I always own the skin I'm in, the clothes I wear and accepted that I'm a tomboy. Being in the tech field always warranted jobs where khakis, a polo shirt, and casual shoes were appropriate. I spent the majority of my career crawling under desks, learning how to run cable, patching telecom panels and occasionally taking apart printers. Job promotions led me to more senior roles, where crawling under desks became a thing of the past. Meetings became my best friend. I managed small/large teams and started presenting my project ideas to upper level management. So of course the tomboy had to get a new wardrobe :). I owned the image/perceptions that leadership thrust me into but never completely. I'm always prepared to do grunt work.
Now that my "work" includes speaking, I knew I needed professional photos to brand myself a little better. Surprising myself, I called one of my friends and said, "Hey, I'm thinking about doing a photo shoot and I want you to style me." Of course, the opportunity to make me over was an easy yes for MarkQ. I was then put in touch with DeexDee (a photographer in New York), Beauty by Chantal Marie for make up, and last but not least Pete from Ursie Hawk would assist with production and keep me from losing it. Everyone, except me, was excited about the chance to put me in stylish clothes and makeup. Yes, makeup - who knew personal branding would require makeup :)
March 19 came and I was nervous. I couldn't sleep the night before because I'd never done this. A photo shoot required me to a) trust MarkQ and whatever wardrobe he picked and b) trust that I wouldn't look crazy with makeup on. The Team, which they will forever be named, showed up and showed out. MarkQ picked the best outfits, power suits and casual power looks. Oh and heels! Ha, I had no clue how to walk in them but luckily I lean against stair rails really well. Chantal Marie did a flawless job on my makeup, which included lashes. I never wore a lash in my life btw. The products she used were superb and made a newbie like me extremely comfortable. I left the makeup on for the rest of the day and asked for a set of lashes later. I have no clue how to put them on but the fact that I have them is a step in the right direction. Dee, the ever so patient photographer, captured great moments. I learned that relaxing and being comfortable with my body gives the photographer more to work with. I admit the first hour or so I was pretty stiff and wasn't sure what to do but I'm grateful for her patience and ability to take a lot of beautiful shots. Pete made sure everyone was on the same page, she recorded footage of everything going down and captured the best behind the scenes moments. Pete, MarkQ, and Chantal Marie were the cheerleaders, keeping me sane while I struggled with what to do with my hands, face, legs and pretty much every aspect of my body. Everyone contributed to making this a success and we had so much fun with it. This day I embraced this journey and focused on how I present myself going forward. I want to own the room and show that tech can be fashionable and a lifestyle.
This experience made me realize how much being in a male dominated field effected my femininity or what I think femininity is. My clothes have always been professional but never extremely feminine in the workplace. Working with a lot of males I never wanted to look like an object of their affection. I feel like I suppressed some of those traits for the sake of being an equal. Speaking allows me the freedom to break out of that shell, try something new and embrace those qualities that have been hidden for so long. It was weird to hear my friends swoon and yell YYYYYYAAAASSSSS as I posed in front of the camera but was a confidence boost I'll never forget. Presentation is everything and from now on I'm going to practice turning this #techNIKspeaks into a lifestyle.