the final say. But, it does matter and in a big way. Here’s why:

Whether your employer is upfront about the conversations they have about you or not, they do happen.

My company happens to be extremely upfront when it comes to employee development reviews. These meetings happen offsite for a full day where each manager discusses their direct reports with other managers and cross functional team members. Your company profile is projected on a screen for 3-5 minutes while your boss speaks to your progress, goals and opportunities for improvement. Then, others get the opportunity to weigh in.

For example, your boss believes you’re doing a great job, well-organized, and manage projects effectively and efficiently. She’s marks you as ready for promotion. They ask the room for comments and a cross functional team member in the room believes you’re difficult to work with, uncompromising and lacks in timely follow-up.

In order for a promotion to move forward, other managers and team members need to be aligned. It’s not just your boss or your team that has the final say.

It does matter if people like to work with you. And if you’re viewed as difficult, it will affect how quickly you climb the ladder – if at all.

Be strategic, professional in any disagreements, pleasant to work with, and a master at your work. Don’t give anyone an excuse to hinder your progression





Appreciating the Now

I’m such a forward-moving thinker. I have dreams and ideas that I prefer happened, well, now. (Don’t we all!) The other day I found myself getting lost in what I wanted to accomplish in my work over the next 6 months to a year. I obsess over them until they become a reality. Sometimes, it’s so easy to get lost in what you want vs. what you already have. And it was in that moment I realized, where I am today was exactly what I wanted not that long ago.

I remember so vividly how much I wanted a work laptop and cellphone. It was torture trying to print out every excel document or email communication to come equally prepared to meetings as my superiors with laptops. I wanted to check my work email on Sunday night so I could better prepare for Monday or work from the comfort of my couch at night. A work cellphone was essential to stay in contact with my factories overseas who were 13 hours ahead of me. My 9-10pm is when we could have back and forth conversations instead of waiting 24 hours for a response. More than having the tools to do my job, I wanted these things because they signified something greater in the office; I was doing my job well – I was needed. Everyone wants to be needed in some way shape or form, right? For me, I wanted to be needed in my work. The day I found out I was getting a laptop and cellphone was like an internal dance party (had to keep my cool in front of my coworkers, of course). Expectations of my work grew, but it came with the territory and I was ok with that.

My next goal was to take my first international work trip. I watched as my boss and their bosses traveled abroad to meet with fabric mills and factories overseas, negotiate prices, work on our product lines, development, build relationships with our international partners and experience the other side of the world all at the same time.  I wanted so badly to experience that. To come back and say that I saved the company X amount of money during my trip, or met all of our cost targets, or that I could better troubleshoot issues because I saw how garments were mass produced! I wanted it terribly and I worked my ass off to be the next person in line. My first international trip was to Lima, Peru in the Spring of ’14 and it was life changing. I came back with the tools and knowledge to do my job better.  And now I will travel internationally twice per year.

A goal from my first year in product development that I carry with me today is to be valuable. If you are valuable in your professional life, there is nothing you can’t achieve, negotiate or ask for. While it’s important to keep striving for your goals, it’s also important to appreciate the now. Think back to your life 5-7 years ago. Look how far you’ve come, look what you’ve accomplished and let yourself enjoy that! Maybe you graduated with your MBA – years of work that you didn’t think would come to an end, maybe you landed your first real job out of college, or received that promotion you were working tirelessly for. Focus on the future, but don’t forget to appreciate the present because this was once exactly where you wanted to be.