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President Atsuko and the Magic of Mentors

Feb 16, 2017

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Mentors. I believe in 'em. They've played a crucial role in my growth. And currently online, I see there is more discussion than ever on how to find them, especially for young millennial women. Two sites spotted recently, include Million Women Mentors and The Mentor Method.

I'm sure these sites do good, but it reminded me of the time I was paired with an SBA "mentor," a 65-year-old man whose experience in apparel was private label polo shirts - a business I came to understand on a surprisingly deep level following hours of benign yet unhelpful mansplaining.

The great mentors I've had, and I can easily name five, haven't been the byproduct of mentor matchmaking, but rather finding them in my path, as I traveled through the world. 

There was Ted, my first boss at a hot shop design firm that cranked out beautiful work, from packaging to websites. Ted taught me not only the art of shooting for the stars, but also how to dust off and keep going when we fell short.

There was Anne, who taught me everything I know about the emotional language of brands. Anne and I were symbiotic in that she was a master presenter and strategist, and I loved the creative analytics, deck building, and idea making.

There's Missy, founder of retailer Title Nine, who told me that cash flow and inventory were the only two things I truly needed to understand and control in the apparel business. She also mastered the art of shaking her head at some of my choices, yet cheering me on all the same.

There was Bob, who brought financial, start-up, and market knowledge that my creativity-wired brain often didn't seek out. Bob taught me the value of a philosophically aligned investors, and how to avoid having "the same pillow, but different dreams." 

And then there was Atsuko, a former CFO and CEO (REI and Evo) who knew what it took to build a business from the inside out. Atsuko is the friend, colleague, and wing woman at The Nest who I know I can talk to about every aspect of Oiselle. She joined me at just the right time, as O was spreading her wings and I desperately needed help. Most importantly, Atsuko can - at various times - be my sounding board, confidante, advisor, leader, donut sharer, and joke maker. And while during any given week we may be running in different directions, joining back up is easy, frequent, and necessary.

So please join me in celebrating Our President's Day Sale and Atsuko! She is, our fearless leader, chief bird wrangler, and for me - a very important mentor. We salute you Atsuko!

xoxo

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