Inspiring Girl Boss Series: Velvet Report’s Lindsey Arnold

Welcome to my new series – “Inspiring Girl Bosses.” What sparked the series? The more woman I’ve met through blogging, the more inspired I’ve felt. Women in tech, women running their own businesses, women doing inspiring things. I truly believe that as women, our successes need to be celebrated, and we need to be given an opportunity to learn from each other. So today we’re sitting down with our first girl boss of the series – Lindsey Arnold – founder and CEO of the Vegan Beauty Box Company Velvet Report.

Why Lindsey? I met Lindsey at a blogger event earlier this year as she was launching the business side of Velvet Report. I recently attended the official launch party for the brand at one of my favorite brunch spots in Seattle – Bar Melusine. Even better? The chef made the entire brunch VEGAN. Who says you need eggs to have a fabulous brunch? It seemed like the perfect time to get the scoop on this inspiring girl boss and her new brand.

Inspiring Girl Boss: Lindsey Arnold

1.  As the first “inspiring girl boss” in our series, can you tell our readers a little bit about your past life pre-Velvet Report? I hear that you’ve had quite the journey!

Thanks so much for including me in your series. I feel so honored! 

Pre-Velvet Report I had started a robotics company after building a social robot companion for kids named Emobie that got second place in an international robotics competition. Before that I was a UX researcher at a consultant firm and before that I was a mental health therapist. I have degrees in Russian, Psychology, and Design & Engineering, and dropped out of Medical School, so you could say that I have a lot of interests. 

2. Tell us a little about Velvet Report and the inspiration behind it.

I started exploring the idea of creating a vegan beauty and fashion business about a year ago when my robotics company was hitting some roadblocks. I’ve been vegan on and off since I was 14 and in the last couple of years I started going animal-free in my beauty and fashion items. I learned a lot in the process and wanted to teach other people and show them that they can still have fun and be stylish with vegan products. I decided to focus on beauty first because that’s where people had the most questions and confusion. So far Velvet Report has launched 2 curated beauty boxes (not subscription) and a micellar water. All the products we sell are vegan, cruelty-free, and clean/non-toxic.

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Myself with fellow bloggers at the launch. (From left) 1. Briana Wilvert 2. Cordially K 3. Me 4. Life of Aani

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3. What’s one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring business owner?

See everything you do as experiments. Don’t hold anything too precious because then you will feel really bummed when things don’t work out the way you planned. Do things as quickly and as small scale as possible to see if it’s an area you want to explore further. Then if it’s a dead end, it’s only a small loss and not one that you put a bunch of money and time into. It will also help you to learn quickly. There are lots of things in business that you can’t learn by reading books (although those help) or thinking about them, you have to try it out.

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Lindsey talking about the brand – Velvet Report

4.  Is there anything over the course of your career that you didn’t do that you wish you had? Or the opposite – that you did that you wish you hadn’t done?

I wish I would have understood myself better (i.e. what I enjoyed doing and what I was good at) before I picked my careers. I went to medical school to help people only to discover that I didn’t really enjoy studying science 24/7. I studied and interned for years to become a mental health therapist only to find out that I don’t want to spend my life seeing clients all day everyday. And being a UX researcher, I realized that I would only ever truly be happy if I was working on my own projects, not someone else’s. It feels great now to wake up and be working on something I’m truly passionate about and enjoy doing.

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Attendees, from left: 1. Hot Dress Hot Mess 2. Alix Rose 3. Cordially K 4. Life of Aani 5. Me 6. Lindsey Arnold 7. Briana Wilvert 8. K State of Mind

5.  Lastly, can you give us a sneak peek of what’s coming to the product line and what we can expect?  

Next up, Velvet Report will launch a French Beauty Set. It will include the micellar water, a moisturizer, and a floral toner. All the products are natural, cruelty-free, and vegan, of course. I have tons of products planned for the future but I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time! The overall goal of Velvet Report is to create an inclusive community to educate and share vegan beauty and fashion. So right now I’m focused on building and learning from the community on what they would like to see next.

P.S. There’s a new beauty box dropping tomorrow and you’ll get 10% off your order with the code VELVET10 ! 

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Photography: Karya Schanilec Photography

For more Career posts, check out the career section over on the blog. One of my current favorites? 5 Books Every Aspiring Girl Boss Should Read. 

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Bridging the age gap in the workplace: 4 tips for connecting with your older (or younger) co-workers

Growing up as an only child, I spent a lot of time around adults. I may have mentioned in a past post that I have often gravitated towards hanging out with the “older kids” or the parents in the room because I tend to feel like I can connect a little better. So when I started my first job out of college and was the youngest one on the team (by 10+ years), one of the most common questions friends would ask me was “Is it weird? Do you have trouble connecting?” While my personal answer is no, when one of our P&P readers recently asked me to write some content about bridging the age gap at work, I jumped on the topic. So today we’re going to be talking about bridging the age gap in the workplace.

Tips for Bridging the Age Gap:

Be an active listener. 

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Meaningful relationships (in and out of the workplace) are built on active listening. We all like to know that someone is actually listening while we’re talking. Maybe you don’t have kids or maybe you’re not single with two roommates. That’s okay. Pay attention to the small details and follow up. Were they helping their kids carve pumpkins last weekend? Ask how that went. Did they take a day trip? Check in! The little details make a big difference. On numerous occasions I’ve had people thank me for remembering.

Find commonalities. 

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We may dress differently, come from different backgrounds, or be at different stages of life. I truly believe that deep down we’re all pretty similar. On the surface you may not appear to have anything in common. That just means you need to do some digging and listening. Finding what you have in common comes along with “active listening.” By talking with those around you, you might find that you have quite a few things in common. Dog lover? Coffee obsessed?

Become the student or the mentor.

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What we tend to forget is that there is always something new we can learn from those around us – whether they’re younger or older. Become the student or become the mentor. I have a few different people that mentor me, and I’ve often heard them say that they feel like they’re receiving some type of mentoring as well!

Ask for feedback

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When in doubt, ask for feedback. Within the first few months of your job, asking for feedback is a great way to start conversations. Some starter questions? What can I be doing better? Do you have any tips for improving? What are your best practices?

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| SHEIN Dress c/o (on sale) | Oliver Bilou bag c/o | Forever21 Sunglasses (old, similar)

What are your tips for bridging the age gap?

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For more career tips, visit the career section on the blog. 

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Chic + Trendy Fall Decor on a Budget

I’ve been completely drooling over fall decor lately. (Especially since I’m still living out of all the boxes I haven’t unpacked in my apartment.) My last decor on a budget post – around throwing a Summer Soiree that you can find here – did SO WELL that I wanted to do something in the same realm for fall.

I’ve been following Devon and Fela, the fabulous ladies of Sparkle + Toast for a while now and always get inspired. That’s why I asked them if they’d be willing to do a guest post on the blog to talk about “chic and trendy fall decor on a budget.” FYI – I was seriously ecstatic when they agreed. If you’re in the San Diego area, I highly recommend checking them out – whether you’re planning an event or just planning to decorate your home. Without further ado… I’ll hand the mic over –

It’s easy to pull off a stylish and chic look for your home and tabletop this Fall, all while taking it easy on your bank account! You just need to spend a little time getting crafty and know when to splurge and when to save. We absolutely love pulling a seasonal look together that not only transitions into our home with ease, but reflects our personal style and that’s inspired by trends while still being unique.

This year we were inspired by a velvet and metallic theme for our Fall entryway table decor. We chose glitter/mercury glass skulls and velvet pumpkins in rich, bold tones as our sources of inspiration. From there, we added a few elements to merge these two styles together: mason jars, votives, and spray painted branches to pair with the skulls, and a burgundy crushed-velvet fabric (a great find on major discount from our local craft store) to compliment the velvet pumpkins.

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Our top tips for pulling off a beautiful tabletop or entryway decor that looks expensive, but really isn’t:

  1. Keep it simple when it comes to the “characters” or “thematic props.”

    We chose mercury glass skulls as our spooky Halloween element, and avoided adding additional creatures or figures. It can sometimes be a style challenge to maintain a chic and modern look when there’s too many props going on 😉

  2. Choose a color way/scheme using mostly monochromatic tones with one or two pops of color.

  3. Spray paint is your secret weapon!

    Seriously, when in doubt, just spray paint it. You can save so much money transforming something you already have but that might  need a fresh new life. Instead of spending a fortune on lots of manufactured stems and branches from the store, we simply collected fallen tree branches from outside, and then just picked up a very inexpensive pack of dried wheat stems from Michael’s to add textural elements. We then spray painted them in either a muted rose gold or silver. They look so chic!

Here’s a visual of our main components, followed by how we styled it in our own home: (don’t forget to check out our links of where to find these items so you can create it for yourself!)

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  • Velvet pumpkins, here (affordable) and here (higher-end)
  • Assorted silver votives, similar found here
  • Rose gold/gold mercury glass mason jars, found here
  • Mini black and white glitter skulls, found here
  • Glass apothecary jars, here (higher-end) and here (affordable)
  • Metallic skulls, similar found here, here, and here
  • Dried wheat stems, found here

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How to dress for fall in California

It’s been months since I posted a purely fashion post. For the past 8 months or so I’ve lived by the mantra: “the professional woman should dress fabulously without her clothing defining her as a person.” That’s meant that I wasn’t exactly inspired to talk trends. But as I was packing boxes for my move, I asked myself “what exactly am I supposed to wear for fall in California?! What is California Fall Style?” Fall in the PNW has meant throwing on scarves and hats and sweaters and layers. In honor of my move back to the sunshine state, today I’m 4 sharing tips for how to dress for fall in California. And don’t worry, you’ll be stylish, dressed for the season, and most importantly – not overheated.

Also, before we hop right it, I want to give a little shout out to Oliver Bilou for gifting me one of their “Taylor” bags to feature in this post.

4 Tips for Achieving California Fall Style

1. Check out this year’s fall colors. 

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Nothing screams out of season like white and pastels. Even though in theory we’ve decided you can wear white all year ‘round, if you’re trying to act like you live in a place that actually has seasons, you’ll want to leave those white jeans in the closet for a while.

fall_color_trends_panatoneYou can’t go wrong with burnt oranges, olive greens, and camel browns which are classic fall colors. This article sums up this years added trendy colors (which you can also see on the left). I decided to go with Grenadine (red) for today’s look. These colors are also fun options if you want to have a more progressive spin on the classics. Just because you’re in fall doesn’t mean you have to be stuck wearing brown and orange all season!

2. Aim towards light weight sweaters or dresses with boots. 

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Here’s the thing – you want to give the illusion of warmth without the actual heat of being warm. I have quite a few sweaters which I like to call “fake” sweaters – they look like sweaters but I’d never actually wear them in Seattle in the fall without a few layers. The dress + boots combo goes along a similar concept. The dress by itself might not say fall, but the boots definitely will.

For my look I paired a button down skirt with some Chelsea boots and longer socks.

3. Have optional layers 

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Fall in San Diego is pretty interesting. It can be 50 degrees at 8 AM, 80 degrees at 12 PM, and 60 degrees at 5 PM. It can be frustrating to say the least! My favorite thing to do is have a light weight coat like the one I’m wearing to throw over your shoulders or leave in the car in the event you do get cold in the evening or while the AC is cranked at the office.

Some other layering options? A blanket scarf,  a sweater with a tee under that you can remove, and a hat you can use to keep your ears warm.

4. Always keep a hint of California

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The reality is that when you dress for fall in California, it’s too hot for a full fall wardrobe. All to say that there’s no shame and repping the Sunshine state in your look. I fell in love with the “Taylor” because for some reason it reminded me of California. It had something to do with the rose gold details and light beige color. I love that it can work for all seasons. But it’s low key totally bringing a bit of the sunshine state into the look.

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| Oliver Bilou Bag c/o | SHEIN Zipper Jacket c/o | Black button down skirt (thrifted, similar) | Cole Haan Boots (old, similar)

Looking for more California fall style inspiration? You can visit my Fall Mood Pinterest Board here. You can also check out this blog post from an Los Angeles trip last year! 

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I can’t do it all and I’m NOT sorry

Somewhere along the lines someone told us that we could “do it all and that we could have it all.” Maybe we can thank Wonder Woman, or Leave it to Beaver, or those 1950s cookbooks with the wife/mom pulling a turkey AND pie AND pot roast out of the oven at the same time. I grew up thinking that I was going to be that person. (No, not the one pulling all those crazy dishes out of the oven, unless it’s Thanksgiving of course). I mean the one that was going to do it and have it all. About a year ago – mid-October 2016 to be exact – I came to a realization. I can’t do it all. And I’m NOT sorry. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME

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No one was happy. Everyone (including me) was complaining. I felt like I wasn’t being a good friend, daughter, girlfriend, worker, grandchild, or blogger. I couldn’t understand why even though I was putting the effort in, I wasn’t seeing the results. Unless of course you count gray hairs to be results. It felt like I was one of those hair ties that you use 1,000 times and it gets so stretched out that it snaps. Guess what? I figuratively snapped. It was all thanks to Sheryl Sandberg and her book Lean In.

BURSTING THE MYTH: LEAN IN & YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL.

Sheryl said, :“Each of us makes choices constantly between work and family, exercising and relaxing, making time for others and taking time for ourselves. Being a parent means making adjustments, compromises, and sacrifices every day. For most people, sacrifices and hardships are not a choice, but a necessity.” (p.122)

Even though I’m not a parent, I knew what she was talking about. I knew that with only 24 hours in a day I could only do and be so much. What really hit it home was this next quote –

“Success is making the best choices we can . . . and accepting them.” (p.139)

Those of us that want to have it and do it all have something major in common – we have extremely high expectations of what success looks like. To me success was trying to make everyone happy all the time, even though it meant making me UNhappy all the time. Like I was saying earlier, I snapped. Tiffany Dufu, one of my favorite speakers and the Chief Leadership Officer of Levo, put it best – I dropped the ball. (FYI Her book, Drop the Ball is a must read. )

BECOME OKAY WITH DROPPING THE BALL

Everything about dropping the ball felt wrong at first. I consider myself pretty self-less, so making things about “me” went against the grain. Below are a few things that helped me finally feel comfortable with not doing it all. At the end of the day you can’t do it all, so you might as well get on board with figuring it all out.

Find out what really matters.

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Have you ever watched the show “Chopped” ? It’s on the Food Channel and basically chefs go through 3 rounds of cooking (appetizer, entree, dessert) and every round someone gets chopped until they arrive at one winner. Life has a lot of moving parts, and you need to treat those parts like the judges on Chopped would.

Ask yourself the following questions –

  • Which of your relationships are high quality, and which are low quality?
  • What do you truly enjoy doing with your free time?
  • In your life right now – what is making you happy and what is making you unhappy?

I put this tip first because it was the no 1 tip that has led to my happiness in the last year. Low quality friendships that suck up my time? Chopped. Going to events because other people want me to go, and not because I want to go? Chopped. You get my drift. It might sound cruel, but life is too short to be doing things or spending time with people that pull you back instead of pushing you forwards.

Ask for help.

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When I started my first job out of college, I was afraid to ask questions. I felt that by asking questions or asking for help, I was showing that I was weak or unqualified.

A situation finally came along where I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  I asked one of my colleagues for help because I had spent days trying to solve the problem. What I had spent days on took him 10 minutes. It was a tough pill to swallow. Not to get all cliché but there’s no “I” in “TEAM.” Asking for help doesn’t show that you’re weak, it shows that you’re strong enough to know what you can (and can’t) accomplish on your own. 

Be honest with yourself and others.

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This is the younger sibling of the “Ask for Help” tip. I truly believe that 99.9% of the time honesty is the best policy. And that honesty comes in the form of being introspective and asking yourself “what is my bandwidth?” I have high expectations for myself. I think I tend to think there’s more hours in the day than there actually are.

But here’s the problem. Optimism is GOOD. Unrealistic Optimism is BAD. When you become unrealistically optimistic, that when you can lead yourself and others down what I call the hole of disappointment. For example, let’s say your boss asks you to complete a project within a certain time span. You know that you have 1,000 other things on your plate and that even though it’s possible that you can complete the project on time, it’s improbable. I believe that the better option is to be honest, explain the situation and propose a new timeline. By being honest you’re setting realistic expectations and decreasing the likelihood of disappointing others.

Stick to what you believe in.

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This tip comes from Tiffany Dufu, and when she first shared it I didn’t really resonate with me until she explained it. When you start to drop the ball people will question you and they’ll judge you. Don’t allow them to tear you down. Remember that you carefully analyzed your situation and made the tough decisions. Believe in yourself and stick to what you believe in. 

A perfect example for me is a reoccurring situation I’ve been in. When I’m not working, I’m blogging or doing all the other adult things I have to do. That means I don’t have much free unscheduled time. I don’t enjoy going out to bars and drinking. I don’t enjoy not sleeping enough and waking up grumpy. I prefer going to sleep at 10 PM (even if it’s Friday) after making a nice dinner and watching Netflix. Boring? Maybe to you. But to me that means I can wake up early the next morning, head to the farmer’s market, sit at a coffee shop, and write a blog post. All before 10 AM. I’ve had to stick to my beliefs on this topic despite friends constantly pushing me to go out.

Be comfortable with saying “No.”

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We all have limits. Being “Yes (Wo)man” doesn’t necessarily show we’re strong. I’ve reiterated it over and over on the blog. Like in blogging (I mentioned it in this post) , what you say no to says more about you than what you say yes to.

Whether it’s a project at work, or an invite from a friend – you can’t say yes every. single. time. Prioritize what’s important and say “thanks, but no thanks” to the rest.

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