Entrepreneurs. Proprietors and proprietresses. Impresarios. Mavens. Hustlers. I am lucky and grateful to come across these types of people in my life. This past week, I’ve felt even luckier as I’ve had solid time with three of these muses in particular and been reminded of another level, a certain sense of clarity, and the embodiment of a vision.
Last week kicked off with Ty McBride. Ty and I have revolved around each other for years in the footwear business, seeing each other at tradeshows and briefly filling each other in between showing shoes to customers. We had similar roles, meaning we both had a bunch of different roles at our respective companies, and I always felt that if anyone knew what my job was like, it would be Ty. Not to mention, Ty has a presence about him, so when he would pop into my booth, things became a bit brighter. Recently, Ty struck out on his own, starting TMI and working with new clients. When we reunited for an appointment to see one of my lines and some chat time, I was blown away with Ty. He’s in a stage I can relate to: just starting out, not quite comfortable in what money will be coming in and when, building up a portfolio, choosing who to work with, and very excited yet bearing future-uncertain pressure. In this can-be-awkward stage, Ty carries on as any good diva would, with style, panache, know-how, and confidence. While I understand his concerns, all I can see is his amazing energy, experience, and eye. We chatted about his work with Jeffrey Campbell, their yummy new styles, and his position with the company. He introduced me to Austrailian footwear line Senso, which he is bringing to the states exclusively on Solestruck.com, another client he is working with. Ty made me laugh and in the same breath made spot on observations and handled business.
Next up in my week was time with Susana Victoria. I met Susana a couple years back as she shot me for a couple photo shoots. I admired her pinup photography, band photos, and shooting for magazines, and after working with her was even more impressed. She not only has a strong portfolio, I learned she has a particular taste, a great eye, and skill in getting what she is shooting to meet what she’s looking for. Working with her was fantastic as she coached me, directed every aspect, and was always in communication leading up to and after the shoots. Also impressive was Susana was beyond competent and running her business while still in high school. Now 21 and in town to shoot the NYC Tattoo Convention, I got to tag along with Susana, watching her pick out people and art I didn’t notice, whisper notes on who was who in the industry, and position the camera and people just right to capture shots. At the end of the first day shooting at the convention, Susana shared with me her goals for the next two days. They weren’t her editor’s wishes, they were above and beyond. Susana verbally planned how many people to shoot in the studio, how many other photos to do, and what it would take to happen. Over the next two days, Susana made things work when the situations weren’t ideal to do so and met all of her goals.
Rounding out my week of entrepreneurial muses was a visit from Israel from Anat Saddick. Anat is a joy to be around, complete with a charming accent, style, and always genuinely interested in how I am and what is going on with me. We met a few years ago as she presented why she wanted to be our distributor in Israel and I soon accepted. Anat had such a passion for all the brands she worked with, bringing them to Israel, and a track record to back up her pitch. As we began our working relationship, I found Anat to be the one I never worried about as she was always on time for deadlines and in communication about anything that came up. We openly shared concerns and worked well together as we understood the other’s position. I looked forward to Anat’s emails as they were always bright and encouraging, sometimes my saving grace amongst hundreds of other emails and demands. And in her first season working with us, Anat brought in more press coverage than we had seen in months. Eventually Anat and I stopped working with that company, but luckily we kept in touch. As we caught up this week, I learned Anat continues to work with Melissa and is looking for her next lines to not only distribute in Israel, but brands to get behind, pioneer, spread word about, and put her whole heart into. She’s not looking for just a paycheck, she’s looking for a new passion to share. The sparkle in her eye and excitement to find her next step were not only reassuring to see for her, but they inspired me, too.
All three of my encounters with entrepreneurs this week have been unique, with different businesses and personalities. But I saw a similar confidence, passion, and humility with all of them. They ask questions, ask for help when needed, and offer support, too. The future is yet to be shaped for these muses, but they lead into it with their own vision and talent. They remind me to own what I know and not only look for the next step, but to shape it how I want it to look.
Here’s to all of us shaping our next levels.
Image Layout: StephanieD
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