Adrienne, Product Development Specialist
"What’s Meant To Be Will Always Find Its Way"
Graduation with some of my best friends!
I first came to learn about Natural Life in 2009 as a 23-year-old who had just been laid off from her job as an Assistant Buyer... at a company that I thought I’d spend my career at. I had been hired by this company before I graduated from FSU and anticipated a long career that would lead me to a role as a buyer, where I could travel to market, trade shows & make buying decisions for a department store. To be honest, the Divisional Manager that told me I was being laid off was rather uncompassionate and instead of encouraging me to continue my career, told me I “was never going to make it” and sent me on my way. I remember walking to my car (with my cardboard box of possessions) and being bewildered at what had just happened. I had 6 weeks left on the lease of my apartment and a severance package to barely cover my rent... until then – the job search was on!
My last day of classes at Florida State University!
The only way I knew how to job search was through websites like Monster.com, where pages and pages showed me jobs as funeral home sales representatives, insurance brokers and telecommunication workers – all of which are important jobs, but none I either qualified for nor was interested in. A few pages later I found a position for a Product Development Coordinator that had words like “free-spirited”, “creative” and“family” scattered throughout the application – and it was Natural Life! I went to the website and saw cute products decorated with tie-dye, sequins & inspirational messages – I knew this brand was special so I decided to apply. I was excited to get a response from the PD manager to come in and interview. I remember what I wore and why I decided to wear it – a cream blouse with wildflowers embroidered on it, and a taupe pencil skirt – a perfect mixture of being free-spirited and business-minded. I loved my interview and left feeling SO excited about the possibility of joining the Natural Life family. A few days later I got the call that while the interviewer really liked me, my experience was not quite what was needed, but they wished me well and hoped for me to keep in touch.
Life then took me to Atlanta, back to Fort Lauderdale, all the way to Los Angeles, back to Fort Lauderdale and then finally settled in Jacksonville 4 years later after getting married. In those 4 years I had amazing experiences as a visual merchandiser for a major department store, a regional merchandise coordinator for a luxury clothing brand and a showroom account executive, all of which broadened my experiences and helped me learn more about the retail industry. Still, the thought of working for NL lingered in my mind, so within my first week of living back in Jacksonville, I reached out to the person I found listed as the HR manager and introduced myself. I basically stalked my way into an exploratory interview where I met with our HR manager and told her about my experiences and why I had lived in 5 cities in 4 years, and what my hopes for my career were. She was so gracious and encouraging, and while NL wasn’t hiring, they’d keep my resume and told me to keep checking in with them.
Eight months later, on a Wednesday, I was having a terrible day – I was tired from my retail job, and had rushed home to clean up a few messes our puppy had made, before hosting the group of ladies I had a Bible study with. It was October so I wanted to make a pumpkin-inspired dessert for my gals, except I had bought pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, and then I dropped said can of pumpkin puree all over my cream silk blouse. I was so angry! I knew I needed to take a few minutes to get my mind right and focus on the bigger picture. Cue: my Facebook news feed – mindless scrolling can soothe the soul (you know it’s true), but it can also lead to posts by Natural Life about an opening for a Product Development intern. It was like the angels were singing and my phone was shooting beams of sunshine out of it. I was SO excited & hopeful that this could be my “in”. I quickly emailed Kristine, our HR manager...
I just noticed the posting for an internship in Product Development. I would absolutely be interested as I see it as an exciting way to learn about a process I am extremely interested in, with a company I so much adore. I have been working at (SOMEWHERE ELSE) but am looking for something with more hours. Do you think Natural Life would be interested in a 27 year old (fun, hard-working, eager to learn, positive) gal like me? I can arrange my schedule at (SOMEWHERE ELSE) to accommodate! Let me know your thoughts, I'm very seriously interested. Best, Adrienne”
Happy desk on my first day - as a 27 year old intern!
Kristine was upfront and told me this was a temporary, entry-level, hourly position – I didn’t care! – I was willing to do whatever it took to get my foot in the door. I was so excited to get the chance to interview a THIRD time at NL, I met with my current boss, Sara, and our social media gal at the time, Ansley, who has since become a dear friend, and loved every minute of it. I started on September 25, 2013 and haven’t looked back or questioned myself since.
At our goal lunch last month, Patti called on a few employees who have been with the company for 5, 10, even 15 years, and asked them to share some of their experiences – she knows I love to share stories and am passionate about NL so called on me!! I was a little anxious about talking in front of our entire company, but I knew that my story was unique and may be encouraging to others who have had career journeys that have been discouraging at times that turned encouraging, or may have someone in their life that needs to hear a story about finding their place. It was an emotional moment for me but I am proud of my perseverance to earn a position at NL and think it is important in life to share with others your journey so they know how you've became who you are today. Everyone has a story to share and experiences to learn from!
Taking an idea from a sketch to a best seller is my favorite part of my position... like this Berkeley Dress!
In my 3 years at Natural Life, I’ve had amazing opportunities to travel to India, New York, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami and have met business partners from all over the world. I work on an awesome team that pushes one another to do our best, think outside the box and be passionate about what we do. I’ve learned oodles more about the retail industry and have seen products come to fruition – from a sketch or a concept to a best seller!
Travels to India – dream come true – to me, smelly & dusty markets are really the best!
Adrienne’s advice on work life:
- Never be discouraging to others – there is value in every idea.
- Never burn bridges – you never know who will come back into your life.
- Get your foot in the door – take an internship, volunteer at a festival – if you are passionate about a company do your research and find a way to get involved
- Wherever you are – be all there! Be present in every situation, don’t linger on the past or be jumping to what is next. Be intentional in every experience, don’t miss a chance to learn something that could help you later.
Carolyn, Brand Communication Specialist
"You Are Right Where You're Supposed To Be"
I found my life mantra on a phone case while on vacation in St. Augustine, FL! I didn't even know Natural Life or that they were HQ'd in Jacksonville... but I already loved them!
I’m originally from Western New York but I have a few family members in Jacksonville so my family would come down and visit from time to time. I fell in love with the city (mostly the weather) and when the opportunity presented itself to transfer down to UNF, I leaped at it! I moved down and aside from a few relatives, I didn’t know anyone. I had to start from the ground up. Before long, I had a few internships and networked with some incredible (and not so incredible) people. One of my favorite experiences was my internship with Children’s Home Society of Florida. I tagged along on a meeting I didn’t really know much about, but nonetheless I was extremely eager to soak it all in! We arrived at the Natural Life office for a meeting about the Natural Life Music Festival, which all proceeds are donated to CHS.
I was completely blown away. I thought to myself, “Wow, companies like this exist?!” There were scarves hanging from the lights, doodles on the tables and the gals were wearing flip flops... FLIP FLOPS! Bailey, the Marketing Manager at the time (our National Sales Manager now), gave me her business card and I treated it like the last golden ticket to the Willy Wonka Factory. I then made it my goal to someday work with these incredible ladies at Natural Life! Of course, I wasn’t sure if our paths would ever cross again.
Totally fan-girling on Twitter
Fast forward 18 months later, it’s August and I had already graduated in May... I was SO ready for my first “big girl job” and didn’t even know where to start. I randomly reached out to Bailey like, “Hey, remember me? We met last year for like 30 minutes… in a meeting I didn’t even say a word in” P.S.- I didn’t really say that but you get how big of a long shot this was. Anyways, Bailey being the amazing person she is, forwarded my resume onto our HR manager and before I knew it, I was going in for an interview… I didn’t even know what the position was.
One of the most thrilling days of my life!
The HR manager offered me a three month internship. I didn’t even care that I had already graduated. I took it without hesitation… I mean, at least it was paid! Within two months of interning, I got hired full time on our Customer Experience Team where I soaked up as much knowledge as humanly possible- about our company, our customers, our brand voice, our processes... everything!! Six months later, I got promoted to Social Media Coordinator where I used a lot of that experience I learned in CE. Eight months later, I got promoted again to Brand Communication Specialist! I am so thankful to be able to grow in such an encouraging, happy, energetic and positive environment. I feel that I am one of few people in the world who can honestly say that I LOVE my job... and the people I work with even more!
My best advice:
- If you never ask for what you want, you'll never get it
- Always value connections and continue to network
- Don't be afraid of taking the lowest position at your favorite company… there’s always room to grow!