A month ago, I stood in front of 350 people, looking out at a Fashion Show that a dream team of coworkers and I had spent four months — who am I kidding — a whole year planning for. That Thursday I had opened the shop, sold last minute tickets to the show, taped line-up photos to poster board, steamed the prized pieces, set up the backstage, taken a Floristry How-To class (thanks to the ever-talented The Wilding Collective), directed models, styled photos, moved chairs, skipped breakfast, called my BFF in a panic, and taken two or three deep breaths for good measure. A year ago I had done roughly the same for our first show, except I’d done it riddled with anxiety, learning everything as I went. This time around I was calmer, more collected, and more comfortable in my role as Co-Leader. The difference wasn’t my work ethic, but the evidence a year’s work had provided to myself. I hadn’t just been dropped into this show; I’d blossomed within my existing role.
In my first year at Momni, there were an overwhelming amount of career milestones I had to count along with my sprouting resume. My development was sizable and my growing pains were substantial. It was full of stretching leaps from college drop-out, to shop girl, to social media marketer, to web manager to a finally settled title of “Content Creator”. The year was as fabulous as it was profoundly exhausting. Every week, my resume gained another skill, another line, another aspiration. And it wasn’t all pretty. Yes, I had learned some of my biggest lessons (putting away savings, curating a brand look, writing with discipline). I had also realized some of biggest shortcomings (spending my savings, writing myself into ruts, showcasing frustrations in my work performance). If my years of life were condensed into grains of sand, that year would be a webbed Petoskey stone, connecting a plethora of life lessons.
Thankfully since then, my progress has been more subtle. Each work day now has a sense of routine, each project a base of knowledge behind it, and each task a confident focus driving it forward. Stillness that once made me restless has kept me in place long enough to polish the prowess produced in that first year of impromptu growth spurts. Owing to my many strong, savvy female mentors and the collection of kind models, creators, and friends that surround me, my evolution has transitioned from lanky teenage sprouting into a slow and steady flourish. I’ve matured in some ways and relaxed in others, but I didn’t realize any of this until I got a literal behind the scenes look at it. My most momentous milestone wasn’t looking at the three hundred plus people seated at our Fashion Show, but instead looking at the girl running it and the confident group of supporters she had behind her. Experience had calmed her, creating had sharpened her, countless mentors had guided her, mistakes had humbled her, and reality had given her a few hearty laughs at herself.
Sometimes the changes you like most about yourself, are the ones you didn’t even realize were in the works.
Writing by Mara Strobel-Lanka. Photos by Stefanie Keeler.