SpotlightYouth Spotlight

The Girl Scouts is an incredible organization that turns young women into leaders. Deelyn Cheng is one of these amazing young women who became involved in the Girl Scouts when her best friends encouraged her to join. She earned her Gold Award by preparing the City of Lakewood for emergency and disaster situations. She took a multi-faceted approach to her project, including educating residents, acquiring emergency kits for local schools, and even designing menus that can feed hundreds of residents for several days in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Pretty great, if you ask us.

Now, Deelyn studies International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington. She has spent time interning and living in Hong Kong, and she is passionate about learning about all things business. Deelyn shares with Carpe Juvenis what she thinks makes a good leader, the lessons she learned from being a part of the Girl Scouts, and that for her, success means “making a positive impact on the world and leaving a legacy.” With determined and caring young women such as Deelyn, the future definitely looks brighter.

*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: Deelyn Cheng
Education: International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington, Class of 2018

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

Deelyn Cheng: Be proactive and seize every opportunity that would develop and enhance one’s identity. It is important take opportunities that prompts you to try new things or to push you closer towards a goal.  There is this quote which I love by Milton Berle: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Time is valuable, so treat it preciously. Go out and find your passion, explore, and reach your full potential. Change the world for the better by turning your dreams and ideas into reality.

CJ: You’re studying International Business, Finance, and Marketing at the University of Washington. What led you to those academic passions and why are you choosing to study them in a formal setting?

DC: The world is becoming more dependent on globalized trade and investment, and worldwide financial institutions are prominent. I want to contribute and become involved with the international network and I’m very interested in cross-cultural business. A business degree would also provide a strong foundation of skills and knowledge that is applicable to a wide range of careers. From critical and creative thinking to personal development, I am passionate about learning all things business!

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CJ: You are an Investment Assistant Intern at Rongtong Global Investment Limited in Hong Kong. That sounds very interesting. What do your duties entail as an intern?

DC: I assisted colleagues with a variety of tasks including organizing trade settlements in excel, managing an online banking system, reading paperwork, completing office tasks, and proofreading.

CJ: What have you learned from living in Hong Kong? What do you like to do there when you’re not interning?

DC: I learned to have patience, tolerance, and adaptability. The way of life in Hong Kong is extremely different to what I’m used to…a lot of people and very fast paced. However, I just went with the flow, immersed myself in the culture and it worked out just fine! The cuisine in Hong Kong is absolutely spectacular so I spent most of my time eating. If not that, I would be sightseeing.

CJ: Moving to another country for school or an internship can be intimidating and nerve-wracking for some. Did you feel this way? What advice do you have for those who are thinking about living abroad to work or study?

DC: I was a little nervous but was more excited! I would definitely advise them to take the opportunity. It is so valuable to see and experience different cultures, especially when you can stay in a place for longer periods of time. Have an open-mind and don’t be afraid to try new things. And take every event (positive or negative) as a learning experience!

Dee Cheng 2

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

DC: My best friends were in a troop and encouraged me to join. I loved the opportunities it gave me! I had the chance to lead, learn, experience new things, and meet new people that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I also greatly enjoyed camping-nothing better than sitting around a campfire singing songs with your best friends!

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

DC: Have patience, be confident, and help others!

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CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you set out to better prepare the City of Lakewood for emergency and disaster situations. You took a multi-faceted approach to your project, including educating residents, acquiring emergency kits for local schools, and even designing menus that can feed hundreds of residents for several days in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

DC: I believe people need to be prepared. They need to have the information and knowledge so they can be ready when an emergency happens. I feel that knowing about First Aid and how to help people is very important. My mom’s family is from Thailand, and when the tsunami hit, I thought it was interesting to watch the process of aid. Global issues interest me, and I wanted to share that locally.

Lots of meetings! I honestly enjoyed them though. I had the opportunity to interact and connect with people which I love to do. I focused on using my organization and time management skills to orderly conduct my project. This includes identifying who I would work with, steps I would take, and not having a delay to take action. Additionally, I communicated with my advisor, my troop, and others who helped me. I also prepared the teaching/presentation materials and activities I would use for the public and the students to educate them and raise awareness. I assigned tasks to my team, and was able to take action and lead a sustainable project.

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.?

DC: I had to really focus and hone my time management skills. I’m a visual person so I kept a planner. I allotted specific amounts of time for different tasks. However, I would sometimes procrastinate or underestimate the time to complete a task, but this project was definitely a learning process!

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

DC: My mentors constantly change-they depend on the time and situation. I believe life puts you in a situation where you build relationships with the people around you and a mentor-mentee relationship will naturally form.

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

DC: A good leader wants to serve and tries their hardest to make the best out of a situation for themselves and others. They make dreams and ideas become reality. And leaders follow their heart, but always do the right thing even when it is hard.

CJ: How do you define success?

DC: Overall, I believe happiness equates to success. Success is when we reach the point of living the life we truly want/desire, and found and fulfilled our purpose in life. Lastly, making a positive impact on the world and leaving a legacy should be part of someone’s success story!

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

DC: Be more diligent in learning and retaining a language. I wish I had focused on learning Mandarin.

Deelyn Cheng

Images by Deelyn Cheng

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.

Doris Daif Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s perfectly fitting that Maurissa Walls, a senior at The George Washington University, is also the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Smart Girls Group (SGG). She’s definitely one of the smartest people we’ve met and undoubtedly has an extremely bright future ahead of her. We found out about this inspiring woman by word of mouth – her name kept popping up in conversation around campus and it was no secret that she was a leader at GWU, making her mark one student at a time through freshman orientations and volunteerism.

As both a student and aspiring market strategist, Maurissa has never shied away from a challenge. For over two years she has strategized all of the marketing and advertising campaigns for SGG, manages a full team of Smart Girls, and even contributes to the digital magazine – The Smart Girl’s Guide. We are elated to introduce to you Maurissa Walls!

Name: Maurissa Walls
Age: 22
Education: George Washington University, Bachelor of Business Administration concentration in Marketing
Follow Personal: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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

Maurissa Walls: Finding the balance between preparing yourself for adulthood and all of the responsibilities and pressures that come with it and being completely spontaneous enough to try as many things out of your comfort zone as you can. I think seizing your youth in this way allows you to make a life out of prioritizing having new, fun, adventurous experiences without compromising being a responsible adult because you’ve already made a habit out of finding the balance between the two.

CJ: What made you decide to attend college in Washington, DC, and how has the experience influenced you as an individual?

MW: I honestly ended up in DC because I was too scared at the time of moving to and living New York. I thought it would be a bit too overwhelming and hard for me to adjust. There’s nothing wrong with pacing yourself, if you know what would be best for you, and I truly believe DC is what was best for me at the time. I really wanted to be in an exciting city , and going to college in DC has impacted who I am today tremendously. Going to GW and living in DC has taught me not only to have an appreciation for culture and people but to also celebrate them. Being here has been an incredibly freeing experience. As I’ve developed and changed here I’ve allowed myself to celebrate my own complexities. I’ve learned from other people here that they can be a professional, and artists, and a mentor, and an activist, and so many things at once. I’ve learned not to limit other people or myself to just one box.

CJ: You are currently the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Smart Girls Group. What does your role entail?

MW: My role at Smart Girls Group includes overseeing the strategic marketing and public relations vision of the company. I work with a really talented group of social media managers, PR managers, graphic designers, and writers to help drive our branding online and promote all of Smart Girls’ amazing offerings, services, and products.

CJ: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with SGG so far?

MW: Working with my team and our wonderful staff has been my favorite part of Smart Girls Group. I love seeing people grow in their positions. Going back to see work of girls on my team from a year or two years ago looks completely different from what they are able to do now. It’s so rewarding to watch people on my team develop their skills, talents, and professionalism and gain confidence in their own capabilities.

Maurissa 3 crop HZCJ: What has been the most unexpectedly exciting part of being involved with a young and growing company?

MW: I didn’t think it would be possible to grow such strong bonds with people online through emails and video conferencing. Those of us on staff are at several different colleges around the US and had never meet in the same room before. When we met for the first time all together at our first conference last summer, it was hard for us to convince people we were physically meeting for the first time. We get along and work so well together. We’ve created such strong bonds and I didn’t expect that to happen. Seeing this come to life at our conference for so many other girls that work together was so rewarding. It definitely proved to me that big results and big impact can come out of small packages.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move forward?

MW: Remembering that I’ll still be alive in the end. There’s nothing more humbling and no easier way to calm yourself down than using a birds-eye view on a tough situation situation. My tough situations don’t even seem valid, considering what is going on in the world. Nowadays I’m usually laughing at my problems. There are some tough times that are harder to laugh through and I will just let myself feel what I am feeling for a moment. Crying, yelling, or whatever I need to do to get it out. But ultimately I realize I can either let myself just exist being upset or I can take action by doing the best that I can. The next day is probably coming, difficult or not, whether I like it or not, so I can at least try to make the best adjustments that I can to make it better.

CJ: What two main pieces of advice would you give to an incoming freshman college student?

MW: I told all of my new students the same advice all summer: use your resources and just take as much stuff as you can. You don’t realize how many “free” things that you are paying for in college until you start budgeting for life after. Then you realize how much free stuff and helpful resources that you left behind. There are so many departments at offices and schools that are begging for students to use their services and as a freshman I thought that I needed to work my way up in order to take advantage. Obviously that’s not true, you can jump in and start taking advantage. That’s not limit to school resources. I encourage freshman to apply for that internships they don’t think they can have or visit that place that they don’t think they can go to. The world is very forgiving of college students – especially freshman.

CJ: You are an aspiring marketing strategist. What originally drew you to this career choice and why?

MW: I’ve wanted to be in marketing since the 6th grade. I liked a writing project that we did where we had to design an ad and create the copy for a cereal commercial. I learned through that project that I like to influence people and I’ve kept with it because I realize there are multiple ways to do it. I’ll be going into buying in the retail industry, and that still feels like marketing to me, because I am in a position to influence and shape people’s experiences when they walk into a store. I like that marketing challenges you find new ways to influence because people are changing all the time.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

MW: My dad always told me growing up to stay connected with people. It’s becoming harder to do as you get older and busier, but I think it is extremely important. When people that I meet abroad, at school, or in programs have a real impact on me I try to stay connected to them. I think it helps to keep you aware of what you learned and how you’ve grown by be surrounded by the people that have helped to get you to that place.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

MW: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Maurissa Group HZCJ: How do you stay organized and juggle all of your responsibilities? Are there specific tools you use?

MW: I’m not a master yet, but I have system that seems to works for me. I use a combination of iCal, a plan book, and a clipboard of to-do lists. I’ve found that it helps me to have multiple touch points. If I have something on my iCal for the day with a notification before, see it in my planner, and have it on my to do list it usually will get done.

Color-coding is also really important and I make sure that I use the same color codes across my three planners. I like being able to look at my schedule at the beginning of the week and visually see that there are a lot of orange student org activities and know that it will be a fun week or to see a lot of blue academic slots to know that I have to crack down early in the week.

CJ: You will be graduating from the George Washington University in 2015. What are your next steps?

MW: I’ll be working in the Merchant (buying/planning) executive program at Macy’s HQ in New York. I am really excited about my job, I think it is well suited for my skills and it will challenge me in new ways. I think it will be a more creative and challenging way for me to use marketing to influence people.

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

MW: I would tell myself that I am exactly who I am supposed to be. I’ve mostly had the same personality, spirit, and energy my entire life and I’ve always known that. I would tell myself to keep listening to myself. I’d promise myself that I would be really grateful for being exactly who I am later down the road and that it is for a good purpose.

Maurissa Walls Qs

Photos courtesy of Hannah Ziegler, Emily Raleigh, and Veronica Graves

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met Grace Gordy at a Seventeen Magazine internship in college. We worked together in the fashion closet, and it was clear that this girl had an eye for style. Flash forward years later, and Grace is running her own clothing store, Honey and Hazel Boutique, in Georgia. A surprise? Hardly. Grace has serious determination and a passion for creative endeavors. It’s not every day you hear about a young twenty-something opening up shop with trendy (and affordable!) contemporary clothing.

Grace opened Honey and Hazel Boutique with her mother, and this power duo is impressing us with their positivity and desire to learn more through their experiences. From an early age Grace knew that she wanted to be involved with fashion, and daily she makes her dreams come true. After spending time interning in the fashion industry and working for other clothing stores, Grace learned many skills along her journey and implements them on a daily basis. We’re excited to introduce you to our friend, style inspiration, and total #girlboss, Grace Gordy.

Name: Grace Gordy
Education: BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management from Savannah College of Art & Design
Follow: Facebook / Instagram

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

Grace Gordy: To me, seizing your youth is all about creating your own path in life (or “march to the beat of your own drum”) and not worrying about what others are doing. I used to get so caught up in what I thought I should be doing at a particular age and always felt behind in my “career path,” but now I realize how thankful I am for all of my experiences because it led me to my ultimate dream come true.

Also I think seizing your youth means taking advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way. Your youth really is the best time to explore, be creative, meet people, make memories and experience as much as you can. Just live life with no regrets.

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CJ: You majored in Fashion Marketing and Management from Savannah College of Art and Design. How did you determine what to study?

GG: From a very young age I knew I wanted to be involved in fashion. I used to study fashion magazines from front to back and was determined to work for one so choosing a major was never any question; it was going to be fashion! I grew up in a small town where no one understood how you could make a career in the fashion industry and was actually told by teachers to go into a more “realistic” field, but I never let them sway me. My parents have always been so supportive of my choices and me and have always told me to follow my passion no matter what.  I couldn’t be more thankful for them! For anyone interested in majoring in fashion I would certainly recommend that you look into SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design). It was the most challenging four years of my life, but it paid off in a huge way. They have wonderful professors and a very well-rounded curriculum!

CJ: That’s incredible. You definitely put that education and the skills you learned to good use. Together you and your mother opened Honey & Hazel Boutique, a trendy contemporary clothing shop. We love that! What does your role entail and how do you and your mother divide up responsibilities?

GG: We are both co-owners so our roles basically entail everything! We both have total input into everything we do and are both always in the shop whether that means being on the floor helping our customers or in the office doing paperwork. She’s better at keeping up with the books and I handle most of the social media and marketing. We are very fortunate to have the kind of relationship we do; we are best friends, business partners, and mother/daughter. Opening this boutique together is such a great way for us to spend quality time together and do what we do best, which is being creative!

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Grace 4

CJ: You’ve done many interesting things throughout your career such as interning at Seventeen Magazine, working as a stylist, working in marketing, and being a logistics and operations coordinator. What have you learned from these experiences and how have they influenced you with opening your own shop?

GG: Having numerous jobs and internships since college really helped me to determine exactly what I wanted to do. It has always been a dream of mine to open a boutique. However, I thought it would happen MUCH further down the road. There have always been so many facets in the fashion industry that I was interested in and thankfully I was able to work and dabble in different areas to know what I did and didn’t like. Earlier I said that working for a fashion magazine was my goal and I was so blessed to get an internship in New York City at Seventeen Magazine. It was the most amazing experience of my life thus far, but it definitely taught me that that is NOT the place for me.

As much as I loved New York and loved the idea of having a fashion job in “the big city,” I knew I wasn’t cut out for it. I like the south too much, what can I say? After graduating I ended up moving to Charleston, South Carolina where I absolutely fell in love with the town and its charm. I had a few different jobs there, but my favorite and the one that ultimately led me to where I am now was being an Assistant Manager at a little boutique there. I loved the team of girls I had the pleasure to work with and loved the smaller feel of a boutique atmosphere. I’m definitely a people person and it gave me the opportunity to get to know our customers, as well as do the fun stuff, such as merchandising and being creative. That job definitely made me realize I was ready to have my own store!

CJ: That’s really inspiring. As great it is to figure out what you do love to do, realizing what you don’t want to do is just as important. What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your boutique?

GG: Always work hard, be kind, and have patience! Also I’ve learned when you’re feeling overwhelmed, just stop and take a breath. Everything will be okay! Running your own business is a TON of work, but it’s extremely rewarding!

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CJ: What do you wish you had known before opening Honey & Hazel Boutique?

GG: Oh gosh, I wish I knew more about the accounting side and obviously that’s a HUGE part of having a business. Numbers and analytics have never been my thing. I’m a visual, creative person, but I’m certainly learning more every day.

CJ: What can a young person who is interested in owning a boutique do now to set themselves up for success?

GG: Get as much experience as possible! I interned at many different places to figure out what was best for me and what I wanted to do.

CJ: What would you say to people who are uncertain about starting a business? What motivated you to take the leap?

GG: Starting a business is scary and I honestly have learned so much over the last year that I never knew about before. My mom and I took the leap based heavily on faith. We were and are extremely passionate about what we wanted to do and believed in our idea. We just figured there’s no time like the present so let’s just work our hardest and see what happens! So far it’s going extremely well and I couldn’t be happier!

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

GG: Typically Monday isn’t a super busy shopping day so it’s a good time to re-merchandise the store, order inventory, clean, and meet with my Mom about what’s going on that week or what we need to get accomplished. We normally have a gazillion emails to respond to and plenty of bills to pay! I’m always Instagramming our new merchandise and coming up with new ways to showcase our products. Trust me, there’s ALWAYS something to do!

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

GG: I’m a big proponent of making lists, writing things down, and having a planner with me everywhere I go. I have the worst memory in the world so if I don’t set reminders on my phone and or write it down I will be sure to forget! Plus, it’s a good excuse to get cute organization supplies!

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

GG: I definitely struggle with trying to do everything myself and it can be really stressful and overwhelming. I am trying to work on how to better delegate tasks and jobs to different people. Especially as our business grows and we build a bigger team through employees, I need to learn how to not try to take on everything and let others help me. That is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s even harder now because my boutique is like my baby!

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

GG: I would tell my 15-year-old self to not stress and worry so much. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to and you just have to have faith and follow your dreams!

Grace Gordy Qs

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Image: Grace Gordy

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

If you love fashion, beauty, décor, photography, or just amazing blogging in general, don’t miss Kat Tanita’s stunning blog, With Love From Kat. Kat styles beautiful outfits and has a keen eye for what’s trending in the fashion and beauty industries, and she shares her insight through photos and round-ups on her site. Not only is Kat a successful blogger with a polished chic style, but she is also savvy business owner who has learned a lot from her experiences. But now, let’s hear from the blogger herself…

Name: Kat Tanita
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in Design Studies from Arizona State University
Follow: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / PinterestWith Love From Kat

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

Kat Tanita: Chasing your dreams and making them a reality.

CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

KT: I loved all of my design classes, but surprisingly my favorite class was Marketing senior year. It was neat to learn about the creative process and how important it is in an effective public relations and marketing campaign.

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CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a business owner and blogger?

KT: Ask questions, find mentors, have confidence but be humble, hire smart (get a good lawyer, accountant, intern, etc.) and learn from rejection.

CJ: What are your time management tips?

KT: Write everything down in a to-do list and take one thing at a time. Start the day and end the day with productive things, but give yourself a break in between. I always try to get out, take a walk and have a long lunch. It feels good to end the day with something productive – I can’t sleep if I don’t!

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

KT: Every day is so different. Sometimes I’m at showroom appointments, press previews, meetings, and events. I’m always answering emails, exploring the city, looking for inspiration, shooting outfit pictures, and brainstorming for upcoming projects. I love to cook dinner and end the day with yoga, a run, or circuit training.

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CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to start their own blogs?

KT: Remember to be unique and original. Don’t try to copy others because what will set you a part is your individual voice and style. Do your research! I simply Googled “how to start a blog” 4 years ago and read so many articles/watched so many YouTube videos. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find mentors. You should always be learning.

CJ: Which book has had a great impact on you?

KT: Grace was one of my favorite books this summer. I loved learning about her career path. She started from the bottom and worked her way up. She is incredibly talented.

CJ: What motivates you?

KT: My dad’s work ethic motivates me. He always said whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability even if it’s a small, menial task.

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

KT: Travel more, read more, and embrace your uniqueness!

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Image: All photos by Kat Tanita from WithLoveFromKat.com

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As a marketing professional, Kara Drinkard has had many great experiences with internships and jobs since graduation from the University of Washington. After starting as a business major, Kara soon realized that she was more passionate about Communications, which combined her business and marketing interests. Not only has Kara had a great career so far (she’s only 28!), her experiences in high school and college helped to shape her life today. One of these experiences includes building houses in Mexico, which was life changing for her. We had the opportunity to talk to Kara about what motivates her, how she manages her time, and what advice she has for those interested in marketing. Read on to learn more!

Name: Kara Drinkard
Age: 28
Education: B.A. in Communications from University of Washington with a Certificates of Sales from Foster School of Business
Follow: Twitter

How do you define seizing your youth?

I was blessed growing up because I went to a lot of summer camps, went to Mexico to build houses, and was really involved with the Boys and Girls Club. I was the President of the Youth Board there. We had weekly meetings and did community service activities. Take advantage of any kind of opportunity you have when you’re a teenager, and even before that. It sounds so cliché, but also seek out opportunities and get outside of your comfort zone. If something makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way, you will probably have a great learning experience. Taking opportunities that you have when you’re younger, or seek out things you can do to be active in your community.

What did you major in at the University of Washington and how did you determine what to study?

I majored in Communications, as well as the Sales Program through the business school. I originally started out as a business major, thinking I was going to go that route. I started taking all of the classes, absolutely hated accounting, and then realized how many more math and statistic classes I would have had to take, so I switched majors.

Communications was a great marriage between what I liked about business and marketing. Somewhere in my first year, I went the Communications route. I ended up doing the Sales Program because it was a good opportunity to get the business degree in with my Communications degree. If your school offers a program like that, I recommend taking it.

What made you interested in studying Communications?

I’ve always been interested in marketing, but also in how people work and how they work together. I’m also interested in how brands and companies make things work. I’ve always been creative and artsy. I’m not an artist, but I like being creative and being involved with business. I don’t think there was one thing that made me want to go that route, but with my creative mind and organized, planner-type personality, it felt natural.

What advice would you give teenagers or young adults who are interested in marketing?

Take every opportunity you have. Do job shadows with someone in marketing, internships, or meeting with someone in a position you want. Make school a priority. Push yourself, and if you can, go to college and get your degree. Even if not just for the sake of getting a job, go to college for the experience. Meet everyone you can in the industry that you are interested in.

Were there any high school or college experiences you had that were most memorable or life changing?

For me, building houses in Mexico in high school was life changing. We stayed in an area that was basically a landfill, and being exposed to the different lifestyle was eye-opening. It shed some light on being grateful for what we have, and it makes you want to work harder to make your dreams happen. I did that in high school three times, so that was a big one.

In college, my internship at KOMO TV was a big one. It was fun to be around the news anchors and have stuff going on all the time. Not only did I end up working part-time for the radio promotions staff, but I am still in contact with the people I worked with. That was a really great people experience.

What motivates you?

I have big expectations for myself and the type of life I want to live. I want to travel and have a successful career and make things happen in the companies I work for, so the idea of not wanting to regret or look back on anything in my life and wishing I had done something. You only get one chance to do what you want to do in your life, and if your situation is not good, do what you have to do to make it right.

You are in control of your destiny, and no one can change your situation but you. I am the one who is going to ultimately determine what I do with my life. I don’t want to be 80-years-old and look back with regret.

How do you know when your gut is right, and how do you distinguish between your head and your heart?

That’s a hard one. A lot of times, when you have a gut feeling, there are other signs that go along with it. There might be little hints and clues as to why something might not be right for you. If your gut senses hesitation, listen. If your gut is just nervous because you’re outside of your comfort zone, push yourself and don’t make excuses. When your brain and your gut together are questioning something, that’s when you need to listen to it. Sometimes it is hard to determine and you don’t always know.

How do you stay organize and how do you time manage?

I’m old school and I like to have a notebook. I’ll write down everything I need to do each day, and then create plans for everything. Whether it’s creating a calendar or timeline, I love to do those things. I use my phone to set reminders for myself. I don’t use any fancy apps, I just write things down and keep everything in order and moving along.

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

I would tell myself to always trust my gut, whether it’s a work or personal situation. You know what’s best for you. I’ve always wanted to live in Southern California, and even though I applied and got into colleges there, I stayed here where my family and long-term boyfriend were. If you have the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, do it and do what’s best for you. Sometimes you have to think about yourself.