I met Callie in a FB group for Curvy girls who love to travel. We have yet to meet in person (working on it), but we support each others creative endeavors regardless! I already admired her hustle, but seeing more of her story made me respect her ambition and passion for helping women realize their potential through fashion and BoPo even MORE. -S
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell 17 year-old me that she didn’t need to rush and pick a college. That no 18 year-old really knows what they want to do for the rest of their life. That someday I would get to travel the world and work doing something I love, but how I got there would be different and not to be afraid.
I have had a passion for travel almost as far back as I can remember. I went on my first plane ride to a dance competition in Las Vegas (from San Diego) when I was 8 or 9 and thought I was SO GLAM. My dad traveled very frequently for work and the whole idea seemed so COOL.
By high school the travel bug was in full swing. I had managed to convince my parents to let me take my first real international trip with my Spanish class to Mexico. After high school, for my graduation gift, I got to go to Europe to visit one of my best friends, a foreign exchange student who had returned to Sweden after graduation.
My first big SOLO trip overseas was, by all standards, a disaster. I Overpaid for tickets, booked far too many lay overs, had delayed luggage, was pulled over my first night for driving on the wrong side of the road, missed my flights, subsequently had to book expensive train rides, more missed flights, and had an empty bank account when I finally got home. It didn’t matter; I was in love with travel.
Shortly after, I had my first experience living abroad, in Trinidad and Tobago. I then managed to get a job as an au pair in Paris for a year and a half. My life was changed.
But how would I ever be able to REALLY travel while my retail schedule controlled my life?
I had started working in retail right out of high school. I was good at it and genuinely enjoyed it for the most part. Except for that pesky schedule. But I kept on. I moved onwards and upwards. From my local department store, to Bloomingdales, Chloe, Saks, Jo Malone, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. To San Francisco, and Palm desert, and then retail mecca: Las Vegas.
I was often recruited. My unique skill set: luxury goods, fragrance, handbags and French language fit the luxury retail niche perfectly. And I loved it.
Except. For. That. Schedule.
By the time I was working full time as a store manager in Las Vegas, there were almost no weekends off. Stores on the strip are open 365 days a year, until 11pm or 12am. Often not even two days off in a row during a week. The hours had allowed me to work full time (very lucratively) and attend college at UNLV full time where I earned my B.S. in International Business. I was grateful. But I had graduated and now I felt the sting of the golden handcuffs I was wearing.
It was during this time that I started my ‘side hustle’. Stemming from a place of passion, I opened an online ‘social boutique’ selling women’s clothing. I didn’t really need the money. But I loved the products. And I loved that they were size inclusive. Something that the luxury sector that I worked in almost never was. I had been plus sized since I was in middle school. I loved fashion, but fashion hadn’t loved me back. I was working in shiny fashion castles selling clothing that would never be made in my size.
So, I sold leggings, and skirts, and dresses online, and for a year I lived a dual life. Working inside a palatial luxury store by day, and selling clothes on Facebook when I was off. I loved it. I worked too much my mom and my husband would tell me. But I couldn’t stop. I was obsessed.
Soon I had built my ‘side hustle’ into a business that had earned me a free cruise. An incentive reserved for roughly the top 5% of the company. And it struck me: I worked so hard and I may not be able to take this FREE trip because I won’t be able to get the time off approved for the cruise AND my brother’s wedding, which was around the same time.
Everything I had been using in my ‘job’: customer service, sales, marketing, was helping me with my boutique. But it couldn’t help me get time off. It couldn’t get me freedom. I had to make a choice.
Just over a year after I started my online shop, I quit my job, moved back to California (my home) and went into business for myself full time. Walking away from a pension, amazing benefits, sick pay and more was a risk, but one I was willing to take.
Just a couple months after, I was on that boat, enjoying the cruise I had earned. Celebrating and having a blast. A few weeks after that I was at my brother’s wedding in Cancun. The month after, NYC with my best girlfriends. By May, I was in Napa to meet up with friends and clients I had come to know from our community group on Facebook that I had formed for my boutique.
By the end of that first year, I had grown my sales, and been on over half a dozen trips. I qualified for another free cruise for 2019, booked a trip to see a dear friend and her new baby in Stockholm, I’ll get to see another friend get married in Paris, and hopefully take my dad to Europe for his 65th birthday gift.
Don’t get me wrong. I work hard. I am the CEO, the marketing coordinator, head of customer service, and the janitor. I expanded my business last year to include my travel and style blog, fusing my two passions. I launched it determined to create an online resource filled with honest and authentic posts that empower women.
But, it just doesn’t feel quite like ‘work’ the way I knew it for so long. At the end of the day, I do work I love, work that I feel is my calling, and work that allows me to do the things I am passionate about.
For years I was confident in the abilities that made me good at my job. I was a confident facilitator, leading trainings for everybody from new hires to executives. I never felt like I was ‘pushing’ or ‘selling’ things. I was comfortable talking to new people and finding out what they wanted. I wish I had seen sooner that those skills would be useful in other scenarios. That retail (or insert ‘job’ here) wasn’t the only way to use my God-given gifts.
So many women I know possess some of the most incredible skill sets you could ever imagine. The skills acquired through years of working, or teaching, studying, or raising children. From diplomacy to communication, marketing to time management.
What gifts do you have? What have you learned over the years and know you’re good at? Now what do you long for? What are your dreams? How can you take those skills and apply them to something that can make your dreams come true?