Woman Wednesday: Sam

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.


 

Q and A with Sam, Sunshine Fields, New Jersey 

“There’s such a disconnect now with the way we ‘should’ live our lives and the way we want to live our lives. I graduated college, received a degree, got a good job in a good city, and I’m sure to many that would be a total success story, but it wasn’t the end of mine.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: My largest passion is people- helping people and working with people. I think that’s partially why I wanted to start up my own businesses (so I could do that all of the time).

 

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My two current businesses are Forest & Farm and Sunshine Fields NJ (both I’m working on with my other half and partner of 4 years, who totally also deserves credit)! His name is Matt.

 

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Forest & Farm is our woodworking and home decor business. It basically started by us building all of the furniture for our first apartment together. Matt is an engineer, and I’m an artist. Together, we figured we’d DIY our way through everything (coffee tables, shelves, dinner tables, dressers…), and eventually, everything in our home became handmade! We wanted to share that with others, so we started wholesaling, retailing, and opened up our own Etsy shop. We are constantly doing custom made projects for people.

 

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Sunshine Fields is a 115+ acre family flower farm (Matt’s parents primarily grow wholesale flowers there, but we decided to open up to the public for the first time ever this year!) The two of us planted pumpkins together, cut a 5+ acre corn maze together, and crafted all of the games and activities for this two-month long fall festival. Again, we wanted to share this with others. This farm is such a peaceful place, filled with beautiful flowers and family, and we felt it was so worth opening to the public.

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: As a young kid, I heavily enjoyed four (…well, five) things: art, animals, music, being outdoors 100% of the time, and being a tomboy. I had fears, but generally, I always identified myself as a strong girl capable of learning anything (from learning how to play guitar in middle school to learning how to skate in college.) There’s never really a limit to what you can do.

 

When I was 14 years old, I ended up entering a beauty pageant (pretty unlike my tomboy self) for Filipino-Americans in the US (I’m half Filipino, half Irish), and I ended up winning that thing. I’ve always felt sensitive talking about it, mostly because I never wanted to feel any sort of entitlement or be different than anyone else. I really only wanted to win to break this negative facade of pageants and complete the charity work. I think it was a huge pivotal moment in my teen years and in becoming who I am. I had this opportunity to actually do something. When you’re that young, and you fly to the Philippines, and you live out this dream of helping others and donating yourself and your heart to others, it’s a little wild. I’ve always had that in the back of my heart (this feeling of a desire to be a part of something greater than myself).

 

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Fast-forward to me sitting at a desk in an office in the corporate world. It just couldn’t cut it for me. I had multiple internships and jobs in New York City. I left those for smaller non-profits, and I tried out a whole bunch of career opportunities. As cool as the experiences were, there was just something that never really felt right. I couldn’t shake this feeling that I could really do something and really start something, so I left those jobs to try to figure it all out. It’s still a little crazy to say that [laughs], but I figured it’d be worth a shot.

 

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Q:What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: There’s such a disconnect now with the way we ‘should’ live our lives and the way we want to live our lives. I graduated college, received a degree, got a good job in a good city, and I’m sure to many that would be a total success story, but it wasn’t the end of mine.

 

If I had gone to college and if someone would have told me that starting up two businesses at 23 years old would be difficult and impractical, maybe it would have made me want to do it more (…maybe)! I mean, just to know that the thought would even possible at all would have been pretty cool. We should feel more empowered to do this. I think I’ve been going through this process of both losing and finding myself throughout the things that I’ve done. It’s really (really) hard to put yourself out there and chase an idea, or a dream, in a vulnerable state. It takes courage, and it’s underrated.

 

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Q: What would you like others to learn from your story?

A: Take the plunge, and do what you like to do. You have nothing to lose. Trust me, literal blood, sweat, and tears and every penny I have has gone into everything I’ve done. Im still terrified. Its still really dang hard, but there is still nothing to lose (…& I should really take my own advice)! There is nothing more rewarding than doing it.

 

Check out Sam’s shop!

ETSY: www.etsy.com/shop/forestnfarm

 

Sam’s Instagram Profiles to Follow: 

@sunshinefieldsnj & @forestnfarmco

 

 

 

Sam & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below! 

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Woman Wednesday: Leilani

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Leilani Romero, Fairfax County, Virginia

Website: www.leilaniromero.com

WATCH LEILANI HERE VIA A SHORT VIDEO CLIP.

Author/illustrator of The Little Things: A Collection of Happy Things

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“Since I was a little girl, I loved all things artistic. I would draw people for fun since I could remember and gift them the drawings just to make them smile. I would create cities out of art supplies and colored cardboard…creating my own little world. I would spend hours on Microsoft Paint drawing pretty things simply because I enjoyed it, and little did I know that this was called design.”

 

Q:What are you passionate about? 

A: I’m a graphic designer, international portrait and wedding photographer, an illustrator, and most importantly an entrepreneur. I graduated from the school of art and visual technology at George Mason University with a concentration in graphic design and a minor in art history. Although this might sound very cut and dry, my college career was far from it. I changed my major three times, and for a while I thought I’d be an architect…It took a little soul searching to find my passion, but in the end I chose happiness over all.

Since I was a little girl, I loved all things artistic. I would draw people for fun since I could remember and gift them the drawings just to make them smile. I would create cities out of art supplies and colored cardboard…creating my own little world. I would spend hours on Microsoft paint drawing pretty things simply because I enjoyed it, and little did I know that this was called design.

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In high school, I began to explore photography and in college a friend gave me my very first canon camera because I was really good at photography. I later learned dark room film photography and continued to take portraits of the people I loved because I didn’t want to forget a thing about this beautiful life. As I took more and more photos, I began to receive requests, and friends and family pushed me to launch a Facebook page. Next thing I knew, I was starting an official creative business: Leilani Romero Co. and taking portraits and shooting weddings professionally! It’s been five years since and I wouldn’t have it any other way. After that, I began to expand the design side of my business and launched The Flower Shop, a place for handmade prints. Pretty soon I published my very first book, an illustrated work— The Little Things: A Collection of Happy Things.

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While running a business became my passion, in order to support it, I worked in the professional world for five years in the non profit, corporate, and consulting spaces. As a consultant, I was able to learn about marketing strategy, communications, and social media marketing. It was through these many corporate career opportunities that I became a digital marketing subject matter expert. Although I’m only 23, I’m proud to say that I have worked professionally in this space for five years, and it was well worth it.

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Q:What things have you learned that have been valuable to you?

A: One of the most valuable lessons I learned is to always be clear and open with others. In business it’s very important to always be professional, learn as much business knowledge as you can, and always educate yourself. Business law is crucial, and drafting the appropriate contracts can really be the best decision in the long run.

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Q: What do you want others to learn from your story?

I want others to learn to never stop working on their dreams, and always follow them with all their hearts, because it is so worth it.

The grass is always greener where you water it. Fairytales and daydreams are possible as long as you work hard for them. Nothing comes easy, even if it seems that way, but if you believe in yourself, good things will come. Always be passionate, true to yourself, and constantly search for motivation.

The biggest takeaway is to focus on what will make you happy, and live life to the fullest. If you have a dream, you need to listen to it, and chase it with passion!

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Leilani & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below! 

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Woman Wednesday: Kidron

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.


 

 

Q and A with Kidron, Baltimore County, Maryland

WATCH KIDRON HERE VIA A SHORT VIDEO CLIP.

 

 “I was born in a very modest household, the daughter of a Financial Planner and a Phlebotomist (chemistry nerd). In many ways, I reflect characteristics of my parents, but I am very much like my father. I have always been told that I am “very bright,” but it wasn’t until I entered the world of finance that I felt I had finally found my place. I worked long hours…for less-than-ideal pay, applied myself to learn as much as I could, and over the years, I finally began to progress up the corporate ladder.

 

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Q: Tell us about your younger years.

A: I grew up in a small town in Pikesville, Maryland. I was scrawny, spunky, had a knack for making up bad jokes (that I thought were great), and I was good with my hands. According to  my mom, I spent a good deal of time “taking things apart” when I was younger, but also often putting them back together. The kids in the neighborhood also considered me a sort of “connoisseur” of the monkey bars, and a master of broken bicycle chains. My mom interpreted these inclinations as signs of a future “Mechanical Engineer.”

 

 

Q: What was high school like for you?

A: To put things eloquently, I struggled like everyone else. I was pretty awkward, didn’t fit in any particular social circles, and didn’t seem to have a natural gift for any of my classes. With the exception of two subjects: honors pre-calculus and a technology glass, I was pretty status- quo. I would not really characterize myself as a “math-kid” either. I loved algebra, and other studies, to which I could attribute logical flow akin to building Legos. Otherwise, high school was a time I would never assign as “pleasant”.

 

 

Q: What was the next step for you after high school?

A: My first “Big-Girl” job was working at as a Digital Life Sales specialist at age 17 for a big-name electronics store (shout out to my mom for encouraging me to apply for that job). Believe it or not, I’ve always had a “knack”, or natural proclivity, towards computer technology—as long as I can remember.

 

As shy as I was, I actually ended up being quite the strong salesperson. I knew hardware, software, operating systems, and cell phones like the back of my hand. I knew the products, I was charming, and I recommended practical solutions without over-selling. I was willing to teach the customers to help them make an educated decision about their purchase. I began to thrive, and before long I was promoted to “team lead,” in a full-time employment capacity.

 

This was also the time in my life when I was supposed to be in college. I graduated high school (barely) on time, and enrolled at a private liberal arts school, with the intention of becoming an Interior designer. I thought I could make a decent living on interior decoration, and I had enough demonstrable math skills to comply with the calculation-aspects of the job.

 

However, once I got to school, it wasn’t long before I started to realize I wasn’t that great at being an artist; and that making a comfortable living would probably require an advanced degree, and years before the salary was commiserate with my experience. I also started to advance more and more in my baby-career as a salesperson. I enjoyed it, seemed to have grasped some form of popularity never previously experienced, and I did well for a kid out of high school.

 

It wasn’t long before I was promoted at work, and the allure of obtaining that Bachelor’s Degree in Arts faded away; during the same time, footing the tuition bill for that full-time private education became something my parents couldn’t afford. I became disinterested enough to drop out.

 

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Q: Do you believe dropping out of college was the best decision for you?

A: I would not necessarily say that I “regret” dropping out of school then, but returning to continue my education further on in life certainly has not been any easier than when I was a relatively careless 19-year old. Thankfully, the skillsets that I had acquired and developed working as a salesperson had universal application in the finance world. In the fall, I was recruited to start my first professional position, working an accounts receivable role for a company in the Baltimore area. I still didn’t have a degree, but I was good with numbers, excellent with spreadsheets, and learned financial concepts easily. Working for this company helped me develop critical thinking and analysis skills, that were unsatisfied by the collections-oriented position. I spent about 18 months with that company before I moved on to other opportunities.

 

I knew that tenure and consistency is important for advancement in the world of finance. I sacrificed for these positions. I worked long hours… for less-than-ideal pay, applied myself to learn as much as I could, and over the years, I finally began to progress up the corporate ladder.

 

There is an invisible line between the “associate” and “analyst” experience leveled position (which generally required a Bachelor’s Degree of some sort) that was rapidly approaching, and I it knew would be challenging to cross. In order to move beyond billing and collections, I had to be able to prove I had the skills required to be an analyst. I knew that would be difficult without a 4-year degree, but I also learned that sometimes, those 3-day long training sessions for Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint skills carried weight in the eyes of managers and employers—because experience is also valuable. I signed up for company-sponsored, industry-approved classes, I did IT hardware and software certifications through our employer’s online training center as often as I could; and I kept a running list of everything I did. I also amassed a number of training hours that qualified for “Continuing Professional Education” credits, which is a huge plus. No matter how long I worked at any contact position, I made sure I had some form of evidence to show what skills I learned and what I achieved. I also learned on the job, sitting behind computer monitors. I learned to identify, explain, and resolve account variances. I read lengthy sales agreements, servicing agreements, tax publications, and experience in multiple aspects of the finance industry. I learned how to implement short term and long-term solutions through the use of process automation.

 

I also taught myself how to program, predominantly in Visual Basic for Application. It’s a scripting language that’s often used to display data or calculate data and automate processes or routine tasks. That was one of the skills I learned over the years, and programming was an effective tool I could use to gain a deeper understanding of the finance world. It was also a fun way to build things.

Eventually, I went back to school. I decided to change routes a little from my original Arts-direction, to pursuing an Accounting Major.

School is still an ongoing struggle for me, but I am happy to say that I am finally about to obtain my first Degree in Business Accounting (Certificate), have surpassed the Analyst experience level, and have become an intermediate-level Developer/Programmer/Financial Modeler in the finance industry. I am also enrolled in another University to resume my path to my Bachelor’s Degree, with a Master’s Certificate in Data Analysis on the side.

 

I landed my dream job as an “Engineer” like my mom thought I would be, except I build financial models for structured finance deals on a digital platform.

 

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Q: What do you want others to take from your story?

A: I’ve realized that in my life, for me to overcome what holds me back, and to be happy, I have to let some things rest in the shadows. If they don’t contribute to the betterment of myself and/ or humanity, they probably aren’t worth holding onto. I decided I had to push forward for what I wanted (and deserved) if I had to be the Little Engineer who Coded.

Work hard and persevere.

 

 

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Pockets & Comfort: Utility: The New Fashion Trend

What’s the next biggest fashion trend for women you may ask? 

Three words:

Pockets. Comfort. Utility. 

The real question is: Why has it taken so long for women’s clothes to be designed the way men’s clothing have been for decades (for comfort and utility)? 

Women have finally had enough and are now rebelling against large manufacturers for pockets, comfortable clothing, and utility (real, deep pockets, zippers that actually work, and real buttons- not just the decorative garbage on a lot of women’s clothing).

Women want clothing that has deep pockets, made of light/airy material–like 100% cotton, comfortable loungewear, and clothing that incorporates all of these elements, but that they can still feel fashionable in.

Where can you get all of this all in one place? 

My Lilianas is offering women 100% cotton shorts with deep pockets and fashionable patterns online soon! It is a small business that will be launching online this August, first on Kickstarter, then again–an online storefront via Shopify at www.mylilianas.com.

To get exclusive rewards when My Lilianas launches, updates, and more information, check out the Krowdster Prelaunch page and send your email.

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