We always hear about the importance of chasing our passions, and doing what we love. As a first generation college graduate (let alone law school), I appreciated the spirit behind that sentiment, but had a slightly different perspective. For many people, it is not as simple as just “doing what you love.” There are other considerations that take precedent, like bills and rent. Without generational wealth, practicality is often controlling. My mom’s dream was never to clean houses, but she did that as a single mother to provide the best life she could for me (and succeeded fabulously by being thrifty, creative, and most of all, filling my childhood with love and encouragement).
Even with a wonderfully supportive mom, going from well below the poverty line to an Ivy League law school was an uphill battle, and when I graduated and landed a Big Law job in the midst of the biggest economic downturn of our time, I felt like I had made it. During my first few years there, I was happy and enjoying the experience, even with the crazy hours, arbitrary demands, and all the other rumors about firm life proving to be true. Eventually, however, I realized that I was not feeling fulfilled. My wonderful, supportive husband encouraged me to leave for something I was passionate about, but I struggled with the idea. I felt pressure to stay and continue being financially successful, even if I was otherwise unhappy. This pressure was not from my family – it was mostly internal, but nonetheless strongly felt. It seemed almost irresponsible to trade a high salary for happiness (especially with all my student loans!)
It took a lot of mental work on my part, but eventually I decided to take the plunge and approach a company that I love, both for their mission in general, and for how it has changed my life. Before joining Gwynnie Bee as a member in 2012, I loved fashion, but mostly from afar. I wasn’t skinny, and many of my favorite designers didn’t make clothes in my size, so I felt like I didn’t “fit” in fashion, literally or figuratively. So when I saw all the fashionable women posting their pictures on the Gwynnie Bee Facebook page, and discovered just how vibrant the plus size fashion blogging community is, it was revelatory. After a few months of GB membership, I decided to launch a blog of my own, starting out on Tumblr. There I discovered the Fatshion and Body Positive communities, and I noticed that my perspective was starting to shift. I was seeing the beauty and value in all bodies, not just the ones in mainstream media. This translated to my self-image, too. When I got my wedding photos back before I started blogging, I couldn’t fully appreciate them because I kept worrying that my arms looked too fat, or that I had a double chin when I smiled so hard. Just a few months later, I looked at the pictures again and saw something else entirely: I saw memories of one of the happiest days of my life, marrying a man who makes me smile more than I ever have before (he’s just that awesome). And I saw myself as happy, radiant, and downright beautiful. I was no longer interested in picking myself apart or worrying how I measured up to other brides.
The difference in perspective and self confidence was so big that I wanted to share it. I kept blogging with the hope that I could inspire just one other woman the way the community of plus size bloggers and women sharing their personal style through OOTDs inspired me. A year later, it was obvious that plus size fashion was my true calling, but I never thought I would be able to make a career out of it. But every time my husband asked what I really wanted to do, I always came back to working for Gwynnie Bee. I am so happy I was able to make that dream a reality, and to now be working for a company with a mission I truly care about. I am also grateful that I was able to work my way to a place of financial privilege where I can take my dream job without absolutely drowning in debt. Doing what you love is a luxury not everyone can afford, and I am grateful for it every minute.
I’ve been at Gwynnie Bee for a few weeks now, and I am so incredibly happy. I love knowing that my favorite company is just as amazing on the inside. I’ve always been impressed by GB’s customer service, but now, seeing the behind the scenes action, I am blown away by how hard they work to keep customers happy. That is true of the whole team – everyone is working together to make it the best service possible, and I am thrilled to be part of it. When I was five years old, I told my mom I wanted to work in fashion or be a lawyer. I never imagined I could do both, and even better, for a company that is helping to change the narrow paradigms of the fashion industry.
I gave myself a hair and glasses makeover as part of the fresh start of switching jobs, and the new look feels very “me.” I’m also loving that I don’t have to limit how I express myself sartorially at work. Being able to dress more creatively is a huge perk for me, and it will pay off in greater variety in my OOTD posts. I’m still going to feature office-ready style, because I know I have readers who come to me for that.
I will also continue to wear Gwynnie Bee clothes, and provide honest feedback about fit, style and quality (as I do with everything I wear). I’ve been a Gwynnie Bee customer for a long, long time now (as you may have noticed). In my time blogging, I’ve waxed poetic about how much I love the company, and they’ve saved the day many a time with just the right outfit. GB has also been instrumental in helping me push my own fashion boundaries and come into my own, style-wise. In fact, the second outfit I ever blogged was a dress from Gwynnie Bee that was big leap for me at the time:
All thoughts and opinions will of course remain my own, and if I am ever sharing any official Gwynnie Bee news with you (like posting an event or announcing a contest), I will be sure to explicitly state that I am doing so in that capacity.
I am so excited about this new step in my life, and to have a career furthering a mission I truly believe in! Thank you for reading, and stick around, because regularly scheduled OOTD and feature posts resume today 🙂