First off, cards on the table, I’m writing this about myself. All-powerful-Oz reveal. So, if I go and write an entire bio page about myself in the third person, it feels unutterably pretentious. Whether or not that’s true, or if the queasy pompous- feels it triggers are really an impostor syndrome flare up, is up to the internet jury.
Instead of waiting for feedback I’m going to listen to Laura Branigan’s Gloria and write a weekly blog post that will for the foreseeable future function as my contributor’s bio page for Viv + Kit. (I am already so into this idea that I think this will be the policy for all new contributors. The Laura Branigan part will be encouraged but optional.)
Orange County born, Sacramento raised, and a jure sanguinis dual Italian American citizen, I’ve lived in all the best parts of California (I’m looking at YOU, San Diego) and now call London home. Day-to-day I’m head person in charge at Anthropologie’s flagship European store on Regent Street.
Viv + Kit was borne of a desire to not only create and write on the regular, but to try and be a bright spot in any single person’s day, one post/list/essay at a time. You’re not going to find any Great Gatsby sort of authorship under my name, and I don’t know that I’m capable of changing anyone’s life or perspective in a major way. But if I can throw together a niche favorites list or snappy diatribe on how I think you should judge your success versus how society does that elicits just ONE laugh or smile, then I’m all about it.
I used to really beat myself up because I felt like even post undergraduate education, I didn’t know “a lot” about anything. Like, most English Lit majors may not have a career waiting for them on the other side of that graduation ceremony stage, but at least they could walk you through Paradise Lost. No such luck here. When I was 22, the thing in life I knew the most about and was the best at was the “hip” import retailer Cost Plus World Market – real talk. I started working there as a cashier out of high school in 2007 and returned to the life when six months of dallying with the real world got me (and my degree) nowhere.
Making a career out of retail has been a JOURNEY for me, mostly because I hate the idea of doing something other people don’t think is cool. (If you didn’t think I was basic before, there you have it. I’ve got the career aspiration equivalent of a pumpkin spice latte.) I derived the majority of my self worth for years out of what my job was, and for someone who viscerally remembers standing in the stock room of her old World Market, deciding to sign on for $30k in college debt because she REFUSED to be stuck in retail forever, having a career in retail was some Old Fashioned level bitter gall.
But I’m exceptionally lucky in my skills and my interests (and my flawless aesthetic, I tell myself), because once I developed enough as a person to realize job status does not equal personal value / a job is a job no matter how you slice it, the two combined to land me in a career that’s ironically taken me everywhere I could’ve asked for.
I was just biding my time while my dual Italian American citizenship stagnated when my District Manager approached me about becoming a supervisor with World Market. Two years later I was a Store Manager when a customer, who apparently worked at Anthropologie, recognized that my pants were from Anthro, and reached out to recruit me when I impressed her with my service. I worked for Anthro for two years and then it gave me the perfect in to move back to the UK, a goal I’d had since the second I left Norwich after university and had all but given up on by 2017.
While customers, yes, can be challenging (when they’re not recruiting you), what nobody tells you about retail is that it’s like any other job – it’s defined by the people and what you put into it. I’ve worked with a handful of characters that I could happily do with never seeing again, but for the vast majority of my career I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from some most excellent specimens of human cool. In retail, there’s a 50/50 shot that every one of your coworkers has a side-hustle they wish was their main hustle – who, after all, would actively choose retail, is the running joke – and those side hustles are always fascinating.
Over the years and with the help of some absolutely stellar professional mentors (Ed, if you’re reading this, you are still my hero), I’ve become a really great retail manager, and I genuinely enjoy it.
Given all of the above, a lot of what I write comes from a place of self criticism, weighing my own values and journey against those of society, trying to take life a little less seriously, and reveling in and laughing at all of the conclusions I draw from my rose-colored view of my past and potential future. When you read something I’ve written, it’s likely to be laced with at least one of those concepts. I like to think of myself as an unlicensed authority on them.
Other things I’ll chalk up as interesting qualifiers: experience living abroad and far from my family (not once, but twice!), unparalleled skill at quoting/making very specific pop culture references, and overusing a new word every 3-4 years. Ten years ago it was “epic”. Right now it’s “niche”. I enjoy making people laugh and I enjoy immersing myself in good music, fun pop culture lists, great fashion, highly-specific history subjects, and anything well-written. So it should surprise no one that I’m the founder of this website.
My greatest fear is that when I write I’m like Midge Maisel telling her manager Susie that working every dinner party she can snag an invitation to is the same as successfully working an actual comedy club crowd. But let’s be honest. If that’s what’s happening here, there are worse people to be than Midge, center stage in someone else’s living room, making her friends and borderline strangers laugh. (Right…?)