Finding My Next "Brand Next Door"

Friday, December 9, 2016

I was 11 or 12 the first time my mom took me to Gene Juarez. I felt so fancy. This place had pretty things and pretty people using paint brushes and foils on my hair instead of pulling it through a cap like they did at the little shop in a strip mall by Safeway in my hometown about an hour south of Seattle. This place made me feel like a princess. I always remembered it, especially after we moved to Idaho. As I've mentioned, the transition to a private Catholic high school in Boise as a brace-faced fourteen-year-old who came from a years of public schooling with people who smelled like patchouli (some of whom had parents who showered only a few times a week in a misguided effort to conserve water--for the environment, not for themselves) was rough. So my mom would fly me to Seattle for short weekends in the city and we went to Gene Juarez. We went to Nordstrom and we shopped. We went to Pike Place. We preserved both of our sanities.

Writing that just put all of my jobs into perspective. During my eight years in Seattle, I have worked for Nordstrom. I have worked in Pike Place. And now I'm working at Gene Juarez.


Excuse me while I take a moment to pace around and consider that all of this was pre-destined and subliminally planted in my brain space by MY MOM when I was little. WHY AM I SURPRISED.

You may have noticed that I've been on a winding and kind of confusing journey for the past eight-ish months. Admittedly, it's been weird.

I was laid off from my Pike Place Market job in March. My Uber driver on the way home that afternoon asked me how my day was going and I told him, "You know, not great. I just got laid off. It's my first time." He swung around in his seat, handed me his W2, and asked me what year my car was. I could drive Uber, he told me. He makes good money, he showed me. I had options. In a small way, that was comforting.

It took me five months to find what was next for me. It was an exercise in patience, which I lack. In high school, my dad would remind me of this every day as he rushed me to the door and then told me he needed to brush his teeth before driving me to school. Ohhhh, the fights we would have when he said that. I like control. I like to be in charge. I like to know what's coming. But, after eight years of being in the real world, the layoff really shoved me off that fear cliff I'd been standing on for a long time. I had to face it and I had to decide if I was going to fly. There are various reasons why I remained unemployed for five months, some to do with job inventory, some to do with f-f-f-a-t-e, and much to do with the lessons I think life was trying to teach me. In that time, we traveled to Montana, we drove Highway 1, I visited my mom a ton, we starred in an Alaska commercial, and I reconnected with longtime-not-so-lost friends. I'm grateful for it. The laundry was always done, dinner was always made, and I was always caught up on my shows. Plus, the cats were like, "Why are you killing our vibe?" and that was fun for me. Sure, I often felt like I was floundering. Yes, I absolutely felt like an unemployed loser on my thirtieth birthday and spent much of the morning of it laying on my bedroom floor throwing myself an itty bitty shitty party while taking deep breaths, but I wouldn't change it.

As soon as I decided to embrace the time I had and focus on personal fulfillment, I got a job. It was a contract role with Amazon supporting communications for Prime Air, the future drone delivery system designed to get small packages to customers in 30 minutes or fewer (can you tell I memorized the talking points?). It was great--and it sent me to the UK--but I knew it wasn't meant to be forever.

Then, just as quickly as I had been laid off eight-ish months ago, I got snapped up by Gene Juarez and all my pre-adolescent dreams started to come true. I don't know about you, but my pre-adolescent dreams were my best ones, probably my truest ones, and it turns out they've been guiding MY WHOLE LIFE.

So here I am. I'm in the game, baby. It's been a little over two weeks, but I feel like I've gotten my groove back. I'm working on some really cool personal projects I can't wait to share, and I'm hoping to make time to write more. Honestly, a lot of my motivation to write comes from creative fulfillment. I feel that now. I didn't then. Aside from watching Bravo on the couch with a fluffy animal in my lap, writing things down is the place I feel most at home.

I've learned I feel like my best self when I'm representing homegrown, Northwest brands full of people with similar interests in bad TV and beauty products. I'm excited to talk about it all more. Until then, I'll see you at the salon during my weekly blowouts.

This is from my first PR internship in Seattle when I was 22. We were unboxing Halloween costumes for our client, Savers/ Value Village. Sooooo much has changed since then. 

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