Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Benjamin Koren, the founder and CEO of Frameology, knows how important it is to use your time wisely and to push yourself. Having majored in International Relations at Brown University, Benjamin went on to study at Columbia Business School. After he spent time working abroad in Brazil, he started his own company that focuses on making printing and framing beautiful and easy.

Benjamin has had a variety of experiences that he has both learned and grown from, and he shares some of those lessons. Whether he’s living abroad and working, studying to earn a degree, or making the most of every day to build his company, Benjamin seizes his youth day in and day out. Read on to learn more about what a day in his life looks like, what he’s learned from being an entrepreneur, and what books influenced him at different parts of his life.

Name: Benjamin Koren
Education: Brown University and MBA from Columbia University – Columbia Business School
Follow: frameology.com / @BenKoren

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Benjamin Koren: Taking the opportunity to really push yourself to learn and have experiences. It’s about using your time wisely and getting the most out of a very unique phase of your life.

CJ: What did you major in at Brown University, and how did you determine what to study?

BK: I studied International Relations. Honestly for me it was a bit of a cop out. IR allowed you to take classes in a lot of different things, and as I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, it seemed appropriately broad. And I love to travel so there’s that…

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CJ: You later attended Columbia Business School. What inspired you to earn this degree, and how did business school help you?

BK: I kind of fell into business. I originally wanted to be a lawyer. My first job out of college was as a paralegal at Shearman & Sterling working on IPOs (initial public offerings). These are transformative events for most companies and are super interesting for that reason. However, I found myself most drawn to the business aspects, not the legal ones. After a year at the law firm I was fortunate enough to get a job at a merchant bank that was one of Shearman’s clients.

CJ: You’ve spend time working as a paralegal and in a private equity company in Sao Paulo, Brazil. What is it like working and living in another country? What were those experiences like?

BK: It was awesome. Living in another country for a period of time is something I would recommend to everyone. It’s challenging – you’re forced to be independent and figure things out that are not so easy to understand (either because of cultural or language barriers). For me it was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences I’ve had.

CJ: You are the Founder and CEO of Frameology, a company that makes printing and framing beautiful and easy. How did you come up with this idea? What were the steps necessary to execute your idea?

BK: I came up with the idea when I wanted to buy a framed photo for my girlfriend as a gift for Valentine’s Day. To my shock, I couldn’t find anyone online who would allow you to upload a photo and get it printed, framed and shipped to you. A light went off. Framed photos are awesome – they make the ultimate personal gift and they help people focus on the things in life that are most important – their best memories. And my dad owned a frame shop so I knew a bunch about the business already. Starting Frameology was the logical next step.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned so far from being an entrepreneur and running your own business?

BK: Starting something from scratch is hard and it takes much longer than you think it will. I’ve truly learned so much. But if I had to highlight just one lesson, it’s the following: stay focused on your vision. Products will change, branding will evolve, the people helping you will change, but the founding vision is what provides the real consistency in your business and life. I (as founder) believe strongly that the people and experiences in life are what really matter. Our vision, as a company, is to help our customers to focus on the things that matter. Everything we do is a function of that vision, and we constantly test new tactics to bring that to life.

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CJ: Every day in your life must vary depending on the time of year and project you’re working on, but what does a Monday look like for you? Take us through your day.

BK: It does vary constantly! But let’s see. This Monday I woke up at 5:25AM to go to the gym (I know, it’s really early). When I got home I checked my Google Analytics account to monitor our key performances metrics from the weekend. I usually get into the office around 9AM. We have our company standup at 10:30. Then throughout the rest of the day I strategized with our Marketing Director about how best to promote a new program we launched for professional photographers. I fielded some questions from a TV producer that hopefully will put us on her show for a holiday gift spot. I spent time QA’ing some of the new features being built on our site. I participated in a planning meeting to decide on inventory levels that we would carry for the holiday season. I’m sure there were some other things as well.

CJ: What advice do you have for those interested in running their own business one day?

BK: Don’t give up. Starting a business is really hard. Things often don’t go the way you plan, but that’s OK. You will figure it out. Also: test, measure, analyze, repeat. When you have a startup, you actually know very little about the market in the beginning. You need to put together tests to figure things out. Measure the results. Analyze them and figure out if there is a better way to achieve your desired outcome. Then test again using what you have learned.

CJ: How do you stay organized and keep everything running smoothly?

BK: Asana. And hiring great people that I can trust.

CJ: With such a busy schedule, how do you keep yourself energized and inspired throughout the day?

BK: I try to stay in shape and eat well. I think that’s really important to maintaining energy. Most importantly I try to keep focused on Frameology’s vision. We want to help people focus on what’s important. Our customers upload such meaningful moments to our site, I’m constantly reminded of why we do what we do. One customer contacted me recently to tell me how he framed a photo from his wedding for his father in law, who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He broke down in tears, because he was so moved by the gift. Hard not to be inspired by that.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

BK: Professionally, there are a lot. I read The New York Times and The Economist regularly. I’m also digging the new Apple News app. Personally, here are the books that really influenced me at different parts of my life: Catcher in the Rye, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Song of Solomon, and The Old Man and the Sea.

CJ: When you’re not working on growing Frameology, how do you like to spend your time?

BK: I spend all my time growing Frameology. But I do find time to hang out with friends and family (while working on growing Frameology).

CJ: What are you working to improve upon, and how are you doing so?

BK: Right now, really all of my attention is on my company. I don’t think much about personal growth and improvement these days. That’s not to say that I don’t have things to improve upon – I have a ton of things. But starting and growing a company just comes first right now at this point in my life. This goes back to what we discussed before about “seizing your youth.” When you’re young, you can put yourself first (or at least a lot of people can – some aren’t even that fortunate). Later in life you are responsible for others – employees, investors, children, etc. I’m sure I’ll have other periods in my life that at a later date.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

BK: Don’t force things – figure out and focus on what you love. Everything else will follow into place.

Ben Koren Qs

Images by Ben Koren

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

The Girl Scouts is an incredible organization that turns young women into leaders. Becka Gately, one of these impressive young women, has always been involved in sports. Therefore, when it came time to choose a project for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, planning a health and fitness night in her community was a perfect fit. Becka established partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, and she pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. Over 400 community members attended!

As a high school senior, Becka is involved with many extracurricular activities, including student government, National Honor Society, and DECA, a business leadership development program. She has a passion for business and helping her community, which she has had the opportunity to do through the Girl Scouts. Having been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten, Becka is no stranger to helping others and being a leader. Becka shares what she learned from the Girl Scouts, how she stayed organized when working on her project, and how she defines success. We’re so impressed with this ambitious young woman!

*The Girl Scouts Spotlight Series is an exclusive weekly Youth Spotlight on amazing young women who have earned their Gold Awards, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout organization.

Name: Becka Gately
Education: Kentwood High School

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Becka Gately: I think “Seizing Your Youth” means taking every single possibility you have and taking advantage of it. Never in your life will you have the time or the freedom to join any group you want or any team you want. I think “Seizing Your Youth” means to find your passion and run with it.

CJ: What are you studying at school? What led you to those academic passions and why did you choose to study them in a formal setting?

BG: This year I am taking classes that I need to graduate, but in college I want to study business. Since joining DECA I have had an interest in business. I am also heavily involved in leadership in my school and I think both business and leadership correspond with each other. I am definitely a people person so I found that business was not only my interest, but also something that I am pretty good at.

CJ: During your senior year of high school you will serve as Vice President of DECA (a business leadership development program). How did you get involved in DECA?

BG: My brother actually encouraged me to do DECA. He participated in it his junior and senior year. He told me that I didn’t have a choice and that I had to do it because it would be something that will help me with the rest of my life.

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CJ: How did you get involved with the Girl Scouts, and what did you love most about being a Girl Scout?

BG: I got involved in Girl Scouts when I was in kindergarten. One of my friend’s mom was starting a troop and my mother put me in it. What I love most about being a Girl Scout is the opportunity to help my community. Being a part of Girl Scouts has given me so many opportunities to not only help the community, but to also meet more people in my community.

CJ: What are the top three lessons you learned from being a Girl Scout?

BG: 1. Respect everyone. You never know where being nice and respectful might take you.
2. Giving back is better than receiving.
3. Your life is what you make it.

CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you planned a health and fitness night in your community. By forging partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, you pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. The night proved to be a huge success—with more than 400 community members attending. Amazing! Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

BG: I chose this topic because I have always had a love for fitness and sports. I have played soccer since I was five-years-old and played basketball and volleyball for a couple of years. A year of playing tennis made me realize that I would rather hit a ball with my feet than with my hands. I grew up watching baseball 24/7 because my brother played and my dad coached. I was surrounded by sports and fitness all growing up so being active became natural for me.

When I started to look into what I wanted to do for my Gold Award project, it was around the time where some of my younger cousins where getting to the age of having an interest in electronics. I noticed that not only were they not playing any sports but that they would rather sit on an Ipad then go outside and play. Another thing that I realized was I didn’t have the knowledge about nutrition compared to exercise. This was one of the reasons I added the nutrition part to my event. Not only did I want to help the community learn about being active, I wanted to learn about nutrition and what I can do to be healthier.

Once I had this concept an amazing opportunity came about. My mother’s school at the time had been chosen by Molina Health Care and the Hope Heart institute to sponsor a health event at their school. After meeting with both Molina and Hope Heart, the event really started to come together! After that I just had to come up with some activities and get donations.

CJ: How did you keep your project organized as you were working on it? How did you balance your workload with school, extracurricular activities, etc.?

BG: When working on my project, I stayed organized by holding weekly meetings. I had a meeting every Friday afternoon with my advisor and my mother. I really enjoy being busy and giving my time to others, so for the majority of my extracurricular activities I spend time at school. During the school week I usually spend two hours after school being involved with Associated Student Body (ASB), DECA, National Honor Society (NHS), or leadership. Then I play soccer and have dinner. I try to have one night during the week where I can just be home. I also try not to plan things on Sundays so I can spend time with family and get homework done.

CJ: Do you have mentors? How did you go about finding them?

BG: I have two mentors. One is my DECA advisor and marketing teacher Mr. Zender. I have known him since my brother joined DECA. My other mentor is our school athletics and activities director Ms. Daughtry. I meet her when I decided to join ASB. She has really encouraged me to put myself out there and make a difference. She has also given me so many opportunities to expand my leadership skills and learn more about myself. Now I get the opportunity to work with her every day as I am the ASB president.

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CJ: To you, what does it mean to be a good leader?

BG: I think a good leader is one whose actions speak louder than their words. There’s a great quote by John Quincy Adams that says “If your actions inspire other to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I believe a good leader does not just tell people what to do but also shows them and inspires them to become better leaders.

CJ: How do you define success?

BG: I think success is giving 100% of what you have into something. I think everyone has different successes in their life, but you can’t compare other successes to yours. To be successful you need to believe in yourself and be happy with the effort that you are putting into your passion.   

CJ: Will you be going to college next year? How do you plan on tackling the college application process?

BG: I am planning on attending college. My plan is to start early on the application process and follow my gut.

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

BG: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

CJ: What are your favorite books?

BG: Divergent, The Great Gatsby, and The Art of Racing in the Rain.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

BG: I would tell my 15 year-old self two things. First, join as many teams and events as possible. You never know the people you will meet and the experiences you will have. Second, that some people come and go but the ones that stay are very special.

Becka Gately Qs 

Images by Becka Gately

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Being part of the online world means searching tirelessly and endlessly for other people who can provide us with fresh perspectives and new inspiration. Someone who continues to inspire us post after post is Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster. We’ve been long time fans and were excited to meet Carly in person when we moved to New York City last winter. One of our favorite things about The College Prepster is how authentic her writing is and how much she shares with her online family (and we can’t forget Teddy!). When we sat down with her at a coffee shop on the Upper East Side, she was engaging, relatable, and outgoing.

From starting a blog in her college dorm room at Georgetown University to building it into a self-established brand and career, we are so impressed with everything Carly has done and can’t wait to see what she does next!

Name: Carly Heitlinger
Education: B.S. in Marketing from Georgetown University
Follow: TheCollegePrepster.com / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Carly Heitlinger: I definitely think that the idea that there will always be a tomorrow and there’s only one today is great. We are so young and we have everything to gain and nothing to lose – so I’m so glad I started my company when I was 19 because for one I was a little bit naïve and I didn’t know what I was doing, and there was no fear because I literally had nothing to lose. I didn’t have to make money right away, I didn’t have to be financially independent, and I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage or a family. I think that the more you figure out now, the better off you’re going to be later. Make a lot of mistakes now.

CJ: You are the blogger behind The College Prepster, which you started when you were a freshman at Georgetown as a creative outlet. What are three most important skills that you use on a daily basis?

CH: I would say some sort of public speaking element is useful. I’m very introverted – I think that’s why I started a blog so that I could be behind the computer rather than in front of people – the fact is that I do have to go out and speak to people even though that’s not my natural inclination. But I’ve practiced so much that meeting strangers five years ago would have been horrifying, but now it’s normal and I don’t get as nervous. So being able to effectively communicate with people you don’t know is a huge thing.

Another skill is being hyper-organized. I think a big issue that a lot of people face is letting things slip through the cracks because they’re not organized. I think it’s the easiest thing you can do to set yourself up for success. Making sure you have a calendar, transferring things from your computer to your phone with iCalendar. Staying on top of your email. Making sure you’re paying bills on time. It’s boring being an adult, but at the very least you save yourself from a few headaches and embarrassment down the line. You don’t want financial mistakes you made when you were 18 or 20 to haunt you. Organization is a habit.

I also think that effectively managing stress is a big skill. It’s not as tangible of as skill as staying organized, but I think that a lot of people our age are prone to letting stress either freeze them or stop them from doing things that they want to do. There will always be stressful situations that come up from now until the day we die. If you come up with good strategies and mechanisms to deal with those now and get in the habit now, that will really help. Problems that seem big now and would become huge later won’t be nearly as big. For me, knowing that I need to wake up every morning and walk my dog, talk to my mom, go to yoga, eat healthy, and cut back on caffeine – doing little things that help minimize stress – you just work so much more effectively if you’re not going a mile a minute with your internal thoughts.

CJ: You have gotten really into yoga. How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?

CH: I don’t really have one, but I was on the crew team for seven and a half years. The first year I was actually a rower and ran – I was never actually boated because I was terrible – but I would run all day. And then I fell out of the habit and I was an athlete in the mental sense but not physically. I do think that keeping your mind active is a huge skill. But I’ve been really bad in the past about being healthy.

Part of it is a quarter life crisis and realizing that this is the one body I have. I need to be thankful for having my health. I think making the choice and decision and really committing to being healthy has been the biggest thing – before I wasn’t committed but now for some reason I feel like I really care. I try to only eat bad things in moderation. Yoga has been a great way to get back into it, and now I try to walk for 45 minutes or more, which I think is pretty easy in New York. And taking the stairs versus the elevator – little changes like that all add up. One big thing is that I’ve been trying to drink more water.

Carly - by Bekka Palmer 2

CJ: How do you do about setting and tracking goals?

CH: I’m a very visual person. I learn visually – I use big number lines to track things that I want to achieve. I’ll set goals in my calendar. I’m very number driven. Getting other people involved helps too. I also break things down into quarters. I think you can set goals for the week, goals for the day. Those are really tangible goals that can add up. I also set quarter goals for my business and it percolates down into my personal life, too. For example, a year seems like such a long time to me, but 90 days seems manageable. Three months – that’s totally doable. With the quarter system you can track things more easily.

CJ: What is a memorable Spring Break trip you’ve had?

CH: I’ve actually only ever had one Spring Break ever. I was always on a crew team so our Spring Breaks were training trips, which were actually a lot of fun. They were two-a-days, but when you’re with your friends it’s so much fun. Then my senior year I wasn’t on the crew team anymore and my family went on a trip together. That was my best spring break because it was my only real spring break.

Carly - CH Insta

CJ: What are some travel tips that you would recommend?

CH: The biggest tip I would have is traveling with people who are like-minded with what is important to you. If you don’t want to get wasted and drink a lot, don’t go with people who are going to drink a lot. You’ll be in an environment where you’re not having a good time for making that decision not to drink, or you’ll feel like you have to play along even if that’s not what you want to do. Maybe you find two girl friends who want to plan a crazy quick week-long turnaround trip to Paris and you don’t want to drink at all. Make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with people who make decisions that you want to make.

I would also say spend Spring Break with your family because you don’t see your family as much when you’re an adult. If you don’t want to spend it with your immediate family, spend time with people you love and who you want to spend time with.

CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?

CH: Sometimes I need to surround myself with great friends or call my mom to vent. And other times I need to just spend time alone. Going for a long walk or spending a night curled up in bed reading can do wonders for my mental health! I also repeat to myself, “this too shall pass.”

Carly - by Bekka Palmer 3

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

CH: Mental health on college campuses! I contribute in small ways to specific organizations, but I know there’s more that I want to do. I personally had such a hard time adjusting to college life and really struggled. There were some very dark days, especially in the beginning. Luckily, I found help on campus that helped me get back on track.

CJ: What advice would you give your 19-year-old self?

CH: I would remind her that things work out. I spent too much time convinced that my world was going to end, or that one little problem was going to throw off everything. Everything resets, or you find a new course that was better than one you would’ve taken otherwise. Everything happens for a reason. You’ll figure it out as you go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going as long as you’re going.

Carly Heitlinger Qs

Images by Bekka Palmer and Carly Heitlinger

Skills

Hopefully I’ve won you over in Part I about how informational interviews work wonders for you and your career. Now that you’re ready to jump into some interviewing, I know it can be overwhelming to read through all the tips and tricks of the trade. It’s important to realize that the “right” way is ultimately contingent upon your personality. At the same time, don’t feel like just because you’re an introvert, that you will have a more challenging time than extroverts — that’s certainly not the case! I’m a big proponent of not forcing yourself to do anything you truly don’t want to, but I am also a believer in pushing boundaries for personal growth. It’s simply a matter of allowing yourself to be open to the process.

With that said, here are my 4 tips for conducting your first informational interview.

Do your research. Be honest about who you want to interview and don’t pick individuals whose careers you aren’t sincerely curious about. It will be much harder to come up with interview questions without genuine interest (and it’ll be ridiculously awkward for the both of you!). I suggest researching as many people as you can (via LinkedIn, company websites, etc.) that you can actually meet in person. Search for types of industries, roles, and job descriptions and keep a list of the ones that catch your eye.

For extra points, try to find people through your own connections. They will be able to facilitate the introduction and mention some good things about you, too! But for now, just focus on learning as much as you can about these people: find out about their professional history, learn about their educational background, find the current office location, and read any published articles – you get the picture. This all prevents you from asking obvious questions during your interview, as well as gives you a better idea of whether or not they are the right fit for you.

Introduce Yourself. When introducing yourself via email, keep it short and to the point. This is probably the most uncomfortable part, but I promise it’s a breeze! Here’s a quick example:

“Dear ________, I’m a student at ______ University, majoring in ________. I’ve read some of your articles on __________ and I’m considering a career in ___________ as well. I’d really love to learn more about the work you do as an ______________, and was hoping I can take you for a quick coffee to learn more about it. I noticed that your company’s office is in ________, and I’ll actually be in the area next week. Please let me know when you’re available, I would sincerely appreciate it!”

You won’t always get a response, but you’d be surprised how many people will. After a couple of more email exchanges, send your résumé to give an idea of who you are (even if it’s already on LinkedIn). If you’re a student or a young professional that is just starting out, don’t feel self-conscious about not having a super stellar resume just yet. You’re reaching out to them for help, remember?

The Interview: Be interested, not interesting. Remember, you are interviewing them. Don’t worry about not having much to say – you’re not supposed to! Your job is to learn about their experience, skills, and challenges. Prepare at least 15-20 questions to direct the flow of your interview and be as professional as you would be for a job interview (dress appropriately and make eye contact!). If you promised a 30-minute interview, then deliver exactly that. Prior to the 30-minute mark, kindly mention that you are aware of their busy schedule, and that you’re happy to continue the conversation next time. If they’re still able to continue their time with you, great! If not, it’s a good way to smoothly end the interview. They’ll appreciate your mindfulness and this gives you an open door to reach out to them again.

Seal the deal. Conclude the interview by asking if they have any recommendations on other professionals who you can connect with. When you reach out to these new individuals, you will already have a mutual connection that will make networking easier. At the same time, you will be building a positive, professional reputation for yourself. Last but not least, send a thank you card (yes, an actual card with an envelope, and buy a stamp to mail it). There is no exception!

Follow-up with them from time to time to keep the connection going. Sometimes I like to send a short email update on how their advice influenced my decisions at work or school. Other times, it’s just a link to an article that they might enjoy. Either way, the objective is to remind them of how they helped you and that they are appreciated.

The more you conduct informational interviews, the more comfortable you will be speaking to successful (and perhaps intimidating) people. The amount of knowledge and insight that you gain out of them are immeasurable and can truly change the course of your future. Remember, there’s no such thing as failing or embarrassing yourself when you’re coming from a place of sincerity. Good luck!

Image: Pexels

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When it comes to girl power, who does it better than the Girl Scouts? We’re huge fans of this empowering organization, especially because the Girl Scouts encourages learning, adventure, fun, friends, and dreaming big. We had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Stefanie Ellis, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington‘s Public Relations Director.

Stefanie is energetic, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun to talk to. Her career came about at a completely unexpected moment, but it turns out life throws curveballs at you and teaches you new things about yourself. Originally attending pastry school in London, Stefanie knew this wasn’t the career for her as soon as she saw a job listing as a writing specialist for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. Stefanie is very inspiring and optimistic, and we couldn’t be more excited to share her story with you.

Fun fact: the above photo is of Stephanie (right) with the country’s oldest living Girl Scout, Emma Otis.

Name: Stefanie Ellis
Education: B.A. in English with Secondary Certification from University of Missouri-Saint Louis
Follow: girlscoutsww.org / 52lovestories.com@stlfoodgirl
Location: Seattle, Washington

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Stefanie Ellis: I define it as living in the present moment and being very clear about who you are and what you want. Taking time to enjoy the challenges as well as the successes, and not letting either hold too much weight. It’s all about the journey.

It’s about trying, falling – maybe even tripping and ending up on your face – and then getting  back up. It’s about not giving up, not giving in to pressure or stereotypes and doing the things that matter to you. I also firmly believe that seizing your youth never stops just because you age. I’m still seizing my youth this very moment, and I don’t plan to stop!

CJ: What sparked your passion for public relations?

SE: I never set out be in public relations. In fact, I was pretty darned shy most of my life, and tended toward careers where I could play it safe behind-the-scenes. I’ve been a food writer for 15 years, and when I turned 30, decided to go to pastry school in London. I thought that’s where my life was headed, but I was diagnosed pre-diabetic three days before I left so I couldn’t eat any of the pastries.

I came home to Saint Louis and questioned what I was going to do with my life. I saw a job listing for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington as a writing specialist. Instantly pastry-making flew out the window and I knew that this was my job. I moved to Seattle and was a writing specialist for a few years, but then one day we had a big event for 7,000 girls, and I was doing all the marketing for the event.

The CEO came up to me and told me that we had been invited on the news to talk about it, and said they chose me to go. I laughed and politely declined. She asked why I was declining, and I told her I was shy. She told me I wasn’t. I politely thanked her again and told her that I know who I am. She said, “I challenge you to look again. I think that the woman who you really are isn’t necessarily the woman who you think you are.”

I agreed to go on TV thinking that if I embarrassed myself she would never ask me to go again. Turns out, I was pretty good. I would never have discovered that had someone not invited me to challenge my own perceptions. That basically was the changing point for my whole life. Shortly thereafter, the public relations person moved and I was invited to give the position a shot. That was nearly four years ago and I have had to stretch myself in ways I never thought I would.

I had to get over a lot of perceptions I had about myself and my abilities. I have been able to change my thinking, which is exactly the point of Girl Scouts. It allows you to stretch beyond who you thought you were and step into who you really are, while building a comfort level along the way. You get to choose how you’re going to share your gifts with the world. I owe so much of who I am now to Girl Scouts.

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CJ: As you mentioned, you went to pastry school (Le Cordon Bleu) in London. What was that experience like ?

SE: When I was in high school and college I waitressed, so I thought I knew what the food profession was like. I have so much more respect who are on their feet 18 hours a day, pouring their heart and soul into something for someone else. I learned about the art of creation. For me that happens to be food. I look at art very differently in the museum now.

It was an amazing experience because there were people from all around the world in one place. Everyone had to learn how to work together. I never cut my fingers more in my entire life. Those knives are so dangerous, and I never mastered the art of looking graceful while wielding a finger-cutting weapon!

CJ: What makes young people so important and why has their empowerment become a primary focus in your career and life?

SE: I believe everyone has a voice and sometimes young people don’t think they are allowed to use it, which is unfortunate to me. Organizations like Girl Scouts help young people see that they have a voice and gives them so many opportunities to practice using it. I didn’t find my voice until my thirties, but I spend my days watching everyone from age six to 18 develop skills, talents, find their strengths, and become empowered. They are the ones who will be leading us into the future, and we have a responsibility to nurture and support them in their journey.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the world of public relations?

SE: Talk to everybody everywhere you go. Even if it’s at the grocery store or in the aisle of a hardware store. Ask questions and make observations. Practice active communication. Communicating is something we’re born knowing how to do but not necessarily a skill that we develop, especially now with texting and social media. I truly believe these things can be a detriment to our ability to form and nurture relationships. I straddle both worlds, but prefer to live on the side where people actually sit across from each other and look one another in the eyes. I see so many people eating dinner together, but texting. We can’t lose conversation! We can’t lose real and meaningful relationship building. This isn’t just about PR – it’s about connection. I also believe these natural practices will dramatically influence how effective you’ll be in your career.

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CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date?

SE: An unexpectedly amazing part of my job that I don’t think I’d experience if I did not work where I work happened when I accidentally ran into Dave Matthews at the gym. My co-worker and I had been trying to figure out how we could incorporate him into our campaigns for years. When I ran into him I was unprepared, and knew I only had 15 seconds to ask him something!

I walked up to him and said, “Hey Dave, can I ask you a question?” And he said, “Yeah, sure!” And I said, “Would you ever consider dressing up as a Girl Scout Cookie?” He said, “I can honestly say that’s never been a dream of mine, but I love making people’s dreams come true, so I’ll think about it. Can I ask why you asked me that?” I was so caught off guard that I forgot to tell him where I worked! When I told him, he just smiled and said it made a lot more sense now. I love that I have a job where I can ask people silly things. I love that I can bring people cookies, and use my creative mind to dream up things that make people smile.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

SE: There’s no typical day in my job, which is what I love most about it. I might go on TV to talk about cookies; work on organizational campaigns and initiatives; build partnerships and collaborative opportunities with folks in the community who share our mission; pitch media stories about amazing things girls are doing; interview Girl Scout alumnae for our Awesome Woman series; write scripts, and coach girl speakers at our luncheons or give talks about Girl Scouts. Sometimes I dress up in a cookie costume just because it’s a Tuesday.

CJ: Leadership skills training is an important focus in the Girl Scouts – what are some ways young people can become better leaders?

SE: Join groups that focus on topics you’re interested in, and volunteer to have a lead or supervisory role. Talk to everyone. Watch the people who are heading things up, and see what they do. Make note of what you like and don’t like about their style. Same goes for when you’re in the work force. Watch people around you. See who inspires you the most, and take notes! Better yet, ask to interview them or go for coffee, and ask them for pointers and guidance for how you might get to a similar place in your own career.

The best things I learned about leadership came from my bosses. They were my best mentors. I loved how they were clearly in control, but never made big decisions without group input. They were fair and open. They wanted to see me succeed, so they asked me how they could help me reach my goals. It was amazing. All I had to do was watch and absorb. Then I learned how to be the kind of leader I admired, while sticking to my own personal style. That’s maybe the most important part: Don’t ever give up who you are! Just pepper who you are with awesome bits and pieces from those around you.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

SE: For me it’s not to take anything personally. That’s one of the most difficult but simple things for most of us. I’m working on it one day at a time. In this line of work, you ask people a lot of things. I don’t believe that any dream is too big, so I ask everything. You ask and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

Sometimes you get attached to an idea and it’s a bummer when it doesn’t work out. Who knows why someone doesn’t agree to do something? It could be for a number of reasons. As long as you try and as long as you ask, you’re golden. If someone says no or doesn’t respond, move on to the next idea.

It never hurts to follow up, though. I always tell younger people to politely bug people they want to talk to. There’s a right and a wrong way. As long as you are kind and gracious and can respect personal boundaries, most people won’t mind. I never mind it. When I’m busy and forget, I appreciate when people remind me.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

SE: I cook and bake. I cook dinner every night no matter how stressed out I am. I eat chocolate. I lay on my couch and call someone I love. I always plan a reward for myself. At the end of cookie sales, for example, I’ll treat myself to a trip somewhere. Or I’ll look forward to my favorite tea when I get home.

CJ: If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why?

SE: Oprah Winfrey. She is a powerhouse, and she worked very hard and for a long time to get there. She never gave up, and look where that got her. She’s the poster child for tenacity, and I’d want to high five her, then ask her for advice!

CJ: What is your favorite book?

SE: Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

SE: Stop worrying! Just go with the flow a lot more. I was and still am ambitious and there’s nothing wrong with that. And I worked really hard. But I don’t think I allowed myself enough grace and room to relax and breathe. I was maybe too focused on all the things I needed to do, which really took me away from focusing on the present moment, which is all we have. There’s nothing wrong with having goals or planning for the future, but a lot of times it can take you away from where you are right now. Mellow out a little bit, darling!

Stefanie Ellis Qs

Images by Stefanie Ellis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first walked into the showroom at Tai Ping Carpets, we were in awe. The carpets are true pieces of art. We were given a tour of the office and showroom by Laine Alexandra, the Global Business Development Director. Laine studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College, but it wasn’t until a field trip to the mansions in Rhode Island when she had an epiphany and realized her passion: interior design.

In addition to working at her top choice design firm after college, she also took night classes at the New York School of Interior Design to further her education. Ambitious, hardworking, and a fast learner, Laine always gives 100% to what she is doing. When it comes to a challenge, Laine is up for it. Laine demonstrates that even if you think you are on a certain career path, you just might have a eureka moment and things can change, and that’s more than okay. You never know when inspiration will strike! Read on to find out how Laine chose her college major, what books and resources she finds most useful, and the advice she would give her 20-year-old self.

Name: Laine Alexandra
Education: B.A. in Communication and Sociology at Boston College; AAS in Interior Design at New York School of Interior Design
Location: New York, New York

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Laine Alexandra: Saying yes to any opportunity to learn. Doing what scares you. Doing what you’re not good at. Making mistakes. Doing what you enjoy and seeing where it can take you.

CJ: You studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College. How did you decide what to study?

LA: I was a senior in High School on 9/11. Watching the world depend on television, and more specifically on television journalists, to both find and effectively communicate the truth about events that impact lives on a tremendous scale had a significant impression on me, and I decided to study broadcast journalism. I ended up with a minor in sociology (and almost a minor in Art History) simply because I took all the electives I loved!

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CJ: What did your career path look like when you graduated from college?

LA: My career path took a 180 from what I studied. Two things happened. 1) In the years following 9/11, I grew increasingly disillusioned by sensationalism that, to me, seemed to overshadow the value of journalism. This lead to a pit in my stomach about entering the profession I had spent the last five years dreaming about joining. 2) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In the early days of my diagnosis, it was quite severe and it was critical to be near a progressive hospital with the clinical trials I needed.

With these factors in mind, my Mom gave me some amazing advice. “Please, please do what you love, not because it is prestigious, altruistic, or lucrative. You can’t be happy unless you are actually happy. And, if you start with something that makes your heart sing, you can go anywhere. (Just please go somewhere with good healthcare).”

The following week an art history elective I was enrolled in took a field trip to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. In the ballroom of the Biltmore, I had an epiphany. While I had always loved interior design and considered it a passion, I didn’t realize how significant the industry and opportunities might be until I got a taste in Newport. The next day, I emailed 50 interior designers I found in Architectural Digest. I got three interviews, and an offer from my top choice – the venerable Drake Design Associates, Jamie Drake’s firm.

CJ: You attended the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). What was this experience like and why did you choose to attend this school?

LA: Jamie [of Drake Design Associates] is both a talented and trained designer. I realized while a formal education is not always necessary in the interior design world, I felt that I needed the credibility and knowledge that comes with a degree. NYSID was fantastic for a few reasons. The professors are actively involved in the design community and offered both classical education as well as real, business-savvy perspective. Secondly, NYSID offered night and weekend classes, so I was able to complete my degree while continuing to work for Drake Design Associates.

CJ: You are now the Global Business Development Director at Tai Ping Carpets. What does your role entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

LA: I’m project managing a global distribution initiative for Tai Ping, working with people in all areas of the company and in three continents.

CJ: What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?

LA: It’s both intimidating and exciting making the road map.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

LA: Handwritten lists.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

LA: TED Talks. Deepak Chopra’s guided meditationsJust Kids by Patti SmithLean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?

LA:  Long walks or yoga. Wine with friends also works.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

LA: Yes, I am big believer in and supporter of Planned Parenthood (PP). My mother was a counselor there when I was a kid, so I have always admired the organization. As a young-adult facing major medical bills and insurance issues, I developed a significantly deeper appreciation for the affordable healthcare PP provides women (and men), both related to reproductive issues and also as general practitioners.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

LA: What I’m working to improve applies both personally and professionally. I’m trying to get comfortable with the unknown, and learning it’s okay to be wrong and not have all the answers.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LA: Take the class you might fail. Invest in travel. Don’t worry about 10 years from now, figure out two years from now, or even just next month.

Laine Alexandra Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

EducationSkills

There are literally one million ways to concoct a stellar résumé, and another million ways to mess it up. Developing a résumé depends on the role you’re applying for, the company you’re applying to, and where you are in your career (to name a few). Plus, if you think that living breathing HR employees are reading them, it’s not always that simple anymore. Many companies use programs to scan résumés and search for keywords and phrases that match their job opening. Times are changing, and so is the recruiting landscape.

In a previous article I mentioned some of the different factors that create a successful résumé. But to be more specific, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the do’s and don’ts. To be fair, there are certainly many other reasons why your résumé would be at risk to be voted off the island, just as much as the reasons below might not matter to some companies. But based on my experience these are the best ways to ruin your chances of getting your dream job. Beware!

  1. Using silly font. This is obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: Stick to the Times New Roman-Calibri-Arial family. This is not the time to whip out Comic Sans or Century Gothic. They give no added value and can be distracting to the hiring manager. I’m not sure what type of company would be enthusiastic about someone who uses Lucida Handwriting, but I’d be interested to know if there is one! I suggest just keeping it simple. Additionally, it may give the impression that your focus is not on the main objective of the résumé (which is to hire you!).
  1. Not proofread and making typos. I also mentioned this before in another post: By sending in your résumé it is assumed that you (and others) have proofread it repeatedly and decided that this final copy is your best. If there is a spelling error or grammatical mistake, it screams carelessness. Not to say that you are careless (we’re all guilty of errors), but play it safe and triple check.
  1. References Available Upon Request.” Years ago, including this phrase at the bottom of your résumé was popular, but not anymore. There’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and other ways of learning more about candidates than just their résumés. Plus, if a company truly wants this information from you, they will ask (and it’s usually on application forms, anyway). At that point, I’d assume you’d readily provide it. If not, be prepared to explain why. My standpoint is to either include your references with their contact information already on your résumé/on a separate sheet or don’t mention it at all.
  1. Filling up space with irrelevant/excessive information. We’ve all been there: crafted one big, perfect, I-can-do-everything résumé and went on an application spree. It’s not a bad résumé, so someone has to email you back, right? Wrong. Your résumé should be aligned with the job description, as well as the company’s mission and values. Even using the same words as the job posting is helpful. If you’re applying for an administrative job, there is no need to include your membership to the Art Club in 2010. So unless you did something spectacular that makes you more productive in the desired role, nix it. As for the length of your résumé, that is widely debated. I don’t have a right or wrong answer. But my opinion? Keep it at one page, unless you have over 10 years of professional experience. As a young 20-something, pick the top three or four things that scream “HIRE ME I’M AWESOME” and leave the rest out. Brevity is key.
  1. Using terrible descriptions. Imagine a résumé that actually represents your skills and accomplishments? Crazy, right? Hiring managers want to know what you can do and what is unique about your skills. You have one page to bait the company into asking you for an interview. Consider describing the changes you made in your role, what you learned, how you can apply it elsewhere, the projects you worked on, and how you did it. For example, if you were an Office Assistant, listing job duties like “answered phones, retrieved office mail, supported other departments” is not helpful. It says nothing. They know what office assistants do, so don’t regurgitate job tasks to them. Better descriptions would be: “Provided excellent administrative support between departments” and “Effectively responded to all incoming calls regarding the company mission, as well as provide exceptional customer service to additional inquiries.” It gives a little oomph to your rap sheet, despite how simple your job was. It at least shows that you cared enough to phrase your words eloquently. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

Image: Startup Stock Photos

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first discovered the Scottish Fold cat Shrampton on Instagram, we couldn’t get enough of him and his twin sister, Bunni. It’s hard not to fall in love after seeing just one photo. After a few months of seeing Shrampton pop up in our Instagram feeds, we decided to reach out to the woman behind the photos, Leilani Shimoda. Leilani is not only mama to the cutest cats on Instagram, but she is also the head of the swim and intimates department at Wildfox, a vintage inspired clothing line.

As a swimwear designer, Leilani is in charge of many responsibilities. Not only is she researching, designing, and managing production, to name a few, but she also styles photo shoots and casts models. Despite hearing ‘no’ and being told to quit, Leliani worked hard and was persistent, and it paid off. As Leilani wisely noted regarding being in a tough industry such as fashion, “It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.” Read on to learn more about how Leilani views leadership, how she stays organized, and how Shrampton has changed people’s lives.

Name:​ Leilani Shimoda
Education: ​BFA in Fashion Design from Otis College of Art and Design
Follow:Portfolio / Tumblr / InstagramTwitter / Shrampton
Location: Los Angeles, California

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Leilani Shimoda: Sometimes when you’re young you get caught up in socializing and fail to realize all the resources at your disposal. In high school and college there are so many opportunities to get advice and skills from teachers and professionals. Use them. The party will always be there. Free computer programming tutorials and yoga classes won’t.

CJ: You majored in Fashion Design at Otis College of Art and Design. How did you determine what to study?

LS: I grew up with a lot of art influences ­ drawing, jewelry making, and piano. I knew I wanted to do something artistic. Fashion was a place where I could do something creative but it also served a function. I liked that combination.

CJ: You are the head of the swim and intimates department at Wildfox where you manage a team that designs swimwear, cover­ups, pajamas, intimates, bags, and accessories. We are huge Wildfox fans! What does your role as Swim and Intimates Designer entail?

LS: Thank you! I work within the overall story or theme for each season to develop pieces that will fit and help tell that story. Whether it’s cozy pajamas or sea shell bikinis, I research, sketch, design, create tech packs, source fabrics/trims, manage production, conduct fittings, cast models, style photo shoots, organize fashion shows… it’s pretty extensive.

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CJ: What does your creative process look like when working on a new line?

LS: As Wildfox is very vintage-­inspired I do a lot of shopping at flea markets, vintage stores, and on Ebay and Etsy. Paying attention to past trends and paying homage to styles that were influential is as important as creating looks from scratch. Once I know the story (Wildfox is very story-­driven) I work with the team to fit my lines into the overall vision.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

LS: Typically I meet with my team and review all pending tasks. Then I meet with the Creative Director and other Senior Designers to have a creative meeting. We’ll break for lunch and then meet with our entire team in one room and discuss everything we’re working on. A lot of important decisions are made at the meetings and then I have a bunch of emails to get back to and give approvals and relay comments to the factories.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in being a fashion designer?

LS: Work hard and be persistent. I was told time and time again that this isn’t a good field. It’s extremely competitive, the hours are relentless, trends come and go quickly, there’s no entrance exam (so you get a lot of unprofessional people in power positions). Despite all that, if you can take the punches and keep designing great fitting garments that girls covet, you will succeed. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.

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CJ: Leadership plays an important role in your job. How have you learned to lead, and what does being a good leader mean to you?

LS: The best way to lead is to be a student. For years I had a range of different bosses, creative directors and leaders guiding me. I’ve had things thrown at me and I’ve been told to quit. I read Diane von Furstenberg and Kelly Cutrone’s books. I’ve taken all the good and the bad and built my own method for leadership. Being a good leader means not letting the constant stresses impact the way you treat your team. It is never effective to belittle someone else. It’s contrary to the greater goal of building the brand and doesn’t maintain forward momentum. Working as hard as your team, the same grueling late nights, getting your hands dirty. Those all inspire confidence and help keep the work environment productive. I also love teaching my team in a fun way by taking them shopping and having us all try things on and take photos of details we like.

CJ: You are also mama to the adorable cats, Shrampton and Bunni. Shrampton’s Instagram currently has 46,000 followers. How has Shrampton and Bunni’s growing online presence changed your life?

LS: It makes me so happy when Shrampton’s followers say things like “I was having a hard day, but Shrampton’s photo made it better.” That’s what I strive to do with my designs. Making people happy is the most rewarding part.

Shramp and Bun

 

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CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date?

LS: Being part of Fashion Week in Miami is always a highlight. I like the combination of working toward a very visible goal and also meeting the other designers in a place where everyone can finally show the work they spent so much time designing/producing. The energy and temperatures are high. It’s very stressful and thrilling at the same time.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

LS: I’m a list maker. Putting all the small and large tasks in one place, then checking each thing off is not only helpful but satisfying. I believe in color­coding and post­its.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

LS: I’m constantly pulled in so many directions between work, exercise, friends, family, Shrampton. Getting to a calm, grounded place is what I’ve been focused on lately – meditation, yoga, reading, me time.

Leilani

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

LS: I usually satisfy whatever food craving I’m having but I try to balance that with exercise, which also helps.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

LS: Many Lives, Many Masters by ­Brian Weiss.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20­-year­-old self?

LS: I would give myself a pep­talk and let myself know that I’m a good designer and belonged at fashion school. That I should be confident and believe in myself because I’m great. To be patient and surround myself with what I loved and learn everything I can.

I didn’t get this kind of encouragement during my college years. That’s why I enjoy mentoring and spreading a positive message to young designers and women that wear my designs.

Leilani Shimoda Qs

Images by Leilani Shimoda

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We can’t say enough great things about Belisa Silva, the Head of Content and Communications at GLOSSYBOX. She’s smart, an excellent writer, warm, welcoming, well read, and insightful. A self-proclaimed “theater geek,” Belisa decided to pursue Journalism in college as a way to combine her natural talents and curiosity. After college, Belisa worked at a small newspaper in New Jersey, but eventually made her way to New York City to interview with Condé Nast. Having spent time as an Editorial Assistant and Editor at Beauty Inc. and Women’s Wear Daily, respectively, Belisa is now at GLOSSYBOX, a monthly beauty subscription box.

Throughout her years of experience with journalism, beauty, and fashion, Belisa has great advice to share. She’s a believer in hard work, quieting distractions, and finding your own perspective. Regardless of whether you’re into journalism or the beauty industry, Belisa’s motivating words are sure to inspire.

Name: Belisa Silva
Education: B.A. in Journalism and English, minor in Spanish from Lehigh University
Follow: @GLOSSYBOX / Glossybox.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Belisa Silva: Looking back as this someone now older and wiser, I realize how lucky you are to be young and discovering things about yourself and the world around you. It is amazing to be in that moment of your life where everything is fresh and new. You are defining the future of your life and the possibilities are endless! It seemed more scary than fun at the time, and I wish I had lived in the moment more. I also wish I would have taken on more that came my way with more zeal and positivity rather than fear.

CJ: You attended Lehigh University and majored in Journalism, English, and Spanish. How did you determine what to study?

BS: When I was in high school I was a big thespian, and I was really into theater and singing. I was Dolly in Hello, Dolly! my senior year, did the morning announcements, and I was choir president. I was your typical theater geek girl, but also very into culture, literature, and writing.

I went to college thinking I’d do musical theater. When I got there, though, it felt a little limiting. I had always been a good writer. My dad is a writer and English professor, so literature had been a part of my upbringing. I loved works like Hiawatha and The Tell-Tale Heart from a young age. In college journalism seemed really interesting to me because it was a good combination of my natural talents and my natural curiosity and affinity for getting to know people. I love to investigate things and find out an interesting backstory. It felt like an ‘aha’ moment when I declared the major, and as a journalist not a day went by that felt like work.

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CJ: What did your post-grad journey look like?

BS: When I first graduated from college, I realized writing is one of those industries that everyone wants to be a part of. It’s very saturated market and hard to break into. You have to pay your dues a lot, which I did. That meant not making a lot of money and a lot of running around doing grunt work, which I also did.

Directly after college I started working for a small newspaper in New Jersey, which was a very hands on experience. It was a tiny team and we had a lot of pages to fill every day! I had to write eight stories a week about a town that had very little going on in the way of news. To create stories I would drive around town looking for things going on, and stalk the phone book, then Google names of residents to find interesting stories. This experience really tested my creativity and I met some incredible people. In fact, the article I’m most proud of writing to this day came to fruition during my years at the paper. It was about a local girl named Maggie Doyne, who had just graduated from high school, and afterwards moved to Nepal. During her time there she witnessed a lot of poverty and saw so many children in need, so decided to open an orphanage on her own. Maggie was looking for fundraising to complete building her children’s home, and from my article she was able to get more donations and has since started a school. She is still extremely inspiring to me.

My next job took me to New York City, a place I always felt I wanted to live. A good piece of advice to share, which I learned from my first interview at Condé Nast, is how important it is to be open to saying ‘yes.’ I met with a recruiter who asked what I was interested in as far as a job. I told her fashion and beauty and would love to work for a magazine like Vogue. She then asked if I would be interested in doing something less glamorous and covering the trade side of the industry, as opposed to the consumer side. I didn’t know what that meant at all. But, I said ‘Yes, I’ll do anything, I just want to be here!” She told me later that this was a huge reason I was hired. If I had been closed off to the idea, she wouldn’t have remembered me six months afterwards when a job as an Editorial Assistant for Jenny Fine, the Editor-in-Chief of Beauty Inc, opened up.

Jenny was the biggest influence in my entire career as far as writing goes. She demanded excellence and really pushed me to be better. In my first few years I questioned my abilities, and there was a lot of hard work. I emerged from that experience able to edit my own articles, which is one of the biggest lessons in journalism. A few years later when a job became available at Condé to be a market editor, Jenny recommended me for it. Those experiences had its challenges and there was self-doubt, but ultimately it was all worth it. New York is a tough place, as is editorial, but I put in the time and the work and it paid of. Working as an editor at Women’s Wear Daily was amazing, and I worked under Pete Born, who is a true journalistic legend, not to mention the kindest boss I ever had.

When I was at Women’s Wear Daily I interviewed the president of GLOSSYBOX, Elian Pres-Gurwits. He was head of the U.S. business at the age of 26 and spoke passionately about his company and his life experiences, including living and working all over the world. I was intrigued. At this time, GLOSSYBOX had a job opening and Elian thought that I had the right personality and background, so he offered me the position. Leaving editorial was tough because I really worked hard for it. I put in almost 10 years to be an editor, but I felt that it was time to stretch myself and it was time to say ‘yes’ again to something different. I didn’t know a lot about business, and I figured it was a good opportunity to push myself, travel and learn the ins and outs of the beauty industry.

CJ: What an amazing journey. When writing an article as a journalist, what is your process from start to finish?

BS: I first start by aggregating everything I know I need for the story and I put it all in one place. Then I go through and eliminate what’s repetitive or uninteresting, and come up with an overall feeling and theme for how I want people to feel about it. For example, with the Maggie Doyne piece, I wanted to highlight how young she was, and how in a blink of an eye, made the decision to help complete strangers by opening an orphanage.

I always want to get to the root of the story. Whenever I write anything, it’s important to me that I understand it 100 percent. I don’t like writing anything I don’t completely comprehend because I know it won’t translate to the reader. I want people to feel what I felt, so I have to understand my interview subject. I’ve interviewed amazing people, and for me it’s about getting to the essence of the person. I want to provide insight from my perspective. I live by the motto, “Show don’t tell.” Create an emotional experience for the reader.

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CJ: Great advice! You are now Head of Content and Communications at GLOSSYBOX. What does your role entail?

BS: I handle all of our written assets that accompany each monthly box, as well as communications internally and public relations. I also oversee our partnerships.

In order to grow the business, I leverage existing relationships, and luckily I have a lot of relationships with people who I’ve met from the beauty industry. I try to pick a lot of people’s brains, because I know that I don’t have all of the answers. I like to ask my friends who work in various sectors for their expertise. All-in-all, I approach partnerships the way I approach journalism; aggregation and dividing and conquering. Since we have such a small team at GLOSSYBOX North America, my idea can become a new box in a matter of months. It’s such a rewarding experience.

CJ: What advice do you have for teenagers and young adults interested in working as a journalist or in the beauty industry?

BS: Be a sponge and be humble. Always listen. Model yourself after the people you want to be like. There’s a great word called propinquity, and it means that what you’re around you feed off of and become. You don’t have to be physically there, which does help, because it can also happen through your mindset. If you’re in the mindset of wanting to be a journalist and you start reading writers you admire, you’re going to get better and start writing in a more elevated way.

It’s also important to gather different perspectives so you can find your own way. You don’t want to imitate one person. When I reflect on my journalism career, I think back on a professor I had in college or a book I read or my first editor, and realize I incorporate elements of each into what I do now. Another piece of advice would be: don’t be afraid of hard work. Case-in-point, for my first internship at ABC’s 20/20 I commuted into New York City from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania three days a week, first thing in the morning on a train that took three hours. I made sure that no matter how exhausted I was from a full workload as well as an internship, I kept smile on my face and said ‘yes’ to everything I was asked. If I hadn’t been there and said ‘yes,’ I wouldn’t have had the opportunity for networking and eventually finding a job. Always remember, there’s no substitute for hard work.

Also, don’t be distracted. I can always tell if an intern is distracted, checking social media. It makes a difference when an intern is completely present. Quiet the distractions. Give 100%. Facebook will be there when you’re done with work.

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CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

BS: Self-doubt. Insecurity has always been my issue. I’m not the kind of person who thinks I’m the best. That’s just my natural thing – I’m very hard on myself. That’s something I’m working on, and I haven’t figured it out just yet and it is definitely a work in progress. Part of my role here means being confident and trusting myself. Sometimes I might overthink and over-analyze, and this is something that can make corporate growth more difficult. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own unique perspective and special qualities, which make them an asset.

CJ: What are your favorite books?

BS: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Awareness by Anthony De Mello, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about?

BS: One thing recently that I’ve been reading about that makes me angry is disrespect for women. I’m such a supporter of women and hate seeing when they are marginalized. Another thing that gets under my skin is prejudice and blind hate. People you can’t reason with and people who twist religion to support hate – that drives me crazy.

I’m also hugely into animals. I have a cat at home who I found on the street. She was two weeks old when I found her and she was in really bad shape. I was on my way to Fashion Week and I saw her – she looked like a dirty little rat. I took her to an animal hospital on my way to a fashion show, picked her up after, and I’ve had her ever since! I honestly love all animals and often times wish I could open a farm and adopt every unwanted dog and cat in the world.

CJ: What is a memorable travel experience that you’ve had?

BS: When I first got hired at GLOSSYBOX I went to Berlin to meet the whole team. I spent a few days after by myself exploring the city. It was actually really cool to travel somewhere by myself. I wrote down everything I saw. As amazing as it was I felt a bit isolated because I didn’t know anyone in the country. Traveling solo was something I’ve never done. I decided to spend ta full day exploring and found myself at the Pergamon Museum that has unbelievable relics from antiquity, including the Pergamon Altar, a massive frieze built during the 2nd century BC. I came alive that day at the museum. The rest of the trip was amazing, and it was because I allowed myself to enjoy the moment rather than be stressed.

CJ: Any travel tips?

BS: I created a book that I took on every spring break and all vacations with my friends. I traveled with the same friends for college spring break all four years. We wrote down all the funny things we said and did, and now it’s this epic book with all these different time periods. All of the hilarity is captured in this book and nothing is forgotten.

CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

BS: I have a creative brain so organization and time management don’t come naturally. I have to proactively work on it. I used to just write notes on everything, and would have post its everywhere with random notes to myself. I’ve learned to compile where I keep my notes and calendar so everything is in once place.

As far as time management, I think of the day in blocks. The morning is a time to connect with the team in Germany. After lunch I do my follow-up calls, and then late afternoon is my creative time for partnership outreach. Overall there are certain things I know I have to do, but I put it in my schedule at a time when I know I can get it cranked out. I manage my time based on what’s logical and then frame my day around when the best time to do what is. I have to force myself to organize. I’m a creature of chaos.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

BS: First of all, start a skin care regimen. Also, I would tell myself to lighten up a little and that things that seem like huge deals now have a way of working out in the end. I spent a lot of my twenties very stressed about where I was going to be in life and what I was going to do. It would’ve been nice to trust in myself more and realize even if something goes wrong, there is always something to learn from it.

I also wish I would’ve studied abroad during college. I started a magazine and worked on the newspaper and was part of choir, and I felt like I had so much to do. I could’ve put it aside and done one less major or minor. The experience would have been more worth it. I now realize the power of travel and seeing new cultures and wish I could have experienced it when I was younger. I was a little overambitious in some ways and a little afraid in other ways.

Belisa Silva Qs

Images by Belisa Silva

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Entrepreneur, baker, author, and cupcake lover are just some of the words used to describe Trophy Cupcakes founder Jennifer Shea. Jennifer had always loved cooking and baking, but it wasn’t until she saw a cupcake shop in New York City that she realized what she wanted to do. When she went on tour with a rock band doing marketing and promotions, she used that time to also test out different candy shops and bakeries around the U.S. and Europe.

Now, Trophy Cupcakes has four locations in Washington state. Jennifer has also written a cupcake cookbook and appeared on Martha Stewart – amazing! Even with all her success, Jennifer continues to be hardworking, kind, and generous with her time. It was incredible to discuss with Jennifer how she got to where she is today, challenges she faced along the way, and what it means to be a leader.

Name: Jennifer Shea
Education: BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University
Follow: @trophycupcakes / Instagram / Facebook / Trophy Cupcakes

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Jennifer Shea: It’s about identifying your dreams, your bliss, and really focusing on what you’re passionate about. It’s also about taking steps to make your dreams happen. The people who realize their dreams are the ones who put one foot in front of the other and just do it. Even if your dreams or goals seem out of reach, just start talking to people about how to accomplish them. You’ll be amazed how the pieces will start to come together.

CJ: You majored in Nutrition and Dietetics at Bastyr University. How did you determine what to study?

JS: I’ve always loved food (who doesn’t), especially cooking and baking. But I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do right out of high school. I was already interested in nutrition because I was a vegetarian at the time. But, because I couldn’t put my finger on what my passion was or what my career was going to be, I landed on nutrition by accident at a job fair. I came across Bastyr University’s booth and saw that they had a whole foods nutrition program, which sounded fascinating. I decided to just go for it.

CJ: You spent some time touring with a rock band doing marketing and promotions after college. What was that experience like and what did you learn from it?

JS: It was a really exciting time, but super hard, too, because it’s rough to live out of a suitcase day in and day out. I was glad I’d majored in nutrition, but I wasn’t seeing myself in that profession in a typical capacity. I happened to meet and date a guy soon after passing my boards and he asked me if I wanted to go on tour and sell T-shirts. To the horror of my mother, I said yes.

I’d worked really hard in school and had a full time job, so I needed a break and touring sounded like a dream come true. I also didn’t want to be the girlfriend stuck at home while her boyfriend was on tour doing who knows what. So, I basically created a position for myself in the band. I eventually called myself their Merchandise Manager and I figured out how to help make sure the band got all of the profits. I really got into figuring out what made their fans tick and what kind of merchandise they would love.

I introduced a whole line of pillowcases with song lyrics going across the cases and badges that were exclusive to each tour so as you went to more shows you could collect the different patches. I had a lot of fun with it, and it taught me a lot about merchandising and presentation. It was a good first experience with having my own little business.

CJ: You opened Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle in 2007. What inspired you to open a cupcake shop, and what does your role as founder entail?

JS: I first saw a cupcake shop while visiting NYC and I instantly knew it was what I wanted to do. My life flashed before my eyes. I realized that I’d been complaining that I didn’t know what my passion was, yet I baked all the time. I didn’t know that I could turn my hobby into a career. Touring was a great way to do research because I visited so many candy shops and patisseries in the U.S. and Europe. I took mental notes about architecture, design and perfect little details I saw.

My role as founder has changed a lot over the years and it’s always morphing. In the beginning, I did everything—from baking the cupcakes, to opening the register, to training and managing employees, to doing payroll, to coming up with new flavors and marketing. When you’re a small business, you have to do it all yourself. I should’ve just slept in my shop, really. I would get there at 4am and leave at 9pm. As we started to grow, I was able to bring in more experts.

Right now I focus on marketing, social media and innovation. I’m also our brand ambassador, making sure that we are living up to our brand promise and that my team understands what that is. I also act as the face of the company. I do several speaking gigs each year about how I got started. I also teach classes in my shops and online through Craftsy.com. I also wrote a book, which took a lot of my time, but was totally worth it.

CJ: In your role as founder, leadership is important. How have you learned to lead and what does it meant to be a leader?

JS: That has probably been the most challenging part of having a company. I haven’t always been a good leader and work really hard at it now. I think being a good leader means understanding how differently people work. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has a different way of getting motivated and inspired. You have to really listen…really see people. If you can take the time to see what makes people tick, you will have a much easier time inspiring them and leading them to represent your company the way that you want.

On another level, I try to inspire others to do something amazing with their lives beyond Trophy. I like telling people my story because I didn’t come from a background where I had parents who pushed me toward business. I didn’t have money or experience that would have made you guess I could do this. I really just followed my dreams and figured it out along the way. The more I believed I could do it, the more the doors to success just kept opening right in front of me.

CJ: What have been the greatest challenges in running your company, and what do you wish you had known before opening your shop?

JS: Entrepreneurs have to be naive because if they knew how hard it was before they started, they wouldn’t do it. I always say that entrepreneurs succeed because they don’t know any better.  I didn’t know anything when I started. I had taken some business courses as part of my registered dietician training, but I didn’t have any experience with the business of baking.

I wish I’d known there are so many people out there willing to help you and you don’t have to do it all by yourself. I have that type of personality where I think I have to do everything myself, but I learned that it’s okay to ask for help and that there are all kinds of women/young entrepreneur groups in just about every area that can be super helpful. I also wish I had asked someone to be my mentor earlier on, so that he or she could give me pep talks. I recommend finding a support system—a group or person—that can help you with business-specific problems along the way.

The thing I wasn’t expecting was for me to stop baking. I thought I was always going to be the one baking the cupcakes, but the more I learned about business, the more I realized that when you run a business there’s a point where you have to be steering the ship and looking at the big picture. If I was in the kitchen for 8-10 hours per day, I wouldn’t be able to determine our next move.

CJ: Almost a year ago you published your first book, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties. We love that your book not only provides recipes, but also party how-to’s. What was your book writing process like?

JS: The publisher came to me and asked if I wanted to write a cookbook. That sounded exciting right off the bat but I knew the cupcake cookbook world was already saturated. (I have so many of them myself!) I said I loved the idea of writing a book, but in order for it to be marketable it needed to have more than just recipes. I wanted to help people learn how to plan parties. I also wanted to appeal to more than just bakers.

Little did I know this book would be 10 times as much work as a cookbook. Every single cupcake recipe includes party ideas and a craft, plus suggestions for décor, drinks, and food. Writing all of that content and then photographing it was challenging. But I love the way it turned out. I tried not to do anything that would be dated; I wanted everything to be classic so the book would always be relevant.

Touring with the book through Williams Sonoma stores was super fun and I love that I now have fans across the country and beyond!

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to have their own bakery and run their own business do now to set themselves up for success?

JS: Believe you can accomplish your dreams, then know that believing is half the battle, doing is the rest. Also, embrace your fear! Everyone is scared. The key is to know that fear is a part of the process and not be paralyzed by it. This mentality is not necessarily easy if you weren’t raised that way. I started reading books about manifesting and having an abundant state of mind, and that really changed my life. I also started doing guided meditations focused on love, success and manifesting…amazing! I would also recommend traveling and going out of your way to meet people who are inspirational to you. You can meet almost anyone if you come from an authentic place, and you’re not pushy. Most people are happy to help you or answer questions. Sometimes even brief encounters can really end up paving a road for you.

I believe in synchronicity and that if you’re following your dreams, the universe will end up putting things in your path that will help you down the road. Be adventurous and put yourself out there even if you don’t know where you’re going. I didn’t necessarily know where I was going. If I hadn’t gone on tour (and horrified my mother), Trophy may not exist today.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like? How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

JS: Every day is a little different, depending on what projects I’m working on. And as an owner, you have to wear lots of hats. But usually, I wake up early and meditate (this sets the tone for my day), then I get my son ready for school. My workday starts with checking in with the bakery, which is the heart of our business. I really like knowing first thing in the morning that the bake has gone well and that everything in our stores is “Trophy-quality.” I try to visit each shop and I check in with our general manager, work on social media, and talk to employees working on different projects. I may do a talk for a local Girl Scouts or entrepreneurs group. Or, I may have back-to-back meetings about a million different things. My goal is to get to a point where I make sure to do something for myself each day beyond meditating.

Balance…it’s super tricky. If you are super passionate about what you’re doing, it’s very easy to lose site of family, friends and even yourself. I have learned that it’s very important to take time out of your business path for self-care. If you are not well rested, taking the time to recharge (through exercise, spending time with family or reading a good book), you will eventually crash and burn. You cannot be a good boss, entrepreneur, friend, (fill in the blank) if you don’t make time for yourself to recharge each day.

I stay organized through using tools like Basecamp — it keeps all of my to-do lists in one place. I also use my calendar religiously so that I don’t overbook or forget meetings. I also try to never schedule meetings for Mondays. That gives me an entire day to plan my week and tie up any loose ends from the previous week.

CJ: You have had many amazing career moments in such a short period of time, such as being featured in Vanity Fair magazine, appearing on The Martha Stewart show, and releasing your first book. What other goals do you have for Trophy?

JS: My goal is to continue figuring out how to make Trophy a relevant and inspiring business to the community and to myself. What we do is about so much more than cupcakes. We sell little pieces of happiness and people feel emotionally invested in it. I’ve seen people eating Trophy cupcakes on their first date. I’ve also seen people serve Trophy cupcakes at their wedding, and then again at their baby shower.

The best businesses stay fluid and I think there always has to be a fresh idea and a new outlook for what Trophy is giving to everyone. That’s what I stay focused on. I also really want to open something that’s exciting with more offerings and where people can have more celebrations.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

JS: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

CJ: If you could enjoy an afternoon eating cupcakes with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what kind of cupcake would you bake?

JS: My dad. He passed away when I was a baby, so getting to spend an afternoon with him would be a dream come true. I would create an angel food cupcake with chocolate whipped cream filling for him. It was his favorite type of cake that my grandma used to make him.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

JS: I would tell my 20-year-old-self to believe in me, and the power of the universe. It took a lot of years before I believed that I really could do anything. I spent a lot of years flailing and not really seeing that I had a passion. Who knew that your hobby, what you love to do most, could be your career?! I’d tell me, “Just get out there make your dreams happen!”

Jennifer Shea Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

Skills

Their are many mistake’s you can make, but not all of which you’ll have the chance too make up for.

If that sentence didn’t make you cringe or shake your head, please keep reading. Poor grammar and spelling are both disappointing and alarming when we look at how prevalent they are. Ever go through comments on a blog post and read a perfectly insightful opinion, but it was perfectly botched with errors? It’s frightening. To casually communicate through text can be relatively inconsequential – skipping your commas won’t rock the boat when texting mom. But some errors have bigger implications, and are worsened when used in professional or educational settings.

Getting into such habits as failing to (or deliberately choosing not to) distinguish the difference between there, they’re, and their or incorrectly using plural possessives (cats’, cat’s, cats) can have repercussions. Here are my top three reasons why you should never make these mistakes again:

1. It gives the impression that you are not attentive to detail.

So you’re typing away and happen to put the apostrophe in the wrong place, or you use your when you meant to type you’re, and you think to yourself  “whatever, they know what I meant.” Sure, the reader knows what you meant, but you risk them wondering what other types of small mistakes you make. When you’re just starting out in your career and earning your stripes, getting it right is non-negotiable.

What to do:

Simply take a second glance at your email. If you’re unsure about a word or phrase, Google it or have a coworker take a look. For extra cookie points, ask your boss’s opinion. They’ll appreciate your effort and can make other suggestions for improvement.

2. It makes you sound, well, not smart.

Whether you’re the CEO, the director, or just starting out as an entry-level associate, the last thing you want is have others assume you don’t know your literary basics (because you do!). You want to be seen as a valuable contributor to your team, and your brilliant suggestions and ideas can be doubted if your emails are flooded with poor grammar and typos. It could discredit you as a source of knowledge and even cause a misunderstanding (you meant to mention your college degree, not your collage degree!).

What to do:

When expressing your ideas, be as clear and concise as humanly possible. State the objective, the procedure (if applicable), and the anticipated outcome. For efficiency, preempt possible questions and include the answers. It’s not a 10-page essay for creative writing, so don’t be afraid to use bullet points. To conclude your email, add “please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.” It shows your willingness to further help explain details as needed.

3. It could cost you a job interview.

Mark Manson (one of my favorite bloggers) refers to grammar mistakes as “basic errors.” In job applications, this faux-pas gets people thrown in the “instant deletion” pile. While he admits to extend some leniency with those who aren’t in the business of writing/editing (such as digital artists), I still personally believe there’s no excuse to mess them up anyway.

What to do:

Proofread! Proofread it a million times, and then have your friend, mom, dad, neighbor, and dog proofread it. You want to have multiple sources to give you the maximum amount of feedback. Make adjustments until it’s perfect.

There you have it! As a warning, beware of those subtle errors that aren’t always staring you right in the face. We’re all guilty of missing the mark at one point or another, but it’s important to try and correct it whenever possible.  As millennials, we are, after all, the most educated generation in history.

Image: Stewart Black

HealthProfessional SpotlightSpotlight

After experiencing the magic of rehabilitation in high school, Vikash Sharma decided to pursue a major in Exercise Sports Science. Vikash went through many years of schooling and a residence experience that ultimately led him to open up his own physical therapy practice, Perfect Stride. As a runner, Vikash has first-hand experience with what his patients are going through, and he and his team work hard to help their patients fully recover.

Vikash gave Carpe Juvenis an exclusive look into his business, his top running tips for preventing injury, and why meditation and exercise are the keys to maintaining his happiness.

Name: Vikash Sharma
Education: Major in Exercise Sports Therapy and Minor in Philosophy from Elon University; Doctor of Physical Therapy from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences; Orthopaedic Residency at Temple University
Follow: Perfect Stride Physical Therapy / @PerfectStridePT

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Vikash Sharma: Seizing your youth is about taking risks and understanding that there is plenty of time to learn, grow, and recover. As you begin to move further into your life, these opportunities to take risks diminish as responsibilities and commitments take priority.

CJ: You majored in Exercise Sports Science and minored in Philosophy from Elon University. How did you decide what to major and minor in? 

VS: My decision to major in Exercise Sports Science came due to the fact that it was the degree that would allow me to fulfill the most pre-requisites for Physical Therapy School. It was a decision that I had made fairly early in my undergraduate career due to the numerous hours that I had spent rehabilitating various injuries in high school. I just loved the casual atmosphere and positive interactions that I had with my Physical Therapist (PT). It always remained in my mind as a career option.

My minor came as a result of wanting to delve into something that I didn’t have much prior experience with. After I took a few classes, I couldn’t stop. It made me think differently and opened up my mind to looking at the world in a new light.

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CJ: You also received your Doctor of Physical Therapy from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. What inspired you to go back to school to receive this degree?

VS: It was something I had known that I wanted to do since selecting my major in undergraduate. Working with my PT in high school and seeing how they were able to spend quality time with each of their patients and really unravel the mystery that is each and every person’s body sparked an early interest in me.

CJ: You were an Orthopaedic Resident at Temple University. What were your experiences as a Resident like?

VS: They were amazing; coming out of my doctoral program I had a great scientific and theoretical understanding of what should happen. However, as we all know, that’s not how things always happen. This is where the residency experience was extremely helpful. It bridged the gap between being a novice clinician without any direction and guidance and being a skilled practitioner who is able to recognize various patterns and draw upon clinical experience.

CJ: You co-founded your own physical therapy practice, Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. What does your role as physical therapist entail, and how do you balance those duties with your role as co-owner?

VS: My role as physical therapist entails working with my patients to help them return to their optimal level of function; essentially get them moving as well as they possibly can. I do this through careful assessment of each individual’s unique body structure and ability to move. Based on these findings a plan of care specific to that individual’s need is developed.

These duties as a physical therapist are balanced with my duties as a co-owner through very careful planning and execution with my team at Perfect Stride. We all work very well together towards ensuring that our clinic remains at the forefront of physical therapy practice and is running efficiently. My business partner Daniel Park, our office manager Austin Shurina, and our Director of Operations and physical therapist Joseph Lavacca are all to thank for the success of Perfect Stride.

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CJ: You specialize in sports rehabilitation. Why is this topic of interest to you?

VS: As a youth I spent a great deal of time participating in a number of sports and with this love for sport came injury upon injury. Spending time in physical therapy for sports rehabilitation piqued my interest in this specialty early. I was always fascinated with the human body and how it is able to heal from injury and bio-mechanics.

CJ: What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned in opening your own physical therapy practice?

VS: As cliché as it sounds, you have to be willing to take the risk to make your dreams come true. I have always known that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and open my own business. However, moving outside of your comfort zone and taking a risk on something that isn’t guaranteed takes a lot of passion and dedication. Looking back, I can say that it has been one of the best risks that I have taken in my life thus far. It has opened countless doors for me and also changed my personality for the positive as I am much more confident stepping outside of my comfort zone.

I have also learned that you have to be a salesman, you have to always be looking for opportunities to further yourself and your business because they arise with each and every interaction that you have.

CJ: You have been an avid runner for most of your life. For those who are interested in running and preventing injury, what tips do you have?

VS: Most of the running injuries that I see walk through my door are a result of not allowing the body to adapt to the loads that are put on it (doing too much too quickly). The body has an amazing capacity to heal stronger than before. However, many people are too eager to get running and don’t acclimate their body to the loads and stresses appropriately.

Cross training also comes along with this adaptation process. By properly training your tissues under loads similar to or greater than what running demands on the body (forces up to 2.5 times that of ones own body weight), you are conditioning your tissues for success. Coupled with a proper nutrition plan, training schedule, recovery plan (the most underrated aspect of training in my opinion), and equipment, you are laying all of the groundwork to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success and avoiding a trip to see me for a running related injury!

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CJ: What is your favorite running shoe?

VS: Saucony Kinvara – I love the heel to toe drop and feel of these shoes.

CJ: What is your favorite running warm-up?

VS: I have a few depending on the situation but I like this one presented by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella.

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

VS: Before I even get the chance to step out of bed I am usually responding to emails and planning the day. My mornings are usually a mix of breakfast, making phone calls, working out, running errands, answering more emails, and getting into work.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a physical therapist do now to set him or herself up for success?

VS: I would highly suggest gaining some experience as a PT aide or getting some observation hours under your belt at an early age. I would also recommend looking at particular schools’ pre-requisites for admission as they can vary from school to school. Make sure that you are covering all the necessary courses during your undergraduate studies.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

VS: In terms of professional resources, there definitely isn’t just one. I can’t stress the importance of communication and consultation with my peers. Getting a better idea of how others think and gaining perspective on the bigger picture has allowed for me to grow infinitely as a practitioner. This, along with getting my hands on any text or web-based resources that are evidence-based, have gone a long way in my growth as a practitioner.

CJ: When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to reset?

VS: Meditation and exercise are the keys to maintaining my happiness. My meditation practice is mainly based around focusing on and controlling my breathing. I have had some formal training in Buddhist meditation; however, my practice comes largely from what I have found to personally work best for me over the years. I have always found that getting in a strenuous bout of exercise is a great physical and mental reset; it makes me feel more alert, increases my energy levels, and most importantly gets my body moving!

Perfect Stride 2 -2

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

VS: Personally – I am always looking to be decrease stress in my life and this is something that I heavily rely on my meditation practice to help me with, in addition to remaining physically active.

Professionally – Currently my focus is on learning more about what I can do to get all of my patients moving and feeling better than they ever have. This is done through taking continuing education courses (that we also host at Perfect Stride) and reading as much as I can possibly get my hands on.

Another big goal professionally is growing Perfect Stride Physical Therapy to better service the needs of our patients. This is accomplished through patient feedback and careful planning and trouble shooting with the rest of the team.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

VS: I would tell my 20-year-old self that failure is an option, failure is acceptable, and that failure is welcomed with open arms just as long as it is learned from. There have been countless instances where my fear of failure has stopped me from doing what I wanted in my youth and now looking back on those instances I can say if I had taken the risk I would have either succeeded and/or learned a great deal from whatever endeavor I pursued.

Vikash Sharma Qs

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When it comes to leadership role models, Doris Daif is someone we look up to. As Head of American Express Digital Customer Experience, Doris gets to know the people she works with both personally and professionally. She also believes in flexibility and balance. Having studied marketing in college, Doris interned at Revlon and ended up working there after undergrad. After working at Revlon, Doris decided to continue her education and enrolled in Stern School of Business at New York University to earn her MBA. Now at American Express, Doris leads a team of over 130 people.

Throughout our interview, Doris emphasized the importance of passion, hard work, and finding mentors. We not only found Doris to be motivating and empowering, but what she shared resonated with us deeply. When it comes to her advice about living more in the moment and not being so prescriptive, we couldn’t agree with Doris more. Read on to find out how Doris thinks young people can demonstrate confidence and poise, what her daily duties involve, and how she unwinds from an occasionally overwhelming schedule.

Name: Doris Daif
Education: Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Rutgers University; Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Finance from New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Follow: @ddsethi

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Doris Daif: Seizing your youth means living in the moment and not apologizing or feeling that you should be doing something other than you’re doing at that very moment. At least for me, that’s come as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger there was a lot of “shoulda coulda woulda” mentality around wondering if I was keeping up with what other people were doing or feeling like I was missing out on something. Seizing your youth is about feeling passionate and excited about what you’re doing at that time, knowing that it’s the right thing for you, and feeling comfortable in your own skin.

CJ: You majored in Marketing at Rutgers University. How did you determine what to study?

DD: I didn’t have a great plan when I was in undergrad in terms of what I wanted to do. My parents were both very academic and have master’s degrees, and they both wanted me to be in a stable job that earned money. I was in school in the early 90s and there was a lot of pressure around getting jobs post-graduation. It was a very tough time.

Before I went to Rutgers I thought about going to Carnegie Mellon and studying engineering. I ultimately decided to go to a state school. I may have headed toward marketing because I wanted to study something in business, and I knew I didn’t want something accounting and finance-related. Marketing really wasn’t planned at that point in my life but I knew it would give me the most options.

CJ: What did you do once you graduated from college?

DD: I was interning at Revlon when I was at Rutgers. I helped the chemists in R&D test their products on customers. It was awesome! All these women would come in to test out everything from shampoo to lipstick, and I really started to love the interaction with customers and thinking about what made them tick.

When I graduated from Rutgers, it was a difficult time economically. A lot of jobs available for undergrads with marketing degrees were sales jobs. I ultimately decided to go back to Revlon in a sales role. Going back to what I was saying about seizing your youth, it was not a typical job to start at with an undergraduate degree, so it was a risk but I loved the work and the people. After a few years, I turned the job into a full-blown marketing research opportunity and moved to the headquarters in New York City. I had the opportunity to work under really seasoned market research people where I could take what I learned in the R&D labs and translate it into more qualitative and quantitative market research at Revlon.

It was while I was at Revlon in NYC that I realized that I wanted to go back to graduate school and continue my education. I didn’t want to go back full time, though, so I applied for a part-time MBA program at the Stern School of Business at New York University. Then there was an opportunity that presented itself at Colgate Palmolive, and I got a call from them for a similar role where I would be working on much larger brands and doing more business analytics. That’s really what led me to leave the position at Revlon and go to Colgate.

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CJ: You are currently the Head of American Express Digital Customer Experience. What does that mean and what does your role entail?

DD: I lead a team of 130 folks located in New York and in the United Kingdom. We have responsibilities for making sure that when customers have a digital experience with us – whether they come onto our website or get an email or a text message – that we’re not only meeting their needs but that we’re delighting them.

We think about features that customers want to see, but we also actually listen to the voice of the customer. We have an internal design team that will sit down with customers and prototype and design with them. When we have a design that we think is really good, we figure out ways to put it into market and test it. It’s a really active place to work and there are no two days that look alike. I work with a really passionate group of people who are excited about what they do. The team ranges from data people to designers to operations people to product developers. There are some people who are in charge of the site or content management or personalization. We all work together to give the customer a great experience.

CJ: In an interview with theglasshammer.com, you noted that “confidence and poise are two of your greatest assets.” How can young people demonstrate confidence and poise?

DD: I’m so passionate about this topic because I didn’t have either of those growing up. I was a very shy, introverted kid. I didn’t fit into a natural clique, so to speak. What’s important to remember is to not put people in a box. People can be in many boxes or not in a box at all, and that is okay. The right kind of reinforcement is important for kids at a young age. Being able to celebrate not just the clear successes but also the effort is very important. You don’t just try once and get something; you have to develop the ability to come back repeatedly. You also have to learn how to step away. Take time to immerse yourself in why something failed, but then get up and try it again the next morning. We’re in a culture of wanting things to happen immediately, but that’s just not reality.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in working in the digital space with customer experience?

DD: During those first five to seven years, you want to work your tail off. You want to create great work that is meaningful and has high integrity. Go into something where you’re going to be happy putting in the extra hours.

Surround yourself with people you want to be like. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a couple of early leaders and mentors who I observed. I watched them in action and saw their mistakes and what they did right. To a certain extent, they turned into advocates for me.

Also, you can’t fake it. Early on in my career I had a very false idea that I’d get one position and do it for two years, and then I’d get promoted and do that for two years. It’s not all that prescriptive, but the common ingredient is passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it’s way too much time and way too forced to amount to anything. Younger people get caught up in what they should be doing, but this comes back to haunt you later. Knowing that you’re passionate about something allows doors to open that you wouldn’t have expected.

CJ: Finding that passion when you’re young can be difficult. In your experience, how do you think young people can find their passion?

DD: There’s not a magic bullet with this one. Passion can ebb and flow for different things throughout your life. Some of it is not being so prescriptive. If you’re overly sensitive to finding your passion and figuring out a plan, it can get really stressful. I’ve been caught up in that! You learn as you go.

Having great mentors and leaders who have been honest about what I do well and what I don’t do well has helped me figure out what I am interested in. Family does this very well – they will put a mirror up and tell you what you do well and what you don’t. Be receptive to this feedback and ask questions. Sometimes we have a very self-centered view of ourselves. I tap my team a lot to tell me what I can improve upon. What would my biggest fan say and what would my worst critic say?

CJ: You mentioned that you didn’t really fit in with any certain “clique” in high school. It can be hard thinking you don’t belong to a certain group. How did you navigate that when you were younger?

DD: Not well. I latched on to academics. I really worked my tail off. If I had to be 98% prepared, that should have been good enough, but at the time I was so insecure about myself that I would do whatever it took to get to 110% preparation. Looking back, that’s not a bad thing. I’ve been told that I am extremely hungry for the next thing, and I think that resilience comes from the feeling of wanting to excel. The flip side is always having that insecurity of having to do 110% which is not always a good thing.

For me, I love American Express because some of my most formidable years have been at this company. I came in at an entry level job and now I’m running a large team. I appreciate that I work for a company that has put a lot of confidence in me, which helped me build my confidence.

We as a company talk about diversity a lot, which is important. Diversity in terms of the products we offer and the kinds of customers we want to attract. Therefore, your employee base needs to be diverse to reflect that. I’m first-generation American, and both of my parents are from Egypt. There weren’t a lot of other Egyptians walking around in the schools I was in. I don’t know how much that contributed, but I definitely always felt like a fish out of water and that I had to try harder to integrate with any given group of people.

CJ: Leadership plays an important role in your job. How have you learned to lead and how do you bring the community together?

DD: I always make an effort to get to know the people who work for me, both on a personal level and professional level. I think that’s really important. I don’t just get to know my direct reports, but I like to dig in and have deep relationships with all of my people. I like to do it in an approachable style, even if it’s not in-person; using instant messaging is great.

The second is giving people flexibility. Everybody has different needs in terms of what’s going on in their personal and professional lives. One thing I’m extremely passionate about is seeing women advance. Women in particular need that flexibility as children come into the equation.

We afford people the ability to have a full life. I feel like people’s best ideas come when they’re out living their lives and they’re outside doing other things. I try to ensure that people are balanced.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

DD: There are two areas. When you rise in an organization, you spend a lot of time removing roadblocks for your team. One thing I’ve become aware of is not losing my technical skills, so I’ve been doing a lot in the area of digital technology.

The second is doing even more to figure out how to collaborate with people across different lines of business in the company – that’s a lot more fruitful. A lot of times, rather than going to people when you’re in crisis mode, it should be about how you can help them. This notion of “giving to get” is an important thing to understand, especially for youth. When you’re a millennial, there can be a focus on yourself and how you can get ahead. It’s amazing how much can get sent back to you when you’re outwardly facing and helping other people. When I get stressed out and so focused on my issue, I figure out how to call someone and help somebody with his or her problem. As an old Revlon mentor would tell me, “you get more bees with honey versus vinegar.”

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

DD: I value balance but for me that balance doesn’t mean I cut off work when I leave the building or vice versa. I self-regulate. There are times when I know work will be busier than other times, but there are other times when I end my day on time and go exercise. I make an effort to be more active. Meditation is something I’ve been wanting to try. I try to maintain connections with people who I’ve come across in my professional life. I enjoy going out to eat a lot. I enjoy reading.

CJ: What is your favorite book? 

DD: The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz.

CJ: What is a book you’ve read this year? 

DD: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

DD: I would have carried myself with greater poise and confidence. I also would have had more fun and not been so paranoid about what the next thing was going to be. I’d try to live more in the moment and not be so prescriptive. I’d also try not to be as introverted. There are people who are naturally introverts, but I was holding back on a lot of things that were in my head that I thought that no one wanted to hear or weren’t valuable enough to be said or done.

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Images by Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As young professional women, we have read more Levo League articles than we can count and have watched all of the Office Hours videos. While watching Office Hours, which is a series of conversations with extraordinary leaders, we were fascinated not only with those being interviewed, but the woman doing most of the interviewing. Freyan Billimoria is the host of Office Hours and the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Levo League, and we had the pleasure of interviewing her for a Professional Spotlight.

Freyan has worked in luxury marketing, managed donor relations at Teach for America, and has been the Director of Development at The White House Project. Freyan now spends her time managing partnerships, engaging influencers and leaders, and producing and hosting Office Hours at Levo League. Freyan’s ambition, organization, and work ethic are truly inspiring. Read on to learn more about how Freyan has learned to be a leader, what a day in her busy life looks like, and her latest favorite books!

Name: Freyan Billimoria
Education: B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and English Minor from University of California, Berkeley
Follow: Levo.com / Twitter: @freyanfb / Instagram: @freyanfb

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Freyan Billimoria: Exploring your world, trying new things, and learning every day.

CJ: You created your own interdisciplinary major focused on globalization with a minor in English for your undergraduate degree. How did you determine what to study and why create your own major?

FB: I entered Berkeley interested in the impact of globalization, but every time I took a course – whether in political economics or development studies or English – I felt like I was missing a part of the story. In order to understand the full picture, I thought it was important to draw upon many disciplines. Plus, I always got to take classes I was passionate about!

CJ: You are the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Levo League. You also host and head production of the video series, Office Hours. What do your roles entail and what skills do your roles require?

FB: My role at Levo is a total mix of things – true startup style! I manage partnerships with corporate clients, from startups to Fortune 500s; help engage leaders and influencers as they get to know Levo; and produce and host interviews with folks like Natalie Morales and Ariel Foxman for Office Hours. This entails a lot of relationship management, the ability to oversee multiple projects, communication skills, a clear head under pressure, and a healthy dose of caffeine.

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CJ: You’ve done many interesting things throughout your career such as organizing concerts in college, luxury marketing, managing donor relations at Teach for America, and being the Director of Development at The White House Project. What have you learned from these experiences and how have they influenced you with your current job?

FB: The importance of working meaningfully with people has been a huge thread throughout every role I’ve had. I’ve really learned the power of forming authentic relationships rather than operating transactionally. This mentality has been hugely helpful whether rallying community support for expansion, raising funds, navigating internal teams, or interviewing experts.

CJ: One aspect of your job entails producing events. What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in event planning?

FB: Event planning is one of my favorite activities, both in my personal and professional life! I think it’s vital that you have the ability to think strategically about the big picture – What is the purpose of the event? What do you want people to get out of it? How should they feel? – and to get incredibly micro when it comes to the details. And, of course, never underestimate the power of feeding people!

CJ: In your various roles, leadership has been important. How have you learned to lead and what does it mean to be a leader?

FB: I think leadership is always an evolution: no one is born a leader, and no one is ever finished with the process. I see it as the ability to move other people to collectively work towards an objective, especially in the face of uncertainty and changing conditions.

CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date?

FB: My second role at Teach For America was working on a growth strategy team helping to launch new sites. The opportunity to deeply understand communities in places like Ohio, South Carolina, and Appalachia was incredibly exciting and rewarding. To say no two days were alike is an understatement – no two hours were alike! We developed relationships, formed partnerships with school districts and universities, raised funds, and changed laws – sometimes all in the same day!

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CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

FB: An average Monday starts with a quick breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts and dried cherries while powering through the news, emails… and, let’s be honest, my horoscope. Then it’s out the door I go. Once in our Union Square office, I set myself up with a cup of tea and dive in.

Mondays are chock full of meetings with our entire team, the editorial team, and occasionally the sales team. In between, I’m speaking with clients, working with our content team to plan for upcoming features, orchestrating future video shoots, navigating corporate requests, and wading my way through emails. In the evening, I head back to Brooklyn, where my partner and I convince ourselves to do a quick workout with varying degrees of success, and then give up and pour ourselves a glass of wine, sit down to dinner (favorites at the moment are homemade mushroom ramen and roasted eggplant with couscous and harissa), often with a friend dropping by. As it gets late, I close out a bit of work, take an old-lady constitutional around the neighborhood, and then it’s five minutes of (incredibly low-level) yoga before reading in bed.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

FB: I’m obsessed with email organization and my Google calendar. The only things that remain in my inbox are open items that require action – everything else is filed, whether it goes under a client’s name, or strategic planning.

My calendar is my baby – I believe in including everything you need time to do, from meetings and personal appointment to reminders and general “work time.” I color code so at a glance I have a sense of where my energy will go throughout the day.

CJ: What are your favorite books?

FB: So many! Latest favorites include Americanah, The Paying Guests, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and at long last, I finally read the entire Harry Potter series… and am so ready to start over again!

CJ: Any favorite news publications?

FB: The Week, The Daily Beast, NY Times, The New Yorker, NY Mag, and in very serious food news: Bon Appetit and Cherry Bombe.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

FB: Learning to say no! At Levo, we’re lucky enough to have a lot of opportunities come our way, and part of my role is knowing how to graciously decline when the match or timing isn’t right. The same is true in my personal life – I’m learning to say a big YES to things that excite me, and a guiltless no when I find them draining.

CJ: What is a cause or issue that you care about and why?

FB: Ensuring women have opportunities to succeed is close to my heart. At Levo, we’re working to offer women the connections and resources they need to build careers and lives they’re passionate about – in turn, creating happier, healthier outcome for all of us.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

FB: Some combination of walking around the neighborhood, shaking up a cocktail, planning an amazing Friday, and sleeping a whole bunch usually does the trick. The key is to get out of your head and remember that work is only one part of your life.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

FB: It’s all going to work out. Maybe not how or when you think it will, but amazing things are always around the corner.

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Images by Freyan Billimoria

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We became (just slightly) obsessed with Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery when we stumbled onto the vegan granola at a local health store. Once we enjoyed the sweet, filling, and delicious granola, we had to know who was behind the magic. Baker and founder Tully Phillips shares her story and advice with Carpe Juvenis. From New York City to Texas, this entrepreneur knows what it’s like to open up bakeries across the country and discover a passion that was hidden right under her own nose for years.

For anyone excited about starting their own baking venture, or who just loves to get their hands dirty in the kitchen, we are extremely excited to share this week’s inspiring Spotlight with you!

Name: Tully Phillips
Education: Southern Methodist University and Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX
Follow: @tulusbakery / Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Tully Phillips: I think it’s best to seize every opportunity to learn and gain experience when you are young. Try all sorts of things because you never know what might pique your interest!

CJ: What did you study at Southern Methodist University and how did you determine what to major in?

TP: I was a fine art major. It was an easy decision for me because I loved painting and creating art in high school. I have a real need to be creative and that translated into cooking post-college.

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CJ: You attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX. What inspired you to pursue cooking in an academic way and what was that experience like?

TP: I have always loved cooking. I find it extremely relaxing, an outlet for creativity and of course a delicious profession. Going to school for something that was formerly a hobby was a dream come true. Some people might think culinary school is relaxed but it is actually quite strenuous. You have to be on point every day because each dish you create is graded. Despite that, I still enjoyed every moment. 

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CJ: You signed your first lease for Tu-Lu’s NYC bakery at the young age of 28. How did you decide where to start and which area of the city to rent in?

TP: I wanted to be in a neighborhood that was a “foodie destination.” The East Village is one of those areas of Manhattan with such a variety of restaurants and is quite the hang out area on the weekends. The less expensive rent was also a deciding factor. It was important to me not to overspend on rent since it was a new business and quite frankly a new concept for NYC. We were the first 100% gluten-free bakery in Manhattan so I was not sure how successful we would be.

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CP: In your roles as founder and owner, good leadership is critical. How have you learned to lead and what does it mean, in your opinion, to be a strong leader?

TP: I think a leader needs to be experienced in all the roles of their employees. When we first opened I was the dishwasher, weekend baker, register employee, as well as having all the managerial duties. I learned the ins and outs of each position, which was helpful in delegating work and projects to my employees. I think you also have to be willing to learn from your employees and listen to them. Be open to tweaking how things run according to advice they give you.

CJ: How did your education and past work experiences prepare you to start Tu-Lu’s Bakery in both New York and Texas?

TP: I helped manage the kitchen in a catering company NYC. That job really taught me how to be confident in having employees and letting them know your expectations and limits. Of course my culinary education and work experience directly influenced the quality of our baked goods. I have very high standards for what we sell at Tu-Lu’s.

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CJ: What have been the greatest challenges in running your company, and what do you wish you had known before opening your bakeries?

TP: We are open seven days a week in NYC with very long, late hours so essentially we are never closed! There is always something that comes up that needs to be addressed. Whether it’s someone not showing up for work or a light fixture that no longer works, owning a business is a 24 hour, seven day a week job.  That might have been nice to know before opening!

CJ: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being an entrepreneur?

TP: Being an entrepreneur is risky but extremely rewarding. I was so scared to open a retail store in the middle of New York City but once I signed that lease I didn’t look back.

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CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to have their own bakery and run their own business do now to set themselves up for success?

TP: I recommend working at a bakery to really learn the ins and outs of the business. Try to work your way up to assistant manager or manager to get experience on all levels. Knowing how to manage people and money is key. Though I had culinary experience, I had never worked in an actual bakery so I could have learned so many things and avoided quite a few mistakes and bumps in the beginning.

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CJ: You’ve had such incredible feedback about your gluten-free products, especially the delectable brownies and Carpe Juvenis’ personal favorite, the Agave Cinnamon Granola. Aside from your own experience being gluten intolerant, what inspires you to create delicious treats that anyone can enjoy?

TP: I created the bakery to fill that void of not having delicious GF treats available to me. I was shocked I could not find a wonderful GF cupcake in all of Manhattan. We are always trying to create new products to excite our customers. I especially love when we can recreate a childhood memory in a GF version.

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CJ: What motivates you on your toughest days?

TP: We have the best customers and we are always striving to make them happy. I can’t tell you how many times people have thanked me for opening the bakery. How many people get thanked on a regular basis at their job? Not many! That completely makes up for the tough days.

CJ: What advice would you give your 19-year-old self?

TP: I would probably tell myself to get a job at a local bakery and learn as much as I can about their systems, customer service, accounting, etc. Try to get some marketing and PR experience as well. You can never learn too much and all knowledge is useful! You never know where it will take you.

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Images by Tully Phillips

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we think of people who have inspired us, Meagan Morrison comes to mind for several reasons: she created her own dream job, she’s incredibly talented, and she’s contagiously optimistic. You can tell right away from seeing her illustrations how much skill Meagan has, and you immediately get drawn into her colorfully brushstroked world.

Though Meagan studied business in undergrad, it wasn’t until she was 24 that she decided to go back to school for a degree in fashion illustration. After doing internships and asking lots of questions, Meagan realized that she was going to have to create the dream job she ultimately wanted. The awesome and inspiring part? She did just that.

As a Traveling Fashion Illustrator, Meagan works with fashion designers and high profile brands and travels the world illustrating what inspires her. During our conversation, Meagan consistently referenced how much hard work it takes to make your dreams come true and that you have to “rewire your brain to think positively.” Very true words, and it’s encouraging to know that the road to your dreams may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth the challenge.

We’re excited to share with you Meagan’s interview with Carpe Juvenis! Read on to learn about her role as an illustrator, the greatest lessons she’s learned from starting her own company, and of course, how she seizes her youth.

Name: Meagan Morrison
Education: Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University; Fashion Illustration AAS from Fashion Institute of Technology
Follow: MeaganMorrison.com / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Meagan Morrison: Making the most of every opportunity and asking tons of questions. Those who seek will find. Don’t wait for anything to fall into your lap, you have to go after it. Since I was very young I’d always ask a lot of questions to family friends and teachers. I was constantly educating myself and involving myself in things that I found interesting. ‘Seizing Your Youth’ is ultimately defined by each individual and what he or she wants to get out of life.

CJ: You received your Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. What did you major in and how did you determine what to study?

MM: I went to McGill and studied business. My older sister went to McGill, as well. When I went to visit her, I remember looking at the girls in the commerce program and I loved seeing how they carried themselves. They were well dressed and professional. I really identified with them. They looked confident, empowered, and determined.

At the time I was very much into fine arts, but I wanted to step out of that for a bit to find myself and my purpose. I knew that with a foundation in business I could specialize and go smaller, but it would be harder to go from something narrower to a business degree. It felt like the right building block at the time.

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CJ: You also received an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Illustration AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology. What was that experience like?

MM: By the time I started my AAS in illustration I was 24 and really knew that the program was what I wanted to do. It was a highly specialized degree that offered fashion illustration as a two-year program. I didn’t want to commit to another undergrad degree, but I wanted a foot in the door in New York. I also wanted to be totally immersed in fashion illustration. I read this quote in a book about fashion illustration that advised to launch your career in a city that matters. I figured if I was educated here and given the opportunity to work here, I would be launching myself in the biggest city in the world for my industry. That’s what prompted my decision to go back to school.

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CJ: What sparked your love of illustration and design?

MM: I always loved fashion and art. I didn’t quite know that they could co-exist so intimately until I started working in the fashion industry after McGill. My first internship was at a fashion magazine and I was constantly asking questions between the editorial department and the art department to see how much, if any, traditional art they used. It was predominantly graphic design and photography, so I didn’t see myself in that world. I thought maybe I belonged in the gallery world of fine art. Somewhere between trying out a bunch of different professions in the industry and asking questions, one of my coworkers mentioned the program in fashion illustration at FIT. When I heard the profession and researched it, it felt as though a lightbulb went off. I couldn’t believe that I found something that really combined my true greatest loves: art and fashion. That’s what really sparked the passion for me.

After hearing about the profession and the program at FIT, I went to bookstores and pulled all the sources I could find on fashion illustration. I searched through the glossaries and found names of illustrators, and some were located in Toronto. I reached out to Virginia Johnson, a local Toronto illustrator and textile designer, and brought her my portfolio. I explained to her that I loved illustrating shoes, and she pushed me to follow what I loved and told me that the rest would fall into place. I’ve been obsessed with illustration ever since.

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CJ: You are a traveling fashion illustrator and recently branched out to start your own company. What does it mean to be a traveling fashion illustrator?

MM: It’s about being mobile and not just sitting at my desk pulling images off of the Internet. It’s about experiencing the culture firsthand and having that inspire my work. I have always been so passionate about travel and how that would inform my illustrations, and I wanted to be known as an illustrator at the intersection of both travel and fashion. There’s nothing like discovering a new destination and seeing how people dress in different cities around the world. I want to capture how the environment they’re surrounded by influences their style and my work. It’s the same thing when I’m at a fashion show and later do illustrations. I’ve seen the clothes, felt the texture of the fabric, heard the playlist, and felt the mood of the environment. I see the vision that the designer intends for the line. It helps bring the illustrations to life.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from starting your own company?

MM: That you never stop fighting. Every paycheck is a fight. Every project is a new hurdle. I don’t mean to sound defeated by that, but it is the most obvious and striking contrast between working full-time and working for myself. I knew every two weeks I would get a paycheck at my last job, but now I have to chase and follow-up on everything. All the work of orchestrating that and keeping projects moving can be a challenge.

I’ve also learned that it would be great to have a sounding board. The thing I miss about working with a company is having the team to bounce ideas off of. It’s always a joint decision. I love the fact that I am making choices for myself and I do have the final say, but I think it’s good to discuss the decision with someone first and come to a well-informed decision. It’s a lot of pressure to not make the wrong choice on your own.

You also have to be careful so you don’t get taken advantage of. You’re constantly looking after yourself. The momentum has to keep going and the ball can’t drop. I find that the more I’m working, the more work comes in. It’s the ripple effect. The chain reaction in itself can be exhausting because when can you ever pause and catch up on your sleep?

CJ: You have done illustrations for amazing clients including Lucky Magazine, Rebecca Minkoff, Calvin Klein, and Conde Nast Traveler. When you work with each client, what is your process and your role as an illustrator?

MM: It honestly differs with every client, how big the project is and how much they want to involve the social and illustration aspects of it. When I come into a partnership I always gauge what the client’s expectations are, the breadth of the project, the timeline, their budget, and then we work from there. It’s about finding the middle ground between what you feel comfortable with and what the client feels comfortable with.

I have a clear vision about the brands I want to work with and how they align with the vision I have about being a traveling fashion illustrator. I don’t take on every project. If people want to sponsor things on my Instagram, I don’t take every product. Every partnership is very authentic. I don’t ever take on a job just for the money; I only do it when I believe it’s genuine and it makes sense.

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CJ: How long does a piece take to create from start to finish?

MM: It varies per project and per client. For instance, my Calvin Klein job, I was at the show illustrating live. I could feel the fabrics and speak to the creative director, Francisco Costa, about his vision. I had about two days to turn around finals, but it helped to see the actual clothes. The pieces themselves takes me about three to four hours to complete, but that varies depending on how detailed each piece is. Then I scan the paintings, clean them up in Photoshop, and send the JPEGs to the client.

If it’s a customized piece or if I’m designing something from scratch, that requires a lot more preparation. I’ll do pencil sketches and color comps and then take it to the final round. Some are more laborious and expensive and others are just straight to final.

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CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a fashion illustrator do to set themselves up for success?

MM: Start asking questions and get a portfolio together. Also, don’t lose your voice. When people are younger they start to emulate the top people, but that’s not an advantage. People don’t want to hire a second rate version of someone else, they want to hire the first version of you. I’ve seen it on social media where people’s styles are so different, and that’s what’s standing out. It’s a saturated market. Keep true to you and keep your voice and style genuine. Embrace the quirks about your style.

There are tons of free websites out there as well where you can put your work online. Keep it clean and simple so you can showcase your work. When I was younger I was constantly illustrating to keep perfecting my craft and finding my voice. I wasn’t thinking about gaining clients just yet. Build your social awareness and share your journey. Then, when you are ready to work with clients, people will already know about you.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

MM: I have a massive planner that is 8½ x 11 inches. I write lists every single day, and everything that doesn’t get accomplished the day before gets carried over to the next day. It’s blinding because I highlight everything. I also use whiteout so there’s nothing unnecessary on it. I start and end my day with that book.

From the planner I move to emails. The luxury of working for myself is that I can answer them when I’m in still in my pajamas. I get breakfast and then do errands. I want to get all my errands finished before I start painting, because once I start painting I lose track of time. It’s nice to have everything else taken care of so I feel at ease when painting. I don’t want stress to show through in the work. I often work pretty late into the evenings. It depends on how intense the turnaround time is. I like to end the day seeing a friend or unwinding watching Netflix.

One thing I’d like to do more of is exercise. You have to take care of yourself when running your own business. If you run yourself down there is no business. I don’t have weekends. I haven’t taken a proper vacation when I’m not working. For better or worse, travel has become part of my brand so I feel a sense of responsibility to cover what I’m doing and share it on social media even on my downtime.

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CJ: What spring break experience has been memorable for you?

MM: I remember the spring break in my senior year of high school. I traveled with my class to France and Italy. That trip stands out to me because we had a small group of students in my high school, and we were combined with another high school group from the Ontario area. We got to meet new high school students on the trip and it was a prelude to university and meeting new like-minded people. I love how traveling and meeting new people expands your vision.

We started in Paris and hopped over to Florence and Rome. I had the time of my life. It wasn’t about the accommodations or amenities at all. It was about being with people you cared about, having a blast, and laughing a lot.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about?

MM: Changing the perceptions on mental health, depression, and anxiety is important to me. I don’t think people should be scared to talk about it. Being open and dealing with it as you would your physical health is important. There’s more people suffering from anxiety and depression in the country today than there has ever been. Why is that? It’s a blessing and a curse that we have social media, but it also gives people a sense of inadequacy all the time. You’re constantly faced with what other people are doing and how much more you should be doing.

I’ve had to really practice changing my mindset about that. By nature I’m very anxious and hard on myself. I practice gratitude. My anxiety can be so bad that it could hinder my work flow. When things aren’t totally concrete I’m at my worst. The grey area is the hardest area to live in, but that’s life. Rarely is anything concrete.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

MM: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

MM: I’d say not to worry and that everything is going to work out just fine. I feel more confident now than I ever have. Looking back at all the things I didn’t think I could get through, that I have since surpassed, helps me to remember that everything will always work out. I didn’t know then that I’d be able to build a life that I love so much.

I would advise people in their twenties that nothing is handed to you. You have to practice happiness. It can be tough but you have to practice that in the same way you train for a marathon. Rewire your brain to think positively. Also know that happiness isn’t at the other end of success. You can start with happiness and then everything else doesn’t have so much weight on it. If your happiness is contingent upon getting into a certain college or winning a certain award or landing a client, then you’re never going to get there because the benchmark is always raised.

But if you start with being grateful with what you have in the moment, then you’re already working at an advantage. Be grateful for what you have because it can all be gone tomorrow. I feel infinitely happier now than I did way back then, even though I have tons more responsibilities. It’s been a matter of self-awareness and rewiring the way that my mind works.

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Images: Illustration Images by Meagan Morrison; photos of Meagan by Carpe Juvenis