by Olivia White | Featured Contributor
In a previous post, I stressed the importance of “being your brand.” As an entrepreneur starting your own business, you’re your own best spokesperson. Look and act the part. Having confidence in who you are and what your brand represents is crucial. But, being yourself, often requires you to first discover yourself.
There’s this critical period of soul searching after graduation. The party is (seemingly) over and it’s time to meet the real world face on. You’ve earned your degree, but what’s next? At this time in your life, there are endless opportunities, which can be empowering. But, with so many unknowns, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. What are you going to do? Where are you going to do it? Are you going to love it?
My advice for recent grads: Be active, meet people, put yourself out there and enjoy life!
For me, it took some time to find my path. After graduating from USC, I stayed in LA and had an internship at a security risk analysis firm, staying true to my Internal Relations Major. Then, moved home to Houston to focus on an application to teach English in Argentina. After that program didn’t work out, I went back to the drawing board. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted a career that would help express who I am and what I am about. I’ve spoken in previous posts about the strong women in my family who have some serious style and interior design skills, and have been major role models for me. At the time, my aunt had been running 41 Winks, a fashion-forward bedding brand for young women, which I had interned for in the past. As I talked with my aunt through y long, long list of interests, it became clear to me that working with 41 Winks would allow me to learn a bit of everything. I saw so much opportunity in the company and brand, that when my aunt came to me with this offer I was beyond excited to add a fresh out of college perspective.
When I decided to take on 41 Winks and make the move to New York City to become the brand’s creative director, it was both daunting (heading to a BIG new city, taking on a new position with little experience) and comforting (my aunt and sister were in NYC already, so I still felt close to home). At first, I considered the journey more of a “long trip” and was just looking at 41 Winks as a short-term project. But, I realized I had the self-motivation to keep at it and discovered my inner creative and entrepreneurial spirit. I really connected with the brand, and in doing so I was able to find myself.
One of the first projects I coordinated was a photo shoot. We were at a studio by Chelsea Pier and I’ll never forget it. I was having “New York Moments” left and right. I ran around the city during the dead of winter like a crazy person to get everything ready and organized. In reality, it was a lot of schlepping (bedding is much bulkier and heavier than you’d think!) and very long days. But, everything about the experience was magical.
In the marketing world today, you often see lifestyle editorials in fashion, but not nearly enough in bedding. It’s older, more sterile. Just because bedding is not traditional fashion, doesn’t mean it’s photography and messaging needs to remain stagnant. There’s as much life in bedding as there is in traditional fashion. I agreed that something was missing on the market and connected with my aunt’s unique philosophy about what she wanted the brand and product to be.
With 41 Winks, I want to reach young women and give them the tools for self-expression and motivation, that also crave color and life in their bedding. Moving, living and working in New York started to make me feel more grown up and inspired, which helped me actually grow up. I finally found my place for now and felt truly comfortable in my own skin.
Olivia White is the CEO and Creative Director of 41 Winks, a fashion bedding company for women who think outside the white duvet. 😉
Her vision is to design expressive, statement decor for students and young professionals. As a 2013 University of Southern California grad, Olivia clearly recalls the experiences of shopping for both a college dorm and her first apartment, and understands the brand’s target demographic. Since moving to New York where she leads 41 Winks, Olivia and her team have developed new collections, including the Fall 2015 Line, which is inspired by and manufactured in NYC.
Olivia is a proud Texan turned Brooklynite. She loves her beagle George, Spanish music, and anything that could be considered a “New York Moment.” Most days she can be found in her SoHo office, surrounded by mini disco balls, and getting down right creative with her 41 Winks team.