Finding My Voice

Sep 16 2014

by Alesya Opelt

Dear Reader: This is Part Two in a three part series on about why and how Alesya Bags is changing. Part One was published last week and Part Three is coming next week.

In the Spring I attended The Southern C Summit. Even though I’d gone to the Summit when it was in Georgia last year and this year it was right here in Charleston, I dragged my feet buying a ticket. So long in fact, the tickets were sold out and I almost didn’t get to go.

My only explanation for the procrastination is that I was in a place of change. And not quite sure where that change was taking me. It felt like I had too much to do at the office to take time out. But thank goodness I did.

People are always saying things like “be authentic”, “you might as well be yourself, everyone else is taken”, and “find your voice”. Often easier said than done. What if you’re confused about who you are? Or who you want to represent? Frustrating.

While at the Summit there were four speakers who left me feeling energized. It was like they collectively said to me, “Opelt! What are you doing? YOU know who YOU are. And you know what Alesya Bags is supposed to be. Get going!”

Here’s how each one of those experiences unfolded…

Katie Armour - photo via Instagram
Katie Armour – photo via Instagram

Katie Armour is the co-founder of Matchbook Magazine and creator of The Neo-Trad. I love her personal blog and following her on Instagram. While I waited for the event to officially kick off I wondered if Katie would be there before she was scheduled to speak. Because I follow her on Instagram I knew she’d recently dyed her short hair bright blonde. Scanning the crowd I picked her out in a second.

Seeing one of your favorite bloggers in person is such a thrill. It’s like seeing Santa and you’re the M&M. “She does exist!” And Katie did not disappoint. There she was with her fabulous hair and wearing a black suit. In a sea of southern ladies, her New York cool girl style stuck out in the best possible way. It left me thinking – hmmmm, here she is in the South….but her look is exactly the same. And she looked fierce.

<Insert wheels turning.>

Libbie Summers
Libbie Summers – photo via Tim Clinch Photography

That evening I was introduced to Libbie Summers – a lifestyle expert and author of two books including Sweet & Vicious – Baking with Attitude. As soon as we met she whipped out her phone and looked up my company. Asked how to spell my name and everything. I was floored she took the time. “Well I want to know who I’m talking to!” she replied.

Sweet & Vicious

Libbie is exactly who she looks likes – full of personality and fire. Her latest book contains lines like “I’m an expert on boys. Boys are my thing. Most of my friends are boys. I’ve dated boys from six continents (it would be seven but no one dates anyone from Antarctica.)” In a cookbook! I became an instant fan.

<More wheels turning. A woman who was clearly an original. But she could be nice too? Hmmmm…>

Jamie Meares at the Southern C Summit - Photo via Dotted Line Collaborations
Jamie Meares at the Southern C Summit – Photo via Dotted Line Collaborations

Jamie Meares is the founder of Furbish Studio in Raleigh, North Carolina. Furbish features both home and personal items chosen by Jamie with her own desire for daring colors and pattern in mind. During her visit to Charleston Jamie had magenta hair and no one could doubt her commitment or passion.

During her presentation Jamie talked about growing her business from her blog. She never said it was easy, just that she worked very hard and remembered to keep within her own style. When asked for advice on running a shop she said to pick items you adore and then “Pimp it like the rent’s due tomorrow.” Ha! It was my favorite line of the whole Summit.

<Ohhhh….so you can be yourself and not be afraid to tell folks about it? Ahhhhh…>

Photo via Look Linger Love
Chassity Evans – Photo via Look Linger Love

My friend Chassity Evans is the founder of Look Linger Love. Chassity and I met at Charleston Fashion Week a few years ago. When we sat down I noticed her amazing shoes and asked her, “So I can’t help but notice your shoes. Are you a shoe person? Bag person? Jewelry person?” Chassity smiled, “I like everything. I’m an everything person.” You can see why I liked her immediately.

One of the things I like most about Chassity is that she has remained true to herself. She lives in Charleston too, but her outfits on her blog just (and in real life) look like her as she would in any city. Her style is HER style. During the summit she was talking about running a successful business, “You have to ask for what you want. I ask for collaborations. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone can say no?”

<Wheels in overdrive. Oh, so you don’t have to wait for people to come to you? And if you do your end product might not end up looking like you anyway? Got it.>

Leaving the Summit I felt like breaking into a sprint, tearing off my Lily Pultizer dress and getting back to work. Change was in the air. I was thrilled. ~A

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