I never want to be done learning.

Samie was supposed to be an engineer because from 4th to 9th grade, she enrolled exclusively in STEM classes. She always loved art, but knew she was a good problem solver, so math and science seemed like the practical direction.

Samie was supposed to be an engineer because from 4th to 9th grade, she enrolled exclusively in STEM classes. She always loved art, but knew she was a good problem solver, so math and science seemed like the practical direction.

When she was in 10th grade, she decided that she didn’t want to do math anymore, so she pivoted toward design classes.

She may have been inspired to make this change because of the stress she was dealing with at home, a way to take control of something. Samie has a younger sister that was born with cerebral palsy and at 10 years old witnessed her sister experience seizures. That was difficult for Samie and left her feeling helpless.

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She loved her design classes in high school and went on to study Creative Advertising at Michigan State. At MSU, she discovered copy writing, a discipline she would excel at because it requires that magical mix of right and left brain thinking. She could leverage her logical roots in math and science, mix it with design and writing, and be the strategic problem solver she always wanted to be.

Samie became very active in the American Advertising Federation organization on campus, an interview-only program that her high school portfolio got her into. Taking those design classes gave her a leg up because she was the only freshman with a portfolio.

The The AAF team participated in a campaign design for Glidden paint. AdFed provided the brief, as part of a national competition, and the strategy was to acquire millennial customers. Based on that acquisition strategy, the team focused on smaller DIY projects and renters. The concept they came up with was: “Look what one can do.” How one gallon of paint can change your room.

The campaign won at the district level, then placed 7th at the national level. Working with this team and getting to see work from students all over the country would be one of the most valuable experiences of her college career.

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Prior to her senior year in college, Samie got an internship at Target. After completing the 10 week program, she accepted a full time offer writing for the weekly ad.

Samie finished college in 3 years. She knew what she wanted to do, be a Creative Director, and she wanted to get out and do it.

She worked for 1 year on the weekly ad and then took her talents to Target Creative. Projects she has written for include, Cat & Jack, Target Style and some naming of the company’s new brands. Naming is a new muscle that she’s excited to flex.

To continue on her quest of continued learning, Samie plans to start her MBA in the spring so that she can continue to grow as a marketer

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Emma Watson. I’ve idolized her since I was little and she hasn’t steered my wrong. She’s an ivy leaguer, an ambassador, intelligent, kind and thoughtful.

Would you like to be famous?
I want to be known by those who share my passions, not famous like the Kardashians.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
I don’t think so. I don’t practice.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Getting out of bed without it being hard, going for a run around Lake Calhoun, then Ashtanga, breakfast with a friend, hangout at Updown, grab dinner with different friends, catch a sunset, movie and sleep.

When did you last sing to yourself?
“You make my dreams come true” to her friend in his car the other day.

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If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
I feel like I have to go with body. I’m an active person, plus I have a unique perspective from having a sister that has neither. I’ve seen the emotional turmoil of not being able-bodied.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Probably just tripping over something. I have bad spatial awareness.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m surprised by how many people are cheering me on. I’m grateful for a good support system in my personal life, my career and everything in-between.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my sister and I were more supported earlier on, when Katie came into our lives.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To freeze time. I just need more time.

Love people. Cook them food.

Like most stylish women, Amanda likes to curate experiences in every aspect of her life. You’ll see that extra special touch in her wardrobe, her home and especially in her cooking.

Like most stylish women, Amanda likes to curate experiences in every aspect of her life. You’ll see that extra special touch in her wardrobe, her photography and especially in her cooking.

She was inspired by her dad from a young age and in college decided to learn to cook for herself. When she began, she didn’t even know how to make an omelette.

Not only did she learn to cook, she photographed, art directed and wrote, turning her new found interest into a beautifully designed blog, nourishedbyseason. She challenged herself to 1 recipe a week from June to September, and even had to take a week off from work to get it started. Lately, she’s been feeling the pull to get back to it. I hope she does, I need food inspiration!

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Just like her beautifully curated food blog, she has the same keen eye for detail and beauty in her wardrobe. She likes versatility with a combination of classic and unique pieces. She typically buys more classic pieces, but likes to make them special by adding vibrant shoes or playful hair. With a good eye for trends and color, she likes to mix feminine and masculine pieces, colors, textures and patterns to create something that feels a little bit special and unique every day. It’s about feeling good in her own skin so she has the confidence to bring her best self to work, especially on the hard days.

Amanda works as a Product Designer for Target’s Registry business. Her design career transitioned from marketing design to product design when she realized that she wasn’t totally satisfied as a Digital Art Director.

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In her current role as a Product Designer, she builds tools instead of communications to influence people. This type of design is more like solving a puzzle, getting into a user’s mind and empathizing with their needs to develop solutions that can help them accomplish their tasks better.

Amanda was well-positioned for this transition because her interest in technology started at 13 when her parents bought the family’s first computer. She was having fun with AOL chat rooms where her screen name was “Taydream13”. She had a chat room friend who had a Hanson fan webpage, and I said “Oh hey, I can do that!”

She always had a natural design aesthetic, so she pursued more tech classes in both high school and college. Amanda continued to hone her design perspective in her career by surrounding herself with talented peers and mentors.

Our paths crossed because I saw her stylish ways at work, but also because many of her colleagues told me that she should be featured on this blog. I couldn’t agree more!

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
My dad. He’s the best cook I know personally. We have a special bond and share a deep appreciation for the work that goes into making a meal. He inspired me to learn to cook and he’s also my favorite person to cook for. Every year for my birthday, he gifts me an elaborate multi-course meal.

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Would you like to be famous?
When I was younger, yes. I wanted to be a famous singer, but realized that I was terrified of singing in front of people. I don’t like to be the center of attention, even at work.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, I’m neurotic about being prepared, especially when it comes to presentations, I get really nervous. Even though I’m at my best when I’m winging it, preparation helps my nerves.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Sleeping in. Cooking myself and another person an amazing brunch. Being out in nature on a hike in a beautiful place. The afternoon spent being creative, maybe taking pictures or playing guitar. I’d like the day to be part alone and part with people.

When did you last sing to yourself?
I sing to myself quite frequently. I’ll sing with my boyfriend, Zach, after a few glasses of wine. I’ll sing “Don’t cry for me Argentina” and he sings to me “Love Street” by the Doors. His taste in music is way cooler than mine, but I definitely have the better voice. I was in choir, so I know a fair amount of show tunes.

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Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
*Big sigh* I have no idea. I can probably fantasize a million ways. It depends on the day and my symptoms and what Google diagnosis me with.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My parents because they are amazing. They had high expectations for me and supported me in whatever I wanted to do.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I played 5 or 6 instruments growing up. I wish my parents would have made me stick with one.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To truly experience life though someone else, especially if it’s someone that I’m struggling with. In the context of food, I want to know what it would be like to actually like the taste of bleu cheese and gorgonzola.

“If I could wear a ball gown to work everyday, I would.”

Jen plans all of her outfits for the work week on Sundays while her 2 daughters nap. If she didn’t take that time to plan, she wouldn’t get out of the house each morning. She likes to shop in her closet, rather than actually go out shopping. Mixing and matching and trying new combinations of pieces she already owns.

Jen plans all of her outfits for the work week on Sundays while her 2 daughters nap. If she didn’t take that time to plan, she wouldn’t get out of the house each morning. She likes to shop in her closet, rather than actually go out shopping. Mixing and matching and trying new combinations of pieces she already owns. She begins her planning around shoes and everything else follows.

To her, clothes are functional and she doesn’t care about what people think about what she wears. She feels like she can be authentic working in the Target Creative culture, because anything goes. Well, except ball gowns.

When Jen said that she would wear a ball gown to work everyday if she could, I asked her why she didn’t. We sat in that question together and visualized all the people that she may encounter throughout her day as a senior leader. No ball gowns to work is the best choice.

The idea of ball gowns does say a lot about her style aesthetic though. Jen mostly wears dresses and definitely adds whimsical details with her sparkly accessories and flowy skirts. She keeps it professional overall, as we would expect any boss to do. Well, I do anyway.

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Jen is originally from a small town of 600 in Wisconsin where she grew up on a hobby farm. Her dad was a musician and her mom worked at the local tire factory until the plant shut down when she was in middle school.

She has great respect for her mom and all that she sacrificed. Jen shared a profound memory about an outfit consisting of a Wilson’s leather jacket, Doc Martens and Girbaud jeans that her mom bought for her. Realizing how much her mom spent on those clothes, still makes her feel guilty. But Jen is motivated by guilt.

Growing up in that economic environment and watching her mom take on the financial responsibility and emotional toll that causes, Jen decided early on that she was going to get a job where she could make the most money. At her young age, that meant she had to be either a doctor or a lawyer.

Since Jen was good at math, doctor seemed like the right choice, so she entered college at St. Olaf pre-med. Then she read: “What to Expect Your First Year in Med School.” After that, she didn’t want to be a doctor anymore. She still loved math, so she majored in it, thinking she would possibly be a math teacher.

Instead, Jen found Target. She started as an intern and was offered a full-time opportunity. She got her first job in engineering, schlepping spreadsheets her first year as a professional. Over her 16 year career at the company, she has worked in Guest Insights, DotCom, Site Merch, Merchandising and presently, Target Creative, where she’s the Senior Director of Strategy and Operations.

Her career path at Target has been a journey of self-discovery. All along finding her way into a creative culture where there’s the perfect mix of left and right brain problems to solve.

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Jen always loved art, but never allowed herself to pursue it as a career. So, while working at Target full-time, she went back to school and earned her art degree.

Although her favorite medium is sculpture, she found that she’s really good at painting, and that people are willing to pay her for it! She’s sold a lot of paintings and also had a piece hanging on the 26th floor of TPS (Target headquarters). So, it makes a lot of sense that this math wizard MBA, who values joy over anything else, would find her way into leading a department with a lot of creative people. It’s right where she belongs.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Could it be more than one person? If I were hosting a dinner party, I’d think about combinations of people. Oprah would be invited, of course. I’m not religious, but I’d like Jesus to come. I have A LOT of questions. A good-looking celebrity like Ryan Gosling and my twin sister so I’d have someone to debrief with after the party was over.

Would you like to be famous?
Yes, for something specific. I’d want to be famous for being an expert at something. Like an opera singer, and only opera fans know who they are. I think I could still be somewhat anonymous in that type of situation.

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Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Only if I need to be very specific about what I need to say. For instance, if I have to tell someone that they didn’t get the job, or if I have to provide negative feedback. I actually try not to do that stuff over the phone. I don’t like talking on the phone! I don’t even like making dinner reservations or ordering pizza over the phone!

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Jason (my husband) & I sleeping in. Working out on a beach. See my kids, kiss and hug them. Then go off to do something adventurous like hang-gliding or mountain jumping. Eat a good lunch. Have some down time, see my kids again. Then finish the day with a great dinner.

When did you last sing to yourself?
This morning. I play music when I get ready. I’m up at 5:00 a.m. and it helps me wake up. My kids tell me not to sing!

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If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind. I want my memories of the history of our family.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I strongly believe an air crash. I research air carriers to see their crash records. I hate flying! I still travel, but I find myself pre-planning my death when I have to get on an airplane.

What do you and your partner have in common?
We’re both introverts, we’re both logical and make decisions well together. We also share the same interests. If we have 2 hours free, we’d agree on social ideas.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My 2 kids. I’m grateful for these magical moments we’re having because they’re still little. I’m their favorite person and they think I know everything. These moments won’t last, so I don’t take them for granted.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my mom wouldn’t have had to sacrifice so much and feel so much anxiety. I wish I could have alleviated some of her stress.

You have to say I’m funny, Mary!

Done. Kalei is hilarious. Side-splitting, knee-slapping funny. I have found that women with a great sense of humor are usually also very smart, very sensitive and have dealt with a lot in their life.

Done. Kalei is hilarious. Side-splitting, knee-slapping funny. I have found that women with a great sense of humor are also very smart, very sensitive and have dealt with a lot in their life.

Technically, Kalei shouldn’t even be here. She was an abandoned baby in Korea that was saved by her “adopted” mom. The fact that her mom was able to adopt her is also a miracle. Back then, in Korea, you couldn’t be 40 years older than the child that you adopt. Kalei’s mother was 44 years old, which meant she would have gotten a 4 year old.

Instead, her mother got a 6-month old baby. At that time, when foreigners adopted from Korea, they didn’t meet the child until they boarded the plane. So, imagine Kalei’s mother’s surprise when a 6-month old baby shows up to go home with her to Hawaii. That was the first fork in the road.

The second was when Kalei was a 19-year old college student. She got pregnant and felt like she let her parents down after they had given her so much. Her dad was the toughest on her, but eventually, he came around once the baby was born. It was love at first sight.

This was a really scary and difficult time in Kalei’s life, but she was determined to prove herself to her parents and still planned to finish college.

She was attending the University of Texas, Austin, where she earned a B.S. in Advertising. UT was one of the few universities in the country that offered a degree in advertising and she kept up with the curriculum, with baby on the way.

I delivered my daughter on a Tuesday and was back in class the following Monday.

She managed school and motherhood with the help of great college friends by stacking all of her classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so they could help babysit. She maintained this schedule for the first six weeks and paid her friends with groceries. On the seventh week, she was able to get her daughter into daycare at the university.

Kalei’s college life consisted of motherhood, school and part-time work. She graduated on time with a 3.7 GPA.

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As you can imagine, after graduating from college, Kalei entertained multiple recruiting opportunities, but ultimately chose Minnesota as her destination. She felt like Minneapolis was a liveable city for a single mom and moved here with only her car and their clothes, nothing else. She and her daughter slept on air mattresses and lived with a roommate. Half of her check went to daycare and the other half went to rent.

Once Kalei was able to save some extra money, the first thing she bought was a bed from IKEA for her daughter. Kalei still slept on an air mattress though.

Kalei was, and still is, very ambitious and moved up in the ranks very quickly. She focused heavily on her career and wouldn’t tell people that she was a single mom because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be given the same professional opportunities. She was a 21-year old single mom, with a 2-year old, and thought she would be overlooked because of it. She wanted to be judged on merit.

Once she was comfortable with her co-workers, she would tell them about LuLu. Then, she brought LuLu with her everywhere she went, including work. Putting in 65-70 hours a week, Kalei would pick up LuLu from daycare and go back to the office and burn the midnight oil with LuLu asleep at her desk.

Kalei’s determination did pay off. She wanted to be a director and earn a certain salary before she was 30. At age 28, she was recruited to a digital agency and negotiated both of those things. She felt like she was nailing it. Until she wasn’t.

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While in this role, her daughter turned 10 years old and Kalei felt like she had missed the first 10 years of LuLu’s life. The work she was doing, even though she had that title and salary, weren’t silencing this urge she had to spend more time with LuLu. Kalei spent so much time prioritizing work, that she missed the part where you develop a relationship with your kiddo. It was also during this time, that she met Jared who rounds out her family unit.

She decided to resign from her position, take some time off and travel with her daughter. It was the best decision she made because she realized that chasing her professional goals and achieving them, young, came at the cost of not being emotionally present for her kid. Her next position would have to be a role where she could achieve balance.

This is where our paths cross, at Target, where Kalei is a Lead Strategist and we started around the same time. We clicked right away because, like me, she’s ambitious, moves fast and gets shit done! But unlike me, she’s unapologetic about it and I admire her for it.

Her style is all about dresses and bold prints. She doesn’t like pants as much as she likes dresses, so she doesn’t wear them often. When she dresses for work, she thinks about her role in the room. Will she be a presenter or a participant? If she’s presenting, the heels get really high. She admits that she doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes, so she never pays full price. She’d rather spend her money on vacations. She always hits the clearance racks first and finds her dresses and bold prints at places like J.Crew, Anthropologie, H&M and Target. She’s been shopping more at Target now that she works here.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? My Grandma. I had a lot of fun with her when I was a kid. Then when I was in middle school, I thought I was too cool to be hanging out with my 85-year old grandma. I was at her house being a sarcastic tween and meanly vacuuming when my grandma tripped over the cord and broke her femur. After that fall, her health declined really fast and I blamed myself for it. I would like to have dinner with her so I could tell her that I’m sorry and have more time with her.

Would you like to be famous?
I always think I do, but no, not in reality. Even during the photoshoot for this blog, I was uncomfortable. I don’t want to be overly scrutinized, even though I love being in the center and making people laugh.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Only if there’s going to be conflict. I want to make sure emotion is stripped out of the conversation and that I stay focused on objectivity.

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What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Sleeping in, for sure. I’m not a morning person. Eating and drinking anything I want. Surrounded by friends & family.

When did you last sing yourself?
I sing to LuLu to prove that I’m still cool and know the hip songs.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Body. I want to be able to stay active and to physically take part in ALL the activities and adventures that life and my grandkids will bring.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I hope it’s peaceful and I hope those surrounding me get through it. I don’t want it to be tragic. I hope I’m old, still laughing and die in my sleep.

What do you and Jared have in common?
We both love food, love to laugh and are very generous.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My kid, for sure. She is by far my biggest accomplishment and the hardest thing I have ever done. And my parents, because they gave me everything possible to live my best life.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my parents would have had the sex talk with me. I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant so early! Kidding! Not kidding.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
More love, emotion and empathy for LuLu. My struggle has nothing to do with her, it’s just how it happened. But I hold her to unfair standards sometimes, and need to be better at being a nurturing mom, versus a mom boss.

I’m all about protecting my peace. 100 percent.

Shelby wanted to be an anchor on the 6:00 news. When she was in 3rd grade, she produced a kid’s talk show at her school. Even at this young age, her drive to shine began to appear. Her teacher would use her as an example to the other kids that weren’t working as hard.

Shelby wanted to be an anchor on the 6:00 news. When she was in 3rd grade, she produced a kid’s talk show at her school. Even at this young age, her drive to shine began to appear. Her teacher would use her as an example to the other kids that weren’t working as hard.

Shelby grew up in Minnesota as an only child to parents who divorced when she was 5 years old. Both of her parents are really successful through hard work, so she learned how to focus on her goals and what she needs to do to accomplish them. She attended 3 different high schools, so she was perpetually the new “weird” person at school. She got involved in activities like orchestra, theater and art club and that helped.

After high school, she went to the University of Madison, Wisconsin to study journalism. She wasn’t a typcial college student because she spent most of her time on career preparations and interning to get real-world experience.

In addition to journalism, she studied videography, still with the 6:00 news on her mind. But during this time, her interests started to shift and she wanted to be doing more of the work behind the scenes. That’s when she discovered that she wanted to focus on writing.

She is one of my newest colleagues at Target and when I started seeing her on our floor, I knew I had to meet her and talk about her style.

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Shelby is one of those women that can pull things together that you would never imagine and make it look cool and expensive. She prides herself on finding pieces at second hand stores to pull together a look. Often times, people will comment: “You’re the only one that can wear that!” She likes that feedback because it means the fashion risks paid off and it makes her feel really good.

When she is curating her closet, she doesn’t think about versatility or brands. She thinks about clothes the same way you may think about buying a painting. If it’s something that she loves, she has to have it and she’ll figure out how to make it work later.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Mama Oprah. I love Oprah. I would love to soak up her knowledge. She studied journalism and went on to do TV, magazine and owns a network. She’s a mogul.

Would you like to be famous?
Yes, but for something very specific that requires knowledge or respect, like a famous TED talk or a bestselling book.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Only for administrative type things like cold-calling for an interview. I’ll write everything down. If it’s personal, I don’t practice.

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What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
It would involve happy hour, a movie and sleep. I like to be social, but I have to be home early. I’m all about protecting my peace.

When did you last sing yourself?
This morning. I’ve been singing a lot lately, which indicates that I’m feeling good. I’m a total car singer, not a shower singer. 100 percent.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Definitely the mind. Mainly because I feel like I’ll get lucky and still look good even when I’m 50, 60 or 70 years old. I’ll keep working out and taking care of myself.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Honestly, a car crash. I’m not a terrible driver, I’m just a speed demon. In the car is also where I do all my brainstorming and daydreaming, so I’m not as alert as I should be. The only speeding ticket I’ve gotten was when I was running late to a boat party. The police officer pulled me over and I was wearing my swimsuit.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m grateful for my talents and skills. I believe that they were given to me by a higher power. For example, if I get a really good idea and it ends up being successful, I don’t attribute it to me. I attribute it to something higher. I want to use those skills to impact and help more people.

I’m also very grateful for my family and my dog.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish there were more people around when I was younger. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I’m an only child, so I had a very quiet life as a kid.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I’d like to be more of a natural extrovert. Sometimes, I want to be the life of the party, but I naturally shy away from things.

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Dress (like a boss).

From the very beginning, dressing well was important to Mary. She remembers saving up for a pair of Guess jeans – splitting the cost with her parents. Their family didn’t have much money, and she was frustrated by the fact that she couldn’t simply dress exactly the way she wanted. But she had to have the jeans – and she made it happen.

From the very beginning, dressing well was important to Mary. She remembers saving up for a pair of Guess jeans and splitting the cost with her parents. Their family didn’t have much money, and she was frustrated by the fact that she couldn’t simply dress exactly the way she wanted. But she had to have the jeans, and she made it happen.

This is very much in line with the Mary that I know. She knows what she wants and she is willing to put in the work to get-it-done.

Mary and I first connected over style. Having just moved back to Minneapolis from New York, I was pleasantly surprised to see her walking around the Target Creative floor. I remember actually thinking to myself  “Thank God! There are people here with real style.” I noticed immediately her artful ability to dress professionally but in a really beautiful and unique way. In an industry where casual is cool and cool is king, Mary expresses her respect for herself and others by showing up looking like she cares. And she really does.

Caring about how I dress is an act of civility. I care about how I dress because I care about the people I encounter. 

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As any truly good designer, Mary pays attention to the details. She knows how to pull off pieces that some would shy away from – like a sack dress or high-waist wide-leg trousers – balancing cropped or oversized pieces with great tailoring and the perfect shoes. I’m pretty sure the first thing I said to her was: “I love your shoes”. She cares about quality and respects the cost. She embraces trends while staying true to the classic principles of style.

She looks like a boss – and she wants to be one

Mary was a creative kid. Her mother’s side of the family was artistic and she got early insight into the world of design from her uncle who worked as a designer. But when it came time for school, she made what she felt was the “responsible” decision and went to Business School. She earned a Marketing degree from the University of St. Thomas and jumped into the retail world as an intern at Dayton’s. From there, she went on to work at Best Buy as a Merch Analyst.

During this time, she met and fell in love with her future husband, Craig, over long distance love letters. He was living in Chicago at the time. While their relationship developed, she became highly aware of the fact that there was no one at work that she aspired to be, and so she started to consider a bigger career shift.

It was during this time, that her dad, who she is very close with, got sick. She made the tough decision to quit her job, leave Minneapolis (where Craig had just moved to be with her) and move back home to Cold Spring and run the family business. As a young, educated woman from outside the construction industry she faced resistance from the men she managed in her father’s place. Despite the challenges, she implemented new hiring and training techniques and dramatically improved turnover rates, which had been a long standing problem. It was a trying time, but she knew she had made a positive impact. When her dad’s health improved, she decided to finally follow her creative calling and go back to school to study design, this time on her own dime.

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After school, she jumped into interviews, but had difficulty landing a full time design job. She jokes that this could have been credited to her boldness in interviews and not knowing how to say what you’re supposed to say in those situations. She started freelancing and was happy to work solo and guide her own work and business.

Her design business was successful. She won awards, designed products that landed on the shelves at Target and made some really cool brands that are thriving today. But she became tired of doing all the things you have to do when you run a business like: Accounting, bill collecting, invoicing, estimating and sales. She just wanted to focus on the work. It was during this time that she was working on the logo design for MPLS Madwomen. When she presented the work to the founder, Alison Beattie, Alison’s feedback on how she presented was: “You’re totally a UX designer!”

Through their discussions, she came to understand what that really meant and that UX design was where she was supposed to be. It was this discovery that made her comfortable, for the first time, taking a full time position and committing to a company for the long-term.

To Mary, good design is thoughtful, empathetic and solves problems for real people. As a designer, you have to be willing to put in the hard work, and think beyond yourself and what you want to be true. You have to do the research and be willing and ready to try and fail…and try again. As someone who works with her, I know that she practices what she preaches, and it’s refreshing and motivating to be around.

As her career develops and she thinks about what’s next Mary says: “I want to give back to creative people!” She stands by the concept of “leadership as service” and the principle that “It’s not about me! It’s about what I can do for you.” Her advice to creatives: “Get to know everybody! Build your team.” I see this as the key to Mary getting-shit-done. She’s truly interested in everyone’s perspective, and puts in the time to hear it and learn more. I see this as the ultimate practice of respect. In her words, it’s all about “coming together and letting people do what they’re really good at.”

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Prince. We would totally get it on. I’m sure of it. Could you imagine?!?! It would smell like lavender and we’d have this perfect vegan meal. The whole time I would be thinking…what’s going to happen next?! I have a ton of respect for artists who can cut out the middle man. He was so innovative so early when it came to digital and his control of content. I love that he was always telling YouTube to take his videos down. I mean, he was right.

Would you like to be famous?
No. I like to be in the background makings things happen. I don’t need to be the face. I’m too naive about people’s intentions. I want to be known, like – “you should call Mary for that” – but not famous. No.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
It depends on the call. I’ve had some tough calls. When I had my own business, I had a client hire me for some art direction work. They happened to be a creative staffing company, but who’s counting? I did the work, provided them options and ideas. They never got back in touch and then they totally stole my work! My lawyer confirmed my suspicions. So, I called the CEO and told them: “I will shut down your website!” I rehearsed for that one! When it’s a business thing, you need to site the right rules, and know what you’re doing. So in a business situation, yes, I’ll rehearse. When I feel like I’ve been wronged, yes! I have to balance my emotions with my logic and need to get my point across.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
I don’t know the answer to this one. I don’t think there is a perfect day. I really like going on vacation with Craig. We found this place in Mexico that is perfect. We sleep in, have breakfast, go to the pool, drink cocktails, etc. It’s so simple. I guess it’s perfect. To me this is perfect right now, sitting at a beautiful place with you, drinking rosé, and having a great conversation.

When did you last sing yourself? To someone else?
Every day. I sing to my dog. “Are you going to eat today?” Anything you would state as a question, I’ll sing. I sing in my car all the time. I hum a lot in the kitchen. I find myself at the gym singing out loud with headphones on. I love music. Sometimes I sing and dance in front of Craig just to make him smile.

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If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
I honestly want to keep my body. I think it would be amazing to lose my mind because I don’t want to give a shit! It sounds cathartic! I think it would be so hard not being able to move. It’s my meditation. It’s how I get my head straight.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Totally a stroke. It runs in my family and sometimes, I have these moments where something will fall asleep and I’m like “Oh god this is it”.

Name 3 things you and your husband have in common.
Absolutely nothing. Seriously, on the surface we are opposites. What we do have in common is our lifestyle philosophy. Our support for each other in our ambitions. His art is computer programming and he fully supports me and my art. “Be the boss! Draw the pictures!” Mutual respect for what we want to do. At the end of the day, we value the same things.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Craig.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish we weren’t poor when I was growing up. Man, you carry that shame with you forever. We didn’t start out poor, we just lost everything. I returned home from a slumber party one morning and people were moving our stuff into another house across the street. It got worse after that and we had to live in a really shitty place. Being embarrassed about where you live and having the whole town know because it was a fall from grace, was torture. You know that scene in Pretty in Pink when Blane asks where Andie lives so he can bring her home, and she says that she doesn’t want him to see where she lives? I lived that. It’s still painful to think about.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Hip hop dancing. I was in color guard and shit. You learn choreography. I miss learning a routine. I love synchronized dancing!

Stylishly unstylish

“Stylishy unstylish” is how Bethany describes her look. She’s all about finding her comfort zone, which starts with a great pair of sneakers and a great pair of jeans. She has about 30 pairs of jeans, but finds that she only wears the same 3 pair. It’s AG denim in blue, black & white.

“Stylishy unstylish” is how Bethany describes her look. She’s all about finding her comfort zone, which starts with a great pair of sneakers and a great pair of jeans. She has about 30 pairs of jeans, but finds that she only wears the same 3 pair. It’s AG denim in blue, black & white.

Bethany stays true to her comfort zone, even in the harsh Minnesota winters. You’ll see her wearing all white and open toe shoes when it’s 20 below! That’s partially because she can take the skyway to work and partially because she loves wearing white in the winter.

When she’s shopping for clothes, she invests in key pieces and then mixes in Zara & Target for basics. She prefers shopping an edited collection like Bergdorff 5th floor or D.Nolo, over digging for clothes (like my sister) at TJ MAXX or Off 5th. She wants to express optimism and open mindedness in her style. When she’s presenting work, she wants to appear cool and confident. “Clothing should never distract from the work. You should look like you know what you’re doing.”

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One of her first memories as a kid was knowing that she wanted to do what her dad did, but better. Her dad had a graphic design studio and she remembers holding down silk screens when she was only 2 years old.

Her roots are in the midwest, she’s from St. Louis, but has spent a majority of her time in New York City. She went to art school at Cooper Union and studied under some of the greats: Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Jessica Helfand and Lou Dorfsman.

Paul Rand was 81 years old when she was in his class, but she still carries some of the best advice that he shared. He would always tell the class to get off of the computer and get back to sketching because something gets lost between the hand and the computer. This advice was specific to Typography class where his philosophy was that type should just fall together like salt and pepper. When you start designing on the computer, you lose the opportunity to make mistakes and some of the best work comes from making mistakes.

Lou Dorfsman talked about being aware of culture. He would tell her to think about what’s happening in the world and infuse it in her work. It’s difficult to be that overt in your work when you’re creating for a mass retailer, but the spirit of that sentiment resides in brainstorming sessions.

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Bethany spent the first part of her career working in the luxury market. One of her first jobs was at a design firm with clients like: Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Cole Haan and Coach. Then she shifted to mass retail with a position at Global Brands Group, where they built brands for companies like Kohls. Have you heard of JLo for Kohls?

Then in 2015, out of the blue, she got the call for a dream job at Target, which is where she is today. Bethany is a Creative Director on the style business. Specifically, she directs the TV advertising. Ads that make you pause your DVR like this one and this one.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Ina Garten. She seems so fun! I would cook for her and maybe get some tips!

Would you like to be famous?
Not really. I like my life and don’t yearn for popularity and recognition. If I was famous, I’d like it to be for doing what I do best – good, fun, optimistic creative direction.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, especially if it’s something I don’t want to do. I want to be as prepared as possible. I don’t, however, rehearse to order a pizza.

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What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Waking up at a beautiful place like a vineyard or on safari. My boyfriend, friends and family are with me. We have a long lunch under a tree and drink rosé. I don’t even like rosé, but it sounds romantic. I’m wearing something casual and incredibly chic. Maybe we wind down by a stream. Just having time to reflect on the day would be perfect.

When did you last sing yourself? To someone else?
This past weekend. We went to the Hollywood Bowl. My boyfriend and I sing in the car.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
I want both. I want the mind to figure out how I can have both.

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Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I hope it’s sudden and I hope people celebrate and have a party.

Name 3 things you and your boyfriend have in common.
We’re both Cardinals fans, food (I cook, he eats) and we both love outdoor adventures.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my family would have been more open. I grew up Catholic and so they were really reserved.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To be more relaxed without medication! I’d also like to be more organized. I’m not good with paperwork. I need help!

Rock & roll chick

Jill is the coolest chick at the office. Like, seriously. I’m confident that everyone would agree with me too.

Jill is the coolest chick at the office. Like, seriously. I’m confident that everyone would agree with me too.

Her style has changed a lot over the years. She was the girl in the 80’s with the HUGE hair. She said her hair filled the whole frame of her college photo. She rocked the off-the-shoulder trend, big sweatshirts, leggings and always accessorized with a bandana. The bandana was either around her wrist or her ankle, but it was her statement piece.

She credits her mom for making her the stylish woman we know today. When Jill was little, her mother made clothes for Jill and her sister and she mostly sewed dresses. The fact that they were MATCHING dresses hindered Jill’s individuality, not to mention her tomboy ways. She was always playing outside, climbing trees and racing bikes with the boys in the neighborhood, so dresses didn’t really work.

“I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t care about what I wore.”

Today, she feels most comfortable in her edgy, rocker style. She loves it because she thinks that it contradicts her personality. She’s actually very quiet, reserved and understated. Her style allows her to be outgoing and badass in a way that draws people in. It’s her social currency, which is really cool. See, Jill is a very shy woman and typically won’t be the one to make the first move. But because of how she dresses, people will approach her and want to talk about her clothes and that makes it easier for her to engage in conversation.

At first glance, you might think Jill will kick your ass, but once you get to know her, you realize that she’s one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

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I’ve known Jill a long time and have a soft spot in my heart for her because I love working with her. We recently reunited on the digital design experiences for new brands at Target (plug & plug) and it was a total blast!

It took a few tries before she found graphic design. She started in architecture because she was always good at math and physics. Then, she switched to fashion design, thinking it would lead to a career in costume design. When she transferred to the U of M, she found graphic design and technology and it stuck.

Her design career and her husband’s career in law enforcement, provided them the opportunity to live in other cities. They spent 7 years in L.A., where Jill worked for Disney, Sony Pictures and Mattel. Then, Target snatched her up about 12 years ago. Jill spent the first 7 years art directing the Target kid’s catalog. Now she primarily art directs digital experiences.

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Iris Apfel. I admire her because she’s doesn’t care about conforming. She still has attitude and style well into her 90’s! If I live that long, I hope I’m like that.

Would you like to be famous?
Not while i’m alive. BUT I want to be remembered for something great that I did while I was here.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Nah, never

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Bacon & boating! Starting the day with bacon for breakfast, then spending the day with my hubby and my dogs, boating & wake surfing. I spent my last birthday just like that, only I also got a haircut and saw Wonder Woman.

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If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
F**k, that’s really hard because I’ve seen both. Mind, I guess.

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Not really, but I’m not afraid to die. Hopefully I’ll die with my boots on (this is a reference to a movie i recently saw with my hubs – he’ll get it.) – doing something I love or protecting someone I care about. I just don’t want to live long enough to lose my mind OR body!

Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
Even though we have very different jobs and skills, we mostly have the same interests and opinions about things. We both love working out, being outside, camping, water, cars… oh, and he’s a for-real badass!

We also balance each other out in many ways. For example, I’m the techy one becuase he’s technology challenged, and he’s the money guy. I’ve never balanced my checkbook.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My health.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything. My parents cared about me, we had everything we needed and I feel like they taught me good values.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to fly.

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Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
There are a lot of things. I’d like to go hang gliding. I think I want to be a bird because I love water and air. I’d also like to travel to Iceland or Australia, but I don’t like the traveling part. I like the idea of being there, just not the getting there.

Back to style. How do you create your look?
I like to mix girlie with edgy. Like a pink fur coat with a Slayer tee, a blush sequin skirt with a camo jacket, or a floral satin robe with a Led Zepplin tee.

I don’t care about labels or brands, I just like what I like. Right now, I love what Gucci is doing, but they are cost prohibitive, so I improvise by customizing more affordable options that I get from Target or Marshalls. I love a good bargain, like finding a statement piece, or a piece I can make a statement with, for a super low price. It totally gives me a rush! I also often shop in the men’s and kid’s departments because you never know what kind of treasures you’ll find. For example, I have a Levi’s trucker vest that I sewed fur sleeves onto. The sleeves are from a fur coat that I bought in the girl’s department at Target for $8.

My patch jacket (featured image) is actually a men’s Levi’s trucker jacket that I got on sale from Urban Outfitters years ago. I recently added all these patches, but it took an entire year to collect just the right ones and get them well-balanced and in the right places. I couldn’t bring myself to start sewing them on until it was absolutely perfect.

Editorial note: The patch jacket is so beautiful in person! If you see Jill wearing it, make sure to stop and admire the craftswomanship.

Maternity clothes scared me

When Alyson was experiencing pregnancy for the first time, she was scared that she was going to lose her style. She remembered judging other women when they became mothers because she noticed formerly stylish women becoming less concerned about it after they had kids. She didn’t want to change, but wasn’t aware of the impact having kids was going to have on her life.

When Alyson was experiencing pregnancy for the first time, she was scared that she was going to lose her style. She remembered judging other women when they became mothers because she noticed formerly stylish women becoming less concerned about it after they had kids. She didn’t want to change, but wasn’t aware of the impact having kids was going to have on her life.

While she was pregnant with her first child, maternity clothes scared her. There wasn’t anything that she felt like she could wear to feel comfortable in this new body. Luckily, the looks that were trending were flowy dresses, elastic wastebands & harem pants. She made those items work and was able to feel like she wasn’t losing all of her stylish self.

When you’re a creative person who cares about aesthetics, it’s difficult to turn off that curator part of your brain. Everything has to be “just so.” It’s really stressful and I’m sure other creative people can relate to that feeling. It comes with the territory of being a designer.

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Now, having birthed 2 children, she’s realized that she doesn’t have the mind space, time or money to devote to thinking about her clothes. In the past, she would curate a capsule wardrobe with a few expensive items, but that doesn’t suit her lifestyle anymore.

Her current style approach is “grab and go”.  She builds a decent base with a few pieces that can transition in and out. She focuses on denim that makes her feel good because it can mix and match with anything very easily. Jeans are durable, classic and you don’t have to wash them very often, which is another time-saving feature.

In addition to raising 2 kiddos, Alyson is a Creative Director at Target. If you’ve seen inspirational fashion imagery from Target, Alyson was most likely the creator.

She started her design journey at Iowa State University, where she studied graphic design. She felt lucky from the start because she knew she wanted to do something in that field.

After graduating from ISU, she landed an internship at Olson. She felt like she was nailing it and when fall arrived, was ready to hit the pavement and find her first design job.

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In reality though, it was harder than she anticipated. In order to pay the bills, she was working as a nanny while attending portfolio reviews. She was disappointed during this time because she wasn’t seeing any of her hard work come to fruition.

She hit her low point one night biking home to Uptown after an interview in Downtown Minneapolis. She was wearing her beautiful interview suit, with her portfolio in her bike basket. It was happy hour on a nice fall evening and she got pulled over by a cop for biking on the sidewalk.

Alyson eventually landed at Target 10 years ago. She loves the challenge of shooting fashion at Target. “When you have a $10,000/day model wearing a Gucci dress with Annie Leibovitz as the photographer, that shot is going to be gorgeous, guaranteed. When you have a $4,000/day model wearing a dress from Target and you make it look awesome, that is amazing. That’s a challenge and it is so fun!”

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Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love history! I love knowing my own history too. I grew up reading those books and falling in love with the illustrations by Garth Williams.

Would you like to be famous?
Yes, for invention.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
For sure, especially if it’s something heavy. Context to the conversation matters.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being with my family, in the summer, on the water with good homemade food that I had time to prepare.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Never! People told me all the time that I had the worst voice ever, so I don’t sing.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind, for sure

Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
No idea, do you?
Yes, I think I’m going to have a stroke.

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Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
Our sense of humor (he’d disagree), compassion and we both value putting our best foot forward.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My husband, he’s a much better person than I am.

Is there a woman in your career that was your mentor or that you looked up to?
Yes, Anita Calero. She is a photographer/stylist/all-around amazing human being. I met and worked with her early in my career and she really shaped me as a creative. She gave me confidence early on which gave me strength and energy to keep doing what I love. As a young art director, it was intimidating to walk on to set and give a whole photo crew direction. Anita instilled the passion, assurance and confidence I needed to grow early as a creative.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Patience

I have 25 lipsticks in my purse at any one time

Liana is one of the most stylish people I have ever met. Her high standards for design and aesthetics is visible in everything she touches. From her wardrobe, to her beautifully designed home, every last detail is thoroughly considered.

Liana is one of the most stylish people I have ever met. Her high standards for design and aesthetics is visible in everything she touches. From her wardrobe, to her beautifully designed home, every last detail is thoroughly considered.

Imagine my excitement when I first met this woman and was assigned a desk next to her. We would literally squeal at each other and talk about the clothes we had curated for the day and why. I know it may sound shallow, but it’s fun, inspiring and gave me that little boost I needed to get through some tough days.

Liana can be inspired by a person, a moment or even an article about fashion and design. Her favorite time of the year is Fashion Week (mine too). Paris Fashion Week is top of the list. There’s nothing better than cozying up with a glass of Rosé and scouring the blogs and Instagram for runway shows and street style photography.

She can become obsessed with one fashion moment and just have to have it. Her obsession last year was robes. Even if it doesn’t “work” on her body, she loves it and has to try it.

A lot of Liana’s style sensibilities come from her Lithuanian culture. European women care about appearance and are the best dressed in the room. Even if you’re going out to push a stroller, you look like a million bucks.

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Liana is a design veteran. She’ll hate that I used the word “veteran” but I think it’s important to show the industry, and other creative women, that design, creativity, smarts and style transcend age. She has worked in agencies, corporate design groups, nonprofits and freelance. Some of the organizations where she led creative include: Honeywell, Miller Meester Advertising, Room and Board, The Minneapolis Institute of Art and currently, Target. She said that once she found retail, she found home.

For this project, I was excited that she wanted to participate because we got to sit down one-on-one and discuss topics other than work and clothes. One thing that really touched me is learning more about her experience as a mother. Liana is one of those women that does is all: career, marriage and motherhood…with great style.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Barack & Michelle Obama

Would you like to be famous?
No. I’d like to be successful and happy, but not famous. When I was starting out in my career, I wanted to be a famous designer. The more I met famous designers, I realized the “fame” part of that life wasn’t for me.

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, I rehearse and take notes on every call. If I don’t rehearse, I don’t communicate everything I need to.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being outside and doing something active. Sometimes I want to disconnect and be on my bike. Other times, I want a day of pampering with my friends that concludes with dinner and drinks.

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
In my car, I sing along with the radio all the time. I sang “Happy Birthday” to my daughter yesterday.

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Body. I think it would be very difficult to be sharp mentally and be constantly aware that my body can’t keep up.

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Name 3 things you and your husband appear to have in common.
We’re so similar, yet so different. We both love the outdoors. The love we have for our kids and what we want for them.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My husband, Leo, my kids, health, family, friends, all of it. Overall, I just feel grateful. I’m very lucky.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to sing. I’m extremely passionate about music and would love to belt out a song with an amazing voice.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Yes, travel abroad more. Expense is a barrier because our families live in a different state, so our vacation time and budget gets allocated to trips to see our families.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Being married for a really long time.
How long?
A long time.
My kids are also one of my greatest accomplishments. We were at my daughter’s college graduation last month and a friend congratulated me. At first I was taken aback by the praise, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought: “Yes, I did that.”

What is your most treasured memory?
The birth of my 2 children.

What is your most terrible memory?
When Sofija was alive for only 36 hours. After we brought her home, she spiked a fever and we had to bring her back to the emergency room where they quarantined her and also gave her a spinal tap. I was in such a state, I don’t even have the words to describe it. Here I was having just given birth to my first child, so I have emotions and hormones running through my body, while all this terrible stuff is happening to my baby. I could hold her, but I couldn’t feed her because she was too weak. We ended up being in the hospital for a week before she recovered. It was an out of body experience for me.

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What do you value most in a friendship?
Acceptance and valuing who you really are.

How do you create your look? Where do you shop
It’s usually weather dependent. I’m not kidding. We live in a location with 4 seasons, so I think about the temp (will it rain or snow?) and go from there. I want to be stylish, but comfort is also a huge factor. My mood also drives my decisions. For those days when I’m running late, I tend to gravitate towards my basics and build from there to liven things up. Usually with great shoes or some accessories. Other days, I want to make a statement, so I’ll choose a print or pattern or clothing that might be more dramatic. I really love shoes and feel like I can never have enough. Black boots? I have many. Sometimes I want a heel and sometimes I want something flat. Then there’s the material. Suede or patent? With or without details? Ankle or knee high? So many choices!

And I can’t forget the finishing touch…lipstick! I’m obsessed. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect red lipstick. I carry so many in my purse because when I need to reapply it, I might change up the shade.

I shop everywhere! I love investment pieces and will do research online before buying it to make sure I get the best price. I love quality tailoring, luxurious materials and silhouettes that flatter my body. I’ve had really great luck at Nordstrom, Shopbop, Scotch & Soda. I love to shop boutiques when I travel so I can find items that not everyone else will be wearing. There are also times when I want to try a new trend that probably won’t last past a season. That’s when I’ll check out Zara or a similar place.