Badass Women: Lauren Frontiera, The Real Female Entrepreneur

Badass Women: Lauren Frontiera, The Real Female Entrepreneur

Around H&L, we're huge fans of celebrating the women that are making a difference in big or small ways.  And Lauren definitely fits that idea.  Lauren is the creator of The Real Female Entrepreneur, an online platform that combines the power of authentic, honest conversation and media to inspire, include, and empower female entrepreneurs. We talked with her about her brand and how she's inspiring female entrepreneurs around the world.

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The Tale of Many Majors

The Tale of Many Majors

Piano had been my thing since I was seven, when I’d come home to a second-hand upright in the living room and a stack of pink lesson books in the bench. In high school, I practiced for hours instead of hanging out with friends or trying out for the school musical. Occasionally, my mom let me call in sick to school so I could hammer out an hour of technique followed by two or three hours of polishing pieces for competitions. How could I major in anything else?

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Lessons Learned as a Teacher Turned Professional Artist

Lessons Learned as a Teacher Turned Professional Artist

We need to be willing to teach another person, competitor or not, something that we know about and share that knowledge willingly. The more that I have shared with members of my group and creative self-starters that I have met along the way, the more I have learned. We need to become life-long learners who crave information and are willing to educate others once we master a concept.

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Women in Music: An Inside Look at Sexism and Success

Women in Music: An Inside Look at Sexism and Success

A lot of people assume being a woman or mother in the music industry is a weakness, but I see it as a strength. When I first got in the business, I realized I just put my head down and worked hard to prove myself and make relationships. Once I did, I wasn’t focused on what I wasn’t getting because of my gender, but what I could accomplish because of it and the advantages it brought me.

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The Intimidation of Creating

The Intimidation of Creating

Even when I managed to fire and glaze a vessel, it didn’t seem right to be proud or excited about my creations. I knew they weren’t well done, but they were mine, something made with my own two hands. Though that should be enough, somehow it wasn’t. I found myself constantly giving disclaimers when people looked at my pots – “I’ve only been doing it for 10 weeks!” or “I know these are terrible!”

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An Unusually Honest Facebook Share

An Unusually Honest Facebook Share

In late March, Holl and Lane Magazine Editor, Sarah Hartley, took to her Facebook group and asked her followers if they had anything to “get off their chest.” She offered a “safe place” to say things people had “been holding in.” Sarah, herself, started off by bravely posting about a personal struggle. After this, it was as if the floodgates opened. Sarah had given her largely female followers space to finally be honest about their lives, their troubles, their imperfections. All of this on Facebook, home of overly-perfect child pictures, and vacation albums where absolutely nothing goes wrong.

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Women in Business: Bluegrass Bookbinding

Women in Business: Bluegrass Bookbinding

Bluegrass Bookbinding was started on the cusp of my post-undergrad life. I was still working the same retail job I’d had throughout college, unsure of what the next step would be. If my painting degree had taught me anything, it was that I didn’t want to be the sort of artist that hung their work in a gallery and attended stiff networking events. 

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It's Time to Reevaluate Those New Year's Resolutions

It's Time to Reevaluate Those New Year's Resolutions

Even before I got my hands on Volume I of Holl and Lane 2017 Collection, themed around "The Beginning", I knew it was going to be one of my favorites because I love beginnings. Let me clarify, I love the part right before beginnings: the first fizzy feelings of January 1st, not the next morning when the reality of tackling those New Year's Resolutions sets in.

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A Heart of Creativity and Freedom

Words & Images by Melissa Mendez

For as long as I can remember, a sense of autonomy has been my nature. As a little girl at family gatherings, I was always the one off to the side doing my own thing. The thrill of freedom somehow spoke to my spirit. As an adult, traveling the world and exploring new ideas without bounds became my new obsession. My inner core felt so much joy in knowing that I could explore, dream and the possibilities of my thoughts and imagination would be endless; I guess that was the inner artist within me. After getting accepted into my dream college- Fashion Institute of Technology and briefly studying fine arts at Parsons New School, I thought I was on the fast track to all of my dreams coming true. I recall in college making my own class schedule. Fridays was the day I took off to have this freedom, Monday through Thursday I booked as many classes as I possibly could. I would start 12 noon and end at 10 pm.

Needless to say that sense of freedom quickly faded after graduating. I had a “real job” 1 month before graduation… My title was production assistant. I thought I had made it big, I had my very own desk, computer and a password only I knew. I stayed at that company for only 6 months due to high stress and roughly 10 employees quitting within a 2-month period. Not what I expected my first year out of college to be.

After that period, I decided to grow my experience despite the often cutthroat environment of the apparel industry, and from there I had a series of different positions from production and design to technical design and development, moving up in tasks, requirements and salary. My most cherished categories were women’s and children’s apparel. I stayed in corporate fashion for over 10 years before I decided to leave. I still remember the day I left. I walked out with my head held high knowing that I would make this work. This being an idea to have my very own design studio and after years of regulations, budgets, setbacks, mass market and creative moderation, I rediscovered my passion from childhood. 

That was true art, freedom and autonomy. It wasn't the art or fashion that was restricting, it was the way I was involved. In working with any large mass market, there are definitely politics involved. You quickly learn how to navigate through the deep waters. I knew my energy would be better spent elsewhere. 

For the past 2+ years I have been working as Design Director and CEO of my very own design studio, Melissa Mendez Design Studio. I have had the pleasure of working with apparel companies on my terms and also really fun and creative design work for startups. At the end of the day we can all find our passion, but we must be consistent and follow our hearts. Our hearts are always speaking to us. Taking a moment to listen can absolutely change your world. I don’t know where I would be today if I had not listened to that pull on my heart for something more. It took me over 10 years to finally make that leap, but all is not lost. In fact none is lost. I use many of the skills I learned in my years at corporate in my design studio. From communicating my skills to listening to what it is my clients want. I often get questions about production, design, starting a clothing line and threw that opened up my business to a whole new dynamic. Coaching for startups and apparel companies. In addition, I began an online community called Women Crafting Success, where women come together to learn, share ideas and grow their business.

If I can influence just one person, one women to step out on their dreams today, I would highly encourage that they do so. There is no time like the present and yes you will make mistakes. But just know that mistakes are here to help us not hurt or shame us into giving up.

Up next ... Women Empowering Women and Listen to Your Gut: A Divorce Story

Melissa Mendez is a Small Business Owner and Coach to entrepreneurs and startups looking to grow their business. Melissa through her design studio offers an array of design services to help startups grow and maintain their business with industry expert advice and skill. Together her and her team have over 22 years design experience. Along with her studio Melissa created a wonderful international community of women who think outside the box and work together to help one another achieve their business goals. When Melissa is not working, she is reading board books to her son, or catching up with family and friends over dinner and wine. 

Learn more about her at Melissa Mendez Design Studio

Business  | Self-Care  | Career  | Fashion

Career Profile: Technical Writer

Words by: Ashley LaMar // Interview by: Mia Sutton

1) Tell us a bit about what you do.

As a Technical Writer for a software company I create documentation that helps people understand and use the products and services that we sell. I spend my days building online help databases, writing and editing manuals (system, end-user, training), designing white papers and marketing materials, and preparing design specifications, project plans, and test plans.

In simpler terms, I translate computer programming in to English for the 'everyman' user.

2) How did you get involved in technical writing?

Actually, I kind of fell in to it by accident. Once I was in it I decided I loved it so I stuck with it.

A few years ago when I was working for a local government agency I was asked to help prepare training documents and form letters for our department. My boss at the time knew I was a writer and she thought I would enjoy creating the documents. Those documents led to me creating document templates, stylesheets, style guides, etc which ultimately led to my decision to pursue technical writing as a full-time career. For anyone interested in pursuing a career in technical writing, I recommend a degree in English and a strong understanding of computer programming.

3) What is your favorite thing about your job?

Technical writing is highly analytical which is an environment in which I thrive. When I was younger I was always being told I over-think everything but that is a skill that is required in a career such as mine. Before I can prepare any document I spend hours reading work orders, understanding programming, meeting with the system designers and developers, and testing the software. It isn't until after I have a thorough understanding of the system that I can begin preparing my manuals and help system files. I love playing in the software, analyzing the user's experience, and then creating documentation that will lead our end-user to the best possible use of the system.

4) What are some misconceptions about your job that you'd like to clear up?

The most common misconception is that I just write all day. A lot of people have said that it "must be relaxing to just sit and write all day" but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I spent the large majority of my time meeting with designers, programmers, developers, and project managers. When I'm not meeting with them I spend time in demo meetings, reading work orders and test cases, and testing the system. Even when I'm writing it isn't what most people think of when they think of writing. I'm not working in a Microsoft Word document or a basic web page. I'm working in systems such as Adobe RoboHelp, Confluence, or MadCap Flare. I'm building database tables and writing obscenely detailed step-by-step manuals that I then must test repeatedly to ensure accuracy. It is so much more than a keystrokes on the keyboard as I type out step one...step two...step three...

5) What is the best piece of advice you've received from someone in your field?

Don't create your documents in Microsoft Word!

Microsoft Word is the most well-known word processor but it is not a good tool for writing technical documentation. You are only creating unnecessary headaches for yourself if you try to use MS Word as your primary documentation tool. You face issues with formatting incompatibility when importing .doc files into different techcom systems and MS Word does not play nicely when working in files over 100 pages (some of our documents are 1,000 pages or longer). I'm not going to mention the trials you face when it comes to version control and multiple authors. Technical documentation requires a techcom system like RoboHelp, MadCap Flare, or Confluence. It's a bit of learning curve but it's worth it.

What The Bridal Industry Has Taught Me

Words by Colleen Bankovich Images by Angie Candell Brandon

Welcome to the wonderful world of all things bridal! It would take many posts for me to tell you everything I've learned and everything I am trying to unlearn about the bridal industry, so I will try my best to give you as much information as I can, hopefully you will find this very inspiring!

Let me start by saying, I LOVE what I do.  I love designing dresses and accessories.  I love styling brides.  I love the people I do business with. When I started my bridal designing journey everyone had advice on what Bridal Markets to attend, what designs to make, what advertising to do and how to do it.  I was consistently told I was growing my business too small and it was a big mistake not to do Bridal Markets twice a year (which would cost approximately $25,000). Not knowing better I did it ALL, I spent thousands of dollars, but soon realized that this was not for me.  For a new designer this could be a make or break moment, luckily I took a step back and went back to my roots.

The people I have met on my journey are amazing people, but I had no desire to compete with companies that had an endless supply of funds to partake in the hustle of the bridal industry. Instead I decided to be a rebel of sorts, only offering truly couture hand sewn and ethical products and gowns.  I cut each petal- hand pressed hand formed and hand beaded, every veil is also done by hand.  I started to see that I was not the big box store designer, and here I am. I do my homework and reach out to bridal salons I would like to work with, as they will be a representative of my brand and my brand will reflect their aesthetic. I also want to know that the salons I work with really love what they do, that they create an amazing experience for their brides from start to finish.

You may be thinking, "take the money wherever you can".  To me its not just about the money (that will come)- it's about the whole picture! Who is your target clientele? Do you like the people you are doing business with?Do the people you are doing business with love what they do? Can you build long term relationships with them? Bridal Salons are under a great amount of pressure from the Bridal Industry.  The minimums they are required to purchase from each designer is almost enough to close their doors.  They have a huge inventory of sample gowns and accessories that either cannot be reordered because they have been discontinued or with luck they can sell a few. That's not my game, I want these stores to succeed.  Without them I am at square one.  I want them to stock things they can sell, this works for everyone.

Another important thing to know to survive the bridal industry- have a tribe.  Surround yourself with people who have your back and you have theirs.  The fashion industry can be so rewarding but it can be brutal.  You will deal with a lot of rejection, people stealing your work and selling it as theirs, long nights and not looking so glamorous all the time. I live in sweats, t-shirts and ponytails. I wouldn't change a thing! I work with the most amazing people ever, I do what I love and I get to be a part of someones most important day.  That's what makes this all so worth it!

If you find your niche, go with it, no matter how crazy you think it might be, go for it!  Stand out!  Always trust yourself.  You know what's best for you and your company, sometimes it just take a person to hash it out with to get you in order.  This is why you need a tribe, they want nothing more than to see you succeed.

Yes, the bridal industry is full of challenges that you have no idea about unless you are part of it, but if you can get past that and really look at why you're doing this, I promise you it is an amazing and beautiful industry to be a part of. As for me, I will probably always be part of the rebel crowd in the industry.  I do not want to ever be doing what everyone else is, I want to have crazy creative freedom.  I know that I wont be for everybody, but I will be for somebody and that's good enough for me!

Last thoughts.  Be Brave.  Just Do It.  Love what you do and if you need a friend in the industry shoot me an email!  The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.

Career Profile: Graphic Designer

Interview by Mia Sutton // Words by Melanie Solomon

Tell us a bit about what you do and what a typical day is like in your job.

I am a Graphic Designer, and have been for the past 10 years. My typical day is filled with designing flyers, email headers, motivational quotes for social media, banners, anything and everything you can think of when it comes to Marketing a company.

How did you get involved in graphic design?

When I was old enough to have a job, I started working for my Dad’s company. I would bounce from place to place, wherever they needed me. But my favorite department was the Graphics Department. I got to be a part of some amazing things, like building scaled models, screen printing, and designing exhibits for Museums in Washington D.C.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love creating something from scratch. Typography can be a beautiful thing. Designing something that will catch someone’s eye and keep their attention for a few minutes is rewarding. I also adore designing things for social media and getting “likes”. Nice to know that things I spend so much time creating are being seen and appreciated.

Least favorite?

It’s a very deadline driven job. So there may be days where I have 10+ projects on my desk and I need to get them done by the end of the day. It can be stressful, but I’ve done it for so long that I thrive on a deadline driven environment.

Which tool/program is your favorite to use when creating a design and why?

That’s a tough question. I love the entire Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe Photoshop is an amazing program where anything with Photography is possible, trust me anything is possible, don’t believe any images you’ve seen online. But I think Adobe Illustrator would have to be my favorite. That’s the program I would use to design a logo. The ability to create something out of nothing makes me happy, and once the client sees the final result and loves it, I am overjoyed!