Tag Archives: Advice

Meet: Kendall Herbst

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As all women know and can relate, getting dressed in the morning is never as easy as we wish it could be. To the women who feel confident in tossing on whatever they please regardless of how it will match or how it will look – power to ya – but if you’re like me, then your morning routine can be a little bit more complex. One minute you want a pullover sweater, but the next minute you’re eyeing that cardigan that you haven’t touched in months. If you’re in Seattle, you’ll start off your morning bright and sunny and by afternoon caught in a torrential downpour. Making sure your outfits are appropriate for the weather can be one of life’s unexpected challenges… so what if there were something to make your life and choosing outfits a little bit easier? Former fashion editor at Lucky Magazine and MBA grad turned entrepreneur Kendall Herbst created a solution. StyleUp was designed to simplify your morning routine by sending you personal recommendations on an outfit to wear to match the weather of your location daily. I have been receiving emails from StyleUp for the last year and have loved the daily inspiration regardless of whether or not I’m re-creating the outfit myself that day. Since Kendall has had such a diverse background in working in the real world to going back to school to creating her own start-up, I thought that she would be a great woman to feature on Yow Yow’s “Women Who Are Making It” series.

Q: You’ve done so much with your career already. Can you give us an entire back story on your career path and how you go to where you are today?

Kendall: Thanks! Out of college, my first job was at New York magazine, helping them build out their online fashion presence. Then I moved over to Lucky magazine as the Fashion News Editor. I wrote two sections of the magazine and covered all the up-and-coming designers, major news and rising trends. I also did stints at InStyle magazine, J.Crew and Ann Taylor LOFT. After about five years of that life, I got really inspired by the Gilt Groupe women and decided to go to business school. At MIT Sloan, I got my idea for StyleUp and participated in Y Combinator earlier this year. My life has changed drastically from a few years ago — less fashion shows and more time talking to engineers — but I absolutely love it.

Q: In November of 2012, I had read a story on Fashionista.com that you left the fashion writing industry behind to pursue your MBA at MIT Sloan. What motivated you to make this huge decision?

Kendall: Fashion was changing so quickly with the rise of blogs and new ecommerce models. I admired all these women launching amazing businesses.  Meanwhile, I had become a bit too comfortable, even complacent in my job as a fashion editor. I decided I wanted to stretch myself and saw business school as a great new adventure. 

Q: What was the transition like leaving the working world and going back into school again?

Kendall: It was certainly a bit strange at first — buying notebooks and taking midterms felt like a lifetime ago. Also being an intern the summer between your first and second years was a little odd as a 27-year-old. All that said, it was a really refreshing change of pace and a terrific environment to try out new ideas and work on my weaknesses in such a low-risk classroom situation. 

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Q: At what point was StyleUp born and where did you find the inspiration for this idea?

Kendall: In many ways, my whole life has been leading to StyleUp. From spending way too much time in shopping malls when I was young, to working as a fashion editor, to going to business school — I’ve talked to a lot of women in my life about how fashion makes them feel. I started playing around with the idea in the late winter 2012, realizing that the market was missing a platform for really actionable fashion advice — what should I wear tomorrow? I wanted to create something that just made the process a little easier for busy, modern women. StyleUp doesn’t tell you everything, but it offers personalized inspiration to make the daily process not just easier but a lot more fun. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

Kendall: Like many people, there are no typical days but I do have one routine that I try to maintain: going for a jog along the river in the morning to clear my head. Then, I check in with my team to make sure no one has any roadblocks ahead of them. I’ll look over the daily metrics. I’ll meet with brand executives. I’ll chat with our members to get their feedback — one of my favorite parts! I’ll handle the company finances and budget — one of my least favorite parts! On any given day, I touch about every aspect of the business. Lately, a lot of my time has been spent on creating StyleUp shopping which launches soon. Stay tuned for that!

Q: I noticed that your team consists of you and your co-founder, but is your team much larger now?

Kendall: We’ve brought on a designer and another developer and some college interns. Overall, I love working in a small team and I like handling many different roles. I look for people who like that dynamic experience as well. We’re quite lean and scrappy, and I never want to lose that.

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Q: I’ve been receiving StyleUp daily emails for quite some time, but I am curious, what is your process for selecting an outfit for the day for the correct region depending on the weather? How far in advance are you finding these daily outfits and where are your usual sources because sometimes they come straight from street style or from celebrities?

Kendall: All of our images are tagged by a series of fashion and weather properties, and our system sorts them based on each member’s weather forecast and style preferences. We work on a day-by-day basis so we can provide the most accurate weather for every StyleUpper. I’ve learned our women love variety and see StyleUp as this fun surprise Monday-Friday, so I aim to show a great mix of inspiration images.

Q: Has StyleUp been able to collaborate with anyone yet and if so what is a collaboration that you are most proud of?

Kendall: We’re starting down the road now — stay tuned!

Q: As we all know, the road to building a startup is both rewarding and challenging. What are some challenges or obstacles that you have faced on the way to creating StyleUp?

Kendall: There are many. A major one is my lack of experience. As a first-time founder, I’ve never done a lot of the things I have to do for StyleUp, but that’s also what makes it so exciting! I try to remind myself to enjoy all this craziness and realize what a special time it is vs. letting it stress me out completely. Some days I’m more successful than others!

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Q: StyleUp is based out in Mountain View, CA and the Bay Area has become one of my favorite places to visit within the last year. Can you let us in on some of your favorite spots?

Kendall: StyleUp’s HQ has been my living room for the past year, which means it’s transitioned from Cambridge, MA to Mountain View, CA to now NY, NY. I absolutely loved Mountain View — though I spent about 90% of I‘d go to the farmer’s market on the weekend, especially because the weather is usually perfect. There are cute bookstores on Castro St. — Books Inc. has a solid cookbook section — and tons of places to eat outside. Mostly, I enjoyed walking around my neighborhood with all the lemon trees, the adorable houses, the bright flowers everywhere. Perfect escape from the Cambridge winter!

Q: You’ve spent a great deal of time on the East Coast before moving to the West, what is your favorite part about this region and is there anything you are still adapting to?

Kendall: I’ve boomeranged from East Coast to West Coast and back again. I love them both, and have been so lucky to live in such great places. My favorite thing about the West Coast was how many people were starting their own companies. It’s great to be so near all these amazing startups and talk with people in all the stages of startup life. It’s such a founder-friendly ecosystem.

Q: Kendall, this year on Yow Yow! we are focusing on the life of a 20-something and being a recent post grad transitioning out of college. What advice do you have for young adults at this age and moving into the adult world?

Kendall: That’s a great focus, and one I talk about often with our college interns. Find a job that truly challenges you. You’re going to make mistakes, but absorb them all as learning moments and don’t make the same one twice. You’re about to embark on a huge learning curve so get comfortable with being uncomfortable and enjoy the ride.

Q: Kendall you have established such an accomplished career. What is next for you and StyleUp? Are there any other endeavors that you would like to pursue outside of this?

Kendall: When I was younger, I was always so eager to move up to a better job or a cooler brand. Now, I’m so happy with StyleUp, I’ll work on this forever, if I get the pleasure.

To learn more about StyleUp and to sign up, please visit the website here.

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Is There Ever A Right Time For Advice: Post-Grad Edition

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If I have learned anything about advice giving and advice taking this year it is that the person who is receiving the advice is never obligated to take it all in. It is, in fact, their decision to pick and choose what is best for them and sometimes advice that is given can be accepted not right then and there, but at a later time when it is more appropriate and comprehensible.

As I mentioned awhile ago, I will be speaking to a class of business management students next month and ever since I learned that I would have this opportunity, I have gone back and forth about what I was going to say about post grad life. Would they consider me enough of a reliable source since I just graduated less than a year ago? What can I say that will sound relatable and not pretentious? How can I make my explanations clear enough so that they translate and resonate with these students?

I have been catching up with friends, writing notes, and taking bits and pieces from articles that I’ve read to compile this short list of what will probably make up my talk to these students.

  1. Upon graduating, you are too young and too inexperienced to have any sense of entitlement. My dear friend Megan gave the same talk to students in her major earlier this year and as soon as she said this piece, I was convinced that it was true. While I love my alma mater to pieces, coming out of a small community where you thought and knew anything was possible can leave students jaded about expectations that they have for themselves after graduating. There’s already a notion going around that the 20-something generation is entitled; why feed into that? The saying is true – you must pay your dues. My friends have told me that in their companies, they have often times wished that they could speak out about their opinions and implement changes, but when you have not established any credibility other than you “think” that your idea is better, then you have no grounds to base it on. It is better to learn – to soak up all of the knowledge that you can and then when you have proven yourself, you will be given that opportunity. It will be much more justified and satisfying.
  2. Be kind to everyone. Everyone you meet could have an impact on where your career will lead you so be open and inviting towards others and always be kind no matter what. If you were a mean girl in high school or college, know that those days are behind you and won’t get you anywhere in post-grad life.
  3. Network. This and the step above kind of go hand-in-hand. When I was in college, I wish I would have taken advantage of the opportunities I had on campus or even in my internships to meet everyone. As a college student, I understand how this can be a little intimidating, but the best thing that you can get out of this is practice, practice, practice. You flubbed up with a recruiter at a networking opp? It’s okay – on to the next. The more you practice, the better you’ll get and the more comfortable you will be.
  4. Business Ethics. As a Seattle University business student, I was required to take a Business Ethics class. At the time, I didn’t feel like I could ever relate to these situations and I didn’t feel like it would impact my future career path. I’ve chatted with many students in post-grad life that have listed this as being a very important factor for them when they are searching for new opportunities. Though this may not be a selling factor for you right away when you are interviewing with a company or starting your first day, it is something that you will definitely recognize pretty quickly. Find a company that you believe in – that you are passionate about – that you support and that you are proud to represent because their business values align with your own personal values.
  5. First impressions. I’m not sure if this is a no-brainer, but it’s an important tip that I have always kept close to me. When you are interviewing with a company, know that every person you interact with whether it’s over the phone, a receptionist, a recruiter, a hiring manager etc is an interview within itself. Each one of these individuals is aware of who you are and together their experience with how they interacted with you could be a contributing factor in determining  if you belong with the team.
  6. The hiring process is still formal. I was surprised when I read this article about how some millennials believe that is appropriate to respond to a text or answer a phone call in the middle of an interview. Just because we live in a more modern time does not mean that these types of behavior are acceptable. Resumes still need to be formatted correctly. Cover letters need to be taken seriously. And phone screens and interviews are times when you need to turn on your professional game.
  7. Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile. In my spring quarter of senior year, I was required to create a Linkedin profile, but I wish I would have been told about this opportunity sooner or been urged to make one. I actually had a profile while I was still in high school, but deleted it after I realized I was too young to find a true use for it. The professional social networking website had changed so much in between that time and now as a post grad and a recruiter, I operate on LinkedIn every day. It’s such a great source for learning more about companies that you are interested in and “networking” virtually with people you already know or people you would like to meet. I will say, however, that LinkedIn is not a dating site. Please don’t use it for that.
  8. Don’t Stress. As graduation nears, everyone will start to ask you what your plans are after snagging that degree. If you don’t know quite yet, just know that everything will work itself out. Yes, that is some universal advice right there that people say for almost every situation imaginable, but it’s true (even if you don’t always believe it.) Remember that this is a time to DO YOU. Focus on yourself and what makes you happy. If you want to travel, start packing your bags. If you want to move and start with a clean slate, go for it. Do you want to work right away? Do you want to volunteer and give back? Do you want to have one last summer? Only you can make the right decisions for yourself so don’t be intimidated by everyone else’s plans because even if their plans sound exciting on the surface, it might not be the right plan for you. You are going to be okay. Remember that this is your senior year and that every day is one less day that you have in your undergraduate career so take advantage of the sunny days, the happy hours, the college parties that you maybe stopped going to after sophomore year, but have an urge to revisit. The bars will always be there. Do all of the things that you know you may never have a chance to do again and participate in that one event that is legal on that one day at that one time on campus. Seattle University students – you know I don’t even have to say it.
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School: 10 Favorite Posts

Earlier this afternoon, I received my school’s quarterly magazine and instantly missed everything about being back in school. This past week, I have been feeling all sorts of nostalgia. I wanted to be a freshman again. I wanted to see my friends. This time last year before class started, I was doing happy hours every day (not just for the drinks y’all! Happy hour food is my guilty pleasure.) It also didn’t help that some of my favorite professors that I’ve ever had were featured in this magazine’s issue too. So all of these mixed emotions led me to looking back on my college days and selecting my 10 favorite “school-themed” posts to highlight.

It’s time for a blast from the past! And when I say past, I mean three months ago.

  1. What I’ll Miss About “Greek” (Because I lived vicariously through these characters who had a Greek system)
  2. From One Post Grad to Many Undergrads
  3. Work With Me, Mentee
  4. {Guest Post} By Ashley de Leon
  5. Pickwick Surprises
  6. Prom Season Is Coming Up
  7. Dorm Life
  8. Meet: Brendan Leonard
  9. Smart
  10. Connie is a Graduate [from my idol Connie Wang]
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