Meet the Horizon with a Direct Gaze

Disclosure: Gift from brand; see bottom for full disclosure

Every year, I am fortunate to attend trade shows as a member of the press, and I look forward to sharing trends, education and brands with you as a result. Shows have not only allowed me to bring content to my audience as an influencer, but shows give me an opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the beauty industry and to make friends along the way!

Of course, there are just some people I’ve connected with in a way that is instant and warm. People I seek out at every show. Brands that I connect with because the founder/owner/representative is a genuinely good person.

Brands and people like Angelique Velez, founder and owner of Breakups to Makeup.

Breakups to Makeup

Angelique is a makeup artist who started her small business five years ago selling clothing and accessories with fun sayings on them like, “I may not be perfect but my makeup is.” Or Angelique’s iconic saying, “Love raised me. Lipstick saved me.”

Of Breakups to Makeup, Angelique says on her website that it’s not just a brand, “it is the possibility that no matter what happens you can chin-up and meet the horizon with direct gaze.”

Wow. I love that – it speaks to me professionally!

Angelique celebrated five years in business this past June, and she decided to gift bags to those she felt helped her grow her business over the last five years. I am absolutely honored that she gave me a bag, and that she also gave me the opportunity to also turn around, and gift a second bag to someone that helped me along the way in my career. What a wonderful way to pay it forward.

I chose the makeup fold over bag from her new Lots of Love and Attention (LOLA) Collection, and chose the Queen Clutch from the same collection for my friend, cheerleader and advocate, Cat.

Let me tell you the story…

Sorority Girls Gone … Sisters for Life

In 1998, I pledged Alpha Sigma Alpha, and became very fast besties with one of my pledge sisters, Cat (top row, with the bandana around her neck).

Check out the  glitzy gold pants she’s wearing! This was us, circa 1998 or 1999. 

Cat was an engineering student – one of the first to attend Rowan University’s College of Engineering – while I was a journalism study. She and I chatted one day about internships. She applied to a large local company for a paid summer internship, and we were discussing the benefits. I was no slacker myself – I always seemed to have one or two jobs, and I wrote for the student newspaper. For a myriad of reasons, I had a narrow scope when it came to what I might be capable of at that point in my life.

“I wish I could find an internship like that in my field,” I told her, truly regretful.

“Why can’t you?” She asked.

I listed off reasons. My hours of availability. Other jobs. Other obligations etc., etc.

“Well, how do you know? You don’t know unless you try,” she said. Cat has always, always been direct and it’s one of the things I love most about her. Find yourself the friend that will absolutely straight shoot with you and hold them close.

But that day, Cat made me feel a little defensive. How could she know the journalism field? It was my area of study, not hers. Plus, I’d worked for my hometown weekly newspaper since I was 15-years-old. Surely that had to count for something.

I was going to prove her wrong. No way would a local daily newspaper hire me.

I got together a resume. I called the local newspaper. To my surprise, I got an interview, and landed a job working at the Bridgeton Evening News. The position was full-time over summer of 1998, but it wasn’t just a summer job. I worked at the company throughout my senior year, part-time in the fall semester, and full-time my last semester, well into my first year out of school.

So I didn’t prove Cat wrong. And the experiences I had – that I would have missed out on if she and I hadn’t had that conversation where she kicked my butt without me realizing my butt was being kicked – shaped who I was as a young woman, as a young professional, and set the foundation that I grew upon year after year, job move after job move. Much of what I saw and did that first year at a daily paper while in college helped me build a very tough skin in the workplace.

20 years later…

Photo shoot for our makeup bags recently!

Over the last 20 years, Cat and I have been there for each other through a variety of ups and downs in life. Boyfriends. Husbands. Children. Losses. Gains. Moves. Promotions. Tough annual reviews. 30th birthdays. 40th birthdays. Leadership.

Supporting Cat as she was honored by the Rowan University College of Engineering a few years ago.

She was my matron of honor, I was her maid of honor.

My first daughter and her second daughter are one month to the day apart.

An awesome girls weekend in Atlantic City for my bachelorette party in 2013.

She came up for my 40th birthday in 2016; I would have flown from NJ to FL for her this year, but I had Josie March 6 and her birthday was March 8! Happy birthday – I gave you a new niece, Cat LOL!

Earlier this year she called me out of the blue. She let me know there was a job opening at her company, based in Orlando, Fla. Knowing what I did for a living, and having been cheerleaders for each other along the way, she told me, “I think you have what they’re looking for.”

I wasn’t looking for my next job opportunity – certainly not 1,000 miles away from home! But as I explored the idea, I knew it wasn’t a bad idea to start looking – if not this opportunity, I was ready for my next challenge.

I decided that I had nothing to lose. The job appealed to me, offering an opportunity to learn new skills, strengthen weak ones and exercise my strongest skill set. Once I applied for the job, she recused herself and I moved forward with the process.

I also felt in that moment that home was not a place or a thing – it was my husband and my two daughters and if they were there, I was home. Whether in New Jersey or in Florida. I applied for the job, and, well, if you follow me, you know how it turned out!

Cat and her husband, Jim, and Mike and I had fun at Universal Studios when we would visit them from NJ.

When Angelique asked me to give one of her beautiful, fun makeup bags to someone who helped me in my career, I could think of no one better than my best friend, cheerleader and advocate. Cat.

LOLA Collection

This is everything that is right with professional women – this humble and kind small business owner decided to give back to the people she felt helped her business, and in turn asked them to pay it forward. We should be lifting each other up, and cheering each other on. Her thoughtfulness is the kind of leadership women need. To be taken along on the journey, not stepped upon getting to the top.

I thought I’d share the other pieces of the LOLA Collection, because it has such a great meaning.

You can find the LOLA Collection here on the Breakups to Makeup site. I love that this collection is vegan  faux leather material – they are cruelty-free and vegan. They feel luxurious, which was Angelique’s intent.

I’d love to know – who helped you along in your career? Do you have a “Cat”?

Outtakes from our “photo shoot” – compliments of my husband, who will be ticked off if I don’t give him photo credit, lol!:

Disclaimer: I received the makeup bags featured in this post as a gift from Breakups to Makeup. Please visit my Disclosure tab for more information on how keeps it real!