Hi Friends! Happy Friday!
I’m really excited to bring back another installment of my “Friends in New York City” series. You can learn more about the series and see my first guest here, but today I’m ECSTATIC to introduce you to one of my best friends, Anna. I met Anna back in 2016 when we worked together at Victoria’s Secret. At first, I was intimidated by her because I thought she was funnier than me. I came to realize, she was not and I was in fact the funnier one. It’s still up for debate really, but this is my blog so what I say goes.
Friends In New York City :: Meet Anna – Senior E-commerce Manager
Anna is an amazing person. She’s kind, she’s selfless, she’s thoughtful, she never takes herself too seriously and she’s incredibly funny. Not funnier than me, but funny. She always listens, she’s always puts everyone before her and she’s been an incredible friend to me. She’s truly my other half.
For Valentine’s Day, she helped Eddie sneak into our office building to surprise me. For her birthday, I surprised her with her favorite meal from The Cheesecake Factory and for my birthday she surprised me with all of my favorite things including a sheet cake and her homemade fruity pebbles rice krispy treats which are my fave!
But, deeper than that, she’s one of the people I turn to when I’m really struggling with my anxiety & depression. There was one week where I was so overwhelmed and down and I texted her a novel of how I was feeling and she instantly Facetimed me to talk. She’s such a supportive person and I’m so thankful to have her in my life.
She’s also climbed the ladder at Victoria’s Secret and is amazing in the corporate world and I admire her for that. I could write a novel over how much I love my friend and how great I think she is, but today I wanted her to takeover and share more about herself, her career journey and her life in New York City.
Introductions & Career
From your perspective, how did we meet?
We met at Victoria’s Secret! I would stop by the sample closet and you and Jamie (the assistant on my team) had such a good relationship and I was jealous because you seemed so fun. I also was obsessed with your style! After that, I remember just coming into the sample closet one day and camping out there and we just laughed all day and gossiped and it’s been love ever since!
Can you tell us about your current job?
I currently work as a Senior E-Commerce Manager for Pink Beauty. Basically what that means is, I work with merchants to ensure their vision of product/merchandising appears on the site. It’s a really fun job, especially with the digital retail space really exploding over the last 10 years. Working behind the scenes and being able to give our customer what she wants and how she wants to shop in real time is really interesting and exciting.
Can you walk us through your career path and how you got the job you have now?
Many moons ago (because I’m an old lady) during my freshman year at FIT, we were taught that in order to really learn about retail stores and customers, we should have retail experience. So, that summer I applied to every store in the mall and Victoria’s Secret was the only one who called me back! That’s where I really learned all about the customer, the product and how it sparked a passion for making a woman feel great.I ended up applying for an internship at Victoria’s Secret in the production department and from there I got to know a lot of people in the corporate office. I then applied for their merchant in training program and was devastated when I didn’t get accepted. But, God definitely had a plan because I was instead called in for an immediate hire buying position and landed one on the casual panties team!
From there I bopped all around Victoria’s Secret in different merchant positions on the bras team and then the sport & lounge team. Two years ago, my position was actually eliminated in a restructuring and I was moved to the e-commerce team managing the sport & lounge team. I was nervous to be on the other end of things and not controlling product, but it’s been a wonderful learning experience. I landed my current job on the Pink Beauty team from an internal recommendation right before Covid shut down the world and it has been so much fun learning a new category.
You went to FIT, which is one of the most popular fashion schools in New York. Can you tell us about your experience there and if you think it made an impact on your career in the industry.
FIT was definitely a great experience for me because I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry from day one. They do a great job of exposing you to a lot of different areas of the industry which helped me learn what I liked and what I didn’t like (hello planning software, no thank you). I met some of my best friends there and we bonded over this very non conventional college life. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t go to FIT because I personally needed that specialized education to see that I really wanted to do this. They also emphasize internships and so I was able to experience multiple internships and test out different areas. FIT is great because all of the professors come from the fashion industry so they have real life retail experience that is hard to get anywhere else. With that said, I do think I missed out on a traditional college experience with frat parties and a big, sprawling campus, but I’m so grateful to to have had the education I did because it got me to where I am today.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
Oh boy, so many haha. I would say the best piece of advice I was ever given was from my first boss, Beth Goodman, when I was an assistant merchant. Beth was a true champion of our team and always wanted us to succeed even if it meant tough love. She challenged me to always come up with a solution or suggestion to a problem before coming to her and asking her what to do. That advice was huge for me and helped me gain confidence in my decision making. Another big lesson is that your career doesn’t define you as a person. At the end of the day a company is there to turn a profit and hopefully support its employees while doing so. Ruining your social life and mental health for a job will never be worth it in the long run. Boundaries are important!
What is it like working for a retail fashion business during this pandemic?
It’s definitely been interesting and I am truly sick of looking at my face on video calls haha. I think the fact that we all just one day completely uprooted our way of working and continue to run a business is astounding to the flexibility we have as humans. On the other hands it’s incredibly hard to see the devastation this has caused on the retail industry and to see so many of my friends and colleagues suffer either with layoffs or pay cuts. I do have faith we will bounce back though. People are working smarter and more efficiently than ever before and I think everyone is realizing that there needs to be more balance between work and life which is always good.
Any advice for someone looking to break into the fashion industry and for someone looking to work in digital merchandising?
It’s a tough industry for sure so I always say you have to be willing to put in the work. Unfortunately, this industry isn’t going to just hand you what you want. I would say if you love a brand, try to apply to roles even if they are adjacent to your skills. Once you’re in the door and have a rapport with a company, you have the ability to move around. Keep up with digital trends and the industry and make sure you actually check out the website for the company you’re interviewing for! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve interviewed that have said they’ve never seen our site.
Friends & Life in New York City
You have 100 friends, which is not an exaggeration. I have all of maybe 2 friends so I’m always amazed that you have so many people in your life and that you make time for everyone. What is your biggest advice for holding on and maintaining strong friendships?
Haha you’re insane, I do not have 100 friends! Oh gosh this one is tough because I feel like it’s the people around me who are so wonderful and has nothing to do with anything I’m doing lol! As far as advice, being always open to listening is so important and giving your friends a ton of grace. I have friends where we can go a week without talking and neither of us gets offended, we just know that’s life! Also, I’m a huge texter, I love being connected to people all throughout my day so that’s a big way I stay in touch, even if I’m just thinking about someone I always send the text because people want to know you care.
Who is your best friend?
Just Kidding, I know it’s me. Next question!
What is your “classic New York moment”?
If by classic you mean being screamed at by a homeless person or seeing someone pee in the street, I’ve had plenty! I think my most classic New York story is when I ended up cutting a line at a trendy bar in the West Village with a friend because she knew the bartender. We stayed till closing just having drinks and meeting new people and even helped shut down the bar. We then went to another bar that the bartender worked at that was closed and he opened it for us and he taught us how to make drinks and we danced until the sun came up. I took a cab home with my heels in hand at 6 am. Only in New York City do things like that happen!
What are your favorite things to do in New York City?
Eating. Hahaha. Despite being a die hard chain restaurant fan, I do love to have a great dinner with friends in the city. Aimlessly walking around is also the best because you never know what you’re gonna stumble upon.
You live on the Upper East Side, which I know you love, what are some of your favorite things about living in the UES and places to go/eat?
I absolutely love my neighborhood even though I know it’s not trendy. It feels very homey to me because the buildings are smaller and the streets are quieter and it feels like an escape from working in midtown. I love that I’m so close to Central Park and the reservoir. That’s my favorite thing to do on weekends, just walk the park or the reservoir with friends. My favorite places to eat up here are the Writing Room, The Milton, and Noche de Margaritas which is the tiniest hole in the wall Mexican place but I love it! When people come to visit I always take them to the Met since it’s so close. The neighborhood is also really affordable compared to other parts of the city and now with Q train it’s so much easier to access different parts of Manhattan.
What does a perfect weekend look like for you? (And yes, we can pretend we live in a world where there is no Covid)
Ooh this is a tough one because I really want to say it’s one where I sleep 12 hours a day and eat at the Cheesecake Factory but, I know I need to sound more interesting than that! My perfect weekend in NYC would be some rowdy drinks and dancing on a Friday night (but honestly in bed by 12). Saturday, some type of workout followed by a bagel at my favorite local bakery, a massage, then a concert or broadway show. Sunday, would be church, more bagels and then drinks on my patio with friends to fight the Sunday scaries and ending with watching 90day fiancé of course!
Travel & Walt Disney World
You travel often and you always take the best trips. What have been some of your most memorable vacations & favorite places to travel?
I’ve been really blessed to have been to some awesome places. I think one of the most memorable trips was when I went to the Arctic circle at the tip of Sweden and stayed in a remote camp with one of my closet friends. We went dog sledding and snow mobiling and saw the Northern Lights. I even tried reindeer meat! Just being surrounded by all that natural beauty was magical. Also, Sydney is my favorite city I’ve ever been to and I would honestly move there if it wasn’t so far away from my family. The people are fantastic and there is so much to do! I really would love to go back and explore more of Australia.
It’s no secret, New York City is expensive to live in so how do you afford to travel often?
I am a budget girl. I read Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” and it changed my spending habits. I try to save money every month knowing I will use it for travel. When I do finally buy the plane ticket I refuse to let myself feel guilty because I’ve earned this money and now is the time to do it before my life becomes more settled! I also make sure I’m traveling with people who are in the same “spending mindset.” I focus on experiences when I’m away versus food or 5 star accommodations. I know I can’t do it all so focusing on one area like that helps me reign in my spending. My friends and I also walk EVERYWHERE! We save a ton of money on Uber by trying to walk places instead if we can, I have many stories about walking miles to restaurants in multiple countries.
You went to Walt Disney World for the first time a few years ago, but now you’re pretty much a seasoned regular. What are some of your favorite rides, snacks or highlights?
I am a late in life Disney bloomer and I have to credit my friend Becky for that! My favorite favorite ride is Big Thunder Mountain and Soarin at Epcot. I’m normally terrified of roller coasters (to this day I won’t go on a ride that goes upside down) but each time I go, I try something scarier and usually end up loving it. I went on Everest for the first time this year and screamed so loudly that the children on the ride laughed at me. For food, Epcot is the best because you can literally drink and eat around the world. I’m in no way a Disney buff but I travel with one and that helps.
Personal & Misc.
What are some of your favorite brands to shop?
I am a diehard Madewell fan. I’m a curvy girl and their jeans are the absolute best fitting on the market. I know they’re an investment, but worth the price. I’m trying to stop buying from some fast fashion places like Shein and Amazon as a friend in the industry opened my eyes to some rough working conditions in these fast fashion factories. Everlane is great for staples, my favorite outfit is a white tee and jeans and Everlane has a great fitting basic tees. When I’m looking for something super trendy, my secret is Abercrombie and Fitch. They are always on sale and have some pretty cute things!
As the only person who was invited to listen to my Spotify playlist titled “The Bops”, I’m sure you have great taste in music. What song do you currently have on repeat?
That playlist is goals. My taste is music runs wide. As you know, Taylor Swifts new album, Folklore is on repeat because that is my quarantine mood.
What are some hobbies or skills you’ve picked up in quarantine? And how many puzzles have you actually completed?
I learned how to make friendship bracelets which is so silly but SO relaxing! I even mailed them to a bunch of people so ya know #SaveThePostOffice. And yes, I have become a puzzle lady and thankfully I have friends who also do puzzles so I steal theirs when they’re done. I’ve completed 10 puzzles and working on my 11th because I’m that cool!
What are some of your favorite books you’ve read recently?
I love a cozy mystery (thank you mom) so I just finished the latest book in the Royal Spyness series which I loved. Happy And You Know It was fantastic (thank you Linda) and I’m currently reading Finding Freedom the book about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which is fascinating and I should be ashamed of how much I love them haha.
You love baking. Where did you learn to bake, when did you develop a love for it and what are some of your favorite treats to make?
My mom taught me how to bake! Every year for Christmas we would make all these cookies and I would help her out and I just loved the tradition behind it. My aunts and grandma also baked and every time I went to my grandma’s house I would go to her bright orange cookie Tubberware and steal a cookie. My aunt to this day still sends me cookies! Baking soothes my anxiety since it’s all numbers and science. My favorite treats recently have been anything by Cookies and Cups on instagram! I made her chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream and it was the most delicious thing in the world!
A huge thank you to Anna for stopping by & chatting about her life and career in the second installment of my “Friends in New York City” series. This post just solidified why I love her and why she’s my best friend. I hope you love her as much as I do.
Thank you so much for stopping by & reading.