Real Talk

A Letter To My Daughter

To my first baby,

It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up in the dead of night, wide awake, with someone on my mind. But you make me do that. 

And it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at your dad with a total new admiration. But you’ve made me do that. He’s cooking and cleaning and walking to the bodega to get me ice cream. He carries my bag on our commute and puts his hand on my back to push me up the steps because five flights of subway steps is tough for me some days. You’re going to love him, by the way. He’s steady and fun. He cares about making spaces beautiful—which is why your nursery is the sweetest little spot in Brooklyn. He’s going to teach you about sports and will make you laugh everyday. I know, because that’s what he does to me. When we say goodbye in the morning, he always gives my belly a kiss. We’re usually standing in front of a bunch of construction workers by the Nobu in FiDi, and I love that he loves you so much that he doesn’t care. 

I like to tell people about how you were given to us with little effort on our part. You’ve made us lucky and thankful. That I was surprised by the ultrasound tech and I factimed your dad to surprise him too. And all day we just kept texting each other, “Nothing else matters.” Because nothing did. We’re so grateful for how quickly you came, so much so that your name means gratitude. But just so you know we are scared too. It’s okay to be scared about things you want. 

We’re going to do so much together—already you’ve ridden the subway and gone to photo shoots and swam in the ocean and traveled to all the way to California. And I’ve been trying new things because of you too, like learning to say no and relishing the season I’m in. When you’re bigger and overwhelmed about something new coming your way, I’m going to remind you of all the things you’ve already done so it doesn’t feel so scary. 

It’s been a long time since your dad and I have opened ourselves up to something so new. But you’ve made us do that—and will continue to do that for a long, long time, I think. We welcome the way you’re going to wreck our schedule and sleep and wallets, because just the thought of you has already wrecked our hearts. We are praying big things over you, little girl. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been nervous to meet someone — but you’ve made me do that. But still, I’m ready to see your teeny tiny self. So come quick and come soon, after nine months and 5,000 bagels and ice cream cones—we are ready to put predictability on hiatus. 

And we have one last hurdle—pushing through the pain and unknown of birth to get you out here, with us. And I don’t want to do it, but it doesn’t really matter, because you’re making me do that.

Baby girl, thank you, for the fear and the wonder and 9 months of learning and leaning on others and praying for providence. Thanks for letting me sleep most nights and for not making my feet swell. I feel the most at peace with the unknown than I ever have in my whole life, it’s a place I never knew I could arrive.

But you made me do that. 

With all the love that I don’t even know yet,

Mama

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Real Talk, Recap

30 For 30

WELCOME BACK

– my blog to me

It’s me, just a week or so past my 30th birthday and very excited to have written something here again.

Gonna cut right to it. I’m 30. And honestly so far, the water’s just fine. My twenties were amazing; I fell in love, twice – once with a man and another time with a city. I pushed myself into situations that were daunting and overwhelming—and by the grace of God came out the other side alive, and maybe better? I landed my dream job, two actually. Made so many friends. Stamped my passport a few times. I ran a business with my husband and friends and have learned so much that I’m now annoyingly distributing my learnings to younger women around me in an effort to spare them from heartache or frustration. They probably don’t listen, because they’re young and some lessons you just have to experience yourself.

You know you’re grown when you have a photo of you at the dry cleaners.

Your twenties are a really weird time. For me it was ten years of non-stop fun, mixed heavily with confusion, despair, and emotionally-taxing moments. And then a funny thing happened around 28 or so—a calm began to wash over me. Just like the expensive jeans I bought last year are finally starting to do what the man at Vintage Twin swore they’d do: I feel more broken in, more custom fit, and better suited to myself.

List-maker than I am, I wanted to round up 30 things I’ve learned in 30 years, so I have a place to come back to when I feel like I know nothing. Granted, most of the truths are from the past 10, but I tried to dip into the simple truths of childhood as well—because some things are just always right, at any age.

The Hi, Haleyannie 30 For 30 List

  1. CHILDHOOD TRUTH: Ice Cream is always good.
  2. Everyone needs a cathartic activity. For me it’s Shopping, Running or Weight Lifting, and watching Queer Eye—in that order.
  3. It’s 100% possible to make your dreams a reality, it takes prayer, hard work, kindness, and gratitude
  4. Connect the dots for people. Be specific with what you want to do and where you want to go. It’s easier to help someone accomplish a goal with a clear next step.
  5. CHILDHOOD TRUTH: When you are gifted (and every time you earn) money, give a little, save a little, and spend the rest.
  6. Drinking water really is important.
  7. Take your makeup off every night, no matter how tired you are.
  8. Invest in good jeans, handbags, and heels. You can fake the rest.
  9. Buy really beautiful clothes for your wedding events.
  10. When someone is speaking to you in a professional or personal setting, stop typing on your computer or looking at your phone. Eye contact is everything!
  11. When possible, travel.
  12. Show up for people, even if it means getting home late or not getting as much done on your to do list. Even if it costs money. Show up for people.
  13. TAILOR. YOUR. CLOTHES. Hem your pants if nothing else.
  14. A well-edited closet is key to avoiding outfit fatigue. Keep an outfit moodboard and make a list of clothes that you need. Don’t deviate from the list—except for maybe some stupid-good sales.
  15. CHILDHOOD TRUTH: You really should go outside and enjoy it when it’s a “really beautiful day.”
  16. Never stop trying to learn new things.
  17. You truly are enough as you are. Take in and BELIEVE the nice things that people say to you. And mean them when you say them back to others. You deserve to be confident and happy, not crippled by fear and anxiety.
  18. Stop worrying about “the plan” and the deadlines you’ve set for yourself. Work, relationships, babies, etc. all come exactly when God has them for you. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given was to say to God, “I trust your plan for me.” So much comfort in that line.
  19. Ry taught me this one — treat your friends, colleagues, guests to coffee, dinner, drinks, etc. There’s always enough room in the bank account to be generous.
  20. It’s a blessing to have friendships that last a lifetime, and it’s okay to have some friends for just a season.
  21. Your job shouldn’t define you.
  22. Remember how generous people were to you with advice, time, and connections when you were starting out and try hard to be generous to that girl or guy DM’ing you for the same.
  23. Creativity isn’t limited to the “creatives” around you.
  24. Money comes and goes.
  25. My dad has been saying this to me for years: ENJOY THE RIDE. Don’t rush it and don’t waste it.
  26. Try the things you’ve dreamed of doing, you won’t believe how many “once in a lifetime” opportunities present themselves if you’re willing.
  27. Seriously, don’t buy cheap shoes.
  28. Assuming that everyone is an idiot until proven smart is a bad way to operate. Everyone has a story and a point of view; everyone has value to bring to the table.
  29. Sports are actually interesting.
  30. It’s impossible to sum up every necessary truth in a list. But sometimes it’s good to try.
Ready for you, baby girl.

Two weeks ago, I kissed 20-29 a very grateful, very fond farewell. And I’m looking ahead to 30-39 like it’s a mountain I have conquer. Thirty is ushering in a new challenge. In less than two months, Ryan and I will be welcoming our daughter into our little family. So I’m going to learn how to be a mom and a parent with my husband. I hope someday we get to build a house, and I hope someday I’m talking about clothes and getting dressed more than ever. Regardless of where we end up, I’m thinking many of the things I’ve listed out above are going to come back in play again, and again, and again.

Building a marriage, establishing a career, navigating friendships, dealing with failure, and embracing adventure—so many seasons weathered while I was still very much figuring out me, so what happens now that I’m a little more secure, and maybe a little smarter? Hopefully more of the same, but with less tears and a better articulation. Only, time will tell.

Happy Birthday, HH. On to the next ten.

xx

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Real Talk, Recap

Sunday, In Soho – 2018

Several months ago, Ryan and I were spending a Saturday exactly how we like to: in Soho, shopping. The sun was shining, Annie Bing was having a sale, and as we headed down Mercer towards Houston, I handed my phone over to Ryan and asked him to snap a picture of me because #content. 

Which is always super risky for me, asking for a picture of myself— seeing full-length me isn’t usually met with my rave review. 

But this time was different. He handed my phone back, and I flipped through my camera roll, looking through the images. My hair is longer, I’m standing up straight (mom would be so pleased), and I’m smiling. And my only initial thought was “I look grown up.” So simple and simultaneously monumental. There was no disappointment, no guilt from last night’s dinner or a missed run. No distress over my skin or my outfit. Everything was fine. And good. 

In my lifelong battle of me vs. me, that moment of gratification on a Sunday in Soho has been a major marker in my year. I’ve spent a lot of time waving off compliments and affirmations taking in those words as nice, but never genuine. I guess it’s a weird sense of humility but it’s really only ever held me back. It’s a cut deep enough to create rifts in my marriage and keep me from feeling like I had a place professionally. When it came to me beginning to start shaking out of that headspace, truly, this picture helped. 

This year was all about proving to myself that, yep, I am enough, and that the size of my jeans or title in my email signature really has nothing to do with it, but sure it helps validate. 2018 brought me changes that helped me finally believe I bring value to my team at work, to my friends, and most importantly to my relationship with my husband. What a simple truth, why in the world has it taken me nearly 30 years to begin to accept it? 

Now, I’m looking ahead and striving to hold my own, to not bend so easily under pushback or be quite so sensitive. If 2018 was the year I realized I do, in fact, have a seat at the table, 2019 is my year to defend it.

A really big kiss to all of my friends who have followed along with my little blog this year. I’m closing out the year with the pride of an accomplished goal resting on my heart and my eyes on 2019. Everything is gonna be fine. And good. I promise. 

xx- hh

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Real Talk

How To Move to New York & Land a Dream Job

This October marks 5 years of living in the big ol Apple. Which is wild because there are still mornings that I’m mid-commute with Ryan and murmur “I can’t believe we live here.” It’s been a real dream, save for being homesick, and the subway (see @SubwayCreatures on IG for what I mean), and one horrid case of bedbugs. It’s an actual professional blessing to say “my friends at Vogue” or “Hi, this is Haley on for the Refinery29 team.” I pinch myself at fashion shows or when I’m perusing the new collections at Hermès or Coach with colleagues.

I haven’t even touched on my incredible friends here who are truly my family. We really stumbled into the jackpot, you guys. But I’ll circle back on what this post is about: how I landed my dream job(s) at some of the most in-demand companies in New York, creating content for other outstanding fashion, retail, and beauty brands.

Haley Hoover Allure Magazine

With My Marketing #Sisters at Allure’s Best of Beauty Reveal Party – Oct. 2017

 

Spoiler: it involves a lot of prayer, a ton of optimism and hard work, and #blessings.

After living here for 5 years and being fortunate enough to have worked at some well-known companies in the fashion publishing, I often get emails or DMs from friends or friends of friends—or sometimes total strangers—about how I got there and what they can do to do the same. Ryan and I have an unorthodox career path, which should be encouraging to anyone thinking they don’t have the skillset, so I’ll start from the beginning.

  1. We Prayed

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Ready To Go – Nashville, Oct. 2013

Like crazy. I believe that my life was designed with and for purpose and that I can use passions and talents that we can use to glorify God. Ryan and I were styling in Nashville and looking to develop our career, and New York had always fascinated and excited me. So, we set a goal to move to New York and pursue styling or work at magazines. Long term, we plan to use our experience to help us in a smaller market—leaning into our resumes to snatch what we want. (No updates on moving anywhere, yet! Love you, NY.) We prayed for God to open doors and make it clear we should move. Our parents, ever pragmatic, recommended we start by selling our cars, and when mine sold in four days, we felt we were taking the right steps.

  1. We Started Small—And With What We Could Get

Ryan and I applied to dozens of entry level fashion jobs before we left Nashville. With no response. Not even a follow up email. I was working at Nordstrom at the time and even though I wanted to be far, far away from retail, I told my store manager I saw a role available at Nordstrom’s Manhattan Rack store. She put in a good word and I ended up interviewing the weekend we went to the city to look for apartments. I got the job, much to my dismay. We figured at least one of us would need a job to start out, so I accepted. It wasn’t what I wanted at all. But it was a job.

3. We Took Our Saved Money—And Moved!

Somewhere during our time in Jackson and Nashville, I realized most people don’t get a call to move to NYC. They get themselves there first, and then sort out the rest. It’s a really lovely mental test, the first of several thousands you’ll experience in this city. The night before we left Nashville, the apartment we applied for fell through (more on that another time), but I had the Nordstrom job waiting on me, so on we went. We pulled into NYC on our one-year wedding anniversary, homeless. Honorable mention goes to my cousin who put us up in Astoria for a few days. Give me your tired, your poor, and your homeless millennial, am I right? Our second day in the city, we found a place on the Upper East Side that was tiny and awful (and wonderful). It was below what we budgeted and didn’t require a guarantor so we signed the lease after seeing it for 5 minutes. Voila, Hoovers have a home.

  1. We Continued Looking For Jobs

I vividly remember coming home to my cousin’s from my first day at Nordstrom Rack

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Ryan @ The Barney’s Stylist Studio – Feb. 2014

and declaring I hated it. My cousin is a dancer and had her fair share of horrible gigs. She sweetly shared that her first job in the city was Planet Hollywood and it was three months and she hated it. Boom: I found a new goal. I gave myself three months at the Rack, applying to anything fashion-related on my off days. Ryan got a job as a PA for an author which didn’t last very long. We were three months in and still at square one when things shifted.

  1. We Pivoted

Our original goal was to be stylists when we moved here, but we were open to anything in fashion. Our pivot to marketing and publishing was more practical than anything, though. Becoming an editor or stylist in this city, in my opinion, means low pay, long hours, and hustling for longer than I wanted to. To be a full-time stylist here, you need a schedule that allows for constant networking and random, last-minute (and often low-paying) gigs.  I was (and still am) too cautious to gamble our savings, so I continued to look for fashion brand jobs. There was one memorable conversation Ryan had with the VP of Sales at Saint Laurent early on that shaped this decision. Styling was a “tool in your toolbelt,” he said. And it is, I reference my styling experience often.  My current role allows me to work directly with the fashion and beauty brands I love. I go on set, weigh in on imagery, creative direction, and even the styling. The pivot was a good choice for me here, but I still dream of having a roster of clients I’m shopping for. #Someday

  1. We Learned To Get Specific

When we first moved here, we truly were open to any job fashion-focused that wasn’t retail. Turns out that saying “I’m open!” is not super helpful to a hiring manager or mentor; specificity is needed in order to make a strong recommendation or connection. We learned to reference our experience and point out specific roles we liked at companies when meeting new people.

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Ryan @ The Longchamp Terrace – SoHo, May 2014

It was during my hot pursuit during those first three months of living here that led to me getting a job at Longchamp. I stumbled across a role for a showroom assistant with their HR contact’s phone number. I had worked very briefly as a buyer in Jackson, TN and referenced that experience when I called five minutes after I found the job listing. Admittedly, Longchamp wasn’t my ideal dream brand to work for, but it was a known fashion brand and ended up being the most amazing experience. Managing the showroom allowed me to meet editors, designers, artists, buyers, and production teams, pulling back the curtain for how fashion “works” and ultimately solidifying my desire to work as a marketer in publishing—I always loved meeting the editors and magazine marketing teams the most.

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Fun, Last Days @ Condé – July 2018

Funny enough, Ryan’s retail job led him to Vogue. He met a customer, now a dear friend, who worked at the now-folded Details magazine and knew Condé Nast was hiring entry level roles. Ryan interviewed and started working on digital media for Allure, W, and Vogue, and was dedicated exclusively to Vogue within a few months. I ended up at Brides about a year later—it was just luck that my resume got picked up in the HR portal. I had been interviewing unsuccessfully elsewhere: DVF, Derek Lam, and others, and by the time I made it to Brides, I had said all the stupid stuff in other interviews and was able to really focus my responses to help me land the job, which was great, because it was the one I really wanted. From there, one thing has led to another, but the fundamentals of staying proactive and specific when networking are concepts we lean on constantly.


I share all of this because it seems that people are under the impression that Ryan and I have this sort of special sauce for getting to certain places. We don’t. Our focus is simple: we work hard and are proactive, we try to be kind, and let God do the rest.

When I recently made a move from Condé Nast to Refinery29, I was really scared. I was sad to leave my team and a job I had dreamt of having. I wondered if I could fill the shoes I was being ask to fill (still working on that!). But this time, I was able to look back at five years of my career in New York to show myself I was capable. I had no idea how to get a fashion job in New York City, but somehow I managed to meet the right people to help make it happen. I didn’t know how to “do” marketing for a magazine, but I learned; I asked hundreds (it felt like thousands) of questions and had amazing supporters around me who taught me. I didn’t know how to make my dreams come true, but I kept my head down and worked. And when I looked up, I was living them.

xx – hh

All photos are my own, except for the hero, which is by J. Demetrie Photography for Refinery29.
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Casual, Daytime Look, Fall/Winter, Real Talk, Shopping Guide

Proportionally Speaking

At this point in my life, I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, pictures of myself, but for whatever reason it was this picture (above) that Ryan snapped of me this summer that made me notice something totally new about myself. Could it be? Is that right? Right there in front of me, I noticed that I have a short torso. All of the pieces started to fall into place: high-waisted pants and empire waists always look flattering on me and longer tops always felt way too long. Right then, at the age of 28, I realized I have a short torso.

A friend and colleague of mine who happens to have excellent style and taste always says the first two rules of fashion are “Find your waist, and then find a tailor.” When I’m dressing clients or friends, I always consider their “lengths” first—it’s the easiest way to pull together outfits that truly look amazing on you. There are tons of little tricks to make sure that you’re dressing in a way that suits you proportionally, like always wearing heels with midi-length dress or wearing shorts with an oversized jacket to keep your legs looking long. Skinny jeans end up making lots of people looking stumpy when worn with flats, but so much taller with heels—something about that extra few inches of ankle and top of your foot make all the difference. Since I realized I have a shorter torso, I’m looking for more cropped tees to wear with high-rise pants so I look taller.

So how do you figure out where you fall length-wise? For one, if you’re always having to get your jeans hemmed or if they’re never long enough, you can probably gauge if you have short or long legs. If jumpsuits always result in a bit of a camel toe, you’ve probably got a long torso and if crop tops hit where a regular shirt would, I’m calling a bit of a shorter torso. Also note—I’ve discovered that this concept is incredibly difficult to express by writing, but I’ve found some articles that express it better than I do here and here.

I’m a list maker and getting dressed is so visual, so I pulled together some images (yay! my Illustrator skills on display!!) and a checklist of some super steller looks from some of my style icons. I’m deeply obsessed with how Kortney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Sienna Miller (I know, why not Kim? Probably because it’s hard for anyone I know to relate to her shape) dress. I know, I’m the worst, but I think they’re solid examples three different body builds: short torso + petite figure, long torso + long legs, and equal lengths torso + legs. Pulling images of them gave me such great inspo for my fall wardrobe too!

For my girls with long torsos – look to Kendall Jenner!

Ladies, you are the drop waist queens and can rock an oversize tee like no-one else. If you’re blessed like Kendall with super long legs, lean into wide-leg pants and flares, because it’ll just make you look more sky high! Make friends with a front tuck (Hi, Tan France) to define where your torso ends and legs begin. It’s also likely that you can wear a the ever-tricky mid-length bootie, just in time for fall.

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For my girls with shorty torsos – go for Kortney Kardashian!

I’m so obsessed with Kortney’s style. She’s a tiny petite person, but still manages to look super fly and leggy no matter what. The biggest take away – cropped tops are your friend! And no, you don’t need a six pack to wear them. Even if they hit the top of your pants and show no tummy at all, it’ll still make your legs longer looking.

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If you can’t decide if you have a particularly short or long torso, you may be “Equal Length! Good for you, this means life is a little easier for you, but not without need for tailoring or some nuances. 

I think Sienna Miller, although petite still, is pretty proportionate. She’s just kinda fashion heaven too. Take a close look at wear pants hit her—even full length pants are expertly tailored to hit right at the ground to avoid “pooling” or having too much of a break. She almost always wear a high-waisted pant to make herself look long and lean.

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There you have it. It’s a good exercise to survey your own lines! Consider this the next time you’re trying something on. And please, remember, just because something doesn’t fit you right does NOT mean that you’re body is wrong or bad, it might just mean that proportionally, it’s not the right fit, or you just need some tailoring or the right pair of shoes to make it right! Be kind to yourself. We all have different, beautiful bodies. I’m just here to help you get dressed in a way that makes you feel 100% you and 100% amazing.

xx – hh

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Memphis, Real Talk

The Very Best Day of Junior Year

Everyone has that one year that, when they think about it, even decades layer, makes them cringe. For me, that was junior year of college. A really tough (hindsight caveat: I guess?) break up and (hindsight caveat: mostly) years of my own insecurity all mounted together to send me spinning into a well of depression. I struggled with some unhealthy habits with food and exercise, and felt very lonely for several semesters.

But amidst all of that yuck, there’s one day in that year that glows as a happy, glorious memory: The Very Best Day of Junior Year.

  • First Win: The caf was serving salmon and because lunchtime was a very stressful time for me—I was thrilled because salmon felt like a healthy indulgence
  • Second Win: While waiting in line for my salmon delight, a friend texted me saying he had an extra ticket to the John Mayer show in Memphis and wanted me to join. I, like most college girls in 2010, LOVED John Mayer desperately. Not because he was hot, but because, you know, he was a true musician 😉
  • Third Win: He actually had two extra tickets so my very best friend, Ellen, could come along too
  • Fourth Win (!!): No need to pay them back, tickets were on them
  • Throw in a cancelled Management Information Systems afternoon class and boom – I had myself a five star day

Ellen and I went to the concert that night and had a total blast with our friends, in complete disbelief that we were sitting a mere 20 rows from “The Greatest Guitarist of our Time” for free and by surprise. It truly felt like a giant silver lining in a stormcloud of a season. But it was after all, the very best day of junior year.

Haley Hoover HiHaleyannie

Ellen and I living our best life—and check out that fashion 😉

 

Nearly 10 years later, I was sharing with my husband, Ryan, how much that day meant to me and what a wash of relief it sent during a particularly tough time. (We went to the same university, but we weren’t very close then.) When I think about that day, even now, I smile because blessings were raining down on me. And when I told him about it, he looked up and quietly said, “Those were my tickets, I gave them to Jordan and told him to invite some friends. I was too busy and couldn’t go.”

That revelation of my own story knocked me over. Somehow, my generous, kind, and patient husband who gives me really good gifts almost daily, managed to gift me my very favorite day out of an entire year, even when he had nothing to do with me.

I believe that God is good, even when things are hard. And sometimes it takes years to unravel the little pockets of blessings He’s hidden in my story. And I’m sure there’s some things I’ll never know about. But I’m certainly glad one very good day involved the person who now makes all of my days even better. Salmon fillets and all.

xx – hh

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Real Talk

The Part With The Reality Show

I once told someone—and still stand by this statement—that part of living in New York is crying in public places. Once I decided to walk from Union Square to my job at Longchamp in Soho. Not far, but I ended up getting lost in Bowery—in a full on snowstorm. I was freezing and soaked and my phone was dying and I went into a Whole Foods, walking through the produce with tears half-rolling, half-sticking to my face.

There have been rough mornings with Ryan when something dumb was said that left me frustrated and upset, and I had no choice but to sit in meetings, staring straight at the table while silent *hopefully unnoticed* tears have crept down my cheeks.

But one of the most memorable cries was when I full-on wept in Madison Square Park. Even when I think about it now, my heart hurts a little for my 25-year-old self who had heartbroken tears streaming down her face in February amidst teams setting up tents for Fashion Week parties and FIT students struggling past, carrying sketches and garment bags.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was in casting for a reality show? It was a few years back for Season 2 of House of DVF on E!. I filled out the unbearably long and introspective application and was shocked—thrilled!—to get a call from a casting producer. Ryan filmed me going through my closet, dancing like a lunatic, and wearing my sole piece of DVF: a green printed dress I won for selling the most of the brand’s dresses during my Nordstrom days. A producer called me every couple of days, encouraging me to prep for my on-camera test, which he said was a meeting and also sometimes said was a job interview. The producer kept telling me to bring my husband to my interview. “It’ll really set you apart,” he’d nudge. I declined; TV show or not, I didn’t want to be pegged as the girl who couldn’t do anything without her guy by her side. To meet them in the middle, I printed out pictures of the two of us, and packaged those on top of my portfolio for my Test/Interview/Whatever.

The big day finally rolled around, and I found myself in the DVF showroom, waiting to meet Stephanie Greenfield, the brand’s creative director and resident terrifying lady boss. At one point, a camera guy pushed a door back and as it swung open, I saw a brunette sitting on a tufted love seat, looking petrified. It turned out to be a mirrored door and that brunette was me. “PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, this is your shot” I remember think-screaming to myself.

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Me In DVF, 2017

After shaking Stephanie’s hand about 17 times for the camera, we sat and she opened my portfolio, and I watched as a look of what I can only describe as “High Brow Disgust” washed over her as she stared down at an image of Ryan and Haley Hoover. “What’s this?” she clipped, with one eye-brow raised. I crumbled into a puddle. And will spare you from all of the ways she proceeded to poke holes in my dumb resume and tear me down and how I failed to stand up for myself. DVF had just written “The Woman I Wanted To Be” and I often think if I had repeated a few soundbites from the book, I wouldn’t have gotten a call later that night that casting needed 12 girls for the show, and unfortunately, I was lucky number 13.

 

But I knew I was out after my 15 minutes were up in that showroom. I called Ryan and told him it was bad. She hated me. I missed my shot. We had moved to the city in hopes of sky-rocketing to fashion success, and this was the break I had been waiting for. And I blew it. So to the park I went, at 10am, and cried. I cried most of the day, only breaking to host an event for Models For Christ to kick off Fashion Week, and then went home to resume my misery. I would liken the feeling to having the most beautiful diamond ring, and accidentally losing it down the drain in the bathtub.

I learned 2 things that day:

  1. I would keep trying to pursue my fashion dreams
  2. Other than that, I had no idea who I was

I could pursue the former, but needed to really invest in the latter. Self-discovery is no easy or instant task. It was a tough year. I struggled through knowing myself and understanding who I am—and still do. Being “fearfully and wonderfully made” has long been a very tough concept for me to grasp, although I do believe that the God I serve is so good and wants only the best for me.

When I recount my story, the part with the reality show serves as a pivotal moment for me. Growth hurts, the stretching and the bending can be painful. Somehow that burden of that rejection gave way to a sting and then to an ache, an ache to a winch, and a winch to a memory that simply makes me shake my head. I constantly second guess myself and my worth, but bit by bit I know a little more about the woman I am, and the one I want to be. Optimistic, enlightened, and persistent.

xx – hh

 

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