6 Lessons from 3 Fashion Superstars at Live Smart Series


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What do successful entrepreneurs in the fashion industry ranging from technology to design to publications have in common? They believed in their ideas and passions and stopped at nothing until their dreams became a reality. Anne Fulenwider, Maddy Maxey, and Tracy Sun are three outstanding women who have revolutionized their respective areas of expertise, uniting women of all ages and backgrounds.

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Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire

 “Sometimes you do have to chop the carrots.”

  • You’re not going to get your dream job the easy way. You have to do entry level work in order to climb your way to the top. When Anne first came to New York, she started out working for George Plimpton, an American journalist, actor and writer, she LITERALLY chopped carrots.  Although this was a menial task, it landed her a spot at Plimpton’s exclusive parties – giving her a window into the prestigious world of New York journalism.
  • Even when you’re just a lowly intern chopping the metaphorical carrots, you still need to show up and chop them to the best of your ability. While Anne was still working for George Plimpton, a blizzard shut down New York City, rendering travel impossible. But no snow storm was going to stop Anne from getting up and going to work. She walked forty blocks to Plimpton’s office, thinking it would be an ordinary day. Little did she know that day would change her life forever. As the only employee who showed up that day, Anne was given the opportunity to help Plimpton finish his novel about Truman Capote, a project she would work on for the next 3 years.
  • When you first enter the workforce, it can be incredibly challenging. Your boss may ask you to do tasks ranging from grabbing him/her a soy latte or maybe even chopping up some vegetables. But as Anne said, if you’re going to do the work, you may as well throw yourself into it completely. Embrace the simple responsibilities wholeheartedly – it will serve you well in the future.

“Don’t let the fear of being a little uncomfortable hold you back.”

  • Anne had just settled into her first year as Editor-in-Chief of Brides magazine.This period of adjustment in her life proved to be extremely taxing, both mentally and physically. Before she could even take a breath, she was offered the position of Editor-in-Chief at Marie Claire magazine. Taking on this position would mean another tough transition into a new company. Anne then found herself on her kitchen floor, with her husband, writing out the pros and cons of taking on this new responsibility. She found that the list of cons was nothing more than a list of fears. Though she was terrified, she stood by her belief that you should “never let the reason you don’t do something be fear,” and left Brides to begin her new adventure as the Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire.
  • Anne had no idea that she would have the opportunity to take on such a prestigious position twice in one year. “It’s okay not to know … No one does. And the people who look like they do, don’t. Everyone is winging it.” Nobody knows their path in life and uncertainty can be intimidating, but it is what keeps life interesting. “Stay useful, stay curious, stay open,” and you can conquer your fears.

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Maddy Maxey, Creative Technologist and Thiel Fellow

“Stay true to what you want.”

  • Maddy comes from a fashion background, but she is passionate about hardware and technology. Rather than limiting herself to one field of interest, she created a company that allows her to work “at the intersection of design and technology.” She co-founded The Crated, a product innovation studio that generates wearable technology. Maddy was able to blend her two passions into this unique company because she never lost touch with the things that were important to her. By refusing to let go of either of her deepest desires, she created her dream career.
  • Part of staying true to yourself and your desires is knowing what it is that drives you. For Maddy, it’s creating – it fires her up to organize a team of people and make something new with them.. She likes empowering people, and she knows that it is important to surround herself with people who will empower her in return. Creating a supportive community of like-minded individuals benefits everyone involved. Don’t spend time with negative people who try to tear you down – they are not helping your career or your happiness!

“There’s no reason not to begin.”

  • When asked for advice about how to begin working towards a goal, Maddy said, “It’s just a decision to start.” Once you take the first step and declare that you are starting, you’ll be on your way, and you will learn as you go. She emphasized that when you’re young, you have a lot more freedom to make mistakes. Don’t wait for a certain age or other special time – decide to begin your journey today.
  • An important part of Maddy’s personal learning process on the way to achieving her goals was learning how to adopt a fluid identity. As a young co-founder of a business that combines two different fields, she had to take on many roles. Though they were unfamiliar, adopting these new identities helped Maddy to not only reach her career goals, but also to discover parts of herself that she never knew existed. Being brave and stepping into new roles can lead to both personal and professional growth.

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Tracy Sun, Co-Founder of Poshmark

 “Don’t do it for the money, do it because you’re so happy to be doing it.”

  • Tracy Sun wanted to create a global platform in which consumers and stores can connect easily and sell their products, both new and used, within 60 seconds. She knew going into this that she may or may not fail – that her business could make very little profit and she could never fulfill her dreams for the company. Despite this, Tracy never let the fear of failure or her bank statement prevent her from pursuing her passion.
  • At a certain age you start to wonder what you plan on doing for the rest of your life. Some people have it all figured out and know how they will go about pursuing their passion. Then there are others who have no idea what they want to do and decide to enter a field simply because there is a lot of money in it. But that’s not what life is about. You were born to do something incredibly unique and have an impact on the world in your own way. Focus on pursuing your passions and success will follow.

“As long as you get up every day and try, you will succeed.”

  • Soon after Tracy launched her company, she encountered her first obstacles. Every week she hosted a happy hour at a local bar in order to create a stronger bond with her coworkers. In the beginning, only two people showed up. Most people would feel defeated at the fact that only two members of their team showed up to an event they were hosting, but to Tracy, that was still two people. Those two people gave her the confidence and motivation to continue her efforts and build a stronger foundation for her company. In the following weeks, as more and more co workers came to the happy hour gatherings, it reached the point where Tracy had to close out the number of attendees! Though they started small, they had grown immensely in popularity. Tracy persevered past the initial letdown and eventually obtained the results she had aimed for.
  • For young women confidence is a quality that isn’t easily attainable, and it can be especially difficult to find the confidence to start your own business. Failure and lack of confidence is totally normal and completely okay to experience when you’re trying to show the world who you and your ideas are. But as Tracy said, if you start each day by simply trying your best then all of your small successes will eventually develop into the results you’ve always dreamed of.

There are as many ways to achieve your goals as there are goals to achieve. So whether you are an entrepreneur or a girl who codes always remember to believe in yourself and your ideas. Uncertainties and failures are a part of the experience, and it is how you respond to and learn from them that determine how you will succeed. If you wake up every day, show up, and try your best, then you’ve already won half the battle.

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Christine Parascandola and Elizabeth Healy

President of SGG @ Hunter College ! Future veterinarian. Foodie. Sarcastic.

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