Monday, July 31, 2017

Being Inspired

I missed my week #3 check in since we were out of town Friday and Monday. So on to a new week!

  • 3 hours volunteering at Dress for Success
  • 3 jobs applied for
  • 2 networking meetings
  • 1 proposal presented
  • 1 interview scored!
  • 1 coat finished
  • Many flowers cut
  • 4 scarves finished
  • 100 labels ordered
  • Finished Project Runway season 12
The Job Hunt
Again, this week, I want to talk about how important networking is. All three jobs I applied for were at organizations where I had at least one connection. Two people offered to forward my resume again, which was awesome. That way, I can be sure that I get at least 10 seconds in front of the eyes of the hiring manager. 

I spent many, many hours on a proposal for a project that I'm still hoping will come through. It's an organization I can help based on my years in healthcare. Fingers crossed on that one. (Much of it was written while waiting for a friend having a colonoscopy. Nothing helps you focus like sitting in a medical waiting room with nothing else to distract.)

Two of the people I talked to last week were inspiring. Chris at Evolve Collaborative is inspiring because he and two colleagues left a large agency to start a smaller one several years ago. From the looks of things, it's going quite well. Being in their space also reminded me how important a workspace is. they have an open space full of light, snarky sayings, lots of tea and an impressive coffee maker! It has the vibe of a positive, creative space. Of all of the places I've seen, this one really stuck with me.

Donna Davis, professor at U of O, and I also had a very inspiring conversation. She's taken the path of looking at technology, specifically VR/AR and showing how it is being used by seniors and people with disabilities. Her main focus is Second Life and how it's brought incredible value to these populations. Donna herself is inspiring, having earned her PhD at 50. I thought that getting my Master's at 35 was late, hah! There are many more dragons to slay. She's one of the many proving life is for learning and pushing yourself at any stage. Check out these other late bloomers

Thursday, an email came through inviting me for an interview for a job I'm really excited about. It's an industry pivot and could be very cool. Stay tuned. 

The Stitch Is Back
We came home from a long weekend to my Sizzix at the doorstep! What is a Sizzix you may ask? Well, they are nifty, desktop die-cutting machines used for paper and fabric. You simply sandwich the fabric and a die between two plexi-glass plates and roll them into the machine manually. Out pops multiple cuts of the design on the die. 

My intent is that with this, I can make the coat embellishments more uniform and they will be faster to cut. It's pretty darn cool. I put the finishing touches on a sample coat and am headed to take photos today. Fingers crossed this photoshoot works. 

Have a great week, all! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Getting Creative

Here we are already at week #2! It turned out to be a whirlwind week. I focused a lot on getting my newly minted business up and running and of course networking and applying for jobs. I worked a number of 12 hour days this week, so much for my relaxing time of unemployment.

The Stats

  • 17+ hours of patternmaking and sewing
  • 4 networking meetings
  • 3 jobs applied for
  • 1 job talk

The Stitch Is Back
It's official! I've grabbed the name on Instagram and Facebook, so it must be true. I'll be making and selling a line of fashionable polar fleece apparel. I love fleece but don't want to always look like I'm going for a hike! Thus, this clothing line. Check out the Facebook page or follow on Instagram @thestitchisbackpdx for all of the details.

Mock up from new pattern

Scarf designs
This week ended up in what felt like boot camp for fashion designers. I signed up for a class to create a pattern in 4 nights for 3 hours a night. It was a crazy week, but wow, I did it! I now have the pattern I've wanted for years.

I also managed to sew up a few scarves and get some advice from an amazing woman who is a partner in Layneau Lingerie. Her work is insanely beautiful. She was so open about sharing process, explaining tear sheets and laydowns and how to go about next steps. Did I mention she made my wedding ring? A truly talented soul.

I also was connected to a woman who seems to be my brain double. Molly Fuller works in health care and is creating a line of compression clothing to help autistic kids. Check out her work. Molly is a finalist in the InnovateHER challenge. Good luck Molly! 

The Job Hunt
The business is intended as a side project, so I continue to search for a great fit for my next gig. I started the week at the unemployment office which was an experience in and of itself. It had the expected dull gray furniture and cubicles, but also the unexpected experience of an agent who actually knows about user experience and specialized in hi-tech workers. I had NO idea. He even has a great webpage listing jobs in hi-tech.

I met with a trend analyst (hoping we can do one big primary and secondary research project together), presented my research work to a potential employer and had coffee with another potential contract opportunity.

I keep threatening to start a coffee shop rating service, as that's my office du jour right now. (Grand Central on Fremont = great coffee, great service. Village Coffee in Multnomah = cute and quiet. Seven Virtues on Sandy = Delicious GF bagels and serves the new shi-shi Cortada coffee).

Proving that social media works, I also re-connected with a colleague from many years ago who is looking for consulting support. Have I mentioned that I love my network?

That's it! Until next week...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Week #1 - Cultivating Relationships

In the next few weeks, I'll be documenting my search for my next adventure(s). In business, we often have weekly updates due. Since I'm on my own right now, this blog will be a proxy for emailing management with highlights from the week. You, my readers, are now my managers!

Weekly tally:

  • 3 face to face meetings with new potential partners
  • Newsletter sent to 212 people (sign up to the right)
  • 1 networking call
  • 1 volunteer event - Dress For Success
  • Accelerate Biotech and Digital Health Meet up
  • Resume updated
  • Presentation draft for potential sub-contract work
  • Filed for unemployment (blah, but necessary)
  • Zero sewing (next week for sure)
Being unemployed isn't easy, but it can be an opportunity. A time to connect with colleagues from the past and a reason to reach out and meet new people and learn about new projects. I'm not so much "unemployed" as I am a free agent, able to pursue multiple opportunities. 

Last July, I received a call from a recruiter for a likely temp to perm position with the wearables team at Intel. Whoo! My thesis work 10+ years ago was in wearables and finally I'd be able to work in this field. It's a slowly growing space and I live in what is still a relatively small town. Although they found me via LinkedIn, it was a team I knew well and had been talking to the manager on and off for a year or so about the group (yes, cultivating relationships has been my thing all along). It was worth the risk to try something new. All of our work was on new devices and my focus was on the New Balance Run IQ watch and augmented reality glasses for enterprise (think of hands free screens for warehouse workers). It was a new space for me and I soaked up information enjoying a multi-phased research approach from contextual interviews to human factors work. 

Fast forward to November and layoffs, the FTE researchers were all let go, but we contractors were spared. I did another few months of work, but slowly the project was grinding to a halt. Alas, the project was cancelled, and with it my contract. 

However... I'm excited to have the time to relax (it is summer after all) and think about my next steps. I'm having some amazing conversations and talking to interesting people, so I am going to capture some notes here to share, for whomever finds this interesting, helpful or just something to pass the time during your commute. It's so interesting to be open, to be in a place where I don't have a vision of what I must do, but rather following the path of what feels like a good collaboration and interesting work. My vision for the future is a few months of project work and then landing an inspiring FTE position. 

So, week #1 started out great with a 4 day weekend relaxing with my husband and exploring all the fun Portland provides in the summer (Blues Fest was fantastic). Wednesday, it was back to work. 

Since I knew this was coming, I had some meetings set up for informational interviews and possible projects. I met with a partner from a local agency, Uncorked Studios, who is doing what seems to be very grounded, interesting and human centered work creating products at the intersection of physical and digital. By the way, for those of you on your own networking path, I had no real connections to him, but was really interested in their work. I reached out, and he reached back. Easy peasy. 

I'm quite enamoured of their work and hope I get to work with them at some point. We talked a bit about networking groups, and the man I met with told me about this very cool concept of creating a party where you invite 5 people, they invite 5 people and you can go on as large as you'd like the gathering to be. Imagine how cool a room full of 5 very interesting people and their very interesting friends would be! Someone I know should do this (and invite me). 

Later this week, I had the chance to talk with a local health care company and discuss a potential project. Time to wrack the old memory for information about the work I did at Cambia with personas, journey maps, and learning what people want from their health care provider. Could be another great partnership. 

Both meetings will likely lead to other meetings with additional team members to continue exploring how we might work together. 

As my employment has waned, my ability to volunteer has increased. I've just gotten involved with Dress For Success, an organization that "empower(s) women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life." It's humbling and inspiring to be there at this moment. I've seen women who didn't necessarily have the resources I was given but who have worked to overcome hardships and make a living and a life. One woman even talked about her day job and her side work creating an apparel business. We are clearly more alike than different. 

Speaking of which, I've also been spending more time sewing and putting together a small business of my own designing scarves and coats out of polar fleece. I LOVE that I can make something in an afternoon. Eventually, I will be selling product. I may even have a business name...but that will be revealed as I'm ready. Right now, I just enjoy sitting at my machine and creating. 

And I love my network. I put together a newsletter this week, something I've found to be successful in the past, as a way to both stay connected and share a curated list of things happening in research and design. I've gotten wonderful responses, potential opportunities, and people who, even with the glut of emails these days, appreciated the information in their inbox. I'm filled with gratitude for my colleagues, many of whom I am lucky enough to be able to call "friend." 

So whether your are gainfully and happily employed or seeking a new adventure, I encourage you to reach out to just one new person next week. What can you learn? What can you share? Cultivate those relationships. They feed our body, our soul and sometimes even our wallets! 

Until next week---