Create & Cultivate – Windy City Edition

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It’s hard to believe it’s already been almost two weeks since the Create & Cultivate conference in Chicago! Being in a room full hundreds of passionate women was both incredibly humbling and inspiring. Not to mention hearing from #bossladies like Ashley Tisdale, Whitney Port, Alli Webb, Jennifer Hudson, Olivia Rink and sooooo many more! Create & Cultivate certainly knows how to over manage the details from the cocktail hour and the instagramble wall installations down to the stickers on the floors. It was a dream. Start to finish. 

I walked in feeling uncertain about what I really wanted Hey Allie to be and what I thought the brand needed to look like. I left feeling refreshed, inspired, and reassured that I do, in fact, have something to offer. Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from this amazing event: 

“You can never be anyone but your beautiful self.” – Koya Webb, Squad Up Panel Discussion

We hear it all the time. But for several months, I realized I didn’t know what that looked like anymore. I was so consumed with this vision of what I thought I needed to be or what I thought was be acceptable. I forgot to recognize what makes me “me.”

 

First, I picked out the most “Allie” outfit I could possibly come up with – a pair of high waisted pink trousers, a polka dot top, and pom earrings. I was in my truest form, but also so far out of my comfort zone. But then I found myself feeling so confident and getting compliments on my outfit throughout the day. Look good, feel good, do good. Right?

 

Authenticity is everything. Now, I never leave the house without first asking “Ok, is this the most ‘Allie’ that this outfit can possibly be?” I want to make sure I am always projecting my truest self. Polka dots, pink pants, poms and all.

“Start with what you’re passionate about and then focus on what works” – Unknown, How to Monetize panel

I started the conference without a clear direction. I kept asking myself: Should I just focus on  just photography? Do I want to be considered a fashion blogger? What about my art? How does this all fit together? Listen sister…my greatest takeaway was this: Just DO the damn thing. Then you can focus on what’s working.

 

“There’s a reason horses race with blinders on” – Alli Webb, Founder of @Drybar, Keynote 

The only thing standing between you and your dreams is the WORK. Nothing is going to get handed to you. You have to hustle. Focus on YOU and your brand first and foremost. Don’t get hung up on what other people are doing. 

“Collaboration Over Competition” – Create & Cultivate

We met and listened so many incredible powerhouse women this weekend and I wanted to take a second to give a shout out to some of them so you can check out their work too!

Masayo Madison, The Letter Bea, Kaitlin Claywell, Champagne Getaway, Inspo and Co. 

 While you’re at it, grab yourself a copy of “Work Party” by Jaclyn Johnson and “You’re Not Lost” by Maxie McCoy. Super excited about these reads! 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wheels on the Bus…

It’s back to school season and the same quote keeps coming to mind.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

I haven’t set foot in a classroom for almost 3 years but this couldn’t be a better time to think about all the things that school taught me and all the things I don’t use (looking at you algebra.) Bring in the tamagatchis, pink digital cameras, ipods nanos, Aeropostale bell bottom jeans, and sequin purses. Issa throwback! Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

First grade: I was the new kid in the middle of the school year and an instant outcast.

Second grade: I was obsessed with Josie and the Pussycats. All I ever wanted was for my mom to flip my hair like hers and wear tiger print pants. I’ve never stopped rocking the winged eyeliner. Cameo by my little brother, Ryan. 

 

Third grade: I got in trouble most days for talking too much in class.

Fourth grade: I switched schools to attend the fine arts academy and was so terrified of having to make new friends again. I wept in the car after orientation and my mom looked at me and said “Well Allie…you just won’t go then” and that was the end of my tears. I was going damnit. Did I mention my mom cut my bangs? No? Ok here’s some proof. 

 

Fifth grade: Awkward phase coming in real hot. I quickly realized that I could NOT sing like the rest of my peers. So I squeezed a tennis ball for a week to prepare for auditions for the traveling puppet team. I made it and I’d never been so jazzed. My mom also reminded me that this was the year we were forced to watch “the birds and the bees” film and I curled up in her lap like a baby because I was traumatized. Cameo by my puppet, Tiffany, and my dad’s booty. 

 

Sixth grade: The glorious trifecta: Braces, glasses, and a middle part. Need I say more?

 

Seventh grade: I thought I was hot shit because I was on the spirit squad and could wear my uniform to school every Friday. I also tried to be emo for a minute. We all went there.

 

Eighth grade: I decided I was going to go to George Washington University Law School and become a senator. That was short lived after realizing I’d rather sweat ice cream than go into politics. I wrote a letter to my highschool self to open on graduation day including all of the things I wanted to accomplish in those 4 years.

 

Enter Highschool: A total blur of dancing, drama, my first serious boyfriend that I knew would be “the one” (thank GOODNESS I was wrong!) On graduation day, I opened the letter to find that I’d done all of the things I wrote in the letter. 

 

Then college happened. My years at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point were some I will never forget. I almost switched my major halfway through college, got my dream job on campus, and spent three months in New York City for an internship. I was allowed to be myself. In fact, being weird was suddenly really cool. I started attracting my tribe. Some of whom are friends that are now like family. I experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows. But I graduated with hope in my heart and excitement to take on the world.

 

So to my younger self on the first day of school,

It’s ok to be different. In fact, it’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself. Hold your head up high and know that the best is yet to come. Take each day, month, and year with strength and grace. Know that people will come and go and that you will always be loved no matter what. Everything will change. Yet somehow, some things never change. Always remember to be true to yourself. Your were made to stand out in the crowd even though you spent most of your life trying to fit in. Amazing things will happen when you are your truest you.

Inevitable Quirk

I find it easiest to break the ice by embarrassing myself in front of people I don’t know. Go big or go home as I always say! So you’re about to read some of the weirdest things about me. I’m all about the quirk. No shame.

I was on a traveling puppet team in elementary school. I took auditions very seriously squeezed a tennis ball for a week to strengthen my hand muscles. Commitment. 

80% of my memory capacity is taken up by song lyrics.

Aaron Carter was the first love of my life. I know how to pick em.

I’m growing a mean cat shirt collection. I’ve got big plans. 

Don’t turn on “Thriller” at a party and expect me to remain calm.

I can’t go a whole day without cleaning my ears. I know it’s bad for me and I’ll probably be deaf by 40.

I can recite the movie Elf effortlessly. I’ve seen it approximately 43,567 times.

I’m either late or I’m not coming. Plain and simple.

My burps often sound like baby pterodactyl barks. She is elegance and grace.

Few things bring me more joy than baby animal videos.

I can’t whistle. Doesn’t matter who tries to teach me. I’ve accepted it.

 

Embrace your quirks because perfect is boring. The world needs your authenticity!

That’s all for now on this premier episode. Tune in next time!

 

*Searched for available corgi puppies and watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s while writing this blog post*

P.S. I’ve watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s three times and I still couldn’t tell you the plot line.

 

“Palms are Sweaty, Knees Weak, Arms Are Heavy…”

I am going to be that girl that celebrates the “First Dateaversary” because I worked pretty damn hard for a long time to snag a date with this hunk. I’d been swooning over Jake for several months….longer than I’m willing to admit on record. I was the girl that sat in the back of class and admired him from afar, a stone cold fan girl. But he still hangs out with me – WIN.

To celebrate two years of adventures, I thought it might be fun to get our perspectives on our first date and share them with you…so here goes nothin’!

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HIS:

Driving to Fort Atkinson, WI for my first date with Allie was full of all kinds of emotions. I was terrified, nervous, cautious, and thrilled. This was the girl I had been talking with for months and the girl I had always wanted get to know. I knew she was fun and I knew I liked her but I couldn’t stop thinking about what could go wrong.

What if she doesn’t like me? What if she doesn’t like the show? What if she notices I completely sweat through my deodorant already?

When I parked my heart was already pounding. I couldn’t wait to see her. We had both driven 45 min for this first date and we hadn’t seen each other in awhile. I got out of my car I could feel myself getting hot and breathing faster. Every step started to shake a little more than the last.

After walking in and enjoying our meal, I found myself lost in conversations and laughter. The whole vibe felt effortless. It was fun, exciting, and all feelings of nervousness and cautiousness melted away. I had to pretend to like the nasty raspberry dessert cheesecake because she lit up when the waitress brought it to us–later to find out she hates cheesecake just as much as I do!

I wasn’t in the best stages of health but she never mentioned it.. She didn’t look at it as a definitive feature of my presence but rather looked straight through it–right to the core. I thought to myself: “This girl is something special.”

As we walked back to our cars I was dreading the goodbye. I didn’t want it to end. One thing will forever stick in my mind though.

While we tried to drag out the farewell as much as possible, I will never forget her squealing in excitement looking at a small hill on the edge of the parking lot that was full with dandelions. I leaned against the hood of my car–trying to act cool like Danny Zuko from Grease– watching this girl dance through the flowers. She twirled and smiled at me. In that moment, I knew that I had just witnessed the beginning of an extraordinary adventure.

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MINE:

Two years ago today, I put on this exact little black dress and my favorite shoes to go on a first date with my dream guy. I’d spent hours picking out the perfect outfit. I tore every dress out of my closet and got a pep talk from my mom.

 

We had this date planned for almost two months. Jake had made all the arrangements at a dinner theater in Fort Atkinson, WI. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never even heard of the show Sister Act so I Googled the plot beforehand.

I sang to Aaron Carter (the first love of my life) at the top of my lungs on the drive there to drown out the nerves. I was absolutely terrified. I have about as much game as a toaster and I hadn’t been on a date in over a year.

He showed up in a suit that was a little too big and it was the sweetest thing. Who wears a suit on the first date?! (Fellas, if you want to impress a girl, you wear a suit on the first date.)

He looked at me with excitement and admiration in a way that nobody had ever looked at me before. He was kind, chivalrous, and had the most calming presence. He made me feel important and valuable. Instead of taking control of conversation, he asked about me and truly cared about the answers. It didn’t feel forced or awkward and there was never a shortage of conversation or laughs.

I don’t remember anything about the show or what was said. But by golly I got the guy…5 months later!

I knew long before our first date that he was my person. This is just the beginning.

 

Lady Cave 2.0

Welcome to my humble abode!

I’m so excited to take you through my new little place in Madison, WI. My mission was to truly love every piece of my apartment.

While it is still a work in progress, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress. It’s starting to feel like a home!

 

Couch from Ashley Furniture // Rug and white fur throw pillow from TJ Maxx // Coffee Table was found at Goodwill for $6! // Vase was $5 at Goodwill // Lamp was originally from Walmart and I spray painted it gold // Lamp shade from Target //

I absolutely had to have this amazing gray tweed couch. It was a love at first sight and my big girl furniture purchase. I told myself if I purchased that piece, everything else in the apartment had to be free or thrifted. So far so good!

 

(Left to Right) The large Brooklyn Bridge photo was taken by my cousin Will of his wife Lena // The gold hands print is by my friend Katie Boeckman // The Kate Moss print is from Etsy in a frame from Michaels // The black and white piece in the lower right corner is also by Katie Boeckman // Charcoal ugly selfie piece is of yours truly by yours truly.

 

Can we all take a moment for the perrywinkle chair?! The cat throw pillow was stolen from a friend’s apartment in college // Round purple pillow is World Market // Casted dancer sculpture is from my grandad’s antique shop in Stevens Point, WI //

 

One of the reasons I fell in love with this apartment was this sweet little spiral staircase. The 5th star squeaks just a little.

 

This piece has some intense meaning to me and guess what…it was found in the dumpster! After having a hard time in the self love department, I decided to write things I loved about myself and put it up somewhere I could see it everyday. It now sits above my desk.

 

Another one of my favorite parts about this apartment is the storage space!! This amazing walk in closet houses my very own little boutique. All of the items you see here (besides the dress form) can be found on sale on my POSHMARK closet!

 

It’s all in the details ammirite? These little fellas can be found at Target!

I’m adding things I love everyday and can’t wait to share the progress with you.

 

Taking on Mad City: 5 Things I’ve Learned in Transition

Photo by Anna Marie Photography

 

A month ago today I packed up my life and moved to Madison, WI.

I felt trapped since I graduated from college 2 years ago. I was working a job that was draining me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I dreaded getting out of bed every morning and would go to bed immediately when I got home. My creative drive was gone. The cherry on top? My car was totaled in an accident and I was finishing up physical therapy treatment for whiplash.

Perfectionism kept me in the same place. I didn’t want to make the wrong move and fail. My next move had to be spectacular or I felt that I wouldn’t be able to justify it. I put so much pressure on myself that I settled in my comfort zone.

On a Tuesday night in early January I got a call from a dear friend about a job opportunity at a non profit in Madison whose mission is to “Connect, inspire, and empower women.” SAY NO MORE. I applied and my interview was 2 days later.

After being offered the position and had two very clear options on the table:

  1. Stay unhappy but comfortable financially.
  2. Be happy and uncomfortable financially.

It was time to jump out of my comfort zone.

I quit my job and had two weeks to pack up my life, find an apartment, and hightail it out of Rockford like a bat out of hell.

Suddenly, I found myself with a new car in a new city, living in a new home, and starting a new job.

I’ve learned 5 really important things in making this big transition:

  1. The universe hears your cries for help and will clear your path for you. All you have to do is show up.
  2. Doubters will be perfectly placed in your life to push you a little bit harder.
  3. If it’s not a “Hell yes!” its a “NO.” I apply this rule to most everything.
  4.  It is ok to ask for help. (I had to swallow my Leo pride for this one.)
  5. I doubt myself every day and I shouldn’t because I am brave as hell.

 

I’ll be honest, Madison was never on my list of ‘next step’ places and the transition has not been easy. In fact, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s to creating the life you love to live.

Weekend in the Windy City

There’s something about getting lost in a big city that always leaves my heart rejuvenated and full. The windy city definitely did not disappoint, especially after serving us all of the looks after the first snowfall of the year. I am so excited to share some of these photos with you after our little weekend getaway. I should definitely get in the habit of taking more photos when we go places…

 

Love you fiercely,

 

Allie

 

Photos by Jacob Kujawa and yours truly.