September 25, 2017

An Interview with Senior Creative Services Manager Amy Nathanson


If a confetti cannon came to life, it would be less fun than Amy Nathanson. Here is a list of things Amy owns: neon cactus, crocheted mermaid tail, mounted plush flamingo head, and every animal-shaped Kate Spade bag, including the piƱata one. We went out for drinks once and she took me to a daiquiri factory with a self-serve candy bar. Did you know this existed? I didn't.

I met Amy through our shared friend bitch, Rita Davidson, and I'm convinced that when the two of them are alone under the cover of the full moon, they turn into flamingos. Do you know anyone who can get an NHL mascot to come to their birthday party? I do, and she's today's bitch. Meet Amy Nathanson!


What is your job title and where do you work?

I am the Senior Creative Services Manager at Destination Nashville and I have been with the company for almost 3.5 years. We are an all-female Destination Management Company that works with meetings and conventions that come to Nashville. We help them create, plan, and produce themed events, dinners, entertainment, tours, and transportation. Do you need live reindeer? Five 16-foot tall guitars? A Jane Lynch drag queen? I know a guy…

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I’ve been in the wedding and events industry for more than 10 years. In the past, I worked for several florists and a linen company, so basically everything that decorates a table. When I worked with flowers and linens, I was sales/creative/operations combined. Creating a vision with brides and setting up weddings was fun and fast-paced, but absolutely exhausting (like, my body actually hurt) with a poor work-life balance. My first day on the job at the linen company, I made a sales call to Destination Nashville. The minute I walked into their office, learned about what they did, and saw how they worked with one another, I was hooked. From that moment on, I was willing to do whatever it took to work for them! Eight months later, I was hired.

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

We’re not doctors and we’re not saving lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the highs and lows of this business—winning accounts, losing accounts, letting yourself get offended if someone doesn’t like your designs, etc. At the end of the day, and even though I absolutely adore what I do, I plan parties. I try to put it into perspective with the rest of the world and remember that what I get to do every day is pretty damn cool and makes a lot of people smile.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

To me, you’re really not going to be able to do the best job you possibly can until you have drunk (grammar check—oh Lord) the Kool Aid. Look for a job that physically makes you want to give 150% every day. Self-motivation is super important to me. Take ownership of your job and act like you own the company. If you’re not there yet, fake it ‘til you make it, honey.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

This is really funny because I was just thinking about this the other day. I totally want to take up things that I would have cried over, had my parents pushed me to do them when I was a kid. I want to learn French. I want to learn how to play the piano. I want to make all of the weird yarn crafts and dips I’ve saved on Pinterest. I’d probably also take a bunch of bizarre webinars and get certified to do questionable things.

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

Graduating college—hands down. Took me a while to find something that I really loved, and when I found Art History, I dug my claws in hard.

I hear you laughing about that Art History degree, but I actually got to use it this year at Destination Nashville. I took a favorite Rococo painting of mine (Fragonard’s “The Swing”) and designed an entire party around it—I wanted to go to there (thanks, Liz Lemon).


How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

I bake cakes! And pies and cookies and bread and bars... Something about measuring and stirring and frosting really calms my ass down. It teaches me patience on a level that I can understand and follow. The results are almost always amazing (tooting my own damn horn) and I get joy out of sharing them with people I love.

What’s a fear that keeps you up at night?

I’m single, I’m a homeowner, a new car owner, a cat mom, and a Kate Spade-addict with an active social life. I proudly juggle all of these things on my own and pray that they don’t come crashing down. I’m very happy to have made an awesome life for myself, but I just worry that it could all go “poof” at any moment.

What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?

I am not a wedding planner! I have paid my dues in the wedding industry and dealt with my fair share of crying brides and rude mothers. It taught me a lot, and I have a lot of friends that do this for a living that I respect VERY much, but I’ll never go back. I don’t do rose petals, I don’t do shoe decals, I don’t do upside down cakes that hang from the ceiling.


What does self-care look like in your life?

Self-care is watching Pioneer Woman in bed on a Sunday. Self-care is time for a manicure, it’s meal-planning, sometimes saying “no” to hanging out, Epsom salt baths, and lots and lots and LOTS of music.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

There is an Oh My Deer print from Porter Flea that hangs above my desk that says, “Be a Nice Human.” I love that and I love pointing to it when other people visit my desk and need to read it. You can be strong, intelligent, creative, and command attention and respect and STILL be a nice human being.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

Pretty sure there has only ever been one creative person in my entire family—my paternal grandma. She and my grandpa babysat me a lot when I was little and they would take me to museums, public gardens, great movies, cooking classes, plays, and we ate LOTS of desserts. She cooked and baked with me, made clay animals with me, taught me how to sew, how to read, explore, and garden. She loved gold lame, sequins, sparkles, big necklaces, and big sunglasses. She was smart as a whip, insanely funny, and so incredibly kind. I am proud to take after her and I think that I got all of my best qualities from her.


Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

My favorite TV show is either Law & Order: SVU, Pioneer Woman, or F*ck That’s Delicious (on Viceland). Favorite snack would have to be a cheese plate. I can make one virtually anywhere out of anything—it’s a gift.

All photos courtesy of Amy Nathanson

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Founder of Campaign Greenhouse, Kathryn Poindexter!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

September 18, 2017

An Interview with the Founder of Campaign Greenhouse, Kathryn Poindexter


One of the downsides to being politics-adjacent in Tennessee is having to maintain relationships with people who either support policies or candidates that you are spiritually, emotionally, and physically opposed to. But the upside is knowing the people behind the scenes. The people busting their humps to get better candidates on the ballot, and ultimately in office. It should come as no surprise that a lot of these people are women. And one such woman is today's bitch.

Kathryn and I were introduced via a mutual friend who, rightfully, knew that we would hit it off. We met at a conference and left 8 hours later with the determination that we were, in fact, sisters from another mister. It is an offense to the female friendship gods that we do not live in the same state. Take your time reading this one. There's a lot of gold sprinkled in these long answers. Meet today's bitch, Kathryn Poindexter!


What is your job title and where do you work?

I’m the Founder of Campaign Greenhouse – campaign management tools and coaching for new candidates and races with small budgets.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I got a job after college running a door-to-door fundraising canvass for the state PIRGs. I had no idea what I wanted to do besides that I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to be in charge. Having some autonomy and ownership that early in my career was super attractive to me, and the people were great. I stayed with the organization for 6 years and built a network of relationships that continues to be one of the most valuable assets I have.

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

Know when to throw money at a problem. Money can solve a host of problems, and it’s often the easiest solution. It’s easy to operate from a scarcity mindset, and I was extremely budget conscious for awhile. But being penny-wise means you can miss opportunities to make great financial decisions by spending a little money up front. Finding the right balance is a lifelong lesson.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

  • We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it
  • Don’t borrow trouble

In other words, doing the right work at the right time. In my day-to-day life, this means adopting a prioritization strategy where I build things when we need them now, but with an eye to the long-term so we don’t have to build them again. I learned this as a consultant – when a client asked for something, if I could answer their question in a way that created a resource I could use for other clients in the future, it felt like a better use of my time. For example, if someone asks how much something costs, instead of just answering them, why not spend a teeny bit of extra time making a price sheet?

As with all things, it’s a balance. On one end of the teeter totter, you can get caught unprepared and have to scramble or produce inferior work. On the other end of the teeter totter, you can spend a bunch of time planning or producing stuff you’re never going to need, or that you have to re-do later anyway. The sweet spot is surfing somewhere between the two.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Sleep! I just got diagnosed with narcolepsy, a disorder that means my brain handles sleep cycles differently. I need more sleep than neurotypical people do. I need it more frequently, and I have less control over where and when I fall asleep. It’s a disorder I’ve had since middle school, but am just now figuring out. Getting the diagnosis has been pretty cool – it’s explained a bunch of stuff and given me permission to try some new coping strategies, like getting a lot more sleep, building naps into my schedule more aggressively, and letting myself drink as much coffee as I want. But the answer is still always sleep.

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

As of this moment, Campaign Greenhouse is a core team of 8 people, an outer ring team of almost 100, we have candidates in 8 states, and we have our first win under our belts. I’m both unsurprised and incredibly proud that we have made it this far. We are trying to solve a host of big civic problems all at once in a fairly complicated and revolutionary way, and it’s starting to take off!

But I’ve been working on this since 2013, when I started it by myself, did lots of planning, and ran out of time, money, and emotional ability to hear no. There are still plenty of days that I bang my head against a wall and berate myself for not finding some nice boring job – but the fact that I’ve been able to push through the loneliness and doubt, highs and lows of expectation, disappointment and cash flow, and still show up at work every day, is a real accomplishment. (There are definitely days when I just can’t show up and I let myself have those too.)

And it’s super important that I remember to be proud of myself fairly regularly. I spend plenty of time in rooms full of men who feel more comfortable than I do taking credit for success, and my ability to appear capable, accomplished and successful next to them has real implications for my ability to make the deals I need to be successful. It’s a vicious cycle and I try to stay on the sunny side of that loop.


How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

Sleep is probably the answer to this question too. My other priority besides work is relationships – I try to spend enough time with my large and lovely chosen family, especially real downtime where we don’t have to be anywhere and we can just talk and laugh. Being outside is real medicine for me and I am actively trying to spend more time outside.

What’s a fear that keeps you up at night?

Can’t answer this because then I would have to think about my fears. I have spent many years building coping tools I need to handle fear – the most paralyzing force in the universe. I count primarily on compartmentalization – my fears live in a file room, each in a locked (and neatly labeled) drawer. They’re always accessible, but I don’t have to interact with them until one of them starts to rattle its drawer and then I deal with it in a therapy session. I started EFT tapping with a therapist about 3 years ago, and it been a monumental tool to add to my life. My close friends have remarked at how much growth they have seen in me since then. It’s a little weird, but it’s worth checking out.

What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?

Strangers often think because I work in politics, I want to discuss politics. Nope! It’s still one of those off-limits topics, along with money and religion (and I’ll add in food and child-rearing). I usually respond with a big smile and say, “Well, if I answered that question I’d be legally required to charge you $250 an hour!” It’s not quite true, but it conveys the message effectively.


What does self care look like in your life?

I’ve been looking for the keys to self-care for awhile – the one or two power pieces that when in place, make everything else feel easier. I think I’ve identified one – a clean house. When my apartment is in order I’m more relaxed, I’m getting more sleep, I’m more likely to work out and eat something healthy and feel generally better about life. So I’ve started throwing money at that problem – in addition to a house cleaner, I send out my laundry and I hired an organizer to help me de-clutter and create places for everything. It feels like a life hack, like I’m cheating the system. It’s delightful and it makes me happy and sometimes I just giggle when I think about it. It’s also an easy first expense to give up, which gives me some needed flexibility in my budget.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

Audre Lorde said, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” The idea that fear is irrelevant is really freeing. It doesn’t actually matter if I’m afraid; it’s a totally normal part of both life and business, and it’s not a piece of information that I need to factor into decision-making. It means I don’t have to worry about figuring out how to NOT be afraid – that seems much harder. There’s room for the fear to stay, but it doesn’t have any power.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

So, so many. I feel quite closely connected to a huge cohort of women in my industry. I visualize us tightly linked at the elbows and moving forward together. Without the email groups and social media support and happy hours and hugs and tears and “that’s effed up” and “I see you, girl,” I can guarantee I would not be where I am. I would have been unable to get out of bed at least half the time. Then there are the business deals that come with that huge cohort, I’ve done pretty well prioritizing connections with women in an industry full of men. There are the almost exclusively women of color who do the invisible work to support my life – the amazing concierge at my apartment building, the people who do my laundry, the team who cleans my house. And Greenhouse specifically is built on this amazing group of highly accomplished women who have individually said, “I want to help” and are each doing pieces of the work that has to get done. One friend of mine is doing scheduling for me while she’s on parental leave from her job. It’s been a really critical resource.


Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

I’m so behind on TV. I am waiting for Grey’s Anatomy to come back; it’s an old favorite and I always make time for it. I also really like the Mireille Enos Peter Krause show that’s happening. Homeland, in spurts, when I can handle the stress.

Favorite snack. I want to say nuts or avocado but I have to be real and say just cheese, always cheese, forever cheese.

All photos courtesy of Kathryn Poindexter

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Fashion Blogger, Porsche Pope!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

September 6, 2017

September Issues


There is a day, every August, I awake with the memory of pumpkin spice on my tongue and the imagined feel of a thick, wool scarf around my neck, like a phantom sartorial limb, and I know it's time. It is time to buy the magazines.

I moved to New York City after college and worked for Gloria Vanderbilt's home furnishings company. My boss came from the fashion world, so my job every morning was to go through Women's Wear Daily and the trade magazines and pull trends. The things I pulled went directly onto the mood boards that hung above the collections. My point? I'm good at magazines.

My take-aways from the fall '17 magazines? Animal print, duh, but luxe animal print. Think velvet, velour, and faux fur. The Formation / military jacket is back, but with more bedazzling and a boxier silhouette. Bright, bold florals on top of more bold, bright florals, but with black (!!). Think more Heathers and less Kate Spade.


Wow, Vogue looks good to be 125 years old. Weighing in at 775 pages, this behemoth will set you back $9.99. Is it worth it? Yes. Plus, you can finally be in on all the Twitter jokes about how the liberal elites co-opted the Statue of Liberty.


This is just a page advertising Vogue's 125th anniversary edition, but I love this mix of colors and patterns. If I had a mood board, I'd put this on it.


Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Etro, Marni

Animal print!

"Ha-ha," they said when I bought a velour animal print robe to wear as a jacket. Well, dear Instagram follower, who's laughing now?


Gucci, J. Crew

I'm glad to see the return of the floral bomber jacket because I bought two last year, both from Goodwill, natch. I don't do sexy secretary, but I'm intrigued by this double floral, as opposed to how I usually wear mine - with an ironic tee and ripped boyfriend jeans.

I feel ridiculous every time I tie a bandana around my neck, but I refuse to quit trying to pull this look off. Thanks for the validation, J. Crew.


I pulled the most from this magazine, so if you only want to spend $5.99, buy Elle. It has 500 pages, so still a lot of bang for your buck. I have no idea who this is on the cover though.


Ralph Lauren, Missoni

For those of you just waking up from a coma, or not on Instagram, oversized blazers are big (heh) for fall. But don't buy a designer one. Go get one for $6 from Goodwill. I pulled these pictures because I've recently bought blazers in both of these patterns. And I just got them back from the dry cleaners, so watch out!


Chloe, Bally

Okay, two things. One, I love a purse in an interesting shape, even though most of them don't hold my iPad Mini phone. Where my 6sPlus users at? Two, I'm into these glossy black and red embellishments. Hot tip: there are $12 earring and pin versions of these at Pre To Post Modern. I bought the mouth earrings because they remind me of Rocky Horror Picture Show.


Stella Luna, Loeffler Randall, Vans, Nike Air Jordan III, Dr. Martens

Those of you old enough to have had to wear stilettos until SATC went off the air will rejoice with me at the resurgence of tennis shoes as fashion. I have checkerboard Vans, but I want some hightop Airwalks and OG Doc Martens. I'm also super into these v-shaped shoes everyone is wearing.


Loewe, Michael Kors Collection

In 2005, John and I were still early enough in our relationship to do couples Halloween costumes. John was an astronaut and I was his alien bride, which was presumptuous because we had barely been dating a year. I digress. My costume was a silver lame dress (that I still have). So, two things: I am relationship psychic and fashion psychic. Take note.


Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garcons, Libertine

This picture on the left is probably my favorite outfit in all three magazines. So this is a faux-fur animal print coat over a hoodie, over leather pants. I can't even. If I die this season, bury me in this.

I had a pair of giraffe print pants in college that I TREASURED. They were from the Victoria's Secret catalogue, circa 1996. These $1,000 Libertine pants remind me of them, and of the Sigma Chi formal in Atlanta I wore them to.


Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci

I love all of this. It's hard to tell, but the shoes in the left are animal print patent leather oxfords! I swear to God, I will be haunted to the day I die by the things I don't buy in thrift stores. Years ago, I found an embellished, box, denim jacket with shoulder pads, fringe and huge gold buttons and I didn't buy it. Why aren't there time machines yet?! P.S. These mid-length tweed skirts are a dime a dozen at the thrift stores and I love them punked out like this with a hoodie, moto jacket and combat boots.


I like Marie Claire. They have a good mix of fashion, think pieces, and book reviews. There's a lot in this magazine, I had just already flagged most of it. For only $4.99, it's worth buying.


Chanel

Obviously, none of us are buying Chanel, but, I found a thrifted version of this exact skirt at Goodwill recently. I had it on my rack at the September Sip, Style, and Shop event. Someone bought it. If it was you, tag me in a picture! I like these pleated skirts and I'm glad the trend isn't over yet.


Michael Kors Collection, Balenciaga, Jeremy Scott

Oh hello, more textured animal print. Is this the year I finally buy faux-fur? Can I pull off an eye patch? It's designer...


Pierre Hardy, Fratelli Rossetti

You guys, I'm going to go balls to the wall in silver lame this season. Just you wait. I love those silver stacked heel boot-shoes. I pulled the other page because there's another mid-length pleated skirt, and because I like those thick soled loafers with the buckle and tassel.


Gucci

Can you tell I love this jacket? I also love this zip-up, sweater jacket. I'm really into a bright floral on a black background. Thrifted version of this, I will find you!

P.S. Want more? Check out my September Issues post from 2016!

P.P.S. I'm sharing tips on creating a street style look on a budget here.

August 28, 2017

An Interview with Fashion Blogger Porsche Pope


If you're anti nice people who take gorgeous photos, move along. Everyone else, meet your new best Instagram friend! You know I'm a champion of women who give up the 9-to-5 and strike out on their own, and today's bitch did just that. Oh, and did I mention she has a husband, two kids and two dogs? Yeah.

I've been following Porsche online for awhile, admiring her love of a bold print and a bold lip. A woman after my own heart. I finally had the opportunity to meet her when we hosted a shopping event for Goodwill. Easily, seventy percent of the people who showed up were for Porsche. Her following is legit. All the friends I made that night were friends of Porsche's. If you're a working woman getting back into the professional field on a budget, Porsche is who you want to follow. Meet today's bitch, Porsche Pope!


What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I am a fashion blogger, personal shopper, and designer. The name of my business / brand is Polished Pope, Inc.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I have been fascinated with design and fashion since I was a little girl. I went to college and studied Interior Design. I have always known that I wanted to become a well known designer, but just recently within the last few years I tapped into fashion. I introduced my blog to the world this past December and it has been so great developing this entity of my brand.

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

Stay in your lane, try not to compare yourself or your business to anyone else, and be patient with yourself.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

Persistence is key, work off of momentum. Just having a meaningful goal is not enough. To make a difference, you must continuously take action. Work daily towards achieving your goals. Persistence is necessary, as meaningful goals don’t come easy.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

This may sound cheesy, but I would dive into a book. I have so many books that I haven’t read and more books that I want to read. I do not care for the idea of audiobooks because I'm stubborn. I want to flip through the pages and highlight key sentences. Journal about my thoughts, etc... Cheesy, I know.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

The biggest sacrifice that my family and I have made, which has been a huge blessing, is losing the extra income from my full-time job. I no longer have that “extra" or "secure" income. We have to manage our budgets monthly, sometimes daily, because as an entrepreneur, in the beginning stages, it takes time to build. That also applies to the financial aspect of business.


What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

I am sure that this is coming with age, but I am so much more confident about most decisions that I make as it relates to who I am, what I believe in, my personal needs, my family's needs, and business decisions. I no longer have to ask for anyone's opinion.

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

I wish I was more consistent about this, but with every season, our morning rituals and routines change a little, especially when the children are home from school in the summer. We get so lax about things. Every evening before bed I look over and check off things that I have completed, and those things that I have not, I schedule into other days. Most mornings, I look over my schedule and I try to keep my planner with me at all times to stay on task and to hold myself accountable. I do not have a realistic “routine” to be honest.

How do you decompress at night?

I usually try to do something for myself and that usually ends up being watching a tv show, catching up on social media... Nothing super productive, right?


What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

When I am stuck I turn to my business coach, aka my sister. I have a few inspirational quotes hanging in several places around the house, but this one is my most favorite.

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

What does self care look like in your life?

Meditation, bible verse writing, and really sitting still to listen to myself and my higher power to help make sound decisions. Otherwise I am afraid that I may turn into a crazy person juggling all the things. I can feel myself getting to a crazy point before I get there. I am really great at stopping that. I wish that I could say my self care is going for a mani / pedi, a massage, etc. But I haven’t gotten there yet!

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

To name a few, my business coach, aka sister Arletta Moore, who for most of her life was a successful mechanical engineer turned empowerment engineer. Oprah, of course, for obvious reasons, and Martha Stewart.


Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

My favorite tv show at the moment is Fixer Upper, and my favorite snack is Lacey Cookies.

All photos courtesy of Porsche Pope

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Actor and Model, Elisabeth Donaldson!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

August 23, 2017

Being Vulnerable Online


This year, am I right? I've had days where I've thought, okay, just do the first thing you have to do, then do the next thing, and then do the thing after that. I'll get through the day, then wake up the next day and think, oh God, I have do that all over again.

Where do you share that? Facebook is a dumpster fire, hardly anyone I know in real life is on Twitter, what Instagram-worthy picture encapsulates: hello, my life is on fire? Do I start a newsletter? I Made It Through This Week:  The Kim Baldwin Weekly. And more importantly, will I regret it if I open up online? Are people going to judge me and talk about me behind my back?

In the ten year (!!) history of this blog, there are a lot of vulnerable, personal posts. Do I regret writing any of them? No. Have I regretted being vulnerable online? Not really. Now, I've certainly written things, hit Publish, and then spent the next thirty minutes feeling like there were fire ants pulsing through my veins. But I have never received anything other than love and support in response to showing my real self online.

This year has probably been one of, if not the, hardest years of my life. And I have written nothing about it, at least not here. Why? Because I run a client-based business. I can't tell you how many meetings I walk into where the client or potential client says, "We love your blog!" And then I walk back to my car thinking, thank God I didn't write any personal posts this year. They don't know I lost my confidence, lost myself, almost lost my marriage, secretly work at a restaurant two days a week, see two therapists, attend a weekly group meeting, and am not allowed to weigh myself. They just think I'm funny. Hooray!

I was thirty-one when I started this blog, and I didn't go into therapy until I was thirty-eight, so there are seven years of posts where I'm airing grievances or vaguely crying for help. In my defense, isn't that what your thirties are for? But now, in my (early) forties, I'm struggling with how to be vulnerable online from an older, tiny bit wiser, perspective. Do I just want to share that I'm struggling, or do I want to wait until I'm out of it, and then share what I've learned? Usually, by the time I'm out of it, I don't feel like taking about it anymore. The struggle is where my voice shows up.

Here's what I want to say. Life knocked the wind out of me last July. I made it through the year on auto-pilot, then in April, I bottomed out. I have PTSD and attachment trauma and for the first time, they were both activated at the same time. I felt so much perceived emotional and physical threat, that part of my brain clicked off. I had to get body work done (shout-out to Reiki) to release the trauma so my brain could come back online.

I've done some heavy emotional lifting in the last four months, and I'm through the darkest part, in fact, as a friend said over the weekend, "You've got your mojo back." And I do. While I've never regretted being vulnerable online, I would have regretted not sharing this.

If you're in the cave, reach out, there are a few of us who deserve, and know how, to hold space with you. A heart on an Instagram post goes a long way sometimes.

August 22, 2017

An Interview with Actor and Model Elisabeth Donaldson


A year ago, I was leaving my favorite Goodwill when I noticed that they had a magazine and on the cover was this fiery redhead in a sweater with a horse head on it. I was like, Goodwill has a magazine? Who is this awesome girl? And where did she find that sweater? I found her on Instagram and have spent the better part of this year amazed at the outfits she puts together - all thrifted.

I finally had the pleasure of meeting Elisabeth a few weeks ago when we were both tapped to host a shopping event for Goodwill. I was in the back of the store furiously trying to organize my rack and hang magazine tear-out sheets onto each individual hanger. Elisabeth came in and was like, don't do that, your rack is going to get destroyed in the first five minutes. She was right. I mean, I still did it, but she was right. Friends, meet the thrifter taking Instagram by storm, Elisabeth Donaldson!


What do you do and what is the name of your blog?

I am lucky enough to create many different forms of art and entertainment for a living. My bread and butter is acting and modeling and I have been lucky enough to work for some really wonderful film and music video projects over the past few years. My blog is 365daysofthrift.

When did you first learn about fashion bloggers? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

In this millennial era I feel like blogger presence has sort of crept in like a fog over the past several years, so it’s not something I can really put my finger on. If I’m being honest, I knew I wanted to start a blog when this adorable hip grandma at the GW with her granddaughter kept saying, “Oooh girl!” when I would come out of the dressing room, and then enthusiastically told me that If I had a blog, she would follow it. Truly, that was the spark that started it all.

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

That to keep anything going, you have to be constantly creating it. I love this because it really puts me as the cause point of my personal, professional and creative life. If I’m feeling bummed because something has ceased to exist, I just have to start creating on it again.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

That you absolutely cannot ever violate your own personal integrity - ever. Everyone always has an instant knowingness of what is right and wrong for them. This can be as simple as buying a shirt or as far reaching as what choices to make regarding your life and future or difficult ethics situations. I think we all have an awareness of what our own personal truth is and whenever we violate our own truth and personal integrity, it never ends well.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

I would create more. If I had my way, I would want my life to be totally set up so I can simply be creative almost 100% percent of the time. I’m getting there.

What has been the best thrift find you’ve made?

Dang, that’s tough, but the first thing that comes to mind is a red plaid long blazer with embroidered purple and yellow eighties gloves on the chest and pocket, complete with a tissue and a piece of butterscotch candy in the pocket. I keep the candy in there because is so freaking novel...


What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to your blog?

Last year Betsy and I were awarded as the Goodwill Ambassadors of the year. This really meant a lot to me because I really believe in what Goodwill does as a charity and I feel so honored to be able to do my part to help others get rehabilitated through the power of work, while also showing that you can have high style at a low environmental, as well as financial, cost.

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

LOL, I wish. Being a freelance creative means that your schedule is eternally changing, which I actually love, but I’m constantly wishing I was one of those morning ritual people… Having a cup of coffee is about as close as I come.

How do you decompress at night?

I think I’m lucky. I’m a high energy, yet relaxed person. Not that I don’t ever get nervous or anxious - because I have ample experience with both, but when I come home at night, the decompression is just a natural process. If it’s been a rough day, or if I’m worked up, I go for a run outdoors if I can. I find that getting actual physical space, without the interference of conversations or technology, is one of the most therapeutic agents there is.


What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

If I’m stuck I just get into physical action, like cleaning, running, bad dancing, doing. I’m a hardcore do-er. I’m a huge believer that action is very senior to thinking. If I’m stuck, I certainly don’t want to dive into my mind where all the stuck thoughts are. I want to move, I want to do, I want to create, I want to engage, I want to make physical contact with the universe around me. All of my very best ideas come to me when I’m jogging or engaged in some sort of rapid physical action.

What does self care look like in your life?

I think the most vital piece of self care that anyone can engage in is to never invalidate yourself. I think self invalidation and self doubt are powerfully destructive and usually lead to other destructive habits and behaviors. I think we all have that little asshole in our head who says negative things to us. I work hard to treat that f--ker like a bully at school. Ignore it, stay away from it, don’t engage with it. If it gets loud, I just get busy and out-create it. I don’t even let my friends put themselves down around me. Especially as women. It’s so vital that we love ourselves, like every single freaking part of ourselves. When you do it opens the door to give others permission to do the same. I think loving yourself is one of most ethical things you can possibly do, because the more you give yourself permission to be, the more that will flow out into the way you regard others and the world.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

I am so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing women. From my mom, to my sister, friends, mentors, colleagues… Maybe this sounds Pollyanna of me, but I feel like every single woman who is out there holding her own, being present and bravely contributing herself to this world is paving the way. I am incredibly lucky to have friends and family who support the wild crazy creative that I am. Creative life is a beautiful challenge and being surrounded by a tribe that believes in you is VITAL.


Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

Panda licorice, chips and salsa, homemade waffles and mangoes (not together). My favorite TV show is The Get Down because when I grow up I want to be Baz Luhrmann.

All photos courtesy of Elisabeth Donaldson

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Publicist, Amanda Virgillito!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

August 14, 2017

An Interview with Publicist Amanda Virgillito


Public Relations is one of those things a lot of people misunderstand. PR, marketing, social media - is there a difference? I'm so glad you asked! Yes, there is a difference. I have many a well-meaning friend who think I do PR. Social media and PR are different jobs, which is why I was thrilled when I finally landed a publicist for this series.

Do you like good food? Do you eat out a lot in Nashville? Well, then you've probably eaten at one of the many restaurants today's bitch does PR for. Like all "fun" jobs, it looks fun because the bulk of the work is behind the scenes. I've seen Amanda in action and her hustle is #real. Meet today's bitch, Amanda Virgillito!


What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I own Squeaky Wheel Public Relations, and I am a publicist for local restaurants and food/drink brands in Nashville. Public relations means different things to different people, but I view myself as a conduit between my clients and the media, and ultimately the public. PR boils down to strong relationships, strategy, and timing.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I went to MTSU and majored in news editorial journalism, but I was not cut out to be a reporter. I shifted gears to nonprofit arts and bugged the kind folks at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center until they gave me a job. I worked in their education and outreach department for a year, and then moved over to the communications team. I didn’t know how well suited I was for this gig until I landed in the role. I don’t really believe in fate, but finding this career makes a good case for ‘meant to be.’ I never took a single PR class.

I knew it was what I wanted to do when I found myself willingly dreaming up ideas for work outside of work hours. I’ve worked for a nonprofit, a small hospitality-focused PR agency, and now my own company, and I’ve never considered doing anything but PR.

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

If you make a mistake, own it, fix it, and move on.

Also, make a point to send handwritten thank you notes.

Specific to my career: you have to make peace with never being in the spotlight. Publicists work behind the scenes.


Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work

Lesson?

There is a list of humbling moments I could share, but as I previously mentioned “own it, fix it, and move on.” I’m still learning not to dwell. I can easily fall into a place of self-inflicted guilt for mistakes, but that’s neither healthy nor productive.

Improvement?

I have to be connected to and passionate about my clients, otherwise I’m doing dishonest work. It’s all about chemistry. It’s like dating in a way. I’m a one-woman show and I work with locally owned businesses, so we have to hit it off. I know I can do the work, but am I excited about the work? I need to be. “Don’t hire a vegetarian to rep your BBQ restaurant,” is something I say to every potential client.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Can they be in the middle of the day? If so, I’d get in a proper work out, take a long shower, and indulge in a midday nap.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

I don’t know how to answer this one. I own a company, I have a roster of clients I am passionate about, and I have a flexible schedule that allows me to take time with my kids. I’m incredibly fortunate and privileged. However, I’ve certainly made choices that have consequences.


What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

Every client I have has come to me through recommendations from members of the media, colleagues, or other clients. That floors me and makes me pretty proud.

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

I wake up and pick up my phone. If you say you don’t do the same you’re lying. But my necessary morning ritual is coffee. I invested in an electric milk frother that turns a basic brewed cup of coffee into something luxurious. When it’s not hot outside, I sit on my covered porch and savor that cup. I’m an early riser and it’s my quiet time before I wake up the kids and the hustle begins.

How do you decompress at night?

I can’t rest until I’ve made my daily list. Handwritten ‘to do’ lists are the way I stay sane. By the end of the day my list is scribbled on, wrinkled and messy, so I transfer the things that didn’t get done onto a fresh page and add the new tasks. I use colorful markers and crisp, white paper. I sleep well knowing my list is ready for the next day. Also, I catch up on Twitter.


What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

A good cry. Crying is like farting. Hold it in and you’ll be full of discomfort. Let it out in private and you’ll feel much better. After I cry there’s clarity.

What does self care look like in your life?

Mental health days. A former boss taught me that ‘sick days’ can and should be for both mind and body, so occasionally I take a day to reset.

More frequently, I bake. My life tends to resemble ingredients in a blender or spaghetti thrown at the wall, so I take great comfort in the exactness of baking. It requires focus and I forget about everything for a little while. Plus, at the end there’s the reward of dessert. I love dessert so damn much.

Sleep is crucial.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

My mom was both parents. She worked two jobs. She simultaneously provided and taught me to provide for myself. I moved out and was essentially financially independent at 17. She has always said she raised her kids to be able to live without her but never want to, and she succeeded. We talk every day. I run most decisions by her but they’re ultimately my decisions.

Every boss I’ve had in my career is a woman. It is immensely inspiring to work for smart, motivated women who empower their employees. Kathleen O’Brien started out at TPAC as the public relations manager, which was the job I held there, and she’s now president and CEO. She also took the time to meet with me when I was a college senior. I realize now that she didn’t have time to do that, but she did it anyway.

My immediate supervisor at TPAC, Lori Ward, thrived in a communications career and as a single mom. I’m in that role now, and it’s no easy feat. She taught me that compassion matters in the workplace. She gave me the freedom to make my own choices; even when she saw a mistake coming, she let me make it and learn from it.

Susan Andrews founded The Andrews Agency more than 20 years ago and she’s a force. I learned a great deal from her professionally and personally, though I’m still working on achieving her level of confidence.


Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

Currently, I can’t get enough of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I tend to be unimpressed by comedy, but that quirky, smart writing leaves me gasping for breath from laughing. I think Titus Andromedon deserves his own show.

I never regret watching CBS Sunday Morning. I also never regret watching Real Housewives of New York City. Don’t @ me.

My favorite snack? Tortilla chips and most any dip. Cheese dip, salsa, bean dip, plain sour cream, guacamole, and any dip that uses cream cheese as a base. Those layered dips? The best. Oh! Rotel dip. Who doesn’t love dip? Now this is stuck in my head.

All photos courtesy of Amanda Virgillito

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  YEAH! Executive Director, Sarah Bandy!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

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