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Let's Get Personal: You Are Your Brand

Career

I was recently having a conversation with one of my most respected professional female colleagues — let’s call her “Amanda” — when she said: “Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.”


Amanda is currently the Special Products and Innovations Director for a fast growing, billion-dollar, international franchise company. Before that, she was an Account Director at one of the biggest global agencies in the world. And before that, she was an Associate Brand Manager for one of the world’s largest lifestyle brands.

She’s also 28 years old.

And let me be clear: she didn’t get to where she is based on her affinity for J.Crew and cute shoes.

Make no mistake: Amanda ascended the corporate ladder based on her tenacity, work ethic and her hard-earned experience and education. But Amanda was also savvy enough to realize at a young enough age that how she showed up to work, be it aesthetically, socially or energetically, could (and would) have a huge impact on her career. She realized it was her responsibility to create the life and career she wanted, and that it didn’t begin and end with what was on her resume. It needed to come from within, and she needed to infuse it into every aspect of her life.

Why?

Because every person is a brand.

When you step out into the world each day to “make your mark,” are you wearing yesterday’s laundry or a thoughtfully curated ensemble that makes you feel confident and empowered? On that same note (and more importantly), while the handbag you bring into your next meeting might indeed look good and feel even better to hold, are you a bringing a positive spirit and a collaborative attitude in as well?

Your brand isn’t solely developed at the office. Let’s talk about your social and cultural brand. Do you give back to your community or spend time working with a charity, and if so, what does that organization say about you? Speaking of which, what do the five closest people in your life say about you? You are a reflection of the company you keep.

The music you listen to, the home you live in, the places you travel, the blogs you read, the color of your nails, the cocktail you religiously order, your favorite workouts, your favorite magazines, the people you call your advisors, mentors and friends… they are all a reflection and extension of your personal brand.

I don’t point this out to make you self-conscious about every extreme detail in your day-to-day existence. I point this out to simply make you aware, and to encourage you to own it, to embrace it, to amplify it, to Simply Be it.

Being your own brand is a choice, but it’s also a gift. A gift that no one else in the world but you gets to hold, cherish and shape. This gift is the bedrock of your career path, whether you’re an Entrepreneur or a Corporate Rock Star.

So now it’s your turn: What is your personal brand? How are you living it, being it and owning it?

This article was first published on www.roadjesstraveled.com

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
4min read
Business

How Postpartum Mesh Underwear Started My Entrepreneurial Journey

"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.


It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.

My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.

Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.

I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.

My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.

Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).

They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).

Fast forward to 2018...

While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.

In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.

As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.

Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.