Skating into the next chapter
On almost this day exactly (I think it was the 20th) two years ago I was a little down. I had moved to New York nearly a year prior (2013) with a roommate who left within the week, after living on a couch for a month I finally found an apartment and sent for Waffles (who was staying with my mom in Arizona until I had a place).
On this day(ish) I sat with Paris (who had just moved here) at a coffee shop near Times Square defeated – having just left my third job of the year and not knowing what I was planning to do next. He asked me, “Well – if you could have any job in the world, right now, what would it be” I replied, “I want to work for a brand with a clear history and story, a brand going through a transition – something that will be a challenge. I want to be part of the change that they’re going through.” After some more thought/discussion I stated, “the current dream job, would be merchandising at Coach! They’re going through a brand transformation – I want to be a part of it!” To which Paris responded, “well… then do that!”… lol like it was that simple or something. I had been applying for corporate fashion jobs but in New York it’s honestly all “who you know” – most jobs never even get posted and if they do, and if you apply and if you haven’t really worked here or are from the west coast or didn’t go to an East Coast school you’re lucky if your resume even gets printed out, let alone seen by anyone who matters.
Anyways – I had taken a marketing roll at another fashion brand right (now my thirdish after being at Kate Spade for a few years followed by Tommy Hilfiger, Jonathan Adler) and after the first of the year, I didn’t love it, the brand was on a down turn (It actually went under last year, sad face) so I kind of sort of liked that challenging part I guess, but I really just took the job for security while I figured my life out lol #thestruggle.
Meanwhile, I applied for my first merchandising role later that week – but i went above and beyond with my application, I threw my cover letter out the window (buh-bye) and made an editorial-esqu piece in somewhat of an article formation that showcased my knowledge and passion for the brand and it’s new direction – It was kind of what I had done in blogs before, with a dash of playing around on polyvore and a smidgen of what I learned from my professional english certificate in undergrad and my Graduate marketing studies (I have degrees in Marketing). I completed applications for both Coach and Tory Burch who had open roles in merchandising asking for 2+ years of merch experience (that I totally didn’t have but whatever) and one for J.crew, because, J.crew (who didn’t have open roles); I spent a day or two on each. I also watched a documentary on Mickey Drexler (King of J.Crew and a branding super star, he does amazing things to brands, look him up), it was 3 am, I had eaten a whole bag of sour patch and I was a little manic, so I thought, hmm I’m gonna email Mickey – which is essentially an aspiring model emailing Giselle, a wanna be politician tweeting Barack or a amateur Chef calling up Gordon Ramsey – it’s kind of insane. I literally guessed his email, thinking, “hmm if I was him, I would make my email XYZ” – I’m gonna omit it to protect his privacy – before passing out on my couch with my laptop on my leg and candy in my hair #classy. I was so surprised when the next morning, a mere three hours later, I awoke to a response… LIKE WHAT! He loved what I did and connected me to someone in J.crew to interview for a role… once again, WHAT!
The next week, the most crazy banana things happened, I not only interviewed on a lunch break for J.Crew (who didn’t have any open roles, it was just a “Hello, we like you” phone interview, where they tried to sell me on J.Crew …. like I needed any selling lol) and two days later I interviewed at the “dream job”, Coach. After three interviews over a month (all during “doctors appointments” and lunch breaks) gosh, my new/old job probably thought I was crazy, including one with the head of Merch at Coach, Coach picked me! I was the New Girl in Merch! When I gave my two week notice at my new/old job, they didn’t want me to stay two weeks and felt I was going to a competitor so I left that day… yikes! Around the same time I attended my first Fashion Week with a photographer friend (since I now had two free weeks) and ramped up my blogging efforts! I started actually taking blogging seriously because I was inspired and fueled by all the amazingness that had just happened (I had around a thousand Instagram followers at the time, and I knew 900 of them lol).
So you landed your dream job – but it’s actually not your dream job…
I guess I didn’t know what I wanted! After a few months on the job, I knew Merchandising wasn’t a fit for me, honestly the job wasn’t what I thought it would be (I don’t think I really understood merchandising at the time) and I wasn’t as good at it as I thought I would be – which is hard for a perfectionist to say, but I loved being at Coach – I just needed something more creative and something that wasn’t out of my wheel house. Sure, I could have “learned” merchandising but it wasn’t ever going to be what I was meant to do, hence why I wasn’t as awesome at it as I wanted to be.
When I was about to leave Coach and return to the drawing board (I started interviewing again lol), someone on the Product Development team asked me to switch departments and come on over, and my life really did change – I then started developing handbags for both retail and outlet and although I didn’t design them, I brought them from conception to commercialization.
If you asked me in school if I wanted to create product I would have laughed at you – I wanted to sell product, introduce it to customers, create content for it and bring it to life on a consumer level after someone had already brought it into the world. I wanted to be part of the story, not the inception… but there I was, becoming a part of this historic brand transformation in helping develop the new and improved Coach… and loving every second of it!
We became “not your mother’s Coach”. Coach had kind of fallen behind in fashion, the quality was always there but they were chasing trends instead of creating them – but during my time there (not at all because of me lol, I was just lucky to be apart of it and had really good/well planned timing) they turned things around, started showing at Fashion week and worked tirelessly to creating killer product (some that you haven’t seen yet and when you do it will blow your mind).
Today, if you walk through a Coach store, I can point out the bags that were my basically my babies, that I helped create, that I partnered with design to develop, that I worked with our factories to perfect. I loved my job, I really did – I loved the people I worked with, the product I made and all of the pieces (good and bad) of my 9 to 5 – I was a small part in building one brand by day and spent the night (and early morning) building Color Me Courtney by night.
Working 5 to 9…
I didn’t miss the marketing and branding because I was working over time to BYOB – Build my Own Brand/Business and make Color Me Courtney what it is today. It wasn’t easy, but I loved my Hannah Montana Life (I was Courtney by day and Color Me Courtney by night … sometimes all night lol). The last 6 months of 2015 were especially tough – I slept on average 3 hours a night and pulled at least one all nighter a week (if you follow me on snap chat, you’re used to my 3am dance sessions to help me power through lol #yourewelcome). I gave up all of my hobbies, weekends and free time and dedicated it to the blog #fortheblog because I was juggling two full time jobs, there wasn’t even time to sleep let alone go to brunch with the girls.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I LOVED doing both even if I had to give up sleep and my social life lol – that’s why I did it for so long! After living in denial, the time has come to be honest with myself – I can’t do both, it’s not sustainable to sleep 10ish hours a week lol and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it #theyredesigner, I was always getting sick and feeling awful plus I felt like I couldn’t give either of my jobs the 3000% they both deserved. I had to pick one – be Courtney or Color Me Courtney because being both wasn’t working anymore.
And Now …
So with a seriously heavy heart, I had to say goodbye to the unexpected “dream job” of being a product developer at Coach that Courtney came to love so much, and make the room, time and effort for Color Me Courtney to focus on building her Color Me Empire 😉 full time! It was tough but it had to be done – and now I’m even more inspired and dedicated to creating killer content and instilling serious confidence in my readers.
Let’s rewind …
I think a lot of people outside the blogging world think running a site is easy, and all bloggers do is shop, take ice cream pics and smile for the camera. While all of that is part of it (and would be with or without Color Me Courtney, because sprinkles) I only wish it was that easy. I consider myself and my site a brand, and treat it just like I would any client if I was representing them on a PR and marketing level – but the stakes are so much higher because I’m lucky enough to have loyal followers who deserve nothing but the best. I have to remain protective of my brand; only working with other brands and organizations that align with me and my message. I basically have to be my own CEO, CMO, CFO, editor in chief, brand strategist, PR department, and everything else, oh and model lol jk you guys know I’m not a model, I just dance and Paris takes pictures haha ! Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t vogue (LOL) and never will be, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have serious goals for Color Me Courtney or take it seriously (or haven’t in the past) but I’m now able to take things to the next level – especially in the content department!
My background is kind of odd. My dad is wicked smart, and the hardest working person, like ever. He has a doctorate in math – WHO DOES THAT – unless you’re insane. He’s basically a walking calculator. He built his business from nothing and (perhaps) the most impressive part is every time he reaches a level where he could walk away and sell or retire, he invests everything he has into something new and builds another, some how taking it to another level. it’s kind of crazy. My mom (aside from being the best person on this planet, seriously, all my friends agree they’ve never met someone so giving and inspiring) was a PR power house in the eighties #bighairdontcare, and became a stay at home mom when we were born … But not really cause she started building her interior design company, also from nothing. Now she does design, has another full time job and makes awesome diy projects in her spare time, like a airport bar cart she restored like it was nothing. She is dual parts creative and hard working and forever my inspiration #thanksmom and my younger brother ? So smart, so crazy smart in the most unconventional way. He’s as corny as Drake lol but maybe a little bit cooler (maybe), but he reads EVERYTHING, and retains info like no one else, he’s currently #byob-ing & working on two insanely innovative projects that will probably change the world – literally they’re that amazing, I wish I could tell you about it but it’s too advanced for me and I couldn’t even explain it if I tried lol. Oh and in his spare time, he works with homeless people and has them help him pick up trash in Arizona and when they do, he buys them meals. YEAH HE IS AWESOME.
So with a family like this – I really had no choice, I had to find my own way to try and make some awesomeness happen, somehow right? I ended up attending ASU for undergrad and graduating in two and a half years with undergrad degrees in business marketing and business tourism, plus certificates in professional writing and accounting. Then I went to grad school and did my MBA in a year at San Francisco state, earning a dual emphasis graduate degree in business studying luxury marketing and sustainability. I’m so thankful for my education, it’s really the best gift I ever received and now I get to use bits and pieces of it everyday at Color Me Courtney
So after a week of being my own boss I’ve learned so much about myself, my work ethic and my personal goals. I honestly thought it would be hard for me to not sleep past noon and keep up with emails, I mean I’m driven but I’ve never had this kind of freedom. It was the opposite, I worked harder than I ever have. I sent 3800 emails (I know bananas), developed ideas and secured partnerships for 17 different collaborative stories, had six meetings, went to one networking event and pulled three all nighters. I also watched four episodes of two broke girls and one of dance moms but who’s counting…
But wait, there’s more! I want to share every second with you, so I’ll be launching #BYOB(BB) – build your own business, blog, brand – a new segment where I’ll catalog what I learn along the way, share blog, business and branding tips and answer your questions ! I’ve been meaning to do something like this for like ever and I’ll finally have the time to create it and execute it the way I’ve always wanted to!
The best part? This is just the beginning ! So if you liked what you saw in 2015, get ready for a bold and bright year full of my best content yet as we take things to a whole other level! I honestly can’t thank you guys enough for following my yellow brick road of sprinkle colored craziness, it wouldn’t be half as fun without you along for the ride 🙂
I have so many amazing things in store for 2016 that I can’t wait to focus on – I promise to dream bigger, aim higher (Kristin), dress brighter (can you imagine?), inspire more and party harder (and by party, I mean eat sprinkles and dance like no one is watching lol) than I ever have before.
But I guess the point of this story is this…
1 – Live your dreams – Corny, I know but honestly none of this craziness would have happened to me if I didn’t reach for the stars and push myself beyond my limits.
2 – Want It All – Please know that it’s okay to have more than one dream or goal, and to pursue them all! Coach was always the dream I thought i wanted, but along the way I found the need to create something that was my own, a bright little spot on the web that might not change the world or become a billion dollar leather goods retailer, but could at least be a place for positivity and light, and what’s more fulfilling than that!? So yeah, you can have it all – even if they bring you on two (or three or four) totally different paths!
3 – Say thank you – I have to say thank you to my crazy supportive friends, my family, Paris (who I couldn’t do this without), my entrepreneur parents and brother who inspire me everyday and (perhaps most importantly) you guys. You guys are the reason I create – to inspire and promote positivity and confidence… And now; you guys are the reason I get out of bed every morning, the reason I was able to turn my passion into my business and the reason I get to call having the time of my life “work.”