Wednesday, June 3, 2015

{working girls: dylan}

You all know Dylan: my singing partner, occasional Lively Liv blogger, best friend in the whole wide world, twin sister.  She's been working for two years (this week!) in the wonderful city of NYC & has been rocking it since day one.

She recently started a new gig at a crazy cool company {of which I have access to an employee discount—I hope? Dyl?—but for some reason have yet to take advantage of} that I can't wait for you to read about. Dylan is the person I turn to for advice on everything, especially on my career; because even though she is only 31 minutes younger, and would disagree with this statement, she seems to have it all figured out. 

Before we get to her interview, I just wanted to say that although I have been enjoying reading all of my friends' responses, I was most struck by this one. Going into this, I thought I'd be able to guess all of Dylan's answers, or have a good idea of what she'd write, since we share so much with each other already. As it turns out, Dyl's interview was most fascinating to me, since the way she explained her life and job was surprising and different from what I'd originally thought. Pretty cool.

Okay, that's enough of an introduction...enjoy!

Tell me a little about yourself. Age // where you’re from // where you currently live.
I’m 23, from Radnor (Philadelphia suburb) and have lived in New York City for the last two years.

Where did you go to college? What did you major in?
I went to Loyola University Chicago and I majored in Advertising and Public Relations, and had a minor in Marketing.

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
New York is very energetic and has a lot of momentum, which is a great environment to be in when you are in your twenties.  I love the challenge of living in NYC and I've learned a lot since moving here, especially when it comes to budgeting, taking things in stride and being okay with having very little time when you're in a quiet space, alone :)  In all honesty, living here can be hard and suffocating.  It’s long and non-stop work days, crowded and hot subway rides, small but expensive apartments (with the frequent mouse), and in my case, never being able to leave the grocery store without spending $40 (even if you’re buying like, 3 things.)

On the flip side, all of my favorite things about NYC are cliché and totally outweigh the negatives.   I love that I can get gluten-free dumplings delivered to me at any hour of the night; I love wandering West Village’s charming streets and dreaming of the day I can afford my own townhouse;  I love the classic black and white check tile floors and exposed brick in my first tiny, East Village walk-up.  I love the dozens of nights I spent last summer on (technically) non-access rooftops gazing at the amazing skyline with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.  I love that the city no longer feels like a big or a scary place to live.  It's also one of the best cities to launch an advertising career.  I don’t see myself here forever, but these last few years have been pretty spectacular and I’m lucky to call it home.

Let’s get down to it: what do you do?  Walk me through a day in your life.
I actually just started at a new job a few months ago as the Client Services Manager at goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s e-commerce and lifestyle brand.  The Ad Sales team and I create meaningful and impactful brand partnerships to benefit both goop and our clients.  I spearhead building out the media plans, assisting pre and post-sale.  I manage the ad placements and work with the client, editorial team, rich media agency and developers to launch the media on site.  A huge part of my job is also building new advertising space on our site and within our newsletter, which is goop's "gold".  The company is still considered a start-up so it’s an all hands-on-deck situation.  Every day is very busy and non-stop!

Travel back to when you were a freshman in college. Looking ahead, did you see yourself doing what you’re doing now?
Yes and no.  I definitely thought I would be in advertising but never expected to land in digital media.  I also probably would have never guessed to be working client-side (vs. agency) so soon in my career, but this opportunity landed in my lap and felt so right...I just couldn’t say no.  That last part is critical - I've been saying yes to opportunities that come my way, whether or not they've been right on paper or even if they seemed daunting.  If the job was going to teach me something new and open more doors for the future, than I accepted, and so far that has worked out for me.  I've also gotten to where I am today because of thoughtful, smart networking.  A lot of the interviews I've landed have been from initial introductions through family, friends of friends, past co-workers, etc. I didn't just take a hand out though...I interviewed and fully earned every job myself by showing up, working hard and trying to make a name for myself.  So looking back I wouldn't have thought I'd be where I am, but I think there's a lot of beauty in that.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?  Or, what is most rewarding about your job?
I have a few favorites so far.  I love how each campaign I work on is so very different than the next.  For example, one might be all digital and then another might have a gorgeous event to kick it off in Paris with supporting digital components.  My second fave is the strong and highly successful women leading this team. The roster of talent running goop is unmatched and I feel so lucky to learn from their example everyday.  Lastly - and I want to say this in the most modest way possible - I scored a really incredible gig that has given me more responsibility than I could have ever imagined to have at 23.  I'm so grateful for the knowledge, experience and exposure this opportunity is providing me.

The most rewarding part of advertising (to me at least) is seeing my work right in front of my eyes.  I find it so cool to see the advertisements I helped create, execute and set live on goop, and to think millions of other people are seeing it too is pretty crazy.  My team is creating some of the most beautiful and native ads I've ever seen.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Before goop I worked at a large media agency and was on a very supportive team of around 40, many of whom became my best friends in the city.  If I didn’t know the answer to something or felt lost, I had at least 10 people at a given time I could go to for help.  I'm on a tiny team at goop and a majority of my responsibilities don't overlap with anyone else's, so I'm on my own for a lot.  I think that’s been the biggest adjustment so far: learning to trust myself and have confidence that I probably know more than I give myself credit for.  That being said, there are more days than not when I'm staring at my computer screen thinking to myself "What do I do?! What is going on??" and frantically IMing my sister to vent :) Having a lot of responsibility can be scary and I unfairly expect myself to know all the answers all the time.  I have to give myself daily reminders that 1.) I'm probably doing fine and over-thinking it 2.) It's completely acceptable to ask questions and 3.) As my former boss used to tell me, I'm not a doctor saving's just media and everything is going to be okay!

I’m always curious about what people wear to work, since it all depends on the industry they’re in, how they get to work (sneakers vs. heels), etc.  Describe your work style.
The advertising industry is very generous when it comes to dress code and goop's is what I call stylish-casual.  I'm really lucky because I can wear most of the clothes I own to work which makes investing in smart and versatile pieces really necessary.  My co-workers wear Prada, Helmut Lung and Intermix on a daily basis and I'm proudly rocking Top Shop/Anthro (sale)/J. Crew (outlet)/GAP because let's be real...I'm 23, earning a very modest living and not rolling in cash.  At first it made me self-conscious and I thought I had to spend half my paycheck at Barneys to keep up now that I'm at a very fashion-focused company.  But my mom brought me back down to earth and reminded me to just be myself (I guess I'll be Carrie Bradshaw or Rachel Green later in's fine.)  My everyday/work style is urban, minimalist and a tad bohemian.  I wear a lot of black and grey, and usually my pop of color comes from my lips!  I'm a huge lipstick wearer and think it can turn any outfit around; on days I dress more casual, I'll throw on a bright orange or pink lipstick to dress it up a little.

I have a 20ish minute walk to Bryant Park and I have to admit I've become one of those people that sometimes wears (fashionable!) Nikes on my commute.  It absolutely kills me.

Do you feel like you’ve nailed the work/life balance thing? If so, how?  If you don't, what's something that you do that helps you try to maintain that balance?
100% no and I've learned it’s one of the hardest things to do.  At my old job people joked I slept at the office because I was usually the first person there and one of the last to leave.  I hold very high expectations for myself and always stayed at work to finish just one more thing.  I would leave work at 10pm and run on the treadmill until 11pm, missing dinner completely.  It was not healthy, I was exhausted all the time, and it started impacting my overall physical and mental well-being.  My family and friends yelled at me a lot :)  I'm really trying to make some changes to my work/life balance but it's still such a work in progress.  I recently read a beautifully-written article about motherhood (random, I know) called When You are Tightly Wound and although I'm not a mom or wife in ANY way, I sat there thinking I had some of the same feelings after work.  By the time I get home I'm totally wired from having to speak intelligently, problem solve and be "on" for 10-11 hours straight.  Quite simply, I am wound.

To unwind, I find exercising in moderation is the best (for me), whether it's going to the gym, running outside or taking a workout class (fave in NYC is City Row).  I have a weird tendency of running half-marathons in late March/early April which forces me to stay active throughout the winter.  Sometimes that adds more stress (ha!) but mostly it encourages me to stay fit and helps clear my mind.  Other non-active things I do are watching Friends, Food Network or HGTV most nights before I go to bed, or reading a book to calm down a bit.  Finally, I've decided to cross another item off my bucket list and learn guitar!  It's my third week of class so far and although I've lost all feeling in my fingers, I'm so excited to already know two songs (U2 and John Lennon ones...what what!)  It's been a great way for me to relax while doing something that is not related to my computer or phone.  (Another huge plus is that I will finally be able to accompany myself singing and not be the less musically-talented Mullen twin! I'm coming for you Liv...)

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Either career, personal, or both.
To follow my own path and not compare myself to others.  When you have a twin sister, other siblings around the same age as you and friends starting out their lives right with you as well it can be really hard.  It’s so difficult not to second-guess every decision you’re making because your reality looks different than someone else’s.  This is especially true when living in New York; it's very easy to start comparing apartments, salaries, job titles, boyfriends (nope!) etc, to people in the city and beyond (I was semi-depressed after leaving my friend's Chicago apartment because it's basically a lakefront palace - still not over it.)  With that said, I’m proud I have created a life for myself that is authentic and feels so completely me.  I'm very lucky because my parents have never put any boundaries or expectations on who I am supposed to be, where I'm supposed to live, when I should marry, or what I'm supposed to accomplish in my life.  It goes without saying that they obviously expect I am a decent human being, contribute to society and follow the law, but outside of that they’ve given me the freedom to be myself and dream big, which has given me so much confidence.  I am very fortunate.

favorite workout song: I listen to a ton of techno and remixes - Talking Body (Gryffin Remix) by Tove Lo, Bloom by ODESZA, Pompeii (Audien Remix) by Bastille
best meal: gluten-free margherita pizza at La Soffitta Renovatio in Rome.  I'm also addicted to french onion soup (sans bread) which I enjoy pretty much anywhere I have it.
must-watch tv show: Veep (and if you're forward-thinking, Transparent.)
plane ticket to anywhere. you go to: Rome and then drive to the Almafi Coast. It’s a dream.


Don't compare! Who else has to remind themselves of that daily?

I love Dylan's yes philosophy. We should remember that even if something seems scary and daunting, we shouldn't be afraid to say yes and try it! No matter what happens, something valuable will come out of the experience and help shape the path to our next step. 

Thank you so much, Dylan, for your thoughtful answers.  


Monday, June 1, 2015

{bits + pieces}

Thought I'd do a catch up on random things...

+ First... how pretty are those flowers above?! I originally wanted to get peonies, but after learning they were $8.50 per! flower! {can you say w t f}, I settled for ranunculus.

+ I'm so happy people are enjoying the new Working Girls series! Many more fantastic interviews are down the pipeline, so make sure to come back & read! I'll be posting one interview per week.

+ Get ready for more design posts because...I'm moving! Not far—just to the room next door to mine in my apartment. It's way larger, has a much more natural light, & even has a fireplace! I have been Pinteresting-ing & browsing stores like crazy dreaming up my new space. I can't wait to move in.

+ Only downside is...there is no closet! Anyone have any tips/ideas for closet-less rooms? I'm not loving any wardrobe I'm finding {plus they are all pretty pricey}, so I'll be using clothes racks in the meantime. Which may finally force me to try doing a capsule wardrobe?

+ This weekend I spent a looooooong overdue 18 hours with my bff from high school while she was in town. It was such a whirlwind of a visit, but we took full advantage of every second.

+ No offense to that gal above, but I think I was most excited about going on my first hike post injury!  It's been over six months since my last one & I'm so happy to be back, quite literally, on my feet. {I wish I could show you the dramatic picture I made my bff take of me standing on a rock in celebration of this momentous occasion, but my eyes are closed in both?! of them, so...}

+ May weather in SF was terrible. While we desperately needed the sprinkles of rain we've been getting, I'm not a fan of the cold & cloudy temps! Here's to hoping June is better, even though I'm writing this as it's raining outside :/

+ Happy June!!