I've traveled over a million miles. Most of those miles were for business travel, and with a carry-on suitcase.
Over these miles and years traveled, I've developed a packing system that has helped me pack for a bevy of occasions from investor meetings, to trade shows, to manufacturing facility tours. I've dutifully followed this system to pack for the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference and to the United State of Women Summit.
And I have never checked a bag.
My book, How To Pack, outlines my entire packing method in detail. These five rules are the cornerstones of the method and will help you keep calm and carry on for your next work trip.
Make a list, check it twice
Writing a list seems obvious, and most of us just don't write one when it comes to packing. Sometimes, we get it right. We pack everything we need, zip up the suitcase with ease, and start our trip feeling confident and on top of everything.
Other times, we forget to pack our underwear or the proper work shoes. We frantically throw random items in our suitcase 2 minutes before jumping in a cab. Stress overwhelms us, and we find it difficult to get back on track and focus on the goal of the trip.
By writing a list a week in advance, you can plan the perfect outfits and give yourself ample time to get them laundered and mended. You can enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast the morning you leave instead of sitting on your suitcase to zip it closed. Doing the former sets you up for success for your trip.
Pack not-so-basic basics
Basic isn't a bad thing. Some may view it as boring. I see basic as essential, classic, and versatile. It's this definition of basic that filters the clothes I select and pack.
I want tailored, powerful pieces that I can wear at least twice. I pick pieces and outfits that make me feel confident and ready to tackle the world.
Such items are simple, unfussy, and comfortable. My tried and true basics are ponte pants (stretchy, but tailored), collarless blouses, and sheath dresses that can be dressed up with a bold necklace or a great pair of heels.
Pre-pack your toiletries
No matter how frequently you travel, pre-packing your toiletries is the ultimate time-saving and stress-relieving tip. Never again will you be rushing to decant your essential products into tiny bottles right before leaving or having to pay significantly more to buy contact lens solution at the airport. You'll always have this one part of your packing routine completed. Hop over to Amazon or Sephora and order your favorite products - dental, skin, face, hair - in TSA-approved sizes. Invest in a plastic, zippered quart-sized bag. Not only will it last longer than a Ziploc bag, you'll be able to fit more products inside. At the end of every trip, refill or replace the empty bottles and set the bag aside. You'll be ready to go.
Streamline your shoes
Three pairs of shoes are all you'll ever need for a trip, especially a business trip. A classic pair of heels, a sharp pair of flats, and sneakers, for the requisite workouts.
After clothing, shoes occupy the most space in your luggage. They're also the items requiring the most thought when selecting which to pack. Style and comfort are top priorities, and a great pair of shoes can elevate your outfit.
I like one pair to be a bold color or a bright pattern that complements your neutral outfits. To contrast, I also like a classic style that will always be safe. If fitness is important to you, it's worth investing in a pair of sneakers exclusively for travel. Nike FlyKnit or New Balance Minimus styles pack nearly flat while providing incredible support for strenuous workouts.
I recommend packing your shoes in their own bags - either a roomy shoe bag for all your shoes or a small drawstring one for each shoe - to keep the rest of your belongings clean and protected from the soles of your shoes.
Pick the right bags
What you pack your belongings in is as important as how you pack them. A lightweight suitcase with a solid handle and sturdy wheels can make walking through the airport a breeze, while a bulky duffel or a loose wheel can throw you off - literally.
Similarly, your personal item is equally important. A structured tote with lots of pockets will organize your belongings beautifully, while a cavernous tote can become a black hole and make it impossible to find your ID while going through security.
I select my bags over a week in advance, and inspect them to make sure they're in good enough condition to travel. There is nothing worse than having a suitcase break while en route, and having to purchase and repack your belongings while trying to make your flight. I would know. This actually happened to me while traveling in Asia.
When I look back on my journey as an entrepreneur, the path has been filled with many twists and turns, including moments of sheer panic, grounded calm, enormous fear, painful failure, utter exhaustion, exhilaration, pride, incredible fun, and huge joy accomplishing a goal. Amidst this adventurous path, what stays with me is a love for birthing and building a brand and company. You can actually watch the spirit of the company grow and flourish along with its revenues.
People ask me all the time…how did you start a pretzel company and now a juice company…what inspired you?
It all started with choosing courage over fear…and a chocolate chip pretzel. I had read an article about a woman selling soft pretzels at a farmer's market, and the idea came to me for a chocolate chip soft pretzel. I was truly obsessed and couldn't get this twisted vision out of my mind. I also was miserable in my job and felt like I was stuck in quicksand. I met Scott (now my husband) at a bookstore in Chicago, and we started playing with recipes in my studio apartment. I chose courage and quit my job in advertising to take a leap of faith. One thing led to another, and a marriage, three kids, and through lots of twists and turns, Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels eventually became a frozen pretzel brand on the shelves of grocery stores around the country, on QVC, in Starbucks and more.
We had this incredible opportunity to take this ancient twisted dough (over 4000 years old) and transform it with ingredients inside and on top to create an 'anytime' meal. There was such fulfillment in building something out of nothing but a dream, enthusiasm, and a credit card. And as we transformed the pretzel, I discovered that the most powerful experience was how the business transformed me.
Through all the challenges, learnings, failures, victories, and struggles, I found resilience, grit, creativity, courage, strength, inspiration, and most importantly, I found my voice. I found a place where I could bring more of myself, and create a company with authentic leadership that resonated with the "ME" I was becoming.
Being an entrepreneur can be a powerful "personal growth" boot camp if you live it fully. The experience calls on all of your being to build the dream. You need to evaluate your values, who you want to be, how you show up with each move, and whether or not your business reflects that.
In 2012 we had the chance to sell Kim & Scott's to a public company, and we wanted to start over. This time, two decades later, it was Scott's obsession with fresh lime juice for a margarita that was the inspiration for Twisted Alchemy.
With cold pressed juices for inspired mixology and culinary arts, we have the opportunity to work with bartenders, mixologists and chefs at some of the country's best bars, restaurants and hotels. We help cocktail & mocktail enthusiasts and party hosts at home with our special samplers and party kits, including a mimosa juice sampler to create an amazing mimosa bar. We source our fruits from around the world, in flavors including pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit, blood orange, passion fruit, orange, lemon and lime.
We're also elevating spirits of team members at companies and organizations with our Twisted Alchemy experiences, "A Toast of Inspiration." We craft custom cocktails/mocktails and themes to guide conversation and impact teams and meetings with inspiring and engaging dialog.
Photo credit: Margaret Pattillo
I like to call this entrepreneurial journey a "juicy revolution." It's an opportunity to disrupt, transform, and elevate spirits, both at the bar and out in our world community. This brings me to Purpose, the heart of any successful company.
When you build your company with purpose, it propels everything forward. It's your North Star. When we discovered our mission, "Elevating Spirits", it gave us a compass to navigate for building Twisted Alchemy. Despite hurdles that come about, I always come back to why we are here in the first place.
Here are a few twisted tips to help you build your dream:
Reach out for help.
From incubators and accelerators to industry groups, mentors, and coaches, gather your support community to help you navigate the ups and downs. Also, women business networks and circles have been a great influence and support for me. Build a team of advisers who can be there through the challenges and cheer you on.
Seek inspiring podcasts.
The words and lessons of others teach and inspire me every day, including two of my favorites, "Oprah's Super Soul Conversations" and "How I Built This" with Guy Raz. Seek the words and experiences of others to inspire and energize you.
Build with purpose and intention.
When we discovered our mission to elevate spirits, I knew it had the meaning and energy to propel us in big ways. Building with purpose and intention enables you to take a cause and focus on doing something that improves your community in some way.
Let things get messy. Fail.
I'll never forget one night when all our pretzel rolls were exploding in the oven. We stayed up all night trying to figure out how to get 300 beautiful rolls for Starbucks. In that fit of failure we discovered some key baking tactics that impacted us greatly moving forward. Out of the mess and trials are birthed amazing new discoveries that often can be the heart of your success.
Innovate. Explore. Tweak. Twist.
Turn things upside down to see another angle and another perspective. Take breaks, and give it time to simmer and develop.
Every night before I go to sleep, I like to sit with a blank piece of paper next to me. I allow all the noise and chatter to flow through. I call it a Brain Dump. It allows me to clear it all out, hear my intuition, and enable inspiration to flow.
Create your juicy revolution.
Take the courageous step, stake your claim on a mission that resonates at a heart level, and create your own juicy revolution. Disrupt, shake things up, and do it in your own unique way.