My Career Highlighted in 7 Defining Moments

Life is about moments: Don’t wait for them, create them.

When I look back at my entire career and see the path I have taken, I can distinguish specific moments that have lead me to this very moment in time – writing this blog post. These were pivotal events that threw me in a direction that was amazing, scary and wonderful all at the same time. For a girl who thrives off having a well-organized plan for almost everything, including a shopping trip to the mall, you can imagine that this was initially a slight shock to my system. However, my career path has been a fascinating ride and I am continually learning and eager to see what is around the next corner.

Here are 7 defining moments that stand out in my career thus far as learning experiences, growing experiences or a moment when I realized I was exactly where I was meant to be!

Let’s start at the beginning…

The moment my love affair with communications began

A close friend had mentioned to me in passing what she was doing in her PR class, it sounded interesting, so I enrolled myself in an “Intro to Communications” class to see what it was all about – I had zero expectations. When I walked into that auditorium there was no going back, I remember listening to my professor discuss the basics of Communications Theory and from that moment on I was officially a communications student.

From there I went on to immerse myself in the communications program and University as much as I possibly could, as I wanted to make sure I got the most out of my 4 years – and that I can truly say I did! I became good friends with many of my professors, I traveled to Spain on a 3 week ‘Food Culture’ group study and I became the President of the ‘Students in Communications’ (SIC) Club for one out of my three years of involvement. I threw myself in and I came out the other end with a BA and a strong motivation to conquer whatever came my way!

img_3014The STARS aligned

One of the things that was immensely important to me was graduating with actual work experience within the communications industry on my resume. As a result of my efforts, I ended up with an amazing Summer Student Position at CNOOC Ltd., then known simply as Nexen. I was placed in their Corporate Responsibility Program and got sent to STARS Air Ambulance, on behalf of Nexen, to assist them for the summer.

At STARS I got the unique opportunity to work with the four pillars of their Foundation’s team – Events, Stewardship, Communications, and Fundraising. I had a hands-on summer of completing multiple projects for each individual team, while learning how a non-for-profit worked and was organized, both from an internal and external perspective.

At the end of the summer, STARS offered me a part-time job, as a Development Coordinator, while I finished my degree – I wholehearted accepted the opportunity. This role was streamlined specifically to internal tasks that primarily included creating research profiles for the fundraising team to use when they were going in for an ask and other administrative duties. By the end of my time there I was organizing weekly meetings with multiple teams within the foundation and even chairing a few meetings that involved the research profiles that I had created.

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We rise by lifting others” – Robert Ingersoll

One of the best pieces of advice I could have ever been told was to “get involved” – sounds simple, but it was revolutionary to my success. Throughout my entire career I have thrown myself into different volunteer initiatives and strategically looked at opportunities for me to put my skill set to good use, while also learning and growing within communications. As a result, I have worked with some incredible teams and witnessed firsthand how powerful volunteerism can be. Each community that I have become a part of has influenced me in one way or another and has empowered me to connect my passion to a purpose, making a difference in something much larger than myself.

Two experiences that stand out are my involvement on the Special Events Committee at Making Changes Association and The Black and White Ball Committee with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Both offered me opportunities to hone in on my digital media skills, as I created detailed social media plans for both events, along with editorial calendars, campaign suggestions and written content to be posted that was consistent with the branding guidelines of both the event and organization. Eventually, I got to the point where I was posting the content directly into Hootsuite myself on the various social media platforms on behalf of each of the organizations and executing the entire social media strategy myself. This opened many doors for me within the world of social media and soon led to my next key opportunity!

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#GetSocial with Social Sesame

Through my work with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, I met my soon-to-be boss at the social media agency, Social Sesame, and within a month I was a full-time employee. This is where my career took another steep turn! All of a sudden I was managing multiple clients’ social media accounts on a daily basis and learning the inner workings of the immense world of digital media and social media marketing – and getting paid for it! I adored creating a strong relationship with clients, as we worked together to create a digital marketing plan and strategy, and execute it in a way that would enhance their brand and connect them with their target audience.

It was in this same instance that I began to see my writing career flourish, as this was quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the job. For many clients, whose social media I managed on a daily basis, I would also manage their blogs and be creating original content for them on a weekly basis. Throughout my life, I had always been a creative person, but I just had no idea how to build or sustain a career out of that – this was my official aha moment! Creativity had officially been infused into my career and I could not have been happier knowing I was doing something that fed my soul and made me want to jump out of bed in the morning.

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Becoming a lady boss!

“If you can’t stop thinking about it don’t stop working for it.”

Due to the unfortunate circumstances of Calgary’s economy, I became a contractor at Social Sesame and at the same time gained a few clients of my own. It was then I decided to take the time to work on my own personal brand and figure out what my next move was. Starting a blog was always something that was in the back of my mind, but never something that I had pursued, mainly due to time constraints and the overwhelming thought of creating my own website. However, since I was no longer working full time I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take the leap and just do it!

Creating my website was a process – a long one! I ended up teaching myself the ins and outs of WordPress, along with basic coding techniques and other website technicalities, but eventually FloralandBows was born. FloralandBows quickly became my creative outlet and currently contains my fashion and lifestyle blog, my growing writing portfolio and my freelancing services that I offer to my clients. Since launching almost a year ago I have had the sincere opportunity to work with an incredible array of people within the community, write for various magazines, blogs and editorial platforms and once again steer my career in a direction that I could have never imagined.

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Staying inspired

“Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you can see can inspire you.” – Grace Coddington

I very quickly learned that if I was going to pursue a creative career, I needed to find ways to always be inspired. Luckily, I didn’t have to look far, as I found the things I was most passionate about were what inspired me and kept my creativity flowing.

  • Traveling: discovering and learning about new cultures, while getting to know the people that make up a place and going on memorable adventures is something that feeds my soul. It allows me to grow and learn things about myself I could have never imagined while keeping me active and always inspired.
  • Fashion: I could talk about fashion for hours – literally! This has been something that I have been incredibly passionate about from a very young age; so being able to incorporate it into my career has been monumental for me. Anna Wintour, Iris Apfel and Bill Cunningham are just three role models that I always find myself greatly inspire by, not only by what they do professionally but by how they go about it and what they represent – individualism.
  • Supporting the local community: I have always been a huge supporter of local businesses and entrepreneurs within Calgary. I find now more than ever when I get the opportunity to talk to someone who is incredibly passionate about whatever it is that they are doing, I am immediately intrigued. These people always give me new ideas to think about and motivate me to be better in the pursuit of doing the things that mean the most to me.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle – staying active is how I recharge, clear my mind and allow myself to reset after burning the midnight oil or working on a large deadline with a client.

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My Communications family

For me the two most important things that allow you to fully grow within your career is constantly working on your professional development and having a strong network behind you along the way. I found both of these when I joined the Calgary Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/Calgary). I initially joined as a student member, but very quickly found myself becoming increasingly involved within the organization. I began as the Newsletter Coordinator, gathering content and sending out the newsletter on behalf of the organization once a week. Within a year I moved onto the Board of Directors as the “Director of Student Development,” due to my immense involvement within the student community when I was in University.

Now, I currently sit on the board as the “Director of Marketing.” I lead a team of social media rockstars who work to maintain and manage the IABC/Calgary social media channels, that includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and our brand-new Instagram account! 2017 also marks the 50th anniversary for the IABC/Calgary. As a result, I am working with the 50th Planning Committee to create a promotional video with a Video Agency that will work to promote the gala and the legacy of the IABC/Calgary throughout the year and for years to come.

I also work to collaborate with other board members and ensure that all marketing efforts are being completed within each portfolio. It’s through this collaboration that I have found a professional network that I can rely on, along with a group of true friends within the industry that are always willing to help and support each other whenever possible.

The here and now!

“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together”

Whew! What a journey! My career has been nothing close to boring and frankly I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Currently, I am working as a full time freelance writer and am a writing contributor to the Daily Hive YYC, The Yellow Pages Business Pages, Moments Magazine, Dote Magazine Press Board PR, Standout Publications and YYC Girl Gang – just to name a few. The diversity is incredible, as I am always writing on a different industry or topic, which keeps things interesting and allows me to constantly be learning new things. At the same time, I continue to work on the board of the IABC/Calgary, while perusing other volunteer related ventures.

Where do I see myself heading? Good question! It’s my dream to someday be an editor and to work with a team of inspiring, like-minded individuals to create great and wonderful things, while still pursuing my writing and creative career. All I know is that I am eager to see what my next career defining moment will be and where it will take me!

XOXO Kristy

 

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Travel Back to 1882- Yeehaw!

Exploring One of Alberta’s Oldest Ranches

One of the things I enjoy most is traveling and gaining inspiration from unique cultures and ways of life, particularly those that are very different from my own. So much so, I often overlook the heritage of my own hometown and find myself taking it for granted. I mean I would definitely say that for the most part, I have embraced my Calgary roots with my unapologetic country style, but traveling to other countries has slowly made me realize just how little I really know about my own culture and how it came to be. As a result, I am making an effort to explore Calgary and Alberta more, searching for hidden gems and being a tourist in my own culture.

One of my favorite places in Alberta, which started it all is the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. My family and I just recently took a trip down memory lane and visited the ranch for my dad’s birthday. Here is a little snippet of our adventure!

First and foremost, story time!

Located, deep within a pocket of the rolling foothills, lies one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets, the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. It was established in 1882, and home to many notable figures in Alberta and Canada’s history, such as George Lane who was one of the big four that established the Calgary Stampede, John Ware a freed American slave who settled in Alberta as a working cowboy, Fred Stimson and the famous Canadian rancher Patrick Burns. The ranch was also visited by some iconic figures in history including Edward, Prince of Wales, the famous oil painter Charlie Russell who created a series of paintings around the Bar U and Guy Weadick who we can thank for persuading the owners of the ranch at the time to fund the first ever Calgary Stampede – Wooohoo!

The ranch was one of the first corporate ranches and predominately known for its large-scale cattle operations, which were at the time extremely modernized. As a result, they proudly fed the workers on the transcontinental railway, immigrants new to the land, `Canadian soldiers during two wars and it sustained our nation throughout the Great Depression. They were also known for their prize stock of 1,000 purebred Percherons, which helped to build our cities and transport goods across the continent. The Bar U was a keystone to the advancement of both Alberta and Canada as a whole, without it who knows where the heck we’d be today!

Learn to be a cowboy, or not!

If you are looking to take a mini road trip somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a relaxing afternoon, the Bar U is a fantastic option.

This place is very near and dear to my heart and it holds some of my fondest childhood memories, as my Dad and I spent copious amounts of time horseback riding throughout the land and exploring the crevices of all the famous old red heritage buildings. If the whole western charade isn’t your thing, there is more fun to be had than just learning the cowboy way. First of all, the views are spectacular; as it is located in the valley with a magnificent backdrop of the rocky mountains- so you can’t forget your camera!

The property itself consists of 366 acres of picturesque landscape poised as a working ranch, with 35 historical structures that give you a hands on experience, transporting you back to a time in history.

One of my favorite places to explore, that never gets old (see what I did there!) is the old post office and RCMP headquarters. This houses the media and newspaper department, along with original Woodward’s and Eaton magazines dating back to the 1800’s – aka fashion magazines, surprise! A little further down the road is another favorite of mine, the old cookhouse. They have a beautiful garden in the back and a Parks Canada employee is usually in the kitchen, dressed the part of course, serving up old-fashioned delicacies, such as apple cake or molasses cookies!

If you do decide to venture down to the Bar U one sunny Fall afternoon, which I highly suggest you do, be sure to check out their café + coffee shop. I often do not find coffee here in North America that my picky taste buds enjoy, but their cowboy-roasted coffee is comparable to a café au lait in Paris – ohhh ya!

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XOXO Kristy

Inge de Jonge: Fashion Reinvented

Arriving in Nimes was an adventure to say the least. To give a little perspective, Nimes is a small city located in the south of France, in the region of Provence, known for its rich Roman heritage, laid back ambiance and quaint stone streets filled with authentic French delicacies – a French lovers dream come true. However, due to our lack of knowledge of the French language, communicating with really anyone became more of a challenge than I had ever experienced. So when we met Inge, a fashion designer that was fluent in, Dutch, French AND English I not only fell in love with her beautiful designs, but I was also so relived to finally be able to communicate successfully with someone!

We met Inge at a night market that is held every Thursday in the streets of Nimes, beside the Maison Carrée. The market consisted of local artisans from around the South of France selling jewelry, clothing and other handmade gems unique to the area – so naturally I had my eyes peeled for local fashion.

Inge de Jonge

“Inge de Jong” is a French clothing brand created by Inge herself, that focuses primarily on women’s apparel, and also on kids + mens fashion, along with jewelry and home décor. She began her journey in the fashion world by studying textiles + sewing at the School of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. She then worked as a model for many years, winning numerous awards for her creative fashion designs, which later inspired her to create a collection under her own name. She now operates a successful boutique, atelier and workshop in the south of France.

“A story of the love of yesterday’s garment re-imagined for today.”

Inge has a passion for reusing + recycling as she aims to give a “second life to beautiful materials that would otherwise be wasted, discarded or forgotten” – She calls her garments “Messages d’Armour.” Her collections are all produced locally and handmade from unique European fabrics with lace and pearls from old milliners that are all primarily recycled or reclaimed. The narrative around her brand is a direct reflection of her frustration with consumerism and belief that “today’s market favors mass production that is executed in a crude manner and limits the traditional quality and conventions of pret-a-porter.” As a result, she manufactures her designs in a much simpler way, collaborating with local seamstresses, which allows her to pay extreme attention to all the details of her designs, while working closely with her clients to produce personalized pieces that celebrate the quality and history of the material.

What first drew me to Inge’s stand were all of the brightly colored, vintage patterns and the eclectic feel of the clothing, + jewelry hanging on display. Inge creates her collections to reflect her personal style, consisting of bohemian and romantic silhouettes that are made of “fluid fabrics that evoke elegance and well-being.” Her ready-to-wear line is meant to bring confidence and beauty to her client’s wardrobes, as she curates fabrics that are transferable to both summer and winter.

The most unique aspect of her line is not only that it is fashionable and chic everyday wear, but that each piece is “painted with memories of old” that tells a narrative. As I picked up some of the pieces that caught my eye, Inge had a story to tell about each one of them, usually mentioning where she got the fabric and the era it came from. I adored how each piece was a part of history that was now reworked into something beautiful and different from other ready-to-wear designers.

Choosing what to purchase was so hard, as there were so many options and pieces I loved to choose from. I ended up purchasing a beautiful pink lace bracelet and a pendulum white cotton tee with 3/4 sleeves and lace fringe, from her 2015 spring/summer collection.

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Check out Inge’s full Spring/Summer liner here and stay up-to-date on her current collections and fashion shows by signing up for her newsletter!

xoxo Kristy