When I was 24, I was between jobs. Scratch that. I had absolutely no career path. I had graduated from college, moved to Boston, nannied a for year, been a camp counselor, been a personal trainer, and then been another camp counselor. I did not know what to do with my life. So one day I perched myself at local fro yo place that had free Wi-Fi (because I was too poor to have cable and internet in my 150 square foot studio). And with a borrowed computer, I applied for every single job that sounded interesting to me. Even if I had zero experience. I emailed business owners in the industry I was interested in, which at the time, was fashion. I applied to big retailers and to boutiques. I applied to sell, market, merchandise, style, mop the floors. Maybe a hundred jobs. Not one single person who owned a business wrote me back. But guess who did?
Bloomingdale’s. Bloomingdale’s you guys. I got invited to an interview for a human resources job at Bloomingdale’s. Not just any Bloomingdale’s, but the highest producing Bloomingdale’s in the country outside of the flagship store in Manhattan. I was elated. I got together my best interview look, which was of course my pageant interview suit from high school 7 years before. I did virtually zero research before I went in. In fact, if you asked me what human resources was, I would have said “I do not know”. But I marched my South Georgia butt into that corporate interview with zero experience in fashion or human resources. And I interviewed with an executive who had decades of experience in both, and is now the Operations Vice President for the entire company. Bless my heart. I had no idea what I was talking about. But I was so determined and so energized and so ready to work and learn that I got the freaking job. That day. On the spot. After hours of interviewing with executives all over the store. That job blew my world wide open. I leaned into what I didn’t know. I learned to interview and listen to people, to solve problems and to collaborate. My boss poured into me. She made me do hard things and mentored me through my first real job. I got to fly to New York and meet with the VP of Human Resources. I even collaborated on an employee appreciation project with our President and CEO. It was glamorous and exciting and hard and terrible. It was the job that set me up for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until two years later when Jordan and I were moving away from Boston that I realized how crazy it was that I ever got that job. You know why I finally realized how ridiculous it was? Because I had to fill my own job. And the resumes that came in were in the hundreds, and the experience of the candidates was miles above what I had when I interviewed for that job. It was a God thing. I was supposed to meet that boss, to learn that job. I just had to have the guts to apply for it and show up for the interview.
Fast forward to 2012. We live in Charlotte. I quickly and easily get a job on the sales floor at Neiman Marcus. It was an easy transition and an obvious fit after my Bloomingdale’s experience. It was my first time selling, though, and it was hard and I was awkward. Only six weeks into the job, a coworker approached me and told me that a local boutique was hiring a manager and she thought I would be a great fit. I wasn’t looking to make a change, but I contacted the boutique owner to find out more. I clicked with the owner, and the opportunity was too good to pass up. I jumped on board managing a high end, well established boutique in Charlotte. The owner managed her other store about 20 miles away, so I ran the day-to-day operations of the Charlotte store. Two of my responsibilities were sales and merchandising. Again guys, zilch. I knew nothing about these things. I had only been selling at NM for six weeks before I got this job. I was a baby salesperson and merchandising was all new to me. But I asked 1 million questions and I Googled a lot and I figured out how to sell and merchandise like a rock star. I learned how to style by pretending that I knew what I was doing. And eventually, I totally did know what I was doing. I styled models for NASCAR charity fashion shows. I styled global business women and NBA wives and politicians’ wives. That job? Another God thing. That boss? Those lessons? God sent them to me. I just had to be brave enough to see the opportunity when I wasn’t even looking for one.
After two years of managing the boutique, we decided to make the change to St. Simons. (If you want to hear that crazy story check out the Selah Story page.) So after successfully finagling my way into fashion, and working in human resources, management, sales, and merchandising, I thought I could help some local stores. The only problem was that there were no jobs I wanted to do. I was over working a regular retail schedule. No more weekends and holidays for me, please. I had a new baby now and was looking for a lifestyle change. So you know what I did? This is nuts guys. I made up a job that I wanted and I started emailing boutiques in my new town. Most boutiques:
a) didn’t write me back
b) wrote me back like I was a crazy person or
c) invited me in for an interview and then never called me back.
And yet? I got a job. One boutique just happened to need exactly what I was offering. AND THEY LET ME BRING MY BABY. I literally made up a job and a salary and someone gave it to me. You guys! Ask for what you want! You might get looked at like you’re loony. Or you might get exactly what you want.
Now here I am with Mini Motions. My preschool dance business. I’d done a similar job before, but needed something a little different to fit my life. So I made it up. I was kind of scared to start it. I even pitched the idea to a local dance studio. When that collaboration was declined. I did it myself. I made up a job and told people what to pay me. And. It. Worked. Because it was a good idea. And because I got over my fear of rejection and of stepping on toes. And I offered up my gifts to my community in a way that worked for me.
Selah is my big dream. My giant. I’ve stopped it and started it and reinvented it over and over. And I’m going for it now. I believe so much in this message of living our best lives though gratitude and creativity and connection. We need community and we need to explore and we need to see the world through loving gracious hearts. For ourselves and for our children and for our communities. When we do what we were made to do? When we lean into our fear and listen to that voice that won’t quit? We give our friends and neighbors permission to go for it. And our spouses and our parents and our kids. We encourage others to share their own magic. And this world needs a little more magic.
So sister, if you are sitting on a dream in fear, get over yourself and go for it. Who cares if you get told no? Try again. Find another way. Stay curious. You really can do the thing that feels nuts. The thing that’s big and daunting and unrealistic. That doesn’t exist. The thing you have to make up as you go along. The great big thing that’s on your heart. Why the heck not? You might get a hundred no’s before you get a yes. It might take you way longer than you think. Or be way harder. You might not make a million dollars. You might not make a single dollar. But you might change someone’s life. It could be a friend’s or a stranger’s life. Or it might be your own. You were meant to share your gifts. God is guiding you. You don’t have to be perfect. You only have to be brave.
(Thank you to all the women who have taken a chance on me and believed in my dreams and my future. Cheered me on, mentored me, been in my corner. You know who you are. I am so grateful and I want to pay it forward.)
a little walk down memory lane...