The Last California Cupcake

Today was a gloomy day in California.

The sky was grey and it felt like the whole world was yawning. It was, to put it simply, the ultimate napping day.

Today also marks the final stretch of working at the boutique for the summer. Only 10 days left until I have to say goodbye to this place that taught me the art of sales and conversing with entitled plastic moms. I love my boss. I love my coworkers. They've taught me so much. About life, you know.

As today's weather was muted and dull, it was a perfect day to reflect on this huge new chapter in my life that's about to begin.

How I Got to Where I am Now

I left the American University in Washington, D.C. after a year and a half of feeling out of place. The Land of Politics and Tight-Suited Business Men seemed appealing from far away for a girl who wanted to change the world, but two weeks into my time at AU and I had never disliked any place more. Get ready for a list of generalizations:

  • My school revolved around politics, something I thought I cared about when I was in the minority of liberal thinkers at my Catholic high school. As soon as I attended orientation at AU, I felt out of place. I didn't relate to the community of one of the most politically-active schools in the nation (except for my sorority sisters and close friends, they were my shining light.... Chi O 'til I Die, Yo).
  • The city was transient. Which means that there was no real identity for the population other than mostly everyone was there because they wanted to climb the ranks of governmental, business or non-profit organizations. 
  • The city was political. The biggest crime you could commit in D.C. was being politically incorrect. It was hard to get a lighthearted joke across, and no one watched Adventure Time.
  • The city was limited. Although it may seem like D.C. is one of the culture capitals in the world because of all the embassies, it's really not. I have more of a selection of quality ethnic food here in Orange County than the food available to me in D.C. Also, the population of D.C. can essentially be divided into rich white people trying to network within their tight circles versus the three quarters of D.C. comprised of minority races struggling with the terrible public education system and high crime rates. Also, fashion revolved primarily around how large your formal business wardrobe was. Lastly, I swear to God, this might be my biased California tastes talking, but I wasn't attracted to a single person during my couple of years in D.C. The selection of good-looking men was, in my opinion, non-existent. 

The whole reason I went to AU was to study international relations, something I should have known I wouldn't have liked after four years of participating in Model United Nations in high school. International relations is a cat-and-mouse game: it's all policy. Within the first few days of attending AU, a professor of international relations even confessed to me that the way schools are teaching how to change the world is wrong: It's too much theory, he said, and not enough on how to change the world. Even development is policy-focused. I wanted to study international relations so I could help people, when really the right way for me to help people would be for me to just go ahead and join the Peace Corps. 

I took a leave of absence from AU this past semester not only because I felt out of place, but because I was feeling so much pressure to start my classes for my major and I still wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. You can read my post on the Lala, the publication I write and edit for, for advice I want to give for those of you who are also struggling to find your path. If you think you're lost, you don't know the half of it. I jumped from wanting to be a musician to a criminal justice public defender to a children's art teacher to a nonprofit CEO.... and the list goes on.

But that's life, you know. You have to try everything. I'm glad I'm open to so many possibilities. Life will never be boring for me.

The Next Chapter is A Few Pages Away

As I took my quiet break from work today, silently enjoying my triple chocolate cupcake with milk, I watched San Clemente. That will be one of my favorite memories from the summer. Sitting by myself, watching San Clemente and sipping on milk, thinking of static, anxious about nothing, no deadlines or work to be completed. That's such bliss to me, and when those moments come, few and far between, they're so beautiful.

In two weeks, my life will be rekindled after this 8-month hiatus at home. I've hardly been intellectually stimulated. I am dying for schoolwork and someone to challenge me. I am dying to feel my mind racing again. I'm going to be constantly challenged at every moment of every day, because I'll be struggling to complete French sentences in a moment's notice with correct syntax and grammar.

As I sit here, idly enjoying this triple chocolate cupcake, there could not be a more symbolic calm before the storm. The next time I'll be completely idle again will hopefully come on a glorious day when I have no work to do and I'm sitting outside in Paris, enjoying a cafe and croissant. But it's OK. I am so excited for this storm. I need some adventure in my life again, some intellectual stimulation, some challenges. Looking forward to it all. xx

I Sell Self Confidence, Not Clothes

Everyone wants to feel beautiful. Every woman wants to feel sexy and confident in front of her man. Every man wants to know that his beer belly isn't as apparent as he thought it was.

Once you step foot in my boutique, you will not leave with a new shirt, but with that excited feeling to wear that shirt at your next BBQ.

Honestly, I am appalled when I step into another boutique and I receive basically no help when I'm shopping. When you step into my boutique, I am your best friend, here to make you feel good about your body or your hair or the color of your eyes. You step in here, and you're going to leave appreciating the beautiful little things that make you unique.

Here is a comprehensive 5-step plan for selling clothes to anyone, and that I think every salesperson should adhere to. Yes, anyone. I've sold rings to 5-year olds and Mandarin collar dress shirts to middle-aged men. Who even knows what a Mandarin collared shirt is? I sure don't, but I can make someone feel their best while wearing it--and that's the point of this whole article.

STEP 1: Take 1 second to say hello to the customer. I cannot tell you how many times I've walked into Brandy Melville and the girls working in the store stare me down, zombie-eyed and unsmiling. The first key step to improving your sales is establishing that you want the customer in your store, that you're excited to embark on this *shopping adventure* with them. The customer is stepping into your kingdom--give them a royal greeting. They'll be more inclined to look around when they've established communication with the shopkeeper, as opposed to throwing a few pieces around and then leaving silently. Make them commit!

STEP 2: Affirm their interest. Shopping is incredibly psychological. If you see a customer eyeing a piece for more than two seconds, let them know how cute that top is when tried on or how fast it's been selling. You have to make the customer feel like he or she has good fashion sense, and that they're on the right track of choosing what's "trendy" or "hot." 

STEP 3: Point out what makes the piece unique. If the interest in the piece continues, walk over and give some extra individual lovin' for the item. For example: "This shirt is so cute because of the details on the bottom, did you see these pom poms?" or, "This is a gorgeous color blue and would actually go great with your complexion." 

STEP 4: Take the initiative to start a fitting room. Trap the customer in the store by kindly offering to take their selection to an open dressing room. This will allow the customer to freely peruse the store without lugging pieces around, encouraging them to look at every item with fresh eyes and open arms. Also, if you've started them a fitting room, you've basically got them secured for step #5, where you'll go in for the kill. 

STEP 5: Who cares about the clothes themselves? I just want to look gooooood. Here's where you'll win your Oscar in The Art of Selling. Make sure to interact while the customer is trying different pieces on, asking to see the pieces they like. When they step out smiling, emphasize to the highest degree "HOW CUTE THIS TOP IS ON YOU!!!!!" The trick is to be the customer's step-in best friend, and not to lie (too much). When deciding between a horrific green sweater and a pretty, form-flattering blue tank, which would you recommend? Give your honest opinion. Everyone hates a salesperson who pushes every sale; this will ruin your authenticity. Push a mildly honest sale instead.

And, if possible, one of the best tips to follow is to wear the clothes you are selling. What's a better way to sell than by confidently strutting around in a hot top that looks WAY hotter on? Take advantage of that employee discount and model like you're getting paid for it. xx

Case and point: this romper wasn't looked at ONCE until I decided to wear it during a shift one day.