#LessonImAlwaysLearning | CASEY BENJAMIN

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To really live:

I have had cancer twice — cervical, then lung. I am 42 years old. I meditate, eat right, I don’t smoke, I do pilates, I walk everywhere, I smile a lot — cancer was not part of the equation. Each time I was diagnosed with cancer I thought I was going to die. 

When you go through chemo you’ve got toxic nerve gas running through your veins. I turned gray, lost every hair on my body and looked like a corpse.

When you become a survivor you either go back to where you came from or you choose to head in a new direction. Round one, went back. Round two, got out of Dodge. 

I quit my job, got a divorce, sold the house, fell in love, started Juju Supply Co., cut my hair, got a new tattoo and travelled a lot. Cancer gave me the courage to start over. 

Today I walk my kids to school even though they can walk themselves. I hug my friends all the time and touch their arms and stroke their hair. I buy marigolds whenever I see them. I eat dark chocolate for breakfast when I feel like it. I lay on the couch reading the paper in the middle of the day. 

And, sometimes I cry at night for the fear of things coming in threes. 

But, no matter what, I will never, not ever, live an inauthentic life again. So, thank you cancer, you enabled me to really live.


Casey Benjamin is the co-founder of Juju Supply Co. Juju Supply Co. celebrates the true origin of jewelry, objects of adornment that carry meaning and significance. Like the wedding ring, there’s power in the jewelry you wear every day—power to remind you of who you are and who you want to be, of where you’re going and where you’ve been, of the people you love, and the protection, tranquility, and support they offer.

#LessonImALwaysLearning | Robin Reetz

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Asking For What You Want

Whether personal or professional (I’m looking at you, pay gap), asking for what we want is much more simpler and more important than we make it out to be. It’s more than choosing to express yourself, and is also an important teaching moment for those around you. By putting your desires out there, you’re saying “This is who I am, and what I want”. It’s a constant battle, and I’ve learnt time and time again that if you don’t ask for what you want, you may not get it. It’s something I’m constantly reminding myself and those around me to do. 

Robin Reetz is the owner/author of one of our all time favorite blogs Second Floor Flat. Everything she posts shines with her honesty, taste and wisdom. We highly recommend! 

Lesson I’m Always Learning | April Gargiulo of Vintner’s Daughter

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Saying No

“Balance is something I am constantly trying to obtain. Occasionally I will have a total unicorn day and be able to have it all in a 24 hr span, but most of the time I have to measure it over the course of a week. Time with my kids, husband, friends, building my business, me time, exercise, self-care….The list goes on forever it seems sometimes, but all are vitally important to me. The only way I have found to achieve balance is to prioritize and sometimes you have to do it rather brutally. I don’t like to say no, but I’m getting better at it. Paradoxically, its the only way I have found to do it all. “

 

With gratitude,

April Gargiulo

April Gargiulo is the genius founder & botanical maven behind Vintner’s Daughter, a truly fantastic, all organic face oil that has been named “The face oil to end all face oils” by Into The Gloss and we couldn’t agree more! She also happens to be a Winery owner, a mother, a wife and a total boss. 

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Emma Tuccillo of And North

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The greatest lesson I have learned is to embrace mistakes. When starting a new business or venture, you are going to come upon challenges every step of the way, many of which do not have obvious solutions. Follow your instincts and if they lead you astray, embrace the mistake, think about what can be learned from the experience, and move forward. It is so freeing to look at my mistakes in this way. Each one is an opportunity to learn. 

 

Emma Tuccillo is the Founder and Creative Director of And North, a curated guide to upstate NY. Featuring the best of upstate travel and lifestyle, And North aims to inspire adventure, collaboration, and sense of community among those in the city and the vibrant regions that lie north

Lesson I’m Always Learning: KT Smail

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To slow down! In work, relationships, life in general. It’s so hard to learn but the universe keeps throwing it at me; broken technology, running injuries and ruined artworks, all from trying to do too much too quickly without stopping to think. It has taken me years to learn that my paintings are better when I walk away and come back with new eyes, instead of pushing through any frustration I might feel. That taking time to slow down and reflect is not a sign of weakness.

I am getting better at taking days off — being your own boss can make it so hard to allow yourself time to stop and rest. But, I have learned that my work is much better when I listen to my intuition and take a break if my body or mind needs it. I spent many years working weekends, trying to prove myself and waiting for someone else to give me permission to rest. You have to give yourself permission! Now my weekends are sacred and I feel healthier, happier and more excited about my work because of it. Having said that, I worked too much this week and now I have a cold so I guess i’m still learning….”

KT Smail is a Scottish illustrator, designer and exhibiting artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her art work can be purchased at One Kings Lane and her clients include Macy’s, Five Leaves Brooklyn, Papier Mache, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and many more. 

 

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Claire Mazur, Of A Kind (Part 2)

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Claire Mazur:

I wish I hadn’t had to learn this lesson so many times over, but it just keeps on ringing true: trust your gut. In fact, don’t just trust it—privilege it. If something doesn’t feel right, if you have a nagging thought that you just can’t get rid of, your intuition is probably telling you something worth listening to. It’s easy to want to ignore a “feeling”, especially when it runs contrary to what’s expected or what everyone else around you is thinking. But don’t assume that you always need to play by the rules or that everyone else knows what they’re doing. And, by the way, when I say “trust your gut” I mean it both figuratively AND literally: Your mind and your body are really closely connected, so when something makes your stomach feel funny, pay attention. 

Claire Mazur is the co-founder of Of A Kind, a digital platform that features limited-edition products and stories from emerging fashion designers. Claire is also the co-host of of one our favorite podcasts of all time,  A Few Things with Claire and Erica. Check out Claire’s business partner, Erica Cerulo’s Lesson I’m Always Learning here

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Erica Cerulo, Of A Kind (Part 1)

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Erica Cerulo:

You really never know what’s going to happen. This, of course, applies to every single aspect of life, but I think that the last five years we’ve spent running Of a Kind has seriously put this into focus for me. It is really easy to fall into a trap thinking about—and losing sleep over—what-ifs, but we’ve been hit with enough curveballs (good and bad!) to know that it only makes sense to think about the problems you need to solve and the decisions you need to make right now—not what you might need to deal with tomorrow or next month. I mean, don’t get me wrong: This mindset is very much a work-in-progress, but the goal mantra is “don’t try to solve problems that don’t exist yet.”

Erica Cerulo and her business partner, Claire Mazur are the co-founders of Of A Kind, a digital platform that features limited-edition products and stories from emerging fashion designers. Erica is also the co-host of of one our favorite podcasts of all time, A Few Things with Claire and Erica. Check in next week to discover part two of this Lesson I’m Always Learning! 

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Amy Woodside OF OKREAL

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A lesson that you’re always learning really means the mistake you’re always making, right? For me:

1. Patience. When you have a big vision and limited resources, it’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. One day at a time is a great mantra for control freaks like me. 

2. The reality of sacrifice. I have this persistent and ridiculous idea that I can pour all of myself into every area of my life at once and not burn out. Realizing that if I’m devoting all of my energy and time into work, then my social life is probably going to suck. And being OK with that.  

3. Driving things without forcing them. A constant push and pull between making something happen and letting it happen. You need a blend of both approaches. 

Amy Woodside is the founder of OKREAL, an incredible website built as a resource for a modern community of women who are striving to create their own path. She’s also the co-owner of Happy Bones, our fave place to caffeinate in NYC. 

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Lizzie Garrett Mettler of Tomboy Style

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Since launching my retail business The Reed in May of this year, I’ve been learning how to better my business every single day. Whether that’s discovering and implementing an app that makes shipping product more efficiently or getting to know my customers’ needs and wants more intimately. It may be a tired cliché to say this, but every mistake has been a learning experience and has made the business undoubtedly stronger. I love making mistakes! On the more macro level, I am constantly learning to be OK with where I am and enjoy the process. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and think, I must expand, I must grow by double digits every month—not true. Success isn’t marked necessarily by growth, it is also marked by satisfaction and doing good work. We’ve become a culture obsessed with businesses that rocket to the top out of nowhere—I think there is something to be said about businesses that choose to stay small that really care about their goals that don’t include spreadsheets. My goal is to continue to offer women apparel and accessories that are thoughtfully made and serve as functional and stylish wardrobe staples and I will continue to learn how to do that in the best way possible. 

Lizzie Garrett Mettler is the founder of Tomboy Style, a blog dedicated to exploring the spirit and sense of the Tomboy. She’s also the author of a beautiful book of the same name. This year, Lizzie launched, The Reed, an online destination that combines regularly added editorial with a shop that supplies clothing and accessories you need to move well, pack smart, and look great.

Lesson I’m Always Learning: Eliza Blank of The Sill

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I continue to be surprised by people – by their passion, dedication, and focus. More specifically, I continue to be surprised by the achievements of a team that works together towards a singular mission. The strides we’ve made at The Sill year-over-year have been huge. It makes setting the goals feel like a lesson I’m always learning – because it seems that with every goal met I look back and think to myself, “Remember when we thought that was impossible!?”.

Eliza Blank is the founder of The Sill, our favorite place to discover houseplants. The Sill bridges the gap between plants and people, offering products and services tailored to each individual’s style and budget so they can find a perfect plant for their home.