Career

Shop Local: Alaina Marie

July 12, 2017

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The other week I introduced you to Alaina Marie and we took a tour of her studio space, and so today the two of us would like to welcome you into her storefront in downtown Portland, Maine.

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One key takeaway from my interview with Alaina was the notion that you may have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish ‘when you grow up’, but there’s no way of knowing the exact path you’ll take to get there. For Alaina, she always knew she wanted to be a designer, but when she was in the beginning stage of her career, she had no idea just how she would become one. In fact, she started her brand by merely making her handbags as gifts for friends, not knowing that so many others would desire one- let alone pay for her work.

That’s the beauty of dreaming and being so passion-driven, sooner or later if you’re meant to do something the Universe will conspire to make that a reality. What is it that you desire to create? Although there’s no way to secure your dream job, there are things you can do to set yourself up for major career success later.

Below are some tips we’d like to share with you:

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Set Intentions, Not Goals

Yes, we are both firm believers that setting goals can keep you focused, but all too often the goals that people set are narrow and somewhat unattainable. We set these goals based on what our peers are accomplishing and we forget that we don’t all have the same starting point. Instead, think about what it is you want to do more of? What’s the ultimate endgame? Instead of setting the goal of being CEO of a company by the age of thirty, think instead about what kind of leader you aspire to be. From there set your intention to be a quality leader and the reality of becoming a CEO will more likely of happening.

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Identify Your True Passion

Your twenties are the best time for career exploration. While it can feel counterintuitive to do so after you’ve invested time, energy, and even finances into pursuing a specific job, there’s really no better time to try something new than right now. Trying new things will allow for you to better understand what it is you like to do best. Ultimately spending your time doing something enjoy will bring you more happiness and will allow for you to excel more within your career.

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Grow Your Network

Network, network, network. The cliché “it’s not always what you know, but who you know” is almost always true and having a solid web of professional contacts will always help you in the end. No matter your industry, be sure to network with as many people as possible. Pass out business cards, send out personalized LinkedIn invitations, or send an email to someone who inspires you within your field. Whatever it is, the worst that someone can say is “No” and ultimately someone you reach out to will say “Yes.” So, don’t be shy. You never know what purpose the people put in your path will serve.

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Soak Up As Much Knowledge As You Can

Whether it is from schooling, internships, or job training- learn as much as you can about your specific field and the working world in general. One of the most useful tools is to have a mentor that you can trust and learn from. Ask questions. Do research and reading on your own time. Listen closely to feedback and constructive criticism so that you can use that input to continuously improve.

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Build Your Brand & Work the Side Hustle

When people think about you as a professional, what do you want to come to mind? Figure that out and then begin putting yourself out there to build a positive brand and reputation for yourself. If you have a job that you’re not satisfied with, but can’t quit, don’t fret, spend your weekends working on your craft and building your portfolio. Sooner or later your chance will come, almost always when you’re least expecting it. Without a doubt, hard work always pays off.

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Head over The Fashion Cookbook’s Instagram to enter our giveaway and have a chance to win your own bait bag! Giveaway ends 7/31 at 11:59 P.M. If you’re not local to Portland, you can order online or check out a list of boutiques that carry Alaina Marie, here.

DSC_0014Photography by Centered Images

LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

& Alaina

In The Studio With Alaina Marie

June 28, 2017

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Today I’d like to introduce you to an especially inspiring woman who proves that having dreams and putting in hard work really does pay off. Meet Maine-based designer, Alaina Marie, who in the past year alone has launched a collaboration with Keds and remodeled her flagship store in Portland’s Old Port. Alaina Marie is a small handbag design company – nautically influenced and made in southern Maine. She designs and manufactures handbags made from a marine-grade mesh – the same material that lobstermen and fishermen use in the commercial fishing industry to catch their prey. How cool is that?!

Late this Spring, Alaina graciously met up with me to discuss her incredible story and show me a closer look at the design process of her successful brand. Here is a closer look I’m eager to share with you all.

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Tell us a little about yourself? 

Born and raised in the state of Maine, I have always been inspired by the coast. At a young age, I had a passion for design and knew that would be my dream job. 
 

What inspired you to start the store?

I acquired my store kind of by accident! When I was starting my business, I rented a small studio space in South Portland so I would have a place to work outside of my home. When I moved in, people started coming in to buy my bags, and of course I couldn’t say no! I soon set up a small show area where I tried to build stock and I kept selling out. This is when I knew I could sell them in a store and so I made it happen! The retail store was not part of my original business plan but happened so naturally. 

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Where do you see yourself in five years

I honestly don’t know! Just like the store kind of just happened, I don’t like to stick to a plan. I love the excitement of knowing that any given day, an opportunity could rise and in an instant change everything. I will say though, I think we are just getting started with what we will do.

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What advice do you have for budding female entrepreneurs?

The advice I would pass along would be to never put limits on yourself. You can do anything you want as long as you’re willing to put the work into it. I often work 14 hour days but to me, the payoff is so worth it. Like I said earlier, I dreamed of becoming a designer when I was little. I had no idea how I would get there, I just knew someday it would happen. 

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Can you tell us about the design process? How do you incorporate your Maine inspiration?

The coast has always been my biggest source of inspiration behind my work. When I see something that makes me feel inspiration, I go with it. I am such a visual person so I love to tack inspirational images or items on my wall. I’ll look at that wall on a daily basis and all of a sudden one day I see the product or design I want to create and that is how it all comes together for me. 

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What do you hope people take away from their experience at shopping at your store?

I just did a remodel of my store on Fore Street and I am so proud of it. With that remodel, we moved our production out of the store and into a separate, larger production studio which is where we make all of our products. Each bag is made by hand from start to finish. So now that I don’t work in the store every day, I want that space to be the best reflection of myself so that when people to come in, they can get a sense of who I am without actually being able to meet them.  

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Photography by Centered Images

Thanks again Alaina!

Much love,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

Coffee Talk: Career Advice for Being in Your Mid-Twenties

April 4, 2017

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In these past few months, I’ve received a lot of questions from readers and peers regarding career advice. After having many conversions around building your dream career or how to your start your business, I thought it would be helpful if I share with you some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way.

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Identify your Passion

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always known what make my heart sing. I’ve always enjoyed flexing my creative muscles and telling a story through acting, dance, singing, writing, style, and through a variety of other mediums. Not everyone knows so deeply what makes him or her tick and that’s ok. The reality is that your twenties are the perfect time for career exploration. While it can feel counterintuitive to do so after you’ve invested time, energy, and even finances into pursuing a specific job, there’s really no better time to try something new than right now.

If you’re still in school be sure to take advantage of internships to explore different career paths. If you’re out of school and are already in a job that feels lifeless but you’re not able to quit yet try to volunteer at an organization that sparks your interest or set up an information interview with a company. Perhaps take night classes or go to conferences to explore passions.

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Grow your Network

Network, network, network. Honestly, this is one of the most important pieces of career advice you’ll ever get. Good or bad, it all comes down to who you know, not always what you know. No matter your chosen field, your network will pay an important role throughout your career. So, it’s best if you can start growing it as early as possible. Attend networking events and be sure to utilize LinkedIn. If all else fails, talk to your family + friends and ask around if anyone knows of anyone in the industry you are most interested in.

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Build your Brand

While you’re channeling energy into building your network, you should also be working on building your personal brand. Create a personal website that can act as your digital portfolio. Also, make sure you have personalized business cards at all times. An important aspect of building your brand is also the way you carry yourself and how others perceive you in the community. Get involved by speaking at events, being more active on social media, joining associations, or volunteering for a worthy cause and make a positive name for yourself.

Learn as Much as You Can

Your twenties are the perfect time to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can. Find a mentor you trust and can learn from. Ask questions. Do research and reading on your own time. Listen closely to feedback and constructive criticism so that you can use that input to continuously grow and improve. Now is the time to learn as much as you possibly can and grow in the most formative years of your career.

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Set Goals, but be Flexible

The cliché saying “Reach for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars” comes to mind. Setting goals allow you the structure to know what you’re working towards and it also helps to motivate. Really take the time to think through what is it is your desire to accomplish. Then research and brainstorm ways to make this a reality. Set your goals, but at the same time, recognize that life requires a certain degree of flexibility. You never know what opportunities lay ahead and if you’re too focused on following one path you may miss out on chances of a lifetime.

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Photography by Logan Ronan

 LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

The Dress: Part Two (aka Combating Imposter Syndrome)

October 20, 2016

lacma6You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

This thought entered my mind and brought an instant smile to my face. It’s a thought that I want to share with you today. In a society where we are constantly competing and racing to prove our worth, we often tend to beat ourselves up over not feeling accomplished enough. We look at what our peers are achieving and we feel small and somehow less competent or worthy.impostersyndromeWe hear a tiny voice within us that says:

“Are you sure you’re ready?” What gives YOU the right to try this?”
“You’ll be so embarrassed when you fail.”
“Don’t even bother.”

That little voice whispering that you are not fit to succeed or even try is indicative of something called “impostor syndrome,” a phrase coined in the late 1970s by two psychologists. It refers to high-achievers who experience an unrelenting fear of being exposed as “frauds” to their peers and struggle with intense feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Though impostor syndrome is commonly attributed to women, it actually affects almost everyone and results in self-imposed limits marked by a sensation of unworthiness.impostersyndrome1In the first part of this post, I described the significance of this dress. I shared how prior to moving to Los Angeles how I felt anxious about the transition to a new environment, and at some level was fearful over how others would perceive me. Today I want to discuss the larger topic of imposter syndrome and give you advice that I wish I had been given on ways to ditch feelings of unworthiness once and for all.lacma4 lacma5


Outfit Ingredients

Dress- Forever 21

Shirt- Zara

Sneakers- Adidas Originals


lacma3Stop comparing yourself to others. There is a distinct difference between giving your best and being the best. Likewise, there’s a distinct difference between trying to better yourself and being better than everyone else.  The true secret to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is self-acceptance:  you don’t have to attain perfection to be worthy of the success you’ve achieved. In no way does this mean that you are lowering the bar. No, it’s about resetting it to a realistic standard that doesn’t leave you forever striving and feeling inadequate. Remember you do not have to attain perfection to share something with the world that enriches people’s lives in some way.impostersyndromelacmaOwn your success. You didn’t get to where you are by chance. Just as we must take responsibility for our failures in life, we must also take responsibility for our successes. Minimizing our successes serves no one. So if you sometimes feel undeserving of your success, try writing a list of all the key things you’ve accomplished over the last 5 years.lacma2Focus on the value you bring, not on attaining perfection. One of my dearest mentors would often remind me this past year that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Meaning that one might never complete a task if one has decided not to stop until it is perfect. It’s in the same way that people may never even begin an important task because they feel reaching perfection is too hard.

 Also by being acutely aware of how hard we’re working to keep our head above water and fulfill expectations, we often mistakenly assume others are getting by more effortlessly. The reality is that many people are stretched and struggling just like you. Perhaps not in the same way, but in their own way, with their own unique set of challenges, insecurities, and internal struggles.lacma

LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

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