It’s All About Relationships
Last Sunday my phone pinged. It was a text from my Dad: “You are in today’s newspaper. Great picture.” I had totally forgotten that photos of a women’s networking event I had planned and organized were to be included in the “Parties” section. The gathering had taken place about three weeks before at Diana Warner’s Knoxville Boutique.
This event was inspired through female relationships. And it came to be because of female relationships. As I reflected further upon what had taken place, I began contemplating the importance of female friends. Those who inspire an unquestioned loyalty, and a love and acceptance that is unconditional.
I flashed back to 2003. In September of that year I had ended a decade-long small business as a bridal gown designer. I worked with clients by appointment, and together we created breathtaking wedding ensembles. It was a time in my life where I worked unbelievably hard, but was constantly fueled by the joy on a bride’s face when she saw herself in her dress for the first time.
Due to changes in the economy my business slowed until I reluctantly threw in the towel. In the years following I found a new path in the field of Career Services, working at a local university and college. I earned a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development. I then went into fundraising for a college and two nonprofits.
During the entire journey I made friendships that were everlasting – especially with females. I kept in touch with the women who had been my bridal clients, watching their families grow. During my time in Higher Education I had two female supervisors and dozens of peers who became lifelong friends. In the field of fundraising I was fortunate enough to discover more girlfriends… and by this time, many were younger than I and were like little sisters. And all along the way I came to know countless female business leaders in Knoxville who inspired me, commiserated with me, and joined me in trying very hard to make a positive difference in our community.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to work for myself, but wasn’t sure what to do. A former bridal client and I reconnected after several years, and during a long lunch she suggested I get back into fashion. I thought back to my days as a bridal gown designer, and how much it meant to me to help women look and feel beautiful. That day I decided to become a fashion consultant.
I began to build more female relationships, this time with local boutique owners and clothing retail managers. I started with Diana Warner, whom I had met three years earlier while working in fundraising. Despite being completely intimidated at the time by Diana’s gorgeous looks and great success, I had found her to be humble, caring, and generous. Now, Diana embraced my business concept and appreciated my desire to provide a link between her boutique and my clients. She was excited for me and treated me as a professional with the utmost in respect.
Soon after, a retail manager asked if I’d like to hold a private event at her store. I proposed the idea of making it a networking event for women only, and she readily agreed. Whom did I invite? The dozens of women I had met over the course of my career, of course! Twenty-seven beautiful ladies enthusiastically attended, and the event was a success. I decided to hold the gatherings monthly at a different boutique or store, and the next person I called was Diana.
Fast forward to the photos in the local paper. We were lucky to have been included in this sought-after section. The reason? The writer was a female friend whom I had known for nine years. She had attended, and had submitted four photos of smiling women amidst the backdrop of Diana’s sparkling jewels and trend-setting clothing. It made the memories of that night even more special.
Reflecting upon the experience, the gratitude for my female relationships is immense. Having girlfriends by my side has made life worthwhile, and each has played a crucial role in my journey. It is amazing how my career has come full circle, and the networking events are made up of so many of the cherished women I’ve met along the way. My hope is that the cycle will continue for them within these unique female-centric gatherings held in retail settings. After all, what better foundation for a new friendship than exchanging business cards while discussing a stylish pair of shoes?
Carrie McConkey of Carrie M. Fashion Consulting offers a wide range of services including wardrobe evaluation, closet assessment, personal shopping and image consulting. More information about Carrie can be found on her website, http://carriemfashionconsulting.com/, or on Facebook or Instagram by searching for Carrie M. Fashion Consulting.