TOOT TOOT!
Date: July 16, 2018
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People often ask “how do you mange a business and a non-profit with kids all under the age of 5?”.  The answer is: 1.) paid childcare and 2.) a saint of a husband.  My partner does more than me on the daily and my 3 and 4 year old are in full-time daycare.  This leaves me with newborn duties with baby Makena…
I do what all working moms do.  Multi-task.  It’s a fine juggling act between managing a career, running a household, and everything in between using one hand most of the time.  Prospective clients might think, “she’s doing my work while caring for her baby”, and the truth is, that is exactly how most of my contract work are getting done of late.  I do my analysis and create pivot tables with my right hand while holding my daughter with my left.  Sometimes, I am nursing her on top of all of it.
Perhaps this seem “unprofessional” to some…incorporating work with personal duties Monday through Friday.  For me, it’s empowering and motivating.  Being able to have a career and feed my family at the same time (and that’s both figuratively and literally since I’m nursing around the clock).   Putting hours in the office is also the only gauge of success for me with 3 little kids.   The thing is, nothing has changed in my quality of work outside of some interruptions (eg: changing diapers, putting her down for naps, and the occasional spit ups and blow outs).  It’s business as usual.  Projects are still meeting their deadlines, conference calls are being conducted, and most importantly, my clients are satisfied.  In fact, 2018 has been my busiest and most profitable year to date with several new contracts and triple-digit growth month-over-month since January.  I’m pretty proud of that.  When you run your own business, you have to toot your own horn every once in awhile.  So, TOOT!
Unlike the boys where I had a full 12-week long maternity leave, I returned to the office 2 weeks after my daughter was born.  If you are a consultant then you know the money stops the second you slow down…so I couldn’t just tell my clients to “pause” for a maternity leave even though everyone was super supportive post my birth announcement.  The thing is, regardless of how progressive you are, everyone assumes new moms are incapable, or they are tired, or hormonal, or all of the above.  I did not want to fuel that stigma and continued juggling the best I can.
The recover was tough though…way tougher than taking care of a newborn.  It was my third C-Section in under 5 years so I had a rough go. Not being able to do the simpliest things like getting out of bed is debilitating. Hours felt like days and days felt like weeks.  However, continuing to work and knowing that she’s growing provided light at the end of the tunnel in the healing process.
My new mini co-worker and I are working day-by-day and side-by-side.  She might get moved to a different department in the fall (aka daycare). But for now, we make a powerful team!  To all the career-driven moms out there, keep doing what you are doing but don’t forget to enjoy the precious moments.  It’s trite but they do grow up fast!

The new norm.

Some times shit happens but not to worry, shit is still getting taken care of.

What balance? Work and life is all happening at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to where it all started…Hong Kong
Date: April 15, 2018
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T Minus 1 week!  Hard to believe that our third child will be arriving in less than 7 days!  The above picture was taken in September of 2017 when I was traveling through Hong Kong on business.  I was about 8 weeks pregnant at the time.  (I will spare you the picture of me now at 39 weeks!)  This picture is particularly special because I was standing in front of the apartment complex that I grew up in with baby girl in my belly.  So grateful that she got to experience my 10-day journey with me…
The primary purpose for the trip was to work with my new Chinese clients but I also took the opportunity to travel on a personal level.  English is actually not my first language.  I was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States when I was 11 years old.  It took me 26 years to take my first personal trip back to my home country since moving to America.  The trip also marks FACEts’ second international client after starting my company in the spring of 2016.  Being back in Hong Kong was monumental in terms of work, but also a very emotional one filled with many childhood memories.
Standing on Butterfly Beach where I spent many summers as a child made me think about my parents.  They gave up everything to move their entire family to the suburbs of Pennsylvania.  My mom would have been 36 years old when we left the country, which was how old I was in the above photo.  My dad was a decorated government officer but had to start from the bottom once we moved to America.  He didn’t speak English and had to work as a line cook while attending night school to become a medical assistance.  My mom worked as a secretary at a nursing home.  She hated the job but it provided for our family.  Now as a wife and mother of (almost) 3 kids, I thought about their hardship, the adversity they had to endure, and the sacrifices both my my parents had to make in order to provide us with a brighter future.  What they did continues to be a source of power and a reminder to keep going (especially when the going gets tough).
Below are of the highlights on my trip (from left to right):
1.) “Do what you love and never work a day in your life!”  Working with my new Chinese clients.  We got a lot accomplished during our 3-day meeting.  We also shared many wonderful meals together.
2.) Spending time with my paternal grandmother in the nursing home. Sadly, “Ah Ma” passed away over Thanksgiving weekend of 2017, just 2 months after I saw her.  She was 98 years old. Death is never an easy thing but I am thankful that we were able to share some precious moments together. Ah Ma was happy to know that her 13th great grand child will be born this month in April.
3 & 4.) Taking in all the sights.  Hiking up Victoria Peak in 90 degree and almost 100% humidity.  The view was worth the trip!
5 & 6.) Running into industry friends and former colleagues.
7 & 8.) Last but not least, the food of Hong Kong.  I definitely went home a lot heavier than when I left!

Working with my new Chinese clients who own and operate a multi-million dollar jewelry e-retailer.

Seeing my 98 year old paternal grandmother for the first time in 26 years.

 

Hiking up Victoria Peak in 90 degree and almost 100% humidity.

Chi Lin Nunnery.

First night in HK and had dinner with some familiar faces.

Friend and former David Yurman colleague, John Croston was way more Chinese and a Hong Konger than me. He showed ME around!

I can eat Dim Sum for breakfast or lunch everyday!

Just one of my many childhood favorites. Hong Kong style egg waffles or “eggettes”.

Throw back to 1991: Us immigrating to America with a one-way ticket (my brother and younger sister in the middle).

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My experience at the 33rd annual WJA Award for Excellence
Date: August 9, 2017
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So I did not win in the Merchandising and Product Development category at the 33rd annual WJA Award of Excellent Gala on July 24th.  It was my very first nomination and I can genuinely say that it was an incredible honor JUST to be nominated.  Here’s why…
My very first AFE experience was 10 years ago in 2007, when my Divisional Merchandise Manager at Macy’s was nominated for an award (interestingly enough, in the Merchandising Category).  It was also the year when I first discovered WJA.  Since then I’ve only attended one other gala where I was not volunteering.  This annual event which takes place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers is an amazing way to mingle with some of the top professionals in our industry (it also helps that the view is incredible and I live for every opportunity where I have to put on a gown).
It doesn’t matter if you’re attending as a guest, or volunteering like myself…you are guaranteed to make new connections AND re-connect with old colleagues and friends.  Over the years, you would usually find me assisting at the silent auction table, checking you in, or spreading the WJA mission.
So, it was an honor to attend as a guest, and not as a volunteer for the first time in a decade.  What was even more incredible for me was that the nomination came just a year after I started FACEts.  The last 13 months has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding moments in my professional career.  I’ve learned so much about myself and I know that this is only the beginning.  If you own your own business then you can understand the struggles (and the rewards) of being self-employed.  This is a marathon, not a race. I love this business, but most of all, I love all of the relationships that are created out of our shared passion for jewelry.
Sure I did not win, but to me, it’s not about winning.  It’s more about progress.  It’s knowing that you are doing better, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.  I also know that there is always next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth…  I sure hope to be nominated again in 2018 so that perhaps I can exercise my speech.  Speaking of my speech, these are the people that I wanted to thank:

“…I immigrated to the US when I was 11 yrs old from Hong Kong. So I want to first thank my parents for instilling in me a strong work ethic and teaching me how to overcome adversity.  When I told my mom that I’m going to study Merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she thought I was going to sew in a factory for the rest of my life!  Mom, sorry I did not become a lawyer or a doctor but I hope you are still proud of me!

To my husband, Dave Palmer, who’s at home with our 4 and 2 year old sons.  Thank you for providing the inspiration for me to start my own company and for always believing in me and supporting me. You are a better dad than I am a mom and you’re my teammate for life. You and the boys are the people that I want to make the most proud of me.”

Thank goodness for my seamstress!

With friend and fellow nominee, Anna Samsonova

The beautiful Jaime Polk, my long time industry friend and mentor.

What a night!

With WJA President and former VP of Marketing of Rio Tinto, Brandee Dallow

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The Legendary Richard Kimball
Date: July 5, 2017
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It was an absolute delight to be invited to Richard Kimball’s recent open house. Kimball has been creating highly individual and expressive fine jewelry pieces for over 45 years.  He is a designer and goldsmith with a studio and retail gallery in the affluent area of Cherry Creek in Denver.  
The open house on June 29th and 30th featured many of the new pieces Kimball has been working.  The event felt more like a family gathering with many dedicated fans of Kimball. His award winning work can be found in galleries and museums from New York City to Hong Kong. 
 
“As long as the hands continue to function, and the eyes to see, there are more pieces to be made”  – Richard Kimball 
 Below are a few of his new pieces: 
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TIME is of the Essence
Date: June 5, 2017
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Call me “old fashioned” but I’m a sucker for manual and automatic watches.  In a digital age where your watch can track your sleep pattern to your heart rate, fine timepieces are sexier and more relevant than ever.
On May 17th, I had an unique opportunity to learn the interworking of an automatic and manual timepiece.  Art Bodin, master watch maker from Hyde Park Jewelers was part of our In The Know Series for WJA.  Art discussed the history of timepieces and setting of a mechanical watch.  He even brought live samples for us to set!  Art taught our members the difference between a high-end and a low-priced timepiece, and we explored the features and benefits of a quartz, automatic, and manual movement.  The insightful and intimate event was hosted by one of our board members of WJA at her home in RiNo with a homemade dinner provided by yours truly.  Art Bodin donated a vintage manual timepiece from his personal collection that evening with proceeds going towards our WJA Colorado scholarship fund.
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Inside the designer’s studio with Todd Reed
Date: May 5, 2017
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On April 27th, I had the opportunity to speak with Todd Reed at his studio in Boulder.  Hear his intimate journey on how he started his company and what Todd’s thoughts are on the future of jewelry retailing.

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Let’s Get Real about Marketing & Advertising from BLM
Date: April 5, 2017
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As part of our “In The Know” series for WJA, I collaborated with the partners at Bottom Line Marketing to speak about marketing trends and tactics as they pertain to the jewelry industry.  BLM’s motto is “Nothing boring ever turned into dollars”.  Woman boss and sisters, Jackie and Kendall packed in a lot of useful advice for designer and retailers during our event on March 29th.  
 
Bottom Line Marketing is a full-service advertising agency that was built from an 8X8 basement bedroom 17 years ago, and now represents hundreds of business both big and small in the jewelry industry with offices in Colorado, Florida and Michigan. From TV to digital marketing and all things In-between, they know what gets people talking!
 
See below for their live Facebook video and learn more about marketing trends and the DOs & DON’Ts of advertising:

WJA Colorado Board members with the partners at Bottom Line Marketing

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The key to running a successful business from Abby Sparks
Date: March 5, 2017
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If you live in Colorado then you’ve probably heard of Abby Sparks.  In a sea of your traditional jewelry store fronts, Abby has created a niche in the business by offering highly customizable engagement rings and jewelry.  There are no collections or line sheets in her by-appointment-only showroom in the Highlands area of Denver!   With Colorado being the second fastest growing state in the U.S and 100,000+ people moving here in the past year, Sparks caters to individuals who wishes to stand above the crowd.  Sparks creates handmade and ethically-sourced pieces to suit her clients’ budget and taste, one piece at a time.

Sparks came from the world of finance and consulting and started her unique jewelry business in 2015.  This Oklahoma native proves that it takes more than talent and tenure to make it in this industry!

On February 22nd, I had the privilege to speak with Abby during my Meet The Designer event with WJA Colorado.  Below are some business advice from Abby for new and emerging designers.

  1. You won’t know what you’re doing when you first start…but you will figure it out
  2. You should talk about money
  3. Take risks and hire people
  4. Having a team is huge
  5. Take a business lens
  6. Find what you are good at and own it
  7. Research the market
  8. Get help from people who have done it
  9. Take advantage of friends and family’s support
  10. Not everyone is going to be the right fit for your business

Write more and discover Abby’s work here:

10 Small Business Tips from Abby Sparks

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