We meet so many amazing women who are out there doing what they love and making it look so easy! There’s nothing like doing what you’re passionate about for a living! But trust us, it’s not easy creating a perfect career that you love. We got together with Meredith Mahoney of Birch Lane to talk about how she started her own retail brand. It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. With a degree in architecture, Meredith has always been passionate about design! Her journey in retail started when she worked as a visual merchandiser for Anthropologie, but she knew her goals were higher and was not shy to communicate this to her higher-ups. She’s truly a woman with a plan! Meredith shared with us some of the keys to her success and what resources in her career helped her to get to where she is today. We’re passing this great advice on to you:
You got your start in retail as a visual merchandiser at Anthropologie. What advice do you have for women who are just starting out and are looking to move up in their careers?
Work for a great manager and make sure she knows your goals! She’ll help you navigate your way up the ladder, and give you great advice and guidance along the way.
You’ve been featured in the podcast “Smart Creative Women,” The Huffington Post, and more, and have had some great advice to share! What is the best piece of advice you have received that helped shape the way you think about the future of your career?
Advocate for yourself. Know where you want to go, have a plan to get there, and make sure the right people know about it.
How do you stay on top of design trends? Where do you find inspiration for new collections?
I’ve always been a ravenous consumer of design–from magazines to museums to retail. I’m very lucky that what I do for a living isn’t much different than what I do for fun.
What advice do you have for get-it-girls who are thinking of starting their own retail or design brand, but may be discouraged because they don’t think their ideas are unique enough from what is currently in the market?
Great businesses are inspired by great ideas, but they are built to last with passion and hard work. If you have a great idea, go for it! Dedication, long hours, and a clear vision will separate those who are successful in actually launching a new brand from those who just have the idea.
What is the most challenging part of launching a new brand like Birch Lane?
The challenge is always deciding how to use limited resources to best grow the business. We have many, many more ideas than we have people to do them. The key is to have a clear vision of where you want the brand to be in 6, 12, and 18 months, and prioritizing tasks against those goals.
Being a mom, a wife, a founder, and friend is hard work! What do you do to keep yourself balanced in all aspects of your life? Do you have any specific rules that you abide by? No cell phones at dinner, no email after 8pm, etc.?
When my kids are home and awake, my computer’s off. I might be working on other things like reading magazines or making notes, but it’s really important that they don’t see me glued to a laptop all the time–that’s my line in the sand. I make the most of my time spent away from the screen, whether that’s hanging out with my family, cooking, running, or gardening in the backyard.
I read a great article recently about “sharpening the saw”–essentially dedicating some time each day to something that sharpens your mind but isn’t necessarily “productive.” It could be reading, exercising, knitting, crossword puzzles, anything that engages you and gives you time to think. It’s hard to find time for that sort of thing when the inbox is overflowing, but most successful business leaders do it.
What is on your career bucket list that you haven’t achieved yet? What’s next?
My primary focus right now is Birch Lane, but Wayfair has a few things up its sleeve that I’m excited to be working on. Keep your eyes peeled!
Photography for Best Friends For Frosting by Celso Enrique.
NAME Meredith Mahoney
TITLE Founder and Design Director of Birch Lane