As a 22 year old, recent college grad, there is one thing I thought I knew for certain: that I would be working full time in a corporate setting, making more money then I knew what to do with by now. But the reality is, I was very wrong. As I was entering the dark hole of what seemed to be my future, I began to wonder what I really wanted out of a job. Was it stability? Money? A reputable company? The answer ended up being none of the above.
After I finished school at UNF, graduating with an International Business degree, I chose to pursue my love for fashion and took an internship with Nordstrom in San Diego, California. It wasn’t exactly the conventional route, but I was never one to be conventional! I suffered through working overtime as an intern, dealing with screaming customers, and barely making it out alive during the Anniversary Sale. But with all that agony came a realization that THIS was the kind of atmosphere I wanted to be in: utter chaos surrounded by fabulous clothes.
Let's fast forward a few months. My internship had ended and I was back to square one as a sales associate at my local Nordstrom in Jacksonville, FL. I was (barely) scraping by on a minimum wage job while spending every extra dollar on that new Topshop skirt or Free People blouse that I swore up and down I couldn’t live without. Until one day I had a customer approach me about a specific brand. We instantly connected over the quality and uniqueness of the clothing, and our total love for fashion. The rest is history my friends! …totally kidding. But at the time I never knew this intelligent, inspiring young woman would become my mentor, friend, and BOSS! Crazy how things work out, right?
Long story short: we met for coffee a few weeks later and she told me about her career and how she decided to start her own online boutique, SMAC. I instantly knew that she was the ultimate #girlboss and was so eager to work with her to soak up all her incredible knowledge of the retail world. A few days later, I quit my job at Nordstrom and started working for SMAC alongside Sarah and her insanely talented team and have never looked back. Truth be told, I never would have dreamed this is where I’d be less than a year after graduation. And although it’s not the conventional route, I wake up everyday thinking of all the awesome things I can do with SMAC and how I get to see my hard work unravel before my eyes. This experience is something I could have never learned sitting in a cubicle entering data on a computer (while secretly online shopping of course).
There have been many times that people have asked me what I’ve been doing with my life after college and I have felt the backlash when I tell people that I’m working for a start up boutique. But each time I respond to them with a huge smile on my face and the warmest sense of pride in my heart. This is your life. You make your own path. Yes, paving it in gold would look awesome on an Instagram post...but paving it with your passion is so much more fulfilling in the long run!
So, the best advice I can give anyone is to connect with every person you come in contact with because you never know what they have to offer and how they could impact your life. I truly love the work I do and I would never swap that out for more zeroes on my paycheck. I was once told you learn in your twenties and earn in your thirties. So for everyone out there who is contemplating what their next move will be- make it your own….I sure as hell did!