Let’s just start this off with something hardly anyone knows about me: I have a Masters in Accounting
Yep, I know exactly what you’re thinking. “How did she go from crunching numbers to telling us about fashion trends?” And I don’t blame you. I would wonder the same thing!
Soooo… here’s the back story of how I went from getting my Masters at UT to posting try-ons on Instagram.
I grew up in Columbus, Mississippi always knowing I wanted to attend Mississippi State University. It was never a question in my mind of where I would go and I didn’t even apply anywhere else! Which, now knowing how hard it is to get into UGA, blows my mind. I grew up a State fan because my dad worked with the sports teams and we went to so many games considering the campus was only 20 minutes from our house.
To be honest, since my dad was a doctor and I did well in school, I always assumed I’d do what he did and go to medical school. I figured out before college that I didn’t love the medical field, but I thought I needed to do something equally “hard”. I’ve always been a go-getter and love challenges, so when I realized I was very interested in business, the only logical choice to me was to do accounting since I had always heard about how hard it was. I loved math and am definitely a “numbers person”, so I thought I was bound to love it!
Well you guessed it.. I was wrong
I was super determined to graduate with a 4.0 in college in a degree people found challenging. Why? I seriously have no other answer than that I am a 3 on the enneagram and am motivated by achievements. It seems so obvious in hindsight that it wouldn’t be the career for me, but as a 20 year old college girl, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I mean, who does?! Unless you are one of the “blessed” individuals who comes out of the womb wanting to be a lawyer or a doctor.
So I worked my way through school, only allowing my passions to come alive in my hobbies. AKA- being on MSU Fashion Board and modeling. I thought that if I combined the two things, I could create this career that I loved. That if I was an accountant but for a “fashion” company surrounded by the industry I loved, I would be satisfied. Well, after interning in the accounting office for Alice + Olivia in NYC one summer, I realized that might be harder than I thought. Then, I had the idea that if I could do something I didn’t like in California (much more my speed than New York City) that I would be happy until I stumbled upon something else. So I accepted my first big girl job as an auditor at a firm in Santa Monica – my dream place to live! I went out to Newport Beach for training and actually quit my job the same day I started training. I literally got up mid-training of our software system, threw up in the bathroom out of anxiety, went back to my hotel (surprising my mom who was there vacationing with a friend), and told her I quit and was not going back the next day. It’s a funny story now but let me tell you what was NOT fun – bringing my laptop back to the company the next day or calling my dad to tell him I quit and had changed my mind about accounting after he graciously paid for my extended college degree. Oh, or letting the company know where to mail my 4-hour paycheck that they made clear they LEGALLY had to give me.
Fast forward a few years and here I am with a Masters in Accounting, avoiding every auditing job I possibly could, studying for my CPA license, still wondering what the heck I should do. One day I was chatting with my mom in the car about how I wanted to own a boutique when I got older and had done the accounting thing and got the urge to text a lady who had a store in Starkville I had modeled for a few times and had also been a speaker at a fashion seminar class I took my Freshman year for fun. I told her that I’d love to hear about how she got started one day and hoped she was doing well. She immediately texted me back telling me she had recently franchised her store and asked if I wanted to meet for coffee the following Monday. As soon as I got the text, without even knowing what was involved, I felt a peace come over me and God telling me that He in fact did have the desires of my heart in His plan for my life. We met for coffee the following week, I started working for her immediately, and later that year, I opened my boutique (a franchise of L.A. Green) in Buckhead in Atlanta, GA.
So what happened to my store? COVID happened.
I plan to write more in depth about my experiences and everything I learned the past three years, but for now I’ll sum it up with this – my landlord was ruthless.
My store was in a very high-end area of Buckhead in Atlanta. If you are not familiar with the area, it’s basically the uppity part of Atlanta where you can see the money all around you. My space there came with a hefty price tag each month, but it was in a good location by a bakery everyone knew of. It sounds all glamorous, but owning a store is SO much more than you realize until you have done it. I never got good foot traffic, unfortunately, because of the layout around us. And no foot traffic + overpriced rent = a young girl working her butt off (mostly alone to save on $ on payroll) and hardly sleeping for 2.5 years. Being the owner of a business is the best, worst thing you can be. It is amazing since you get to call the shots and make your own schedule. However, after all your young girls leave, you go home and take all the worries of how your bills are going to be paid home with you. And when they call out sick, you work. When they have a flat tire and refuse to uber to work when your family is in town to go wedding dress shopping with you, you have to cut that once-in-a-lifetime experience out and go work.
As challenging as the entire experience was, it is also the best thing I’ve ever done. Had I not gone through that, I would not be the person I am today. It’s interesting to me how challenging times often prove to be the best times of our lives. They prune us into who we are meant to be and equip us for everything the future has coming. They also force us to rely on God and often draw us back to Him by reminding us that we are nothing without Him.
When COVID hit and we had to close, my landlord wouldn’t give any rent relief. I’m not aware of their financial situation, so I can’t speak on why they chose to work with their tenants like that, but for new small businesses in a really high rent district, that just didn’t work. All of us owners of spaces in that shopping center got closer than ever trying to figure out how to navigate this difficult situation, but ultimately, we could not get out of it legally. I realized I was never going to recover from the debt of over 3 months rent and made the decision to close my doors and end my lease.
I was heartbroken for awhile and sometimes still get pangs of sadness remembering a customer I got close to that I’ll perhaps never see again. Or remembering how the days I’d work with my incredible manager, Natalie (also one of my very best friends) and we’d laugh until we cried while hustling all day long. But I know that ultimately, God intended for this to happen. It is all a part of my story for His glory. I am at peace now fully believing that the best is yet to come in my career, no matter what that means I get into next.
For now, as you can probably see, I have started my own jewelry brand called Carlyle Collection, which is now being carried in some local stores, and have also started working as an influencer. It’s a strange feeling working for other boutiques when I used to search for influencers to work with, but I absolutely LOVE getting to know these store owners and help them get the word out about their brand. Having had all the experiences they have owning a clothing company, I’m able to better relate and actually help meet their needs and that has been so rewarding to me. My store gave me this platform of lots of girls like me who love to shop, so it has been a very effortless transition.
I have always been the girl who said I’d “NEVER start a blog.” Not because I think negatively of those who have them, but mainly because I didn’t think I had anything to say or any value to bring. I even bought my domain 2 years ago to record my traveling stories and when describing it always made sure to call it my WEBSITE. Not blog haha. To be honest, I was turned off by the blogging industry because of being burned from some influencers while working for my store.
However, having gone through so many experiences over the years, I find myself not caring what people think anymore. Whether just my mom reads this or a million people one day, I feel called by God to share some stories on here and will publish them as I feel them on my heart. If any of my hard times can encourage someone else, this “blog” will attract the right person.
As for the future, I’m uncertain what that looks like but I’m so happy where I am right now. I feel totally at peace with God leading my next moves. So stay tuned and I promise to always be as transparent as possible when sharing my life!
If you made it this far, I can’t say thank you enough. I appreciate you more than you know and so thankful you are my friend, even if just through the internet!!!