Now that I’ve been out of college for over a decade (gulp!) I’ve had enough time to have 11 years of a career. So when St. John challenged me to think about some career-defining moments in my life, I was happy to take the time to think and reflect on those 11 years.
THE BACK STORY
My first job out of college was at a publishing company in Sarasota, Florida. I was the design editor for three newspapers and a quarterly magazine. It was a great first job to have. A lot of work, high expectations, and a small staff — so I had to jump right in and figure it out. It was a good way to learn a lot in one year. Which I did.
After a year in Florida my husband and I moved to Kansas City (where I grew up) and out of 17,000 other applicants that year, I got a job at the HQ of Hallmark. There I was a designer, and later promoted to senior designer. I designed marketing collateral and directed/styled photo shoots. I learned a lot and think my time in the corporate world helps me communicate with the corporate clients I have now.
After five years at Hallmark I left and moved to Washington, D.C., where I have now lived for five years. I was always an entrepreneur at heart, and after about six months at Hallmark I was already bored and itching to get out. I started this blog at the time I worked there. I would come home from my job and then disappear into my home office spending hours and hours designing and writing blog posts.
I had six years of “real-world job experience” when I decided it was time to venture out on my own. When my husband and I moved to DC I didn’t know anyone except a few acquaintances from college I found on LinkedIn, some of which have become great friends. At the time blogging was starting to become something you could monetize and I was taking on social media and graphic design clients as well.
This decision to go out on my own was my second career-defining moment. Working for a huge corporate company gave me some street cred, but being an entrepreneur at the age of 27 without having a plan was risky. For some reason I just felt like it was time. I knew if I got some cushy well-paying job in DC I’d get used to the money and possibly wouldn’t leave it and then regret it years later. So I took the risk and just went for it. I knew the first few years would be hard and I wanted to get them over with.
I say going out on my own was my second career-defining moment because my first career-defining moment was when I started this website — I just didn’t know it at the time.
So now that you’re caught up on how I got to my current gig, I’m going to share a few more moments that have happened since I ventured out on my own into the wild world of blogging, content creation, and social media.
MY STUDIO IN GEORGETOWN
Walking to my office in Georgetown wearing:
St. John Knit Jacket / St. John Black Shell / St. John Cropped Leggings
St. John Pearl Drop Earrings / Kate Spade New York Satchel
Kate Spade New York Heels
After I’d been working from home for three years from my apartment in DC I was going crazy. I knew I needed to get out of my place and go to an actual office. Instead of taking the easy route and joining a co-working space, I wanted to create my own space. The co-working spaces at the time weren’t really my vibe. I needed a place where every inch was Instagrammable, and where I could have photo shoots and store products. I found a space in Georgetown, and started my own little collective studio of female entrepreneurs in DC.
Opening my studio on M Street in Georgetown was a major career-defining moment. The space is more than just a place to have client meetings and photo shoots — it represents a shift in how I strategized and conducted my business.
TRAVELING FOR BUSINESS
Leaving for a business trip at DC’s Union Station wearing:
St. John Knit Topper / St. John Black Shell / St. John Cropped Leggings
St. John Pearl Drop Earrings / Kate Spade New York Satchel
Kate Spade Carry-On / Matiko Fringe Booties
My next career-defining moment is actually a group of moments.
Traveling has been a defining moment for me in many ways. The first of which was attending a huge blogging conference back when blogging conferences were in their infancy. It helped me learn about the industry as a business and make connections that have been valuable to this day.
Living in DC I have the luxury of proximity to New York City. I can hop on a train at Union Station and be there in a matter of hours for meetings, to attend fashion week, networking events and more.
Every time I travel to a city and deepen my connections with the people there, I can directly link it to something good that has happened in my career.
Traveling is something I love to do. I love to explore the world and learn how other cultures live, eat, work, celebrate, enjoy life. Because of this website, I’ve gotten to travel all over the world — Hong Kong, Shanghai, Rwanda, Zurich, Hawaii. While travel writing can be exhausting (you basically pack a week’s worth of activities into a few days), it’s also the best job I could ever think of.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE
Walking into a meeting at The Jefferson wearing:
St. John Leather Jacket / St. John Black Shell
St. John Cropped Leggings / St. John Pearl Drop Earrings
Luana Italy Satchel / Swarovski Crystal Cocktail Ring
Matiko Fringe Booties
One more thing that has helped define my career are the people I’ve met, connected with, and formed long-term relationships with.
While I’m very business-minded, I’m also very people-minded. People do business. You have to think about the people.
For me, it’s important to keep in touch and always be constantly connecting. It doesn’t matter if that person has an opportunity for you right then, or benefits you in any way — maybe the relationship will in the future. I like to think that it will benefit you in some way and that maybe you won’t see the fruit from it until years later and you might not be able to even link it to a specific meeting but they all add up.
I try to make it a point to connect with someone every week — whether it’s brunch at The Jefferson, a coffee date, happy hour, or even a phone call — I do my best to make it a priority on my calendar.
During all of these moments, it’s always best to focus on being present. The last thing you want to worry about is how you look and what you’re wearing. I’ve written in my book The Life Edit how I think owning clothing that fits you well, makes you feel confident, and embodies your personal style is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
We all have to get dressed everyday, so by owning only clothing that makes you feel good about yourself you will automatically start your day off on the right foot.
I also think quality clothing is important. I would rather buy the perfect leather jacket, than have several I that I’m not in love with. I’m willing to spend more if I know it’s high-quality, it will last me for years, and I love it.
For me, when I’m happy about the outfit I’m wearing and I feel good in it, I can just feel the difference in my confidence level. People even treat you differently when you have on a sharp outfit — you automatically gain a little edge of respect when you look put together versus looking disheveled.
I’m curious — what have been your career-defining moments so far?
This post was done in partnership with St. John. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this website possible.
Photography by Laura Metzler.