We invited Audrey on June 23, 2010, to share her story so we can uncover a way of living and creating our lives so we are thriving. Obviously, as a mother of 4 and a full time blogger, she is busy. But there is more to her story than the juggle. This is about risk and rewards, going bold, and of course why 6 months matters!
Audrey started blogging in 2005 as the "second" wave of mommy bloggers. That year, after working for Donna Karan International in New York City for six years, McClelland returned to her home state of Rhode Island and co-founded the site MomGenerations.com, a go-to resource for the entire family, with her mom, Sharon Couto, and her sister, Jane Porricelli. She had gained so much support online with other mommy bloggers and forum conversations that she knew this was the next “big thing” to connect and get support from women.
Although her work in New York City was engaging and thrilling, upon starting her family, Audrey realized she wanted to work from home. Prior to Mom Generations, Audrey had also started a product review site called "Pinks and Blues" which reviewed baby products. She added a blog to further inform site visitors and found that the blog was more popular! That got her thinking: "this is where I need to be" and she put on her business hat and realized that she needed to carve out a niche. Here she is, passionate about fashion, where Vogue was her bible, and in 2007 a mom with two toddlers and another baby on the way, she had somehow "lost" her fashion sense. What about other moms, she wondered? Perhaps she could blend her love of fashion with her reality as a mom.
Blogging Fashion 2009:
Yet after 3 years of blogging, Audrey still wasn't bringing in the income she wanted. She wanted to go bold. So on December 31, 2008 she announced to her husband, "I am going to write "365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms" on Mom Generations, offering one piece of fashion and/or beauty advice each day of the year, either through a blog post or vlog. Up until then, no one had merged two market verticals: motherhood and fashion. Plus Audrey researched this “merger” of passions online, and at the time there were no real fashionista moms.This was the niche, and so a new trifecta "Tech-mommy-fashionista"
This daily practice was her commitment and process: a post everyday. However, she lamented she wanted to see success or give up. Her husband chimed in, "you don't have to think so long term, given it 6 months, then see where you are." Audrey pulled down the family calendar and flipped to June 2009, and circled the date. That was it, she would post every day, and if she didn't see some movement upon her deadline, she would reexamine her direction. So she went to work on her daily posts.
In the meantime, she worked with her blogger community and collaborated with 10 other mommy bloggers and approached Lifetime with a proposal to get "Lifetime Moms" up and going. The proposal was accepted and Audrey is now the "Fashion Mom" on Lifetime Moms. This led to other opportunities and Audrey is now a vlogger for Johnson & Johnson’s “Real Moms” Health Channel, one of Hanes’ Social Media Comfort Crew members, a member of the Walmart Elevenmoms, and she holds a position on Hasbro’s Playskool Panel. Audrey was named as one of “The Power Pack” Moms in Nielson’s Online 2009 Power Moms list.
Now in 2010: she is adding "Get Glamous" events in NYC to get moms on the fashion track, and anticipates rolling this out to other cities, iincluding RI! Regardless, Audrey's next challenge is another 6 month timeframe: to get a level of income that can support her family through her online work. The paradox here is that this will take her away from her family yet she is determined to integrate as much as she can.
From Audrey's story, we found numerous tensions or paradoxes that she was thriving and evolving: Mom and Fashion, Virtual relationships and Intimacy, City girl to Suburban mom, attending to work and to home, risk and reward, making a living and doing it for free. We also learned about her style of venturing out: she is dogged in letting everyone know what she is doing, she researches thoroughly (including getting a phone book to call every fashion house in NYC to find her first job out of college), she presents who she is authentically, and knows when to say "no that isn't me" (she doesn’t use her blogging as a soapbox). She is open to learning- from new technology like vlogging, to putting on events-because she sees it as a way to meet her audience where they are at, rather than approaching learning as a step-wise lesson.
Following Audrey's story, attendees identifies key themes to discuss in small conversations. It is from these conversation that leads to connecting, enhanced community to build committed action. Read below about the conversation themes and outcomes. Do tell us what your committed action is next after reading about Audrey's story. Café
Topic 1: Using your community to be accountable and stay present. Be bold and tell everyone what you are doing- define it before others define you.
Key strategies from conversation:
- Making lists as a way to celebrate moving forward. Look at it as a making progress (rather than a task).
- The list will help you to redirect to what is important. Attendees embraced this structural process due to Audrey's intense process of research, staying on top of her daily blog posts (now up to 10), and focus to learn and evolve while caring for her growing family.
- Dealing with guilt that is self-imposed, use your community of supportive women or like-minded folks and family to allow your self to "wear the hat" that you want to at the moment you need to.
- And allow OTHERS to help you. Audrey added that in the bloggersphere there is this "blogging Karma" where we help each other. Yes there are snarky bloggers and competition, but Audrey’s adds: “there is room for everyone at the top!”
Café Topic 2: How are you redefining work and how are you doing so to lean in y our own terms to pick and choose. This is about process vs. routine, we are "creating" our lives.
Key strategies from conversation:
- Remember to turn off (Audrey actually turned her IPhone off for the full 2.5 hour cafe, upon returning to it she found 4 text messages from her husband "But it was so worth it to take the time to focus")
- Identify when is enough, enough. Owning your space by being authentic and go ahead and stick with it and tell others who you are. This goes to the boundaries as being authentic, rather than a "no" Audrey honors who she is by portraying what matters to her online and in person. She doesn't blog her politics or religious perspectives, because it just isn't what she wants to share on line. But rather she focuses on who she is and what she cares about.
- Time Management- is finite so learn to manage tasks.
- Enjoy structure as a rhythm not a routine
- Be your boundaries (see above)
- Make a decision and commit to it. This is more than saying “yes”, this is honoring commitments to what you want to build. Yes it takes confidence and it is a process. Go from thinking about it, to preparing about it (where you tell everyone see community), and then take action. It also means saying “no” to those wonderful tasks that will distract you. Remember, Audrey had a lot of intention, because of the 6 month time-frame and her “I can do that” attitude.
- Pick a "date" to stick with or review your commitment- this goes back to Audrey's 6 month time-frame. Your commitment also doesn't have to be "all or nothing" part time is okay, but act with intention and honor your momentum.
- Embrace uncertainty as growth rather than painful change. Everything changes and evolves--it is our way of learning more about our soul at work and change is always happening, so look at it as a way to get more conscious about who you are and how you want to live. We can choose to observe as well as take action.
Café Topic 3: Wildcard: What we need to feel fulfilled!
Key strategies from conversation:
- Identify and do what you love, so your kid's impression of work is positive, but still need a paycheck- look at it as "in-come" even if you'd work for free because you love it, get the income. Find the work you want to do. Identify your "happily ever-after" that is where you are and you don't have to build a huge business, or have the high pressure/ power job, okay to be in the zone with your craft and what feeds your soul! And nurture it, don’t dismiss the direction you want to go.
- Basics of Blogging and Twitter:
- Start conversations
- Get found
- Be diligent (constant practice everyday- this is a creative process not an end product)
- Make connections
- Don't offend
Any thing else to add? Please comment:
Audrey left the fashion world of Donna Karan International in NYC to raise her brood of boys in her home state of Rhode Island. She’s learned that you can take the girl out of the Fashion District, but you can’t take the Fashion District out of the girl. Audrey brings her fashion expertise and mom experience to Mom Generations.
Wife… Mother of four boys 5 and under… Gemini… Brown University grad… Co-author of Preconception Plain & Simple… Contributor to conceive magazine (Winter 2006 and current Spring 2007 issues)… Former NYC fashion world maven… City-girl to Suburban-mom… Subways to SUVs… Designer duds to sweaters and jeans… Late nights out to early evening eat-ins… Cosmos to bottles… Feels equally at home on Madison Ave. and on the playground with her boys. See her blog: http://momgenerations.com/audrey/
Sara will tell her story of how she developed a social media company to bring more of what she wants to the workplace. We'll also inquire about the critical personal and business challenges Sara is facing and where the next "big thing" for women entrepreneurs will come from.
This Cafe has been cancelled... But we'll have her post her story soon
Sara Czyzewicz is the CEO and Co-Founder of DandyID and Claim.io - identity tools for the social web. Sara works with businesses and individuals to secure and protect their name online, and to share and track their social media profiles for strategic marketing. Sara is a 10 year veteran of building social, creative technologies for both web and mobile platforms. Prior to DandyID, Sara worked for an award-winning advertising agency building interactive campaigns for high-profile brands such as Volkswagen and Burger King. She's also first-authored and published a research paper on Personalizing Interfaces for educational systems, which she presented at TESI2005 in Mastricht, The Netherlands. Sara has an honorary BA in Computer Science, with a graphic design minor. Connect and learn more about her at www.saraolive.com
Leader of our June 4, 2008 cafe, Ann-Marie Harrington, was a social worker at Rhode Island Kids Count in 1994 when she had the idea to create a web page for the nonprofit. Harrington saw the Internet as a means of getting a message out in a cost-effective way. In the three months it took to complete the site, Harrington developed the idea for a business that nine years later would be creating websites for some of New England's biggest businesses, community foundations and nonprofits.
"I wanted to fill a hole I saw for nonprofits looking for superior websites at a fair price," Harrington says. "I became a social worker because I have always had a passion for justice and fairness. I wanted to build a business that could reflect these values on all levels."
Embolden claims more than 100 clients, including Bank Rhode Island, MetLife, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, The Rhode Island Foundation, Mystic Aquarium, and Brown and Yale universities, and last year it passed the million-dollar mark in revenues.
Amy Kalafa of the Two Angry Moms, was amazing as she merged her talent as filmmaker with her passion for real food, to create a compelling story that connects us to the movement of making our school lunch program a winner, and how being Angry at the right time for the right reasons, makes all the difference. She was the featured woman of our March 5, 2008 cafe.
The movie inspired a lively conversation among the diverse women in the audience, which included mothers, teachers, nutritionist, kids health specialists, wellness committee members, and entrepreneurs all "self-starters", as Amy observed. The topics discussed resonated on so many important issues that mattered to us:
- How to make change within a resistant school system
- How branding yourself as "Angry" can really make a splash and gain attention
- Why food is thy medicine and how connecting to food's source heals what ails us
- What resources are available to parents and those within the school system to help facilitate change to a healthier menu
- When you combine your talents and your passion, you can find your life purpose.
A feature of the Soul at Work Café is to highlight women leading in their own way, as Amy did by making her film. A benefit is that the women who attend leave inspired, educated, and connected with a few more women who can help them along their unique paths.
What to do next:
Join the conversation
We invite you to join the discussion - if you were in attendance or not - everyone has ideas and opinions. Many resources were shared during the conversation, and we encourage you to contribute books, websites, movies, and other resources that relate to this topic. Click here: Soul at Work cafe - Amy Kalafa
Visit Amy's website: www.angrmoms.org
If you are passionate about what your kids or students are eating during lunchtime, check out Amy's website for more screenings and join her newsletter to stay updated.
Sign up for the next Café event
Our next café is not to be missed -we'll keep you posted, please do sign up to be alerted.
Leader of our October 24, 2007 cafe, Carol Grant studied at the University of Missouri and the University of Michigan Law School before becoming a litigator for major law firms in St. Paul, Minnesota and Boston. She joined NYNEX (now Verizon) just as AT&T began its divestiture in 1983.
In her 13 years with NYNEX, she was involved in law, public policy, and general management, rising to direct NYNEX-Rhode Island, a $350 million business unit with 900 employees, as its vice president. In 1997, she became vice president for human resources at Textron. Carol was involved in the Chairperson for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, leading to the expansion of the airport.
In 2003, she was named Chief of Operations for Providence Mayor David Ciccilline. She has been honored with the New England Council's Women in Leadership Award, the Humanitarian Award of the NCCJ, March of Dimes' Citizen of the Year Award, the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island, and the American Heart Association's Gold Heart Award.
Leader of our June 20, 2007 cafe, Robyn Frye is the Local Site Coordinator for Making Connections Providence and leads the Management Team. Previously she served as Director of Community Relations for West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation. In addition to volunteering at the ACI prison ministry, Frye serves as a mentor to women returning from prison. She is a 2002 Graduate of Leadership Rhode Island and was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award 2004 by Volunteer Center of Rhode Island. Frye has also been nominated for the Volvo for Life Award twice. She was appointed by Mayor David N. Cicilline as a member of the Providence Public School Board and the Eli Broad Institute for School Boards where she was conferred the title of Broad Fellow. Frye has also served the on the Mayor's Council of Religious Leaders. Most recently, Frye was appointed to serve as Co-Chair of the City of Providence's Reentry Steering Committee. She has spent many years living and working in the Making Connections neighborhoods and has been active with Making Connections Providence since its inception.
In 2005, Robyn walked through the doors of Making Connections as it's new leader, and knew right away something was wrong: she had to put her mind, will and emotions to work to transform the organization to what it is today--fully engaged in the community, with the right team in place. For Robyn, it was about being able to say: "my baby can walk now..."
It was more than a transformation for the organization, Robyn had to heal the partnerships, reconfigure the engangement of the people the organizaiton served, and put process and systems into place that mattered...and were accountable to a "self-less" ambition.
Leader of our April 25, 2007 cafe, Michelle Girasole is president of Precision Web Marketing, and an online marketing services expert. She has helped her clients, which range from female-owned startups to Fortune 500 companies, market their products and services online, using tools such as search engine marketing, permission-based e-mail, podcasting, blogging, and Web site analytics. Michelle regularly teaches workshops and seminars to entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and business school students. She helped launch a peer-to-peer business advisory board program for the Entrepreneurship Forum of New England. She received her master’s in business administration and marketing degrees from the University of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two young children and three old cats, and the wife of one handsome husband.
Leader of our January 17, 2007 cafe, Ellen Frankel is a dynamic speaker and a frequent presenter at numerous national eating disorder conferences including the annual Renfrew Conference with an average attendance of over 700 people.
In addition, Ellen spent nearly a decade working on eating disorder prevention in schools across Massachusetts, from the elementary through the university level. She worked with students, parents, and faculty.
Ellen lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with her husband, Steve, children, Allison and Matt, and dog, Karma. In addition to enjoying time spent with her family, her passions include hiking – especially in the Himalayas -- and sipping her morning cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks while reading the newspaper. After realizing that "Life is Short and So Am I," Ellen has tried to live each day fully and freely in the world.
Leader of our October 17, 2006 cafe, Birute Regine is an author and developmental psychologist who specializes in the dynamics and development of relationships. Between 1996 and 1998 she was a visiting scholar at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College in Massachusets. It was here that she developed a narrative approach to organizational change.
Her investigative work on organizations that have evolved as living organizations, is a pivotal inspiration to this series for women. She authored "Weaving Complexity & Business: Engaging the Soul at Work" and is currently publishing a new book called "Path of the Iron Butterflies: Revolutionary women transforming our world" in which she interviews leading women on their leadership approach.
In her groundbreaking book, "Weaving Complexity & Business: Engaging the Soul at Work", Birute with Roger Lewin showcase a new and powerful way of thinking about and working in the new economy, one that draws on science of complexity to prove that work is personal--and that our times demand that we be open to an organziation as a living structure--rather than as a machine with people as perscribed pieces of that machine.