leaning in

She turned her can’ts into cans, and her dreams into plans.

Last week I made my first trip to Vegas. When I wasn't window shopping (still dreaming of a limited edition - only 30 made - Tory Burch handbag) or lip synching along with Britney (she's still got it!) I was representing the U.S. Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) at MAGIC. Never heard of MAGIC before? Neither had I, but come to find out, it is THE trade show for the fashion industry. It occurs twice a year - so yes, I am officially making two trips a year to Vegas...jealous?! - and it's kind of a big deal. 

However, sitting at your "pod" for hours can be quite dull, so I went on a few adventures. While exploring some other parts of the venue, I met a very friendly man from Pantone who informed me 220 new colors were created this year alone. Who knew 220 colors were even missing??! Certainly not I. I also happened to find - thanks to Instagram and two booth location maps - one of my favorite bloggers: Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere.

Her newly launched clothing line hit Nordstrom and SHOPBOP in early July, and it's a true reflection of Emily's personality. (Which is a rare gem moment, because it almost never happens with celebrity collaborations or fashion lines.) As I waited in line to meet Emily, I watched as other eager fans asked their burning blogging questions and realized I had nothing more to say than "Hi!! It's nice to meet you!!" But just as I handed my phone over to her wonderful assistant - hello photo op! - it hit me...

I love the way my friend Sarah S. pushes me to think bigger. She is one of the sharpest people I know. I am constantly taking mental notes of the vocabulary words she casually drops in conversation, and keeping pace with her knowledge of current events in everything from beauty to politics is nearly a full time job. Sarah was the one who recommended I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Her summer reading assignment changed everything. 

Sarah's timing could not have been more perfect. I read the book just as I was interviewing with USFIA, and I haven't felt that kind of drive or passion in a long time. Her book is geared towards millennial women (sorry boys), and the challenges we face in "having it all." That ever delicate balance of simultaneously holding the titles of CEO and Mother of the Year. Many women fear the juggle, and don't want to miss the opportunity of raising a family. We take steps to prepare for this event, and in doing so, make the mistake of prematurely eliminating ourselves from the conversation.

Sandberg argues that by passing up career opportunities for a family that doesn't yet exist does more harm than good. In fact, it's a detriment. Shying away and trailing off not only becomes a disadvantage for a woman's career track, but those actions also prevent her from having the chance to become an even better provider for her family. Sandberg's philosophy of "leaning in" (read: hustling like our favorite position is CEO) up until the very moment we need to exit for maternity leave encourages women to not fear the work-life balance, but to fight for it. 

After closing the book in late July, I promised myself to do just that. Lean in as hard as I can, for as long as I can. 

The memory of that promise hit me just as I walked up to meet Emily. In that instant I realized the timing of it all. In the last year Emily published a book, expanded and revamped her site, and launched a fashion line. These major projects for Cupcakes & Cashmere largely coincided with the birth of her daughter. And she courageously chose both. Better yet, she made them work together. I was about to meet the perfect example of a woman leaning in. 

So I changed gears. I introduced myself, gushed about the great content on her blog, and congratulated Emily. Congratulated her for her success in business. For her adorable daughter. But most importantly, for leaning in. As if you need another reason to love Emily - just in case the fact that she loves cats isn't enough - it's that she perfectly embodies all 240 pages of Sheryl Sandberg's book. Best of all, she does it in style. 

Meeting Emily was about more than just a photo-op with a famous blogger. It was about congratulating a woman for being the creator of her own destiny. In a city notorious for testing our luck, Emily Schuman was proof that in life, we make our own.