Advice for Building Brands People Love from DC’s Female Leaders

Last week I attended General Assembly’s “Building Brands People Love: Made in DC” with female leaders from Sweetgreen, Framebridge, and Chaia Tacos. They gave great advice on building a brand, pitching it to investors, marketing it to the public, and innovating it. Here were the key take-ways from the event:

🔑 Always sell the dream.

🔑 Even if there’s information about your space you need to be able to speak about it.

🔑 Use friends and family during the beta period for your e-commerce business.

🔑 Advertise on podcasts.

🔑 Reach out to people and send samples out to anyone you can, like magazines, publishers, and brands.

🔑 Talk to the community, spread your story. Combine in-person experiences with data.

🔑 If you work super hard with the people you’re with now, you’ll always have a great opportunity for you in the future. 

🔑 Practice what you preach.

🔑 Make sure you’re disrupting a market and actually solving a problem.

🔑 Be someone who takes something that doesn’t scale and figures out how to scale it. 

Dear 20-Something Girl (7)

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Time-Block to Stay Focused and Get More Done

It’s no secret that this generation has a problem staying focused on one thing. With social media and texting, how can you not be constantly distracted? Whenever we are slightly bored or unstimulated, we turn to our phones for some mindless entertainment. This prevents us from not only enjoying where we are but from completing important tasks.

Time-blocking is a technique that can be used to ensure your most important tasks get completed. It helps create a distraction-free environment where you can intensely focus for a certain period of time.

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You can use apps like Forest to set a timer on your phone and track your progress. This app even has a graphic of a tree that you can watch grow as long as you stay focused.

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Obviously never click that “Give Up” button! It will take practice but you need to stick with it. It will become easier and easier as you do it and, more importantly, you’ll become addicted to the results.

How do you stay focused on your tasks? Do you use time-blocking techniques?

Dear 20-Something Girl (7)

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Land A Job You Love Right Out of College.

I’ve been wanting to write about career-related topics for awhile now, but have never made the jump. My career is something that is extremely important to me and drives many of my life choices. I love attending events, networking, and reading more about business and entrepreneurship. I’ve learned a lot in the past few years of college, and even from when I was a teenager and had multiple businesses. So why not share this knowledge I’ve gained?

In this post I want to discuss the proper and improper ways of landing your first job out of college. Or landing a job even if you didn’t attend college! The idea of graduating and moving right into a job can be daunting, and for most people it doesn’t even work out that way. Many people are trying to scrap together interviews months after graduating, hoping some employer will hire them. I’m gonna give you some advice on how to avoid that rat race because I don’t think anyone wants to graduate not knowing where they’re going to be, what they’re going to be doing, or, most importantly, how they are going to be surviving with minimal or no income.

I want to start off by saying something so important. YOU MAKE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES. This is the biggest lesson I have learned throughout college and the beginning of my career. You can’t just wait for people to come to you and hand you what you want. There are few people that are lucky enough to be recruited into companies, but for the most part you need to seek these companies out. By seeking companies out I don’t mean simply hitting “submit” at the end of a job application and attaching your resume. This is the biggest mistake people make when trying to get hired. When you simply submit your resume on LinkedIn or a job-hunting site, your resume is getting lost in hundreds or thousands of applications. Nothing you do can or will stand out. You’re leaving it up to an algorithm to parse through key words on your resume and possibly spit it back to HR, IF you’re lucky. So if you want to have a job when you graduate, DO NOT depend on applying for jobs in this manner. Just don’t do it.

The key to anything in your career is simple. It’s networking. It’s who you know and how you know them. After all, we are all humans and looking to form genuine relationships. For this reason, someone is more likely to hire you when they have a personal relationship with you and can put a face to a name. Your face and personality is more likely to be remembered than some random words squeezed onto a piece of paper. People want to hire people that they like and want to surround themselves with in a work environment. You really can’t pick up on this through words written in Times New Roman font. So even if you submit a resume to a job posting and have everything that employer needs, that employer is more likely to hire someone they’ve met before and know they vibe with rather than someone they only know through a piece of paper.

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Hopefully you understand what I mean by the importance of forming personal relationships. For this reason, when finding your first job, rather than putting all of your effort into applying to jobs online, go out and make your presence known. Attend local events in the area, job fairs, and even happy hours. I find all of the events that I attend on Eventbrite or Facebook. On Eventbrite you can filter through events by your city, keywords, and the range of dates. Sign up for events you are interested in attending, even if you don’t end up going. You are often added to the email list of the company hosting that event, a way to receive exclusive opportunities that could lead to a job. However, you should make an effort to attend most of these events in order to meet new people and grow your connections. You never know who you will talk to and what they could be looking for. When meeting new people at these events be sure to always follow up with a LinkedIn request and personal message. After forming this important connection, you will automatically come to their mind when they are recommending people for a position or hiring someone new.

So now you may be wondering, well, what if I HATE networking and talking to new people? I hate to tell you, but if you want to be successful in life then this is just something you need to get over. If you hate networking and avoid it at all cost, you are holding yourself back from growing in your career. This could mean never getting hired for a position that you love or never moving up in the company you currently work for. Believe it or not, going into college I also hated networking and introducing myself to new people. I would get so nervous that I’d make myself sick, but I stilled forced myself to do it because I KNEW I had to. 5 years later and it is much less daunting and has given me so many great opportunities (80% of them if we are being honest). Once you keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, it will feel normal and become second nature to you. I used to shake and stutter at these events because my nerves would overcome me. But never the less, I persisted in my networking endeavors and look where I am now!

With all great things in life, you need to work hard and push yourself past your points of comfort in order to achieve your goals. Do you think the woman who is CEO of her dream company stays inside, scared to go to industry events? Of course not! She is out pitching her business to investors, meeting top talent all over her city, and sharing her ideas with complete strangers.

Do you think the student who landed his or her perfect internship at a huge technology company earned it by watching Netflix every night? No! These successes take hard work and determination, and often cannot be achieved without putting yourself out there, talking to new people, and learning new skills.

So now for those of you looking for a job, specifically those still in college, start the hunt NOW. So many students wait until the last two months of school to start looking for jobs. This is a terrible move. Programs specifically designed for new graduates are already filled way before this point. The fall before graduation is the most critical time to be accepted into these programs. These post-grad programs are your best shot at landing a more-than-ideal first job. They are designed to slowly transition you into the company culture and expect for you to not yet be accustomed to the 9-5 life, leaving lots of room for you to learn from your mistakes. Not only this, but most programs are a guaranteed two years with many opportunities to network, grow your skills, and gain amazing experiences. Prioritize these programs when applying for jobs! 

Throughout college I had many different internships, ranging from internships in marketing to fashion to information technology. I landed my second internship at a social media company from my cousin’s girlfriend. Networking! I landed my third internship by attending an event hosted by my school’s Career Center and introducing myself to the speakers. Networking! I landed my fourth internship by attending my school’s career fair and introducing myself to the company’s recruiters and then following up by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Networking! See a pattern?

Lastly, I earned my current job as a software engineer in Capital One’s Developer Academy by attending a Women in Tech Demo Days sponsored by Capital One. I signed up for this hackathon on Eventbrite, paying the $10 required fee to participate, and showed up to the event for a few hours. I distinctly remember almost not attending this event because my cousin was also in the city that day and I wanted to meet up with her. However, I still went because I knew it would help me transition to a job in technology after college. Little did I know I would meet a recruiter form Capital One and she would introduce me to CODA, a program designed to train post-graduates with an interest in tech (but no coding background required) to become software engineers for the company. Shortly after meeting her I began the interviewing process and eventually was offered the job. If I had never attended this event and met this recruiter, I would not have the amazing job I do today. I am being paid a full-time salary to learn to code! Does it get any better than that!?

Capital One Developer Academy (CODA)

Not only did I not even know about this program before attending this event, but if I did, my resume would’ve just been sitting in Capital One’s system with thousands of other applicants. If I had not formed this personal relationship with this recruiter, I would’ve been surpassed for the position along with everyone else who simply submitted their resume through LinkedIn. Now I have an engineering job for the next two and a half years with an amazing company, being paid to learn and grow in my technology skills.

If you’ve taken anything away from this post, I hope it’s the importance of networking and forming personal relationships with people. You never know who you can meet until you put yourself out there. Nobody gets anywhere by closing themselves off from all of the endless opportunities available in the world. So go on Eventbrite, find some events that interest you, and take the initiative to go! You never know the opportunities that could come from simply showing up.

Dear 20-Something Girl (7)

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The EILEEN FISHER Experience

Innovative, collaborative, friendly… These are the three words that first come to mind when I reflect back on my experience this summer as a Social Media and Public Relations Intern at EILEEN FISHER. Now that my ten weeks interning at such an impactful company are over, I wanted to share my experience been involved in a fashion company that is doing so much good for the world.

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EILEEN FISHER is a company that is changing the way we think about the fashion industry. Before working here I viewed the fashion industry as an industry that was destructive, doing more harm than good, and a place that was strictly for companies looking to make a profit. Now I see that fashion truly does have the power to change the world, aside from increasing confidence in the women who wear the clothing.

EILEEN FISHER has pledged to achieve 100% organic cotton and linen fabrics by the year 2020 in their campaign called Vision2020. They want to ensure all of these fabrics are made without harmful pesticides and without injuring workers in the supply chain process. The company is also in the process of finding a way to move more production to the United States, where their denim, bags and belts are currently made.

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I had the awesome opportunity to be involved in the EF X CFDA Remade in the USA pop-up shop, which you may have read about on Fashionista. This project began when three social innovators were chosen to create a capsule collection, repurposing older, damaged EILEEN FISHER clothing that was donated back into the company through the GREEN EILEEN program. This collection consists of three main parts- #stainsonstains, felted jackets and sweaters, and reconstructed pieces.

The #stainsonstains tanks are featured in the picture above. These are tank tops dyed by the fabulous Teslin Doud, using all-natural dyes such as onion skins, eucalyptus leaves and avocado pits. These natural dyes cover any stains that may have previously been on the shirts, bringing a whole new look to a piece that was once viewed as ruined. These tanks are perfect for those who are guilty of constantly spilling things on themselves!

The felted sweaters and jackets are each made from sixteen to twenty recycled sweaters, sewn together to create a stunningly unique piece. Carmen Gama is the social innovator that specializes in this technique, searching through piles of sweaters to find those that will pair together perfectly.

Last but not least are the deconstructed pieces of the collection, featured in the picture below. Lucy Jones focused on these tops and bottoms, analyzing hundreds of GREEN EILEEN items to discover which ones were salvageable. She focused on finding pieces that had enough fabric that was useable and undamaged in order to match different colors in the same fabrics to create pieces in the classic EILEEN FISHER shape.

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My favorite project of my internship was helping out with the Remade in the USA Collection. I think the pieces in this collection make it much easier for a younger customer to relate to the EILEEN FISHER brand. Not only are the pieces made with the environment in mind, but they are classic pieces that can be viewed as more youthful by the younger customer like myself.

Working at EILEEN FISHER has made me much more conscious of clothing that cares. I have learned that when I choose fast fashion I am also choosing to support child labor, unjust working conditions, chemically-dyed clothing, an untraceable supply chain, and an overall unethical company. Why would anyone choose to support this? We wouldn’t if everyone was educated on what these fashion companies are really up to overseas. The next time you buy your clothing consider where it is coming from. Perhaps then you will choose to invest in one piece that is supporting safe practices rather than five that are leading to the destruction of the environment and factory workers.

I am excited for what is in store for EILEEN FISHER in the fashion industry. I can’t wait to see what new and innovative project they come up with next. Be sure to follow the brand on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see the inspiring campaigns that they will be sharing in the upcoming weeks!

Meet Michelle Lee, Editor-in-Chief of Allure

As a little girl flipping through fashion magazines, imagining wearing those pretty heels and red lipstick, we all always dreamt about working at one of these magazines as an adult. For some girls, this dream does come true- after much hard work and hustle, of course. Michelle Lee is one of these females that has taken the fashion magazine industry by storm.

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Before taking over as Allure‘s new editor-in-chief, she was editor-in-chief for Nylon magazine, which has to be the “coolest” fashion magazine out there right now, in my opinion (Lee thinks so too!). So what would make her accept an offer from Allure magazine if she loved her job so much? First of all, Allure is Allure. It is a universal name that every woman knows, and swears by, for beauty advice. However, Allure is not really “cool” like Nylon is; This is exactly what Lee is setting out to change.

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I had the wonderful opportunity to hear her speak and talk with her at the Fashionista meetup at Space 530 in March. I was inspired by the courage she had to leave a job that she not only loved, but was extremely successful at, for a job at a company she knew would need some change. At the meetup she discussed how she wants to change Allure so that it has that same “it girl” factor as Nylon does. She plans to feature more beauty pictures on real models and people rather than simple product shots. Lee wants people to really engage with Allure, which is why she will be featuring more original photography to create a “whole layer of inspiration.”

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We can all use Michelle Lee as an inspiration to work for the job we want in life. She did not always work in fashion, but she gained the experience she needed to break into the industry. Don’t be afraid to take a job or internship that isn’t directly in the field you want to work in. Who knows, it may someday lead to your dream job as an editor-in-chief for two iconic magazines.