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Stylish & Successful

The Stylish and Successful Series profiles young professional women who are fearless, determined and motivated to succeed in style. They are unapologetically confident about who they are and who they will become. They are passionate about their careers, their personal style and have tons of helpful advice to share with the world. Check back on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for a new interview!

Stylish and Successful: Kayla A. Greaves

I remember the first time I met Kayla like it was yesterday. I was 15 (I think?) and was finally able to start driving school. So, of course, this meant that before I could start the actual lessons I had to endure a few hours of classroom training. Take in mind – I was extremely introverted back then so spending my Saturday afternoon in a classroom full of strangers was not exactly my definition of a good time. I sat in the back and kept to myself just doing the bare minimum in terms of participation to make sure I passed. By the second day of lessons, Kayla had introduced herself to me and well, the rest is history.

Kayla A Greaves

Fast forward ten years and I’ve been able to watch her grow from my driving school friend, to my university friend (because of course, I convinced her to attend the same university as me and we even did the exact same program) to my successful friend who is now a Lifestyle Editor at Huffington Post Canada.
Since joining Huffington Post Canada she has taken charge of their social media presence and has brought them impressive growth. She has written pieces that cover a wide range of issues, most notably bringing much-needed awareness to the amazing things being done by people of colour in Canada. She has become a strong voice for diversity in newsrooms and to be honest, I’m so excited to see what she does next in her career.

Keep reading to learn more about Kayla!

Transitioning from post-secondary education to the “real world” is a difficult time for most of us. What was your experience and can you tell us a little bit about your journey after graduation?

Oh lord. Well, I graduated in 2014 from McMaster University with a degree in Communication Studies. I knew I wanted to be a writer full time, but it’s not so easy to find those types of job, especially in Canada where the media industry is so small. I freelanced for about two years, and I just got fed up with not being paid on time and feeling like I was working myself the bone or little to no reward. Also, I got burnt out in terms of ideas. So, I kind of gave up on that dream and though I’d settle and go for a career in PR. I went to PR school and realized, whoa, this is so not for me. I learned a lot there, thankfully and I’m able to still to apply it to my current position since the two fields are so closely intertwined. This sounds cliche, but I prayed on it and used my network to meet new people and somehow my prayers aligned with time and I landed a dream job at HuffPost. This also sounds cliche, but I believe so much in the power of visualization. I remember I told myself about a month before I started interviewing for my current position that I really wanted to write for HuffPost. I never imagined myself actually working, working there, that was beyond me at the time — I just wanted some bylines. But I guess God had other plans for me.

What skills do you think are imperative to you doing your job well?

People skills. You literally have to constantly interact with people in some form to be successful in this field. So if your people skills are lacking, this might be a toughy.

I’m so curious – what is a typical day like for you?

What is a typical day? Lol. Usually I get up around 6:30/7 am and doing a morning news scan to see what’s going on. I’ll send that over, get ready then head into the office. From there I could do any number of things from just writing all day, social media strategy, video production. Everyday it’s something different – which is one aspect that I love about the job.

“Don’t give up! Seriously, something will work. If you have the passion and drive, people will notice it.”

You’re extremely passionate about diversity and shedding light on issues that may otherwise go unnoticed. Where does this passion stem from and have you ever encountered a time when it was difficult to balance your role as a news editor and your identity as a woman of colour?

For me, it stems from not being able to have access to inclusive news as a child. For so long I struggled with self esteem because I never saw anyone who looked like me in the media. And I know for a fact that if I saw what we’re seeing now, things would have been different. So, it’s just responsible for me to be able to pay it forward. To let people of colour know that they’re not alone in their struggles. We live our lives differently, we look different, we eat different. And that doesn’t make us “weird,” it makes us unique and we should be proud of that. I don’t think there’s ever a time per se when it was “hard” because I have a very strong personality, I’m not afraid to take anyone on if I don’t agree with them. Respectfully of course, but I don’t dim my light to brighten someone else’s ignorance. The most challenging thing for me is trying to get people to realize that these issues are valid and important when we’re plagued with the same old, same old day after day.

On July 1st, Canada celebrates 150 years of independence. How do you feel about this milestone in relation to diversity in this country, especially in our newsrooms? Do you still think we have a long way to go?

Listen, Canada 150 is celebrating the slaughter of indigenous peoples. So you won’t find me jumping on my bed in excitement about it. I think, honestly, Canadian media is still so, so white. I’m lucky enough to work in a newsroom where there’s people from mostly every race. But that’s the exception. We definitely have a long way to go, but until then, we need to keep calling these publications out when they’re doing something wrong. For example, I saw a meme of Flare’s Instagram page that was so disappointing. It said “My days are like Rihanna’s song, just work work work and I don’t really understand the rest.” Or something to that effect. I’m sorry, but Caribbean dialect isn’t gibberish. Don’t reduce it to that, especially when it was colonial rule that created it. We have a rich history and I’m not one to sit around while other people try to minimize it to fit their worldview.

“For so long I struggled with self esteem because I never saw anyone who looked like me in the media. And I know for a fact that if I saw what we’re seeing now, things would have been different. So, it’s just responsible for me to be able to pay it forward.”

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment thus far?

Going to bed by 9:00 pm. And also being able to connect with readers. To know that my work is making a difference in people’s lives. That’s my main goal.

What advice can you give to anyone looking to get into a similar role as you?

Don’t give up! Seriously, something will work. If you have the passion and drive, people will notice it.

What’s your go-to outfit?

Cute ripped jeans, a t-shirt and leather jacket (weather permitting)

How would you describe your personal style?

I would say chic and comfortable. I always aim to look cute, but I don’t have time or money to keep up with “trends.” So I stick to classic pieces that I know I can keep wearing for a long time.

What’s one item you think every woman should have in their closet?

A well fitted pair of jeans that make your butt look spectacular.

 

Follow Kayla on Twitter and Instagram!

Stylish and Successful: Alyssa Bertram

I’ll never forget when I first saw an image from easy‘s advertising campaigns. I absolutely loved the transparency around a very real, natural occurrence – our menstrual periods. I’m sure most of us are guilty of refusing to go swimming because we’re on our period or feeling embarrassed by an accidental leak and easy. (pronounced easy period) brings this to the spotlight reminding us that there’s absolutely nothing to feel ashamed about.

I’m excited to introduce you to Alyssa Bertram, Founder of easy. and someone who I’ve been admiring online for several months. Her dedication to providing women with healthier and more environmentally-friendly menstrual products and ensuring girls in Kenya are supplied with menstrual pads is extremely inspiring.

Keep reading to learn more about Alyssa!

Photo Credit: Jodianne Beckford

Let’s say we just met at a networking event. How do you introduce yourself and what you do?

I’m Alyssa, I run a company called easy period, we deliver organic cotton menstrual hygiene products to women’s doors and donate on their behalf to delivering pads to girls in Kenya.

What does your morning routine look like? Do you have any tools or apps that help keep you on track?

In the morning I like to start my day by praying in my head about all of the things I’m grateful for that day. I then try to read something inspirational, right now I’m reading The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein. I make a matcha tea and get started on my day!

For many of us, it’s very difficult to figure out what our passion is. We’re told to “find our passion” but yet it seems to be easier said than done. How were you able to find a career path that you’re so passionate about? What advice can you share?

For me, following my passion was less about going out and seeking something and more about removing the barriers to my passion. Meaning, I had always known what my passion was. I always knew that my favourite thing to do was to talk to other women about real topics, to have good discussions, to give advice. I allowed a career to take form around those things that truly light me up. Rather than going out and searching for something, I got back to basics about what I truly enjoyed and removed all of the excess.

Looking back at your career thus far, what’s one thing you’ve learned that has made a significant impact on you?

One thing I’ve learned is that no one is going to do it for you. I think sometimes we wait around for someone to come along and notice our talent. In my experience no one is going tor recognize any trait in you that you don’t first accept in yourself. When I began to own my power and accept that I was a natural business owner, that became my reality.

“For me, following my passion was less about going out and seeking something and more about removing the barriers to my passion.”

How important is your personal brand to your professional success? Any tips for someone who is trying to discover what their unique brand is?

In terms of easy’s brand, it’s built around transparency. I think people have a desire to see their truth reflected, that’s what we try to do. Rather than showing air brushed pictures and blue liquid being poured onto pads, we show real relatable situations with real women. For me authenticity always wins. In terms of a personal brand, I really just share my truth. I think that our vulnerable honesty will organically attract those people who are aligned with our message.

Photo Credit: Jodianne Beckford

Do you think that your appearance has played a role in your professional success? If so, how?

No. My appearance had nothing to do with establishing the business, finding a manufacturer, building a website and establishing a social media presence. Those things were built based on character. Many of the planning stages happened over email and over the phone. I don’t rely on physical appearance to do anything for me. I would much rather be recognized for the merit of the work I do and the potential impact I might have in others lives. 

“For me authenticity always wins.”

What are 3-5 items that you suggest every young professional woman have in their closet?

I think a crisp white dress shirt is professional and easy to wear, white brightens you up. A good blazer can make any outfit look smart. Some good black boots that can go with any outfit.

What is your go-to outfit?

My go to outfit lately is light wash high waisted “mom jeans” with a black leather belt and a black tee.

What are your tips for looking stylish yet professional at work and/or meetings?

Wear what you feel good in!

What’s your shoe of choice – flats or heels?

Both:) depending on the occasion.

Check out the easy. website and follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Stylish and Successful: Louise Mangalino

I remember when I first stumbled on the @burgerpawty Instagram page. I was instantly drawn in by Louise’s perfectly curated photos and with pink being the predominant colour, you know that I immediately had to follow her. But Instagram aside, I absolutely love what Louise has created with Burger Pawty (she’s a total girlboss!) and after learning more about her through this interview, I’m dying to try out a burger!

Keep reading to learn more about Louise:

Let’s say we just met at a networking event. How do you introduce yourself and what you do?

Hi, I’m Louise Mangalino and I’m the HBIC (Head Barbie in Charge) of Burger Pawty: a collection of sliders and snacks for your inner sparkle, available for catering and special events.

What does your morning routine look like? Do you have any tools or apps that help keep you on track?

On weekdays, my morning routine consists of waking up at 5:30AM, getting ready ‘til about 7:00AM (includes showering, makeup, hair and deciding what to wear), and then off to work at my day job! I work as an administrative clerk in an office Monday to Friday.

On weekends, my morning routine really varies, depending on what’s on the schedule. Although I love sleeping in any chance I get, I love going on adventures even more! After my morning dose of Twitter and Instagram, I love exploring the city and checking out new corners I haven’t been to yet. If my boyfriend happens to have the day off, as well, we venture out together and usually grab brunch somewhere new.

Even in the times we live in, I can admit that I’m the last one to use the calendar app on my phone to keep track of things. I’m a pen-to-paper kind of girl and can often be found jotting down important notes or ideas in my planner or on random scraps of paper. Writing things down helps me remember.

For many of us, it’s very difficult to figure out what our passion is. We’re told to “find our passion” but yet it seems to be easier said than done. How were you able to find a career path that you’re so passionate about? What advice can you share?

I’ve always been a passionate person and often give 100% in everything I put my name on. Once I have the spark for something, it’s really hard for the wheels to stop turning. In terms of finding my passion for Burger Pawty, it was sort of a no brainer: I love food! I’ve always been surrounded by good food growing up: my parents are both naturals in the kitchen and my brother attended culinary school at George Brown. This meant good food, all the time! Burgers are my weakness and you can read all about it on my personal blog, BURGERS AND BARBIE$ (www.burgersandbarbies.com). I also do all the design, branding and marketing for Burger Pawty and that stems from my passion and love of the arts. I’m a creative person by nature and have always excelled in this field.

My best advice is to find something you love and run with it—no matter what that passion may be. If it’s important to you, hone it and make it your own. Be genuine in your craft and don’t look back.

My personal brand is the epitome of my professional success. I believe that your personal branding is the single most important tool for your business.

Looking back at your career thus far, what’s one thing you’ve learned that has made a significant impact on you?

One thing that I have learned that has made a significant impact on me is that your time is valuable. When I was starting out, I would say yes to everything because I sincerely didn’t want to upset anyone. I had invested a lot of my time, creativity and resources into certain projects and I often overworked myself. It’s easy to be taken advantage of in this type of industry. My boyfriend gave me one of the best pieces of advice that I carry to this day, and that is to “know your worth.” Your time, energy and talent should always be reflected in the end result. If your heart’s not in it, you don’t have to do it. It’s important to say no sometimes and to stand your ground.

How important is your personal brand to your professional success? Any tips for someone who is trying to discover what their unique brand is?

My personal brand is the epitome of my professional success. I believe that your personal branding is the single most important tool for your business. This is an important value I learned in Grade 10 Careers Class. My teacher at the time expressed how important your personal brand and presentation are to how others perceive you. You get back what you put out there. If you take yourself and your work seriously, others will see that and will treat you with the same respect. Most importantly, be yourself through and through.

For anyone trying to discover what their unique brand is, try and think about what makes you unique. What makes you stand out? What do you love the most? What can’t you live without? Try to narrow these ideas down and soon enough, the answer will be staring you in the face.

Do you think that your appearance has played a role in your professional success? If so, how?

I believe that, to an extent, my appearance has played a role in my professional success. As mentioned, I believe that your personal branding is the single most important tool for your business and this goes hand in hand with your appearance. If you present yourself professionally, then you will (or should) receive a professional response. Not only does this coincide with how you dress, but with your attitude, as well: it’s important to have a winning attitude. A great attitude trumps a professional outfit any day of the week!

What are 3-5 items that you suggest every young professional woman have in their closet?

A good pair of heels, a good jacket and business cards are a must!

What is your go-to outfit?

For my go-to outfit, I like to keep it casual: a dress or skirt-top combo, a flash of denim and white sneakers.

A great attitude trumps a professional outfit any day of the week!

What are your tips for looking stylish yet professional at work and/or client meetings?

My advice for looking stylish yet professional at meetings is to dress the part, while remaining true to your personal style. Think about something that is uniquely you and incorporate it into your “signature look”: a brand colour, a pin or even a specific shade of lipstick! All while keeping in mind who you are meeting with, what the objective is for this meeting and where you will be meeting to formulate your best outfit for the occasion.

What’s your shoe of choice – flats or heels?

I’ve always been a heels kind of girl, but I’ve been dressing it down a lot lately. I’ve never been into flats (ie. ballet flats, loafers, oxfords, etc.), so if I had a true choice I would say sneakers. They’re best for running around to and from meetings and for exploring the city! I’m fortunate that the industry I work in is pretty laid back and no frills.

Follow Burger Pawty on Twitter and Instagram as well as BURGERS AND BARBIE$ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Stylish and Successful: Jessica C. from Cubicle Chic

Cubicle Chic

From the very beginning of my business journey, I remember following Cubicle Chic on Instagram. What I also remember very clearly is that I was really excited to not only find someone who is in the same niche as I am but someone who just seems so friendly! If you take a moment to go through her Instagram photos and blog posts, Jessica takes such a personable approach to sharing her experience as a corporate career woman from starting a new job, business travel, decorating her cubicle and now planning for her upcoming wedding! I’m so happy to finally be interviewing her and I’m sure you’ll find her as great as I do!

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Stylish and Successful: Victoria Stacey

victoria stacey

Victoria Stacey is the “Queen of Side Hustles”. When I first heard someone say that, I was immediately intrigued and knew that I wanted to take the time to know her better. In addition to working full-time in the marketing and communications space, Victoria is the Director of Partnerships for Young Women in Business – Toronto Chapter, volunteers for tons of non-profit organizations. Oh and did I mention that she runs the blog Florals and Teacups where she blogs about crafts, food, design and travel.

Interestingly, we get to interact on a regular basis in both our day job and side hustles. I can genuinely say that Victoria is such a pleasure to collaborate with and I couldn’t be any happier to be profiling her as my first interview of 2017!

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Stylish and Successful: Bili Balogun

bili balogun

I first met Bili at a networking event this past summer and just a few minutes into our conversation, I was immediately inspired. I mean, if you really want to know the definition of hard work and determination, just take a look at what Bili has been able to achieve in just one year. While in university, she got the idea to start her own business, M.U.A.Central and she hasn’t looked back since. One year later, she’s a successful business owner with big growth plans and yes, she’s still a full-time student! But, what I love about Bili is that she’s so honest about her journey and having celebrated the one year anniversary of her company just a few weeks ago, it was perfect timing for a Stylish and Successful feature.

Keep reading to learn more about Bili Balogun, Founder of M.U.A.Central:

Let’s say that you and I just met a networking event (which of course is exactly how we met!). How do you introduce yourself?

Hi, so nice to meet you! My name is Bili and I’m the founder of M.U.A.Central, an online booking platform for people looking to book a beauty service, be it make up, hair or nails. I also happen to be a student at the University of Toronto. I’m currently taking political science.

Tell us more about M.U.A.Central! Is it free to sign up? Is it open to anyone no matter where you live?

M.U.A.Central is free to sign up for both artists and clients. For our artists, we have a platinum package that costs a monthly fee; that gets you some amazing perks such as having an advertised profile, branding, marketing and business tools as well as one surprise perk that is still in the works! It’s a global platform and we are expanding city to city starting with Toronto of course, then Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Miami and then the rest of the world.

How long did it take you to get M.U.A.Central up and running? Can you walk us through the process from the moment you first came up with the idea to launch day?

I had the idea back in March 2015. I talked to a couple of my friends about it, got lots of input, did some market research, asked a few professionals their input as well and then I started building the website. Before I launched, I was super scared, I wasn’t sure what people would think but I just wanted to try my hands at something. I was over just being a student and not planting seeds towards my future (I don’t think school was doing that for me) so I took a leap of faith and it looks like it was a good decision. I launched in September 2015 and we’ve been growing and improving ever since.

I take things step by step, rather than launching a fully payment enabled platform and then an app, I decided to do market research and evaluate the need for the platform for the first 9 months by having the website up and only using it as an online directory. Now that I know that the demand is there, the rebranded website will have all the initial functions that I had come up with back in March 2015, but a lot more improved. The website is currently in maintenance mode as we are adding on the new functions. It’s honestly going to be so amazing, I’m in love with the layout, it’s so gorgeous, trendy and innovative. Can’t wait!

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You’re a 4th year university student in addition to running MUACentral, so of course, I have to ask – how do you balance the demands and responsibilities of being a student and a business owner?

I’m going to be 100% honest. Learning the discipline to balance everything out is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do. There’s no app, tool, planner that helps you figure this out. I made a huge mistake when I launched and that was that I was so obsessed with it that I almost ignored school and my grades did suffer. (Never do what I did, please) On top of taking 6 full time courses at UofT, I had a part time job and I was bartending on certain nights because I had to afford this business that I funded out of pocket. School didn’t go too well that year, I dropped 2 courses and fell into chronic depression. No one really knows this; I hardly got out of bed for what I remember to be 59 days, ignored self care and felt helpless. I never reached out to doctors because I wanted to fix myself. I did. Now that I set myself straight, I make schedules, I take time to relax, I switch my phone off, I set times for different things and I finally feel balance again.

It’s better to make mistakes and learn from them while you are still young…

You obviously started M.U.A.Central at a young age.  Has your age ever affected you, in terms of you maybe second guessing yourself or other people not taking you seriously? If so, what advice do you have for someone who may have a great business idea but thinks they are “too young” to pursue it?

Oh my gosh, yeah 100%. Second guessing yes but not as much as people not taking me seriously. As well as being young, I’ve met a lot of people who don’t really want to hear you out if you aren’t up there, if you are young and sometimes, just being a female… It sucks and totally goes against my core values.

You are never too young! My advice is: It’s better to make mistakes and learn from them while you are still young than to do so when you’re older and it actually matters that you make mistakes. Also stick to your values and if the person you are trying to reach out to doesn’t fit your criteria, stay true to yourself. When I meet people up there who don’t want to talk to me because I’m still down here (for now), it goes against my core value of trusting the process and stop focusing on the prize. Everyone wants to be associated with someone who has already made it but isn’t it more beautiful and fulfilling to be with someone’s who’s on the come up? So don’t worry about them. There are so many amazingly genuine people out there, you just have to find them and hold on to them when you do because they are rare.

As much as entrepreneurship is glorified, I’ve found that it can get quite lonely at times. It can be hard to find like-minded people that understand the hustle. Do you agree? How do you stay inspired on those late nights when you’re juggling school work and work for your business?

I love this question. Entrepreneurship is lonely, it’s hard and it breaks you. On nights when I feel the least motivated, I just pause, go to bed and I pick it up when I’m ready again. Because I can’t ever switch off the entrepreneurial fire in me, I just make it smaller or bigger when need be. When I’m not feeling motivated at all, I just take a break. When my body is ready, it’ll be ready. I just never stop.

I will admit I have a pretty solid circle of friends who believe in me and when I feel lonely, I can call them. I have lost touch with a few friends because we just couldn’t keep up with each other. They didn’t understand why I couldn’t make dinner or drinks because I had to work a double shift at work to pay my web developer. Sometimes I would miss birthdays not because I wanted to but because I became so used to working from my desk that I almost forgot how to be around people. I didn’t know how to explain that to anyone so I would just say I was sick or “something came up”. It’s no one’s fault, it’s the process and it comes with this journey I’ve chosen.

Take your eyes off the prize and keep it on the process.

On September 25, you celebrated the 1 year anniversary of MUACentral by hosting a networking event called The B.A.B.E.S. (It was amazing, by the way!). So, tell me – what did it feel like to celebrate 1 year of being in business? What has been the most memorable moment thus far?

It’s honestly such a heart warming achievement but I feel like I organized The B.A.B.E.S. for others and not for myself. That’s why I made it a networking event and not just a party to celebrate haha. All of the work I have to do has only just started and I don’t feel like it’s time to blow the trumpets yet. My friends always tell me not to feel this way and to celebrate the small wins just as much as the bigger ones but I think I feel that way because I know I can do so much more and I haven’t yet because of time and circumstances. I feel like many people in the same journey as me feel that way. The most memorable moment thus far was signing my first contract with Canada’s top entertainment company then getting my first check from them. It wasn’t a lot but it was more than I ever received – I was so happy and I couldn’t believe it.

What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned since being an entrepreneur that will always stick with you throughout your career?

I repeat this to myself all the time: Take your eyes off the prize and keep it on the process. I say this because you’ve got to stop day dreaming about the prize and focus on all the work you need to do to get you there. Get the work done, do it well and you’ll get that prize, but if you don’t go through the process well, forget about it.

bili3

Of course, we both know the importance of personal branding. Have you found that your personal brand has played a role in the success of your business? What tips can you share for those who may be in the beginning stages of building their brand?

I think it has. I think that my personal brand is a reflection of what I want in my life and that’s positivity, self care, love and inspiration. I think you have to rebrand the minute you start something bigger than yourself. This isn’t changing who you are at all, it’s simply putting structure into things, brushing up rough corners and simply portraying yourself in a way that is selfless but genuine.

Let’s say you have to run from class to a business meeting, without time to change your outfit in between. What would you wear to ensure you’re comfy yet stylish for class but also professional enough for your meeting?

Jeans. I would definitely wear jeans. To be on a more comfortable side for school, they would be boyfriend jeans. I would pair them with a simple v-neck tee that I can tuck in on my way to my meeting. I’ll throw on a leather jacket or a trench coat for the meeting and I would do chunky heeled boots for sure.

I think that my personal brand is a reflection of what I want in my life and that’s positivity, self care, love and inspiration.

So, what’s next for MUACentral? And of course, I have to ask – will you run M.U.A.Central full-time when you finish school?

What’s next? Honestly so much. We’ve only just begun. The rebranded site will be up in November, that’s going to be a whole world on its own! I’m excited to see how it goes though. We are also just focusing on organizing more events and community outreach before embarking on our bigger plans.

Follow Bili on Instagram and Twitter! (The website is currently undergoing a makeover!)

Stylish and Successful: Pauleanna Reid

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You can either use the adversity in your life to hold you back or propel you forward. Pauleanna Reid is an amazing example of a woman who went through a number of struggles while growing up yet didn’t let it stop her from achieving her true potential. From depression to abusive relationships to dropping out of college, Pauleanna has used her past to create a positive future, not only for herself but for other young women across North America. She’s a best-selling author, motivational speaker, ghostwriter and journalist who truly epitomizes the word hustle and I’m so excited to be profiling her in my Stylish and Successful Interview Series.

Keep reading to be educated and inspired:

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Stylish and Successful: Jeanne Castor

 

toronto fashion photographer

As a professional woman on the go, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to network. But, last November, I attended a conference and made such a valuable connection that I have made it a priority to network at least twice a month.

I’m so excited to finally be interviewing Jeanne Castor, Marketing and Social Media Manager at Trump Toronto Hotel and the Founder of jemcastor.com. We randomly ended up at the same table at a conference and instantly clicked over our common interest in marketing and blogging. Over the last year, I’d like to say she has become my “business bestie”, someone I can turn to whenever I want to have a meaningful conversation about marketing, blogging and social media. And, we even recently co-hosted #idEATe, a networking lunch bringing together 10 women working in the marketing and social media space.

She is such an awesome person and I’m so happy to share the many valuable insights from this “Marketer in Pink”. 

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Stylish and Successful: Lauren Candela

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I’ve had the opportunity to connect with such amazing and inspiring women since launching Do Well Dress Well. Social media never fails to bring people together, especially those with similar interests, helping to form some great new relationships. From the time I launched my Instagram account, I can remember seeing ‘sixfootstyle’ like my photos. I continue to be so touched by how supportive she has been on social media and we’ve never even met in-person! When I decided it was time to start an interview series, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity to get to know Lauren better. Not only does she have a great sense of style which she shares over at Six Foot Style, she has such an inspirational career journey. I hope you all will be as inspired by her personal style and career success as I am!

Name: Lauren Candela

Age: 30

City: New York

Current title:  Vice President of Marketing

You graduated from college and immediately landed a full-time marketing position with Bed, Bath and Beyond. Tell us a bit about this job. Did you always know that you wanted to work in marketing?

Wow, well I’ll start by saying that I was incredibly thankful to have this job. I moved to New York from Colorado for college, and the economy wasn’t in the best shape in 2008 when I graduated. I was really torn about staying in New York or moving home, and once I was offered this position, I felt like fate was telling me to stay here. I’ve never looked back since.

My first professional position was as a Marketing Assistant at Bed Bath & Beyond, and my primary responsibilities were in helping to establish BBB’s social media sites, and assist in public relations efforts. It was an incredible learning experience for me, and gave me the opportunity to see what working for a very large company looked like.

As I received my Bachelors in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, I was able to put my studies to use in a business setting, and this position also allowed me to make the transition from being a full-time student for almost my entire life, into a full-time employee.

After a year of working post-graduation, you decided to pursue your MBA through night classes. What encouraged you to go back to school and did you find it difficult to balance work and classes?

While the decision to go back to school in order to obtain an MBA was a tough one, I am so incredibly thankful today that I went through with it. I knew that in order to advance myself professionally I needed an MBA. If I wanted to continue to develop my marketing skills, better my chances of advancing in my career, and so forth, a big part of that would start from obtaining an advanced degree.

Balancing everything was a huge challenge. Working all day and attending classes until 10pm at night was certainly no small feat, but I think what made it tolerable was that my classes were filled with students living a similar lifestyle. While I loved my undergrad experience, my graduate experience was vastly different. Classes were filled with discussions and opinions from students that worked in all different types of businesses, with incredibly diverse positions and career paths. Hearing their stories, and how our class lessons actually played out in different firms was really an “outside of the book” learning experience.

The best advice I can give to women looking to move their way up the corporate ladder is to put in the work.

You’ve managed to work your way up the ladder from Marketing Representative to Vice President in a male-dominated industry. Did you actively seek out your promotions? What tips do you have for other women who are looking to move their way up the corporate ladder?

After leaving Bed Bath & Beyond, I moved to a family-operated, commercial real estate development company as a Marketing Representative. I am about to celebrate my five year anniversary with the firm, and I have been promoted twice since starting. My promotions have honestly been the result of hard work, as is the case with anything in my life. I never actively said I wanted to be promoted, but I finished my MBA, I came in early/stayed late, really sunk my teeth into this position, company, and the commercial real estate industry as a whole, and I have been rewarded for this.

The best advice I can give to women looking to move their way up the corporate ladder is to put in the work. Of course, you need to be able to actually do the work, but go the extra mile, ask your boss to bring you to their next meeting, express a desire to learn more … and do these things face to face. Do as much as you can face to face. We are becoming a workplace of emails, and I find incredible value in getting up to go ask questions face to face, disagreeing face to face, even having casual water-cooler conversations with someone in person. It might take a little more time than sending an email, but this goes a long way.

So, tell us a bit about your current role as VP of Marketing. Can you describe a typical work day for us?

Every day is different. It has been interesting for me to transition from being someone who actively works each day to complete a series of tasks, to someone who manages people and the work that they are doing … and someone who is thinking on a larger and more broad spectrum, planning for future initiatives/goals, and so forth.

My typical day is spent planning our short-term and long-term marketing projects. So whether that’s working with the sales team to develop content for emails, exploring future trade show opportunities, writing our social media and blog posts, investigating new markets we haven’t tapped into yet, how we can get greater value from our various marketing initiatives, etc. it truly does vary from day to day, but that it something I love with this position.

For many of us, it’s very difficult to figure out what our passion is. We’re told to “find our passion” but yet it seems to be easier said than done. How were you able to find a career path that you are passionate about?

So often, I believe people leave their career decisions up to intuition, rather than taking a hard look at themselves and what their strengths/weaknesses are, and what types of jobs would actually fuse well with their personality and what they excel at.

I always knew I wanted to do something in business, and after taking some introductory business classes in college, I quickly learned that finance, accounting, HR and so forth weren’t for me. My marketing class was the course that I loved attending, enjoyed reading the text book, and eventually started to develop a passion for. Once choosing that area of study as my specialization in college, I was enrolled in many types of marketing classes, and my love grew and grew.

Another passion of mine has always been fashion. I am incredibly discerning when it comes to my wardrobe (if you’ve read my blog I speak about this often), so I have frequently faced difficulty sourcing clothing that I truly love. Especially as a taller woman, the challenge of finding clothing, and more specifically work clothing, has been tough. I now truly enjoy sharing my tips and tricks on the blog, so that other tall women will hopefully use the site as a resource and can avoid facing the same issues I’ve faced in acquiring clothing.

You also volunteer for various charitable organizations in addition to your current position and blogging – how do you balance your time? What tools help you stay organized?

Balancing my time today is a huge challenge, but I’ve been able to get everything done by saying “No”. As much as I would love to, I cannot do everything and be everywhere at once. So my New Year’s Resolution in 2016 was to start saying “No” to things. It has been a tremendous help in freeing up time for me to spend with my husband, relaxing, traveling, and so forth … “me time”. Taking in and enjoying some quality “me time” affords me the ability to perform so much more efficiently in all of the other aspects of my life.

Learn as much as you can. Make yourself irreplaceable. You create your fortunes and your destiny. Get to work.

Looking back at your career journey, what’s one thing you’ve learned that has made a significant impact on you?

The companies we work for are not in the business of employing people. That sounds incredibly harsh, and when I heard it said in my workplace, I had to consciously not allow my jaw to drop to the floor. But it’s the cold, hard truth though. Everyone is replaceable. Companies close, they move to different states, jobs are excessed, and the list goes on and on. The business world can be incredibly tough at times, and there have been moments in my career of complete and utter frustration and rejection. But those are the moments when you lace up your boots and work. Ingrain yourself so deeply in your workplace that it feels like it’s your company. Learn as much as you can. Make yourself irreplaceable. You create your fortunes and your destiny. Get to work.

DWDW 1

Of course, in addition to working and volunteering, you also run the blog Six Foot Style. What inspired you to start blogging and how has the experience been?

I have truly found a passion of mine in creating Six Foot Style, and it has been rewarding beyond anything that I can put into words. I started the blog earlier this year to provide a fashion and style resource for working women. At various points in my career, I have seen so many women eager to climb the corporate ladder but unwilling or unsure of how to look the part. It is my hope that Six Foot Style can become a place where working women can visit to find outfit inspiration for their workplace.

As you describe in your About Me page, when we think about the most important attributes for succeeding in the workplace, most people often think of aptitude, education, intelligence and work ethic. Appearance at work seems to be undervalued – why is that and how important do you think your appearance has played a role in your professional success?

While aptitude, education, intelligence and work ethic are certainly contributors to success in the workplace, I believe many women would be surprised to find that their appearance is also incredibly critical to their success. Dressing professionally for work signals to your employer that you value your own appearance and you’re willing to spend the time required to look put-together. It illustrates that you value their company and your position within the firm, and projects an image that you are here to be taken seriously. As I said earlier, one of my best pieces of advice for women looking to advance their career is to actively tell your superiors that you would love to attend their next meeting, learn more about this or that, assist on their next big project so you can learn a little more about x, y or z. Your boss isn’t going to take you into their next c-level meeting if you’re not dressed appropriately. This could damage their career, and yours.

I too have mornings when I wake up and don’t want to put on a suit, curl my hair, and do my makeup … so I totally know what that feels like. But, taking the time to look professional each work day will help get your mind in the space it needs to be when you walk in the door for work. Personally, I believe my professional attire at work has certainly contributed towards my career growth.  It has helped me feel more confident, and helped me project an image that I am a professional who should be taken seriously (which was especially important as I started my career).

How has your personal style evolved since starting your career? Where do you turn for work wear inspiration?

Since starting my career, my personal style has continued to grow into more business formal attire. My first position was in a business casual environment, but when I transitioned to commercial real estate, I was surrounded by men in suits at every event I attended. This prompted me to step up my game and begin sourcing suits and work wear pieces that still incorporate a feminine feel to them.

I find work wear inspiration from other bloggers since I don’t have time to visit malls and see the latest work fashions. Bloggers like Olivia from The Corporate Catwalk, Holly from Work Wear Snapshot, Two Corporate Girls, and your website at Do Well Dress Well.

Dressing professionally for work signals to your employer that you value your own appearance and you’re willing to spend the time required to look put-together.

Many people believe that working in a corporate environment prevents you from looking stylish at work. Of course – we know that’s not the case! What are 3 tips you can share for looking chic yet professional in the workplace, especially as a tall woman?

You are 100% right, just because you work in a corporate environment, you don’t have to sacrifice style. Here are my tips:

  • Use accessories to incorporate your personal style. Whether it’s a statement necklace, silk scarf, or a beautiful watch, using accessories to display your personal style can help give personality to a black business suit, solid colored sheath dress, etc.
  • Invest in quality pieces (this is especially true for taller women). Early on in my career, I was purchasing a larger quantity of work wear pieces, but from retailers that did not specifically sell work wear, or from retailers that did not make clothing specifically for tall women. While I had a closet full of clothing, most of it was ill-fitting and I didn’t realize how this was damaging my overall appearance. Purchase fewer pieces, and invest in them … chose quality over quantity.
  • Observe what your boss and your superiors are wearing at work. Emulate them. I’ve always been told to dress for the job that I want, not the job that I have, and this old adage is incredibly true. If your managers and executives are wearing sharp suits every day, wearing a similar style will give you confidence and signal that you’re ready to be on their level.

What’s your go-to outfit?

Since it’s the summer, I have been gravitating towards a sheath dress almost every day for work. I love the versatility of this style of dress as it can easily be dressed up with a blazer, or dressed down for happy hours/after-work activities.

What are 5 staple items in your closet that you can’t live without?

Here are my tried-and-true work wear essentials that I absolutely cannot live without:

  • A work-appropriate, classic-looking (and warm) winter coat. We have some cold days in the winter here in New York, and I am often commuting to and from meetings, so a stylish and functional winter coat is a must for me. I’m currently on the hunt for a new coat this winter and have my eye on the Lisbet from MARGE clothing.
  • My MM.LaFleur silk scarf. I only recently started wearing more scarves, and I love how they add an element of sophistication to almost any outfit.
  • A classic black sheath dress (or LBD). It’s incredibly functional and is my go-to when I’m unsure of how I should dress for a certain occasion. I’ve been wearing one from Asos Tall for years.
  • My tweed skirt suit from The Limited. This is my go-to suit when I’m looking for something to make a little more of a splash that a traditional black or navy suit.
  • Spanx! While I don’t wear them every day, if I’m wearing something that is a bit more form-fitting, feeling a little heavier than usual, etc. they’re a perfect solution.

 

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