My first memories of what I want to be when I grow up include a ballerina and a veterinarian. The former I pursued for many years, while the latter lasted long enough for me to remember I was rather afraid of dogs. “Something in fashion” soon followed, as well documented on this blog, but I did become rather interested in hair and makeup artistry. I was so into beauty that I ended up doing my aunt’s hair and makeup before most of her dates, as well as her entire look for her subsequent wedding. This was all by the age of 13.
What did I end up doing? This question can be answered in a couple of ways. The resume way which can be sooooooo riveting, I know. The way I like to answer is simple. I have done a lot of cool shit.
I am lucky enough to have had very few times in my life when I absolutely hated my job or dreaded going to work. I used a passion and talent for dance to get me to college. I took a detour here and there for no other reason than money and ended up hating it immediately. Every. Single. Time. Developed strong soft skills through a variety of retail positions, that despite what most people think, require a college degree and a lot of intelligence to be successful. Worked at The GRAMMYs. Worked at Gibson Guitar. Worked at festivals and music venues with an All-Access pass to some of the coolest concerts around. I have helped produce and promote black tie events I could never afford to attend otherwise. And I have had the privilege of working with some of the greatest artists from every genre imaginable.
Now about that detour. I left retail for the nonprofit sector where I stayed for the next 20-ish years. And after those 20-ish years, I was burned out. I was tired of fighting the uphill battles of trying to get people to appreciate the opera or view arts education as worthy of investing in. I was tired of the egos, the attitudes, and the politics. And I was tired of nonprofit salaries and nonexistent benefits. People work in nonprofits because of the passion, not the pay, and my passion was gone. I joked and said to my husband, “welcome to my midlife crisis. Only, I just want to make more money. I do not want to buy a pricey sports car or have an affair, so let’s be supportive and thankful.” Believe me, he is.
This is where we get to the hated part. Corporate America and I do not get along. The money did not matter. I have never felt more out of place anywhere doing anything ever in my entire life. How is that for hyperbole? The weird thing is that when I left my last nonprofit job, I stopped updating my LinkedIn. After overanalyzing as I am wont to do, it is because I was this mixture of embarrassed I crossed over to The Dark Side of for-profit with the doubt that I would succeed. I never want to publicize what I was doing because I no longer had any faith in what I was doing.
But I guess it really is not weird I stopped updating my LinkedIn. I have a habit of keeping things close to the chest, especially when there is any self-doubt involved. Or fear. After all, I am the girl who admitted that I launched this blog and did not tell anyone in my own circle about it. Whereas most people would look to their existing contacts for likes, follows, and general growth, it took a year for me to post about AFL on my personal IG and FB pages. I still rarely cross-promote.
In the last corporate job I had, the only female in the c-suite slacked me during a zoom meeting to tell me that my pulling my hair into a ponytail while on video was undermining my professionalism. This is a company where the white male CEO would wear a Native American headdress on calls with outside vendors and prospective clients. But cultural appropriation is personality for a man, but a woman dealing with overgrown bangs due because of Covid lockdown is unprofessional.
I had an epiphany whilst talking to a man I was working for as an independent contractor during said detour. We were talking about how one of our favorite restaurants in an affluent development in north Austin recently closed in the wake of their latest rent increase. The place was the size of a postage stamp and ALWAYS packed, so I figured it was financially successful enough to withstand it. The man told me that he knew exactly how exorbitant the rent was in this same development because he briefly owned a similar-sized candy store that went under rather quickly. He referred to it as, “THE biggest failure and costliest mistake in my lifelong career as an entrepreneur,” and then moved on.
I was stunned. Not because he made such a mistake, but because he could admit this in the most casual, almost nonchalant way. If it were me, I do not think I could ever offer up my most epic failure as if it were nothing like he did. I would be ashamed, afraid to show my face around town, and certain I would not try and go out on my own again. This man was now 3-4 of his own iterations beyond the candy man chapter. After all, I was working for him in the transportation and technology space.
This brings us to the present day. I realized about halfway through last year that I am one of those women who was using the pandemic to reinvent themselves/come out better than when it started. I have been concentrating on the blog, working with an empath, and doing what I do best, which is opening myself up to the possibilities of what the universe can bring. I am trusting my own intuition and embrace the changes and growth.
So now, two-ish years away from age 50, I am happy to announce The 18th Iteration of What I Want to Be When I Grow Up. I have announced it one way or another on IG and elsewhere, but I am now the VP of Marketing for The Edit Advisory, a fashion trend insight and innovation agency. By serving the modern creative entrepreneur and fashion trendsetter, we are positioning TEA as the creative catalyst for fashion innovation.
TEA taglines are – Be inspired. Create with purpose. Cultivate your passions. And that is all I want to do with my own life, as well as help others do the same. The biggest difference this time around, is I do not give a crap what anyone thinks. I did not hesitate to change my LinkedIn. Not keeping it close to the chest. Starting a new job. Launching new products. Growing my side-hustle. At 48. During a pandemic. You know what? It feels right and good.
Stay tuned as we begin to share more about The Edit Advisory and how I personally use all my insider fashion trend knowledge on my own wardrobe and style. We also look forward to sharing more from fellow female entrepreneurs on which iteration they are on in their own journeys. If you have something you would like to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography by Breezy Ritter