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Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

How To Network As An Introvert

I try to be as upfront and honest as possible about my worries and insecurities, both in blogging and just in life in general.

I figure: We're all, more or less, suffering from the same things – doubt, insecurity, stress, anxiety – so it's important that these thoughts and feelings are spoken about openly. By making them part of our regular dialogue, we're making these feelings normal (which they are), less embarrassing (which they shouldn't be), and also not scary (and they're not).

Kind of a "we're all in it together" deal. Because we are.

After attending my first Alt Summit this weekend – a blogger conference, for those of you unfamiliar – I started thinking about networking. How much I was enjoying it during the conference, and how much of a contrast that enjoyment is with other aspects of my personality. 

Networking is of course a professional necessity across nearly every career path as well as one of the seemingly most difficult things an introvert will have to face. Also, it feels like an outdated and out-of-touch word.

As I've mentioned before, on top of being an introvert I've also struggled with insecurity in the workplace. So imagine how someone like me, and maybe you, feels when the idea of networking comes up. Panicked.

I instantly picture navy (why always navy?) skirt suits with shoulder pads, polyester blouses, sheer black panty hose, briefcases, name tags, coffee in styrofoam cups, stuffy ideas, and false pretenses. As underwhelming as that situation sounds, doesn't it also sound incredibly intimidating?

I (obviously, I hope) don't do or wear any of those things, but I'm a huge networker, and it's something that I get enjoyment, energy, and fulfillment from on a near-daily basis. Don't forget, I'm also introverted and struggle with many of the issues that define the idea of an introvert. It's just that I've found ways of networking that work for me, and I love and use them all the time.

Here's the secret to networking that people don't really tell you about: It's pure and basic connection. It's being friendly with like-minded folks, helping each other out, and staying in touch. Kind of like you do with your friends, but in the case of networking it's just that your relationship is based on something professional. Big whoop. 

From my style of networking, I've gotten jobs that I wanted in New York, made friends with total strangers in London, connected with plenty of other bloggers, and cemented professional relationships.

And anyway, the very idea of networking is ever-evolving. It goes without saying that networking is so not what it used to be, but I think a lot of people – maybe particularly introverts – are anxious about the very concept of networking because the old ideas are stuck in their heads. You know, like the example I mentioned earlier –  that networking = name tag, bad coffee, panty hose.

Yes, it's important to put yourself out there and meet new people to grow yourself both as a person and as a professional. But remember that you can do these things in a way that works for you. If there's someone who you'd like have as a connection, introduce yourself. If you'd like to pick someone's brain or maybe have just developed a mad girl crush, set-up a one-on-one coffee date in a place that makes you feel comfortable. Need to widen your network? Bring a friend or co-worker to a conference you've been wanting to attend. Or, scrap that all together and sign-up for a virtual conference. Just be sure to stay in touch with your fellow attendees.

Like anything in life, getting by professionally as an introvert just requires finding what works for you. It might be the same things that I do, or might be totally different. Either way, learn about yourself, figure out a few go-to networking tools, and you're set.

Now: Want to get a cup of coffee?

Introverts: Need more support? Check out this Design*Sponge article on building your business as an introvert, and by all means, please read Susan Cain's Quite: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. There's a lot of us out there!


Tuesday Thoughts

Hate that I say things like 'I can't believe that it's already Tuesday!' but...I can't believe it's already Tuesday! I've got a lot on my plate this week, work-wise, but as a freelancer that's not something I would ever complain about.

Just wanted to share with you guys an outfit I wore last Saturday for a day spent in Central London. It was hectic and crowded thanks to this bizarre 'NFL in London' event they do every year, but me and D still had the best time, thanks to warmer weather and chocolate from Liberty

hand-me-down striped dress (similar here)

gap button down (similar here)

thrifted multi-pattern handbag (kind of similar here and here)

 

Hope you have a lovely Tuesday!


Shopping List: Goodies from L.A.'s SOMEWARE

SOMEWARE came to my attention a few weeks back, and as soon as it did I panicked in the way that I always do when I find a store/designer/site/publication that I love. 

And by that I mean, I closed the tab to calm myself down, then re-opened it and started Pin-ing the crap out of everything.

But with SOMEWARE – a new Los Angeles-based homeware and accessories online shop – I had to have more. So, I sent a little fangirl e-mail to the sweet owner, Giselle, and asked her a few questions about her darling brand.

Read on:

What inspired you to start SOMEWARE?

SOMEWARE was in my mind for a long time. My initial idea was to focus on designing a line of hammocks (Editor's Note: hammocks? awesome), but I had a hard time pursuing it while I had a full-time job.I had been working as interactive designer for advertising agencies in LA for a couple of years until eventually I reached a point where I felt so disconnected from my work, that I had to pull the trigger and quit so I could do what makes me happy. I’ve always loved textiles, traveling, and housewares so I decided to merge all of that, creating the perfect line of work for me. 

 

Where did the name come from?

At first I wanted to name the store SOMEWHERE because I knew traveling would be an important component of the business. Before I went on my first trip, I met up with a friend and told her about what I was planning. She suggested that I name it SOMEWARE instead since I was going to focus on selling housewares and I instantly fell in love with the name and the play on words. 

 Tell me  more about how you got to where you are. Do you have a background in retail?

After I graduated from college I worked for different digital ad agencies, learning a lot about web design, online advertising, and e-commerce websites. I didn’t have any formal knowledge of the housewares business, the buying process, or retail, but I figured the fact that I was going to be able to design my own e-commerce store and do the branding for it was already a big plus. The rest I’ve been learning as I go which is really exciting and challenging at the same time. 

 

What's your favorite thing about owning an online shop? Least favorite thing? 

I love doing the buying, working on the photography for the website, the branding of the products, preparing the packages and sending them out to all kinds of places. The part I dislike the most is probably the accounting.

What inspires your style?

I’m mostly inspired by simplicity, eclectic spaces, pastel and muted earthy colors, geometric shapes, patterns and textures, and nature.

 

What's one book everyone should read?

I recently heard an interview with Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist. I read the book 12 years ago, but the interview reminded me of the strong influence that the book had had in my life. It inspires people to follow their dream and passion and to overcome the ups and downs of the journey. It also talks about becoming more in tune with the world and listening to the signs that the universe gives you as it conspires for what you want.

 

What about one movie?

It's hard to pick one in particular. I'm a big fan of Wes Anderson films, but I'd say for me, Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the best ones. Everything in that movie is amazing, the script, the sets, the characters, and it's all done in stop motion which makes it even more incredible to watch. 

 If you weren't living in Los Angeles, where would you live?

Tough question! The first place that comes to mind is New York because I've always been inspired by the energy of the city and the creative opportunities there. I've yet to visit Europe though, and something tells me that I would love the lifestyle and culture there. And I think their work/life balance is closer to what I have in mind for my life. 

 

Hop on over to SOMEWARE and check out Giselle's amazing homeware and accessories. While you're there, be sure to check out her Journal for the story behind some of their feature designers.


Sunday Objects | 9

I know, I know – today's Sunday Objects is a little late.

I finished up my first Alt Summit last night and gave myself some good time away from the computer after three days of (amazing, inspiring) online classes. So, we spent the morning doing our usual: Walking through the park with coffee and croissants, taking about a million photos each of dogs, old buildings, and cool lighting. It was perfect, and now I'm ok with getting back online.

So guys, without further ado, here are a few of the everyday objects inspiring me this week:

  • bird etching: There is an old man in Islington who has a tiny store filled with animal prints and etchings. We picked up this one of an African Reef Eater a couple years ago, and it's been waiting for its final resting home ever since. I treasure it.
  • petra borner notecards: Bought these incredible notecards by illustrator Petra Borner from the incredible Search & Rescue, so now I'm looking for excuses to write notes
  • moss green sunglasses: I've had these everday sunglasses for years but they never disappoint. We've had a few days of warmer weather in London, so I'm using these puppies as much as I can before they're packed away for the season.
  • hot pink ringBy Kate Spade Saturday. Got these multi-color pack of these rings last year and I wear them all the time, sometimes pairing a colored ring with my wedding band because, you know, why not.
  • grey notebook: If you hadn't noticed, I really love stationery. Was so happy to receive my brand new notebook from Chroma Stationery earlier this week. And – extra bonus – it's already filled with extra good notes from Alt. Success!

Hope you're having a great Sunday!


Good Reads | 26 September 2014

Kicking off Friday with a quote I found yesterday that I absolutely love. The quote is from a video series created by Lena Dunham as part of her promotion for Not That Kind of Girl.

Now: I have a lot of feelings about feminism and fashion, which I wrote about for Bustle earlier this year, but she sums it all up perfectly with this: 

"A huge part of being a feminist is giving other women the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself." 

Yes. So clear, right? So on point.

Now: Moving on to a few other finds from the week:

The fall light in London is gorgeous. Sometimes it's foggy and makes everything look like it's covered in an Instagram filter, like in the photo above taken earlier this week, and sometimes it's clear and golden. Straight-up heaven.

Speaking of: David Sedaris on the importance of low lighting. 

DIY I would actually do.

Love these tissue paper bathing suits.

Would almost quite literally live in this snuggly coat.

Can't wait to see this movie. I so love this age (now that I'm not in it). 

A few favorite looks from the SS15 shows.

The ways of the French

A perfect top for fall. 

Spent some real time drooling over this California home tour this week.

An interview that I really loved. (And this one from last week left me laughing out loud.)

Love this soap. What a great little gift this would make!

Say it ain't so, Robert Redford! (Or should I call you Bob? Or is that even your real name?)

Did a lot of obsessing over clogs this week. I almost ordered this pair from Gorman, but can't wait to share the pair I settled on when they arrive next week. Hint: They're from Portugal!

Another thing to note: I'm attending my first ever Alt For Everyone conference this weekend and will be Tweeting my learnings at both @reetzrobin and @designgoodnow. Come say hi!

 

Have a great weekend and let me know what you're up to!


Becoming Minimalist: Thoughts On Mindful Shopping

Embracing minimalism started with my move to London two years ago.

As I wrote about, there's nothing quite like the task of getting all of your items from a rented apartment in Brooklyn to a rented flat in southwest London to really make you think about what you own. Picture many, many suitcases, a shipping drop-off center, a waiting period, a van driver's buzz at the front door, and a girl answering that door and dragging her belongings up the stairs one...step...at a time to her new second floor flat.

If that doesn't convince you to clean up and clear out well then christ, not much will.

Favorite new shorts cut from my husband's old pants; beloved Chinti & Parker striped top purchased at a Notting Hill sample sale in my early London days

Minimalism had to do with my big move, definitely. But the desire to reduce my number of belongings is an emotional choice as much as a practical one. I plan to carry much less with me when I head to North Carolina at the end of the year. And with fewer physical items, I have a renewed sense of clarity.

Quite frankly, there's just not room up there for all of that clutter.

The slow embrace of minimalism is not just about letting go of what you no longer want, need, or use, it's also about changing the way you view consumption in general. 

Let's go back for a minute. While I won't bore you with details, let's just say that I used to shop...a lot. I mean, every girl under the age of 25 shops a lot, but my love for fashion and desire to work in an industry where you "need" to look good, paired with that full, pre-recession consumerist lifestyle and shows like "The Hills" and "Rich Girls" convinced me that I needed to shop, shop again, and then again.

And man alive, it felt good.

But that good feeling that I used to get from over consuming was shallow and fleeting, and left me wanting to buy something again the next day. Which I did.

As I've aged, I've shed that desire. I believe this change to be a product of the post-recession embrace of all-things local and genuine, my personal growth, and my desire to only own things that I truly value.

Favorite black crewneck that I've worn for years; new earrings from a sweet friend at Formula

This desire to own less and enjoy more is one that's constantly evolving and growing.

Nowadays, when it comes to shopping for material goods, I try to purchase from independent designers and retailers as much as possible. It's a cliche at this point, but there really is something to say about the feeling you get from purchasing something from a favorite designer found online or that independent card shop down the street. It's the connection, and the feeling that you're doing something good for someone who will appreciate the help.

I'm lucky that my line of work occasionally leads me to these people. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing women's magazine market stories is the research aspect – I love finding small shops and new designers, meeting them, and following them as they build their businesses. I had a jewelry line with two friends in my early New York years, so I get genuine joy out of learning about small businesses, hearing the stories, and helping to spread the goodness of quality products around.

I aim for everything in my closet to either come from a maker that I know or to at least have a good story behind it. It's a goal I'm slowly working toward. Getting rid of (most of) the bigger, less-fulfilling pieces, and focusing on the smaller, more important ones.

My wear-every-day vintage Adidas sneakers bought at a Saturday market near our second flat in London

That's my definition of minimalism. It's not just clearing out your closet and stopping consumption altogether, no sir.

For me, minimalism is about getting rid of anything that doesn't mean something real, and giving the things that do a place to shine.

What's your favorite place to shop? It can be a small business or a large business – no judgement here. Leave a comment and let me know!

This is the third installment of a multi-part series on embracing minimalism. Read part one here, and part two here. 

 


Reminder: Free Great.ly Shipping!

Just a friendly reminder in case you missed this post last week, but I've teamed up with Great.ly to offer free shipping on my "For The Home" boutique through Tuesday, September 23 at midnight EST. (Yippee!)

You could score something like...

or even...

I'm considering these Turkish towels – I've been dying to try them!

You could always pick up a new bag or some jewelry, though you'll have to pay shipping for those guys (sorry!). Which piece would you get?