Steve Talks 2015 and Strangers With Style turns One

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Jennifer Marin and I at Steve Talks 2015. Photo: Leonard Brady

Jennifer Marin and I at Steve Talks 2015. Photo: Leonard Brady

It’s funny how certain situations you find yourself in cause you to be in a state of self-reflection.

That’s where I found myself when Jennifer Marin, industry specialist for the Stevenson University School of Design, asked me if I would be a guest speaker at the school’s annual Steve Talks, in April. With such a humbling opportunity, self doubt got the best of me, and had me wondering if I was even qualified to give advice to others, let alone, students hopeful of a bright future after graduation.

Because, let’s face it: it’s really real out here.

You leave the education circuit ready to hit the ground running into a possible opportunity that could be the stepping stone for a great career, then life puts its foot out and trips you. Your face makes direct impact with reality. You realize not everything is going to be so rosy. And oh, you decide you want to start your own business? The impact of reality doesn’t come from a simple trip. It comes with a number trips. Life tries to trip you at almost every single step, and at times when you least expect it.

But, in all of that, there’s the occasional getting up that you do, wiping off the blood from the scrapes on your knees, perhaps wiping that tear or two, and moving forward. And that’s something I realized in my time of self-reflection and preparing slides for nearly 100 students at Stevenson University.

It’s quite fitting that I got an email from Jen today that the recap video of the April event was finished and published, as tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Strangers with Style and its relaunch.

Read the blog entry recapping the Steve Talks event, written by Stevenson University student Emma Ragon.

It’s a rebirth of a creation of mine that many still bring up in conversations with me, today. On a rainy Tuesday evening, July 8, 2014, over 200 people nearly caused a fire hazard crowding the then-relatively new Dooby’s (thanks, Phil) for the launch of a site and the celebration of an annual feature spotlighting 12 Creatively Cool locals (2015’s class coming soon!).

Strangers With Style relaunch party at Dooby's. Photo: Andrew Fair

Strangers With Style relaunch party at Dooby’s. Photo: Andrew Fair

The support was and still is endless and I could not be any prouder of how far this site has come, and how far I have come, personally.

(l-r) Katie Boyts, CreativeMornings Baltimore; Deana Haggag, The Contemporary; and Jamyla Bennu, Oyin Handmande at the SWS Mini Fashion Show, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Bulluck

(l-r) Katie Boyts, CreativeMornings Baltimore; Deana Haggag, The Contemporary; and Jamyla Bennu, Oyin Handmande at the SWS Mini Fashion Show, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Bulluck

Reading a number of news articles of specifically awesome black women doing their own things and suffering depression -even committing suicide, I can’t help but to be extremely grateful to so many people out there who have been there for me (you all know who you are -much love). When you embark on starting something on your own, people don’t tell you how alone you can feel at times. People don’t explain that you’ll go through periods of feeling that there’s no one you can go to for help. And finding that out for myself on my journey, so far, I’ve realized having a small group of confidants who force themselves into my life, even when I don’t give them permission to, are the best people to have check on me, from time to time. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Erik in the beginning stages of transforming StrangersWithStyle.com

Kelvin and I at one of many photo shoots.

Kelvin and I at one of many photo shoots.

So for the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazingly talented people and kept a few on the gradually growing SWS team, haha. Erik Hoffman, our web editor, has been such a driving force in building “the look” for strangerswithstyle.com. Kelvin Bulluck, our contributing and head photographer, has created beautiful images for many of the posts you see on the site. Without them, I don’t know how I would have been able to function, haha.

I also want to call out Jonathan Hanson, the photographer behind our first Creatively Cool portraits. I wanted to create a site with content of the best quality, but I knew it would be at the cost of an arm and a leg. After an enthusiastic meeting at Red Emma’s, one night, and believing in my vision, Jonathan generously lent his photography talents and time to my work. I’m immensely thankful to him for helping me start on the right foot.

Jonathan as we’re just getting started the photo shooting spree of Creatively Cool 2014.

Then there’s this guy named Phil Han, owner of Dooby’s, who happened to spot my #foodporn pic of a Dooby’s meal on the Strangers With Style Instagram feed. Working the Dooby’s social media, Phil reached out in the comments and asked to meet up with me. What a great opportunity to pick the brain of someone as business savvy as you and also get to use your cool spot for my first-ever event. Thank you.

Guest hosting the first CreativeMornings Baltimore talk of 2015 feat. guest speaker Tiffany Jones. Photo: John Davis

Guest hosting the first CreativeMornings Baltimore talk of 2015 feat. guest speaker Tiffany Jones. Photo: John Davis

Got a few talks in, hosted and collaborated on a number of events, met some awesome and interesting strangers, and even got to partner up with the awesome CreativeMornings Baltimore with an opportunity to guest host, thanks to the wonderful host and organizer Katie Boyts.

So, with all the wounds from getting tripped over and over again, it’s been worth it. And I’m looking forward to more of life’s trips and hiccups, knowing that I’ll be stronger for it. And as a result, all that goes into Strangers With Style, will lead to bigger and better things for me to do, and for you to enjoy.

Thank you all for your continued support. I can’t wait to get year two started.

Love,

Olivia

 

Creator & managing editor of Strangers With Style. Happiest when her work allows others to shine, too. Lover of collabs, social media, blogging, fashion, food & the color blue.