Why I Quit My Job

White Pleated Skirt

Hello everyone! So 3 weeks after breaking the ‘I just quit my job & got a new visa‘ news, I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and share a little more light on how & why this big decision came about and also details on what’s to come. I must admit, I’ve been waiting a LONG time to write this post and it feels damn good to be finally doing it. It’s a long one, but it really does explain everything you could have ever wondered about me, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.

Black Leather Pencil Skirt

Firstly, I just want to emphasis that I actually think ‘quit’ is the completely wrong word – this wasn’t any spur of the moment decision, it was a step I was working towards for a very long time. A thought-out, calculated decision to move onto the next chapter and start doing everything physically possible to make those dreams of mine a reality. If some of you happen to be new to Retro Flame, you’re probably thinking why the hell is this one quitting her job at 24, along with a million other questions I’m sure, so I want to take a step back for a minute and explain exactly what got me to this stage. And just a very quick disclaimer to say that I know I still have a long way to go and I’m no way saying that I’ve even come close to ‘making it’ but the main purpose of this post it to just share my journey and show the progression that can be made over a few years. I’ve really enjoyed writing this post and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it just as much.

H&M x Balmain - #HMBalmaination

SO LET’S REWIND:
I’ve talked before, in bits & pieces, about my education & career path, but I think it will be good to have it all finally in one place here in this post. My path has been an interesting one so far and in no way a straight-forward one, but looking back, every tiny step along the way happened for a reason and it all pieced together in the end.

EDUCATION
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to do well in everything I did. Doing things half right has always been and always will be my pet-peeve. So I’ll admit that I took school & college pretty seriously. I still played a lot of sports and did quite a bit of going out (and don’t regret it for a minute), but when it came to exam-time, you genuinely wouldn’t see me for that full month. Sleepless nights, endless coffee – whatever it took to be prepared, I did it. Even when my appendix burst in final year college and I was bed-bound for 6 weeks – I made sure I didn’t miss a continuous assessment Q&A that I knew I needed to do to get the overall grade I wanted. I’m definitely not one of those ‘naturally’ smart people- I’ve always had to work really hard when studying for exams, but as much of a struggle it was at the time, it always always paid off.

When I was in my final year of school, I knew that I really wanted to do something in fashion, but the problem was was that I didn’t know exactly what. Seeing as I didn’t do art (I genuinely can’t draw to save my life) my career guidance teacher at the time convinced me that there really wasn’t any options for me. Bear in mind now that this was a time well before Blogs & Instagram, so I guess I just believed that she knew what she was talking about. (Isn’t it funny how other people can have such an influence on big decisions?) So instead, I looked into business/law courses. I always had an interest in business. I was so fascinated by the thought of someday owning my own business and being my own boss, so I decided to pursue a Business/Commerce course. Business & Languages had always been my best subjects throughout school, so in the end I applied for the ‘Commerce & Spanish’ course in UCC and I got it. Off I went to Cork for the year and looking back now, this was a year where I finally started to become a little braver. I remember choosing Cork for 2 reasons – a) It was close to where I was from and b) I knew people going there. I don’t think other colleges around Ireland were even an option for me at the time which is so crazy to think now! I was definitely a little on the shy side and was scared to venture too far outside my comfort zone, so this was the best option for me at the time. But long story short – I only lasted there a year. I loved my year in UCC – I made some great friends (one being Ciara – who I now live with here in New York), being part of the UCC Fashion Society allowed me to still keep my interest in fashion going strong and I guess, it was a year where I really started to grow up. I liked it there but I didn’t ever feel 100% happy as fashion was always still on my find.

So let me share something now that I don’t think I’ve ever told you before. About halfway through the year, I met a girl called Megan (who Ciara actually introduced me to) and she told me all about a fashion buying course she was about to apply for at The London College of Fashion and that I should totally apply too. My mind was immediately racing and before I knew it, I had applied and set up an interview for a few weeks time. I genuinely had never been so excited about finding out about something in my life. So off I went with Megan (who I literally had met once, haha!) to London at the end of January  and did a group interview with about 6-7 other people. I left the interview not really knowing what to think (looking back now, I remember how unconfident & shy I was) but hopeful that I would hear good news soon. So a few weeks passed and then one day I received a text from Megan saying that she had just been accepted. I was so unbelievably happy for her and I knew an email had to be on the way to me soon as well. I waited and waited and and I finally got the email – I hadn’t been accepted. I was outright heartbroken. That’s the only way I can explain it. Heartbroken that I hadn’t got it but also so disappointed at the fact that I would now have to stay in Cork and stick with Commerce. That was when I knew that I definitely wasn’t 100% happy in the course I was in.

Moving to New York - USIT 1-year Graduate Visa

All throughout Commerce, I had a friend called Audrey and after telling her my disappointing news, she told me something, which at the time I didn’t even realize, but this something was about to change everything. She told me that she also wasn’t very happy in Commerce and was looking into a fashion business course in a small college in Galway which I had never heard of called, GTI. Granted it wasn’t any London College of Fashion, but as soon as she started speaking I was all ears. I started looking into it and she was right – there was a level 5/6 course in this college which covered Fashion PR, Buying, Merchandising, Project Management & Styling. It sounded like THE DREAM! I still wasn’t sure what exact part of the fashion industry I wanted to pursue, so this was the perfect course to allow me to see what I was good at. I applied the next day and before I knew it, I had an interview set up. All I can remember is that I went into that interview promising myself I wouldn’t mess this one up. The earlier rejection had really made me more determined than ever and thought me one of the best lessons I had learned so far. What’s for you will never pass you. So this interview went great and a few days later they let me know that I was in!! Imagine how excited I was! So it was actually a 2-year course, but they allowed me to go straight into the level 6 part seeing as I had already completed a year of business in UCC – so this was perfect. I contacted UCC and let them know that I wanted to defer my course (I didn’t want to just quit but instead keep all my options open) and I immediately started looking into moving to Galway.

Galway had (very sillily) never even been one of my options so I literally didn’t know one thing about the city. But it really wasn’t long before I felt head over heels in love with the place. My year in GTI was where everything changed. You should have seen how excited I was going to college every morning. I very rarely missed a day and I can honestly say that when I wasn’t in the college, I was working on my projects. It was a course where there were no exams. Yes, NO exams! Instead, each module was graded on a continuous assessment basis. I was only every used to exams so this was all very new to me, but I can honestly say that I learned more from this method of teaching than anything I had ever done before. I was so interested & eager to put my heart & soul into every project I did. I really was pretty crap at the design & merchandising side of things but my God, I tried. I ended up getting distinctions in each of the 7 modules (yes, even design -haha!) and learned the single most valuable thing to date. I learned what a blog was. I’ll never forget it. We were in a Fashion PR class and my tutor asked us all to list our 5 favourite bloggers. It was still pretty early stages in the course and I was too embarrassed to say anything but I didn’t know one single blogger and had never in my life even heard of a ‘blog’. Haha! So I took out my phone and started googling FAST and it was here that I started to learn about blogging. I was intrigued and before I knew it I was hooked! (More on starting Retro Flame down below, but just wanted to share this story first.)

So as it was coming close to the end of my year at GTI, I, of course, had to start thinking ‘what next?’ The course allowed me to figure out the areas that I wanted to focus on (which were Fashion Marketing & PR) and the areas that I definitely didn’t want to be involved in. Turns out, I really didn’t love the Fashion Buying side of things so thank goodness I didn’t get accepted into that 4 year (very expensive) fashion buying course in the London College of Fashion! As I said, EVERYTHING happens for a reason. So knowing that I really loved the marketing side of things, I made the decision to finish the Commerce course I had already done 1 year of. Now I know what you’re thinking – I thought you hated that course!? I did. But I think what I hated most was that I felt that it was preventing me from studying what truly loved -which was fashion. But now that I had done the fashion course and knew the area I wanted to focus on, I knew that having a marketing degree behind me would always stand to me – which it did. So I transferred into 2nd Commerce in NUIG (3rd college in 3 years) and did my last two years of Commerce there. I dropped the Spanish module which meant I would only have to do 2 years instead of 3. I was eager to get into the working world as fast as I could! Oh and you also might be asking why I transferred into NUIG in Galway instead of going back to Cork. Simple answer: There are very few places in the world that make me happier than Galway. I LOVED this city and didn’t want to leave anytime soon. So I stayed, finished commerce and left both the city and college with great friends, memories for life and some seriously big dreams.

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INTERNSHIPS
Before I move onto what happened next, I want to chat very quickly about the thing that brought me most value during my college years: Interning. Yes, not all the days spent in lectures or the late nights staying up doing projects – but all those days/weeks I spent interning learning everything from the bottom up. My first internship experience happened while I was in GTI. As part of one of our modules, we were required to do an internship. There were no rules or restrictions or a list of certain places where we had to it – we were given free reign to use it as an experience to really learn. So I racked my brains and in the end, I contacted two companies/people. The first was a PR/Model agency in Kerry called Upfront PR. They allowed me to come along and help with the backstage management of their fashion shows & events. I was in my absolute element. The internship was supposed to be unpaid as I was gaining experience instead, but I’ll never ever forget that they ended up paying me for one of the shows I worked it and then offered me more paid work in the future. I couldn’t believe it! I actually went on to work at so many shows with them and I still to this day am so grateful for all I learned. The second was with a lovely Galway-based stylist called, Georgina Vahey, who I helped style a shoot for an Irish magazine. I still have the magazine at home and will never throw it away. It even credits my name. I will always be thankful to both of these for giving me a chance. Often here in New York, when you’re started out you’re first internship could be at VOGUE or ELLE or some huge company and although mine weren’t as big as these, to me it did feel as important. It doesn’t matter where you intern, it’s what you take from it that matters.

Interning really was my favourite – it’s where I could really see my love & passion for the industry shine through. So even though I had gone back to Commerce, I was still determined to keep doing as many internships as possible and keep building up that portfolio of mine. I knew it was the only way. Plus by now, I had already started Retro Flame, so it was great content for that too. So one day while I was sitting at home with the TV on, there was a show on highlighting an Irish designer called, Natalie B Coleman, who looked amazing! Now I rarely watch TV, so I saw this as a bit of a sign. When I was back in the college library on Monday, I plucked up the courage to send her an email to see if by any chance she might be looking for an intern. I told her I was really interested in marketing, social media and PR and would love to help out. 2 days later she emailed back asking could I come to her house in Monaghan for a week. I literally think I nearly screamed out loud in the library. What were the chances!?

So I took a week off college (priorites, haha!) & off I went in my car to Monaghan (where I had never in my life driven to before) and stayed with her in her house for a full week to help her with PR before her presentations at London & Paris Fashion Weeks. What a week it was! We worked long days and it was something totally new to me but I loved every minute. I’ve stayed in touch with Natalie ever since and still absolutley adore her work. And looking back, it’s actually funny how that week lead me onto the next chapter. Here’s another good story for you. Believe it or believe it not, that random email to Natalie sent from the NUIG library which lead to an internship in Monaghan is exactly what helped me get my foot in the door of the NYC Fashion Industry. While I was working with Natalie, I noticed that her brand was represented by a Fashion PR agency based in Soho, New York. Now at this stage, I had already had it in my head that I wanted to spend my Summer interning in New York. I’d only been once before but I knew that I’d love it and it was where I needed to be. So I explained the situation and asked Natalie if she would introduce me to the owner of the PR company, Shannon. She did and after a skype interview from the NUIG library a few weeks later- I got the job!! I was starting my 4 day a week Summer internship in Soho, New York on June 1st. Very funny how things happen, right?

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NYC SUMMER INTERNSHIPS
A lot of you often ask me about the internships I did in New York before moving here full-time – how I got them, etc. – so this next section will explain it all. You know from above exactly how my first NYC internship came about and believe it or not, the rest were of a similar ‘chancing my arm’ type nature. I absolutely loved my Summer at the PR agency and looking back, it’s really where I truly started to learn about the fashion industry in NYC. I was completely clueless going into and left absolutely fascinated with all things New York. I helped on the PR side and worked with two amazing women – Shannon, the owner and Sara, the PR Manager. This internship was unpaid, so on my first day, I asked Shannon if she knew of any Irish bars in the area which might be looking for a waitress and luckily, she did. On my very first day, she brought me for a welcome lunch (I knew from the get-go she was lovely) to an Irish bar called, The Ear, which was just about 6 or 7 doors down from our office. She called the owner over to our table (she knew him from going there a lot) while we were having our lunch, introduced me and he told me to come in for a trial Friday night. So I went in on Friday and worked there every single Friday & Saturday night that Summer after that. I made enough in those two nights to pay my rent and keep me going for the week. Intern-life is far from glamorous but there is always always a way to make it work.

At the end of this fantastic Summer, as fashion week was approaching, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wanted to go to New York Fashion Week. I had no idea how I was going to make this work though (I had about 5 followers on Retro Flame at this stage) so I started to do some research and see what designers were showing. One of the designers was, Whitney Port, from the TV show, ‘The City’, which I absolutely loved at the time – so I thought to myself how on earth could I go. I was on my computer, so I pulled up her website, found the general info@ email at the bottom and sent an email. I do love my emails, don’t I? haha! I told them my name, shared a link to Retro Flame and asked straight out if by any chance they might be looking for an intern to work at their fashion week show. And you’ve probably guessed by now what happened next. Yup, they emailed back saying that yes, they actually were!! You should have seen my face – I can still remember texting Tommy to tell him. I was literally fit to burst with excitement. So I changed my flights, moved in with my boss from the PR Internship in Brooklyn for 2 weeks (my Summer apartment lease was up) and worked with Whitney Port and her team for 12 days during fashion week. If you want a little more indepth insight into that whole experience, I actually have a full blog post HERE. So there you have it – another internship got from literally just sending an email. As you can imagine, it was a damn good first Summer in NYC.

Back to college I went on cloud 9 and immediately started planning my next Summer. No joke. I had fallen head over heels in love with New York City and the crazy opportunities it had to offer. So rewinding a tiny bit, what I hadn’t mentioned was that on my way to my first day at the PR internship, I was actually randomly stopped on the street by a street-style photographer who asked to take my picture for a feature on a website called, www.refinery29.com. It was my first time hearing of this website, but of course I said yes. I was delighted! From that day on, I read Refinery29 every single day as they always had the best NYC recommendations and information about cool events happening around the city. Plus, I absolutely loved all their fashion features. So my picture ended up being featured on the site (and I was delighted with myself, haha) and about 6 weeks later, I got an email from another girl at the site. She said she worked on the team which scouted bloggers for different shoots and after seeing me in the street-style feature, she wanted to know if I would be interested in doing a paid shoot for the site. A paid shoot!? What!? Remember, I had about 5 followers!! Refinery29 is a site which focuses a lot on highlighting the up & coming people so I guess they just wanted to give me a shot. So the shoot went well, I used that same money to change the flight for the Whitney Port internship (and vintage shopping) and now have a guess who I got back in touch with when I was looking for my internship for Summer No.2? You guessed it, that same girl who emailed me about the shoot.

I went through another Skype interview process and spent my second Summer working at one of the most creative & innovative companies I probably will ever work at. They seriously knew what they were doing and I learned A LOT. So as you can see, my J1 Summers weren’t spent on the beach, instead I really really focused on using them to set me up for a longer and more permanent spell in NYC. I worked hard, while by the way living in very ‘interesting’ apartments with friends. During my second Summer, to keep rent low, I shared a 2-bedroom apartment with 7 other girls. I shared a double bed with 3 of the girls in which we slept sideways in (I told you it was interesting) for a whole Summer. Glam NYC life, hey? But I wouldn’t have changed one thing. We had the Summer of our lives and I just knew in my heart the whole time that all the hard work would pay off.

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STARTING RETRO FLAME & THE ‘HUSTLE’
So in the midst of all that craziness, I had started Retro Flame. You’ll know from my story above that it was during my time at the fashion course that put the idea of blogging into my head. I initially started by posting my outfits on a website called Lookbook and after a bit of encouragement from my friend Saibh, I finally bit the bullet and set up my website. I really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing but I was so so eager to learn. There were only a few bloggers in Ireland at the time, so we really were just all figuring it out for ourselves. I remember writing my first post in September and then totally chickened out and didn’t write the next one until October. But from then on, I really got into the swing of things. Major LOL’s when I look back at my old posts and the crazy outfits I used to have my Mom shoot in our back garden but I would never ever delete them. They’re just too funny. And of course, show that you can come a LONG way.

I talked in this post about how Retro Flame began as mainly a fashion blog but over the years has developed into an all-round lifestyle site where I share my story with you every day. It’s been a lot of work (and I mean a lot) over the past few years and honestly, people aren’t joking when they say it’s a 24/7 type of commitment. With the quick rise of social media sites like Instagram & Snapchat, there really is always something to be doing. For the the first year or two, I’m fully sure that it was just my Mom and a few friends reading. But after a while, I started to slowly but surely build a following. The more consistently I posted, the more I would see increased engagement. Brands started to get in touch about possibly working together on different projects and I poured my heart & soul into every post I did. It’s actually crazy to think how different my life would be without this site – I honestly don’t know what I would do with all my time, haha! I’m also pretty sure that if I had gotten the London course, Retro Flame mightn’t even exist today – so again, everything happens for a reason.

While Retro Flame was still a hobby during my college years, I tried my hand at a lot of other ‘side hustle’ jobs. I loved any way to make a little extra money (for extra clothes)- it’s just the way I’ve always been. I actually had nearly forgotten about some of these things before I started writing this post. So first up, I remember seeing these really cool studded iphone cases somewhere online and wanted to get one but they all seemed crazy expensive. So I thought to myself I could definitely make my own ones. I went online – bought plain black cases and gold studs and made my own one. I posted a picture on Instagram and people seemed to love them. So I enlisted my sister & cousin to help me make them (no down time in our house, haha) and started my own little online shop. Before long, I had also added statement jewelry to the store and ended up making enough money to fund my first Summer in NYC. I loved it!!

As soon as all my stock had run out, I moved onto selling my pre-loved clothes. Before my Depop days, I remember I used to go with my parents to car boot sales around Munster every Sunday morning and sell my clothes, as well as anything else I could find around my house. We would pack up our car and head off at about 7am to set up and each time, we would leave with about 200-300euro. It was great! One day then while I was in New York, I got a brainwave that I would love to set up events around Ireland where people could come and sell their clothes. It would be like the car boot sales but a lot more chic & fashion focused. So I mailed (my online friend at the time) Nessa, who I had never met before, to ask her if she would be interested in running these events with me. She said yes and ‘Steal my Style’ was born. Up until my move to New York, we did several events in Cork & Galway and loved absolutely every minute of them. Nessa & I are actually still best friends and still chat about Steal My Style to this day! I’ve always loved working and being busy, so this extra ‘hustle’ will always be a part of my journey!

Thank you, New York.

THE YEAR AFTER GRADUATING
Once I graduated from college, the next step needed to be decided. I could a) keep going and do some sort of masters/post-grad or b) I could start applying for Marketing jobs. I wanted to do neither. I knew that I had my eyes set on moving to New York on the graduate visa but I also knew that I needed to build up Retro Flame to a bigger following, as well as – SAVE! So I decided to take a full year out and try my hand at working on my own projects. I lived at home in Kerry (to keep costs down) for the year and more or less lived in a tiny room I had made into my office. I LOVED THAT ROOM. I would work around the clock on content for Retro Flame and this was the year that I finally started to see some growth. I remember I would drive up and down to Galway (3 hours each way -sometimes in the same day) just to shoot with a photographer called, Julia. Bless my Mom and her photo skills, but I just knew they weren’t going to cut it if I wanted to improve my site. So I found Julia, loved her style and started shooting once a week with her. Yes, it might sound crazy to drive so far to just shoot looks (that I was in no way being paid to do) but I swear to you, this paid off. I’m such a big believer in the fact that you have to invest in to see returns. I would also travel up and down to Dublin on the train to go to different events and after a while, I started to get my name out there.

So Retro Flame was definitely starting to grow, follower-wise, but I was still broke and needed to start saving for New York – so the side hustle continued. My dad had just launched an online Tyre company called www.virgotyres.com (he’ll love this little plug, haha) and hired me as the website & marketing manager. So you’re probably thinking tyres are a bit of a stretch from fashion but believe it or not, I loved it. I helped design and build the website from scratch, did all the SEO myself (I did a course to teach me) and ran the social platforms for the full year. My Dad has always been an entrepreneur himself, so I definitely learned a lot that year from him about starting businesses. It didn’t matter that it was tyres, what mattered was that I was learning skills I could transfer to any aspect of my own career. As well as doing this, I also used to help smaller businesses around Kerry/Galway with social media and this all added to my New York savings. As soon as I had enough saved up, I went and got my graduate visa and got ready for my move to New York.

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MY MOVE TO NEW YORK
I actually have done a separate post all about my move to New York HERE, but I’ll quickly go through my job-path and what lead to my new visa. You might remember that my first job when I moved here for the year was with the stunning, Olivia Palermo, during New York Fashion Week. I moved here on a Thursday, found my apartment on the Friday and started with Olivia the following Tuesday. It was a pretty jam-packed start! The job with Oliviavince was only for a month, so I knew that I would have to find another one for afterwards, so as to get my graduate visa signed off. The graduate visa allows to you work in America for 1 year in a company which allows you to use your skills from college. Moving to New York is a tricky experience on it’s own, but wow, visas certainly make it even more complicated. Olivia’s team ended up actually introducing me to the Digital agency that looked after some of her social media channels and they offered me a job. Truth be told, I think I actually jumped into this too quickly. The job was fine, I liked it but I didn’t love it -but I knew it would work for my visa. Unfortunately though, I was wrong. A few weeks in, when it came to asking them to sign my visa paperwork, there was some complication on their end and I had to leave. So there I was again -back to square one. I’ll never forget how gutted I was.

It was November (2 months into my visa) and I still hadn’t found a job. I spent HOURS every day job-hunting and sending out emails and eventually I found something again. I started working with Depop, handling all the blogger collaborations, and developed a HUGE soft-spot for their lovely team here in NYC. Unfortunately though, once again, there was a complication with the visa and I found out that I wouldn’t be able to stay there either for the full year. Eduardo, who I worked with and was one of the very best people I met since moving to New York, really tried everything in his power to help me find a new job (he knew how stressed I was) and ended up introducing me to a recruiter. See how everything just seems to tie together? I truly believe that you meet everyone for a purpose.

So I met with the recruiter who told me she had a job I would be perfect for, I interviewed a few days later and a few days after that, I found out that I had gotten the job as a Social Media Manager at a fashion brand called, Vince Camuto, and they would 100% be able to sign off on my visa, as well as apply for the next 3-year one for me. Can you just imagine how relieved I was!? After nearly 6 months of trying and failing with other jobs, I had finally found the one!! I started there on February 24th 2015 and worked there for 1 full year after. In the meantime, I had been approved for the H1B visa they applied for for me (1 in 4 chance of getting it) and as I said in this video, everything was going well. I could say so so many good things about my time at Camuto but I honestly would be here for the day so I’ll keep it short. Simply, it was an experience I will never forget. Yes, I had worked here & there with other companies in New York, but this was my first REAL job in NYC. I’m still so grateful that they took a chance on me – this was the start of it all. I remember in the interview when they asked me about my digital marketing experience, I went on for about 5 minutes about my work at Virgo Tyres. It just kind of blurted out, haha! It gave them a bit of a laugh and I think seeing that I had the ability to work with whatever I had, along with my dedication to Retro Flame was what got me the job in the end. I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned during my year there. I worked with women I will always have so so much respect for and I watched myself grow & gain more confidence in my own abilities every day.

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MAKING THE DECISION
So as I said, it was all going great. I had found the job of my dreams where I actually had real responsibility, I had just got approved for a new 3-year visa to work with them and Retro Flame was continuing to grow. In the Summer of last year, I actually signed with a blogger agency here in New York who now acent as my management agency and since then, things got A LOT busier. I would work at Vince Camuto from about 8am-7pm every day and then come home and stay up until about 1/2am working on Retro Flame. My weekends were spent shooting looks, catching up on emails and preparing my posts for the week ahead. It was busy, but I had a system and I was working around the clock to make it work. I always say that the busier you are – the more productive you are. So I just kept my head down and kept going. It was just right before I went home for Christmas though that I had hit a wall. I must admit that I was getting a little frustrated. Not because of the work-load, but because of the fact that I wasn’t able to give either job the full 100% I wanted to give it. I felt like I was giving both 50% and in my eyes, that is doing something half-right – which I see as the biggest waste of time, ever. I loved both but I knew that if I kept going the way I was going, I would never truly excel in either.

These following few lines are important. This is a point that I really want to make clear. As hard as it was, I absolutely LOVED balancing a full-time job as well as Retro Flame. I have so much respect for people who do both and I think it is very possible to sustain for a while. But I knew in my heart & soul that in order to excel with either of them, I would have to make a decision. I read a quote which will always stick with me – “Good is the enemy of great.” This basically says that yes, you can be good at a lot of different things at once, but in order to be GREAT – you have to go ALL IN. So right before I left for Christmas, I started sending out emails to anyone I could think of to ask them if they knew of ANY visas which would allow me to work full-time on Retro Flame here in New York. I really didn’t have a clue about my options. When I moved to New York, I only knew about the Grad Visa and the H1B so I knew this was a long shot. But I had just been named as one of the Top 40 Irish People in Digital Marketing in America and I had a feeling I might be able to use this to my advantage.

After speaking with a guy called Jonathan, I found a visa that might just work!! A 3-year visa which would allow me to work on Retro Flame full-time. I found a lawyer and by the end of January my application was in. I was excited but I also knew not to get my hopes up. I ended up paying extra for quicker processing because my work load had gotten even crazier and at the very end beginning of February – I got the news! I had just been approved for the visa!! It’s funny, I was actually at work when I got the visa and because I hadn’t even told them I was thinking of leaving, I couldn’t tell anyone! So I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy smiling away to myself for about 2 hours in the corner. Haha! I broke the news that week (which they were so supportive about by the way) and handed in my notice. Just 3 more weeks and I was free!! It was definitely a very bitter-sweet ending but I’ve always been the type of person to go with my gut. If something was in my head, I just had to go with it. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t the exact right time to do it, but I truly believe that ‘Great people do things before they’re ready.” Nothing will EVER be easy in New York and nothing will ever be handed to you on a gold plate. But if you want it bad enough, and that’s the big thing, anything is possible here.

_MG_8442

QUESTIONS
So a month into this new chapter, here are the answers to some questions you may be wondering about.

So are you now a full-time blogger?
Yes and no. Yes, I’m now working on Retro Flame full-time here in the U.S. but I also have a new business at home in Ireland which I’m currently in the middle of launching. It’s completely separate to Retro Flame, but I promise to share details soon. I love Retro Flame but I also have a huge interest in building other businesses & exploring new ventures. So hopefully this is just the start of it.

What are the next steps for Retro Flame?
As you may have seen, I just recently launched my brand new YOUTUBE CHANNEL where I am going to be posting daily videos of my life here in New York. It’s been quite the challenge so far, just like everything else at the beginning, but I am absolutely loving it and I’m so glad you have been enjoying this new chapter too. If you have a minute, I would LOVE for you to subscribe here. That way, you’ll never miss a video. I actually have posted 3 new vlogs this week, so be sure to check them out. As well as that, I’m also working on a lot more content for my blog (lots more travel stuff, especially) and it’s not set in stone yet, but there may be some Retro Flame products coming your way in the next year. Exciting! I’ll also be doing weekly email newsletters which I’m very excited about as it will be a chance to share more exclusive content with you, so if you would like to receive these – feel free to sign up HERE. Retro Flame still has a very long way to go but I can’t help but be excited for what’s to come!

How has the transition been so far?
A lot of you have been asking me about this. It really has been great! Granted, I’ve yet to find a system that 100% works (and a bedtime) but I’m really happy with the progress so far. As you’ve probably seen from my snapchats & vlogs, I’ve been working a lot from my (tiny) apartment. I’m 100% not complaining as I think it’s possible to work from absolutely anywhere as long as you love what you’re doing. But I must admit that I don’t know exactly how sustainable it is. I’m not sure how healthy it is to be working all day in the same room that I sleep in. I don’t have any room for a desk in a room that’s not my bedroom, unfortunately, so it’s kind of my only option at the moment. To break it up, I’ve been working a lot from cafes in the Upper East Side which is great and I’m going to look for a new apartment which can act as my office and living space over the next few months, so it will all fall into place very soon. My current lease is up at the end of August and as much as I’ll probably ball crying leaving my very first NYC apartment, I know it will be for the best. Apart from all that, the transition really has been great. I talked in my video about the importance of getting to a stage where you wake up every single morning excited for the day ahead and after a pretty interesting path, I’m finally at that stage and appreciate every single minute of it. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m actually finding it hard to stop myself from working. I’ve been up until 2am every night this week editing & writing but at the end of the day, I really think this is a good complaint. When I get back from Ireland/Coachella, I’m determined to try to have more of a work/life balance but I know that will all fall into place over time. At the end of the day, I chose to have a 24/7 so I don’t have to have a 9-5, so yes it will be a lot of hard work – but I know it will all be worth it.

REISS Bag

LESSONS LEARNED
If you’ve successfully made it to the end of this post, I just want to thank you! I know it was a long one, but I really wanted to be as detailed and honest as possible and hopefully cover a lot of the questions you guys ask me on a regular basis. I also just want to stress that I’m 100% not advocating for you all to go and quit your jobs in the morning or that everyone needs to be entrepreneurs. Everyone is different and has different goals. I’m simply just sharing my story in the hopes that that it will inspire any of you who ARE in a similar position. If I can do it, I promise you can too.

Looking back on the last few years and my experience & path so far, there are 6 main lessons I have learned:

1. It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.
Always remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck and the right thing is waiting right around the corner for you. I’ve had many disappointment along the way, but looking back, each and every one of them happened for a reason.

2. If it’s both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it.
If a new opportunity scares me, I just know it is going to be good. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is only way you are going to see progress and realise your true potential. If something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

3. Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Never ever wait for opportunity, instead, go and create it. The ‘chancing my arm emails’, the decision to change college courses, the move to New York – all decisions which sculpted my future. Start making those changes!

4. Surround yourself with people who get it.
One of the very biggest lessons I’ve learned, is to only be around people who want nothing but the best for you. You will be absolutely amazed what the difference that extra support will make. I’m so incredibly lucky to have grown up around parents who absolutely love everything about entrepreneurship. Any crazy idea I went to them with – they supported and I’ll always be grateful for that. It’s also to important to always remember that supporting anothers’ success won’t ever dampen yours and so focus on having a group of friends that live by this motto and be brave enough to get rid of any who don’t. Not always easy but you do not need any negativity in your life.

5. If you’re not doing what you love, you’re wasting your time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we all only have one life. ONE chance to make the best of the ONE life we have. Why not wake up every morning and absolutely LOVE what you’re doing? Continue to do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do and work every day to make that dream of yours a reality.

6. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
And the most important lesson of them all – absolutely nothing will work unless you do. Success if the sum of small efforts repeated day-in and day-out and yes the whole process is going to be hard but it is not impossible. Good things take time and A LOT of dedication, but if you truly want it, success and opportunity are coming your way.

_MG_9814

So there you have it guys! I truly hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful. I would love for you to send me a snapchat (retroflame1) ot tweet (@retroflame) to tell me what you think.

As always, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your continued support. Here’s the the next 5+ years of hustle!

Stylishly Yours,
Erika x


  1. Chantel

    31 March

    Great post i have followed your blog for years and think it is great to see how far you have come-really inspiring best of luck with everything xx

  2. Noelle Crosbie

    31 March

    You never cease to amaze me Erika and since meeting you in 2010 , I have seen your determination and progress to where you are today! Be proud as I’m sure you are and I look forward to your future vlogs and announcements ..
    Love
    Noelle x

  3. Helen

    31 March

    Thanks for sharing your story so far Erika, must have been fun to look back over how far you have come. Looking forward to attending the Brown Thomas event next week!

  4. Orla Sheridan

    31 March

    Brilliant post Erika! What a great story! You deserve every bit of success!

  5. Mary

    31 March

    You’re enthusiasm is bursting through the words you type I can really feel your passion, well done to you, you deserve every bit of success and are very inspirational! I wish I had your confidence! X

  6. Aisling

    31 March

    What an absolute pleasure to read Erika, I found this so inspiring, thank you! I’m just coming to the end of my final year of college, so I really appreciate your advice and outlook on the next step into the working world :) x

  7. Tasha

    31 March

    I have been following you for ages on Instagram and now the blog too and I’m feeling so inspired! Keep up all your hard work and enjoy every moment! ☺️

  8. Georgia

    31 March

    Hi Erika! Just wanted to say congratulations on your success. I’ve always thought about starting a blog but kept putting it off. Retro Flame has really inspired me and so in December I finally bit the bullet and gave it a go. I doubt I’ll ever reach the level you’re at but I’m glad I finally gave it a go. Thanks so much for being so honest and inspiring! Best of luck with the blogs future, can’t wait to see where it goes :)

  9. Fathima

    31 March

    Great post.i’m feeling so inspired,you really deserve this.all the best Erika

  10. Helen

    31 March

    Excellent post – very inspiring :) Just goes to show hard work pays off in the end – nothing worth having comes easy!! Best of luck in your new chapter, can’t wait to hear all about your new business in Ireland!

  11. Garret

    31 March

    Nora Field eh? Keep up the good work!

  12. Cathy

    31 March

    WOW! Such a good read, can I ask what course you took that thought you the SEO for your dads business? :)

  13. Congratulations on your new chapter! You have been an inspiration for me to keep moving with my dream. I’m a fashion designer, I’m an international student, I live in New York, and right now I’m starting to build my own blog. I totally understand the stress and things you have gone through and I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. Thank you for sharing your experience because it is a huge inspiration to keep going and never give up on my goals and dreams. I know that greater things are out there waiting for you…the sky is the limit! God bless you.

  14. Edel

    31 March

    Loved the whole post! As always so inspiring. I remember loving those black and gold iPhone cases you made,haha! Keep doing what you’re doing, so amazing!

  15. Rebecca

    31 March

    All I can say is WOW! How inspiring you are! I’ve followed you on Instagram for many months and love it, but to be honest I was never really into the whole reading the blogs from bloggers I just liked keeping up to date with the Instagram pages. However, when I saw your post about quiting your job I was intrigued so I clicked the link..and I’m so glad I did.! I loved the honesty of the blog and the story you told of your life. So I’m sitting here with a cup of tea at the other side of the world in South America from home in Ireland knowing I’m here for a reason, and knowing that the decision to come here scared me and excited me at the same time but it’s challenging me in the best possible way and leading me closer to my dreams…so for that, thank you!

  16. Tara

    31 March

    I probably work in a field that is in no way similar to yours but I can still relate and I think that is wonderful and so inspiring!

  17. Gretta

    1 April

    For a young woman you having amazing insight to your life journey and looking forward to reading up on the next part of your journey well done Ericka you go far

  18. Gretta

    1 April

    For a young woman you having amazing insight to your life journey and looking forward to reading up on the next part of your journey well done Ericka you go far

  19. Emily

    1 April

    By far the best post I have read, such an inspiration and motivation to us who are nervous about making changes to have the life they want! Love your work ❤️ From a fellow Kerry girl

  20. Edel

    1 April

    Adoring following your rise – Congrats! And no better woman! xo

    http://www.thepharmersjournal.com

  21. Fiona

    1 April

    So inspiring and well done to you Erika 👍 really enjoyed your post. And the vlogs are great its made me soooo want to go back to San Fran this week!

  22. Aoife Ryan

    1 April

    I loved this post, so interesting to read about how you got to where you are today. Well done on everything and the best of luck with Retro Flame and all the exciting things you have planned. Can’t wait to read all about them.

  23. Tricia O'Connor

    1 April

    Great, inspiring post Erika, and hope to see you in Brown Thomas next week!

  24. Prudence

    1 April

    Wow, it’s obvious how hard and dedicated you are when it comes to pursuing your dreams! You are an inspiration and wishing you the best in all your future endeavors!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

  25. Such an inspirational post Erika, I feel really inspired. Thank you for sharing! x

  26. Julia

    1 April

    Absolutely amazing blog post Erika. Even though I am familiar with a lot of your story, I still found reading this so interesting as if it was all new to me! Doing those shoots in Galway with you was always the highlight of my week, braving the weather and all haha but always coming home inspired :) I love your honesty in this, it’s great that you are showing people that it’s not just all fun and glamour, but a lot of hard work, collaboration and determination!

  27. Hayley Clark

    1 April

    Erika I absolutely love seeing you progress and achieving your dreams! Truly inspirational! Thank you for sharing your passion and life with us! I am intrigued with fashion PR and business and after college I am hoping to do a course that involves fashion PR and business! Reading what you’ve done really excites/inspires me to follow my dreams!
    Hayley
    X

  28. Holly Duff

    1 April

    Soooooo enjoyed reading this blog post, so exciting to read everything you’ve done and plan to do! Congrats and good luck with everything else you do.
    Holly
    xxx

  29. Lorraine

    1 April

    Really feel we got to know you a bit better in that blog post Erika and from a fellow Irish woman – fair flipping play to ya! Unreal determination and hard work, an inspiration. Enjoy your snaps from the big Apple. All the very best to you you – I’ve no doubt that you are not disappearing any time soon ;) x

  30. This post was fab and it was exactly what I needed to read right now! I had a quick look at your Whitney Port internship post and look at you with your little baby face! Fair play to you missus, you’re focused, hardworking, have your eyes on the prize at all time and it’s truly admirable. Loving your vlogs and how we can all come on this journey with you, keep up the amazing work lady!

  31. So proud of you!! This post is amazing and so is your journey. We all have a story and this is just the beginning:) Good things happen to good people. I’m so happy to call you one of my besties….xoxo

    Lisa

  32. oroarkeo

    1 April

    Loved everything about this blog. I too moved away from home (Ireland) to pursue my career goals and after a LOT of trial and errors the past few years, I “think” I’m there!! I hope all your dreams and passions go the way you want them to and I look forward to reading about them on Retro Flame xx

  33. Inspiring post! Taking a chance myself and going to New York for the summer been working in retail for years on beauty counters my passion is the beauty industry and as much as I love my job I feel there is more out there for me hopefully my trip will open doors for me too!! As you say everything happens!! I make my decisions on whether I will regret passing up an opportunity.

    Sending positive vibes from one red head to another lol

  34. Siobhan

    2 April

    I wish you every success with your new adventure Erica, fair play!

    Siobhan xx
    PS loving the YouTube!

  35. Sara

    2 April

    I simply loved this entry, though long, it was really interesting. How inspiring! Look forward to following your blog for more on New York and those fabulous pictures.

  36. Blown away by this post, feeling really inspired and motivated after reading. Thank you ever so much for being so honest and sharing so much with us. I myself am a blogger ( limerick based ) so it’s amazing to see someone share their success and the road it took to get there. I recently started following you on snapchat and immediately started to follow you on all your social media. Best of luck in the future
    Sinead xx ( Sineads Curvy Style – or @sineadsstyle snapchat ) xx

  37. Linda

    3 April

    What a super read! I only recently started following bloggers, I find them very helpful with different tips on fashion, make/up etc, but super how ye share your tools with us! I’m only learning as I’m a mature person! But huge congrats with the rest of your buisness…

  38. Linda

    3 April

    I wish you every success in the near future! Love the YouTube 💜💜

  39. tiffany

    3 April

    This was a great post thanks for sharing ! Very well written xo!

  40. Jenny

    4 April

    Hi Erika,

    As a fellow Irish girl in NYC, I really enjoy following your journey. Great blog post – “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change” so true! Keep it up!

    Jenny
    @JennyIsWriting

  41. Ríona Murray

    10 April

    Such an inspiring read. Well done to you!

  42. Marie

    11 April

    Adore this post… what young women should learn pre-leaving cert, and of course there are serious lessons there for all of us no matter what life/career stage. Reminds me of my fave quote ‘the grass is always greener where you water it.” people can have a very dismissive attitude towards those who are ‘successful’, but everyone should make the best of what they have, work hard, create opportunities and strive to make their dreams work. Love your blog, and the positive influence you have on your followers! x

  43. Jennifer

    22 April

    Incredibly inspiring. I started a blog awhile back and was so passionate about it in the beginning but it’s tough to keeo it up and alot of work. You have really inspired me to keep going with it and to see where it will take me.Best of luck with it all and cannot wait to hear about the new venture in Ireland xx

  44. Samantha

    26 April

    Best post yet! I’ve read it twice already and I’ve a feeling it’s going to be one I return to time and time again. Feeling inspired after seeing how you faced adversity but persisted with determination to come out with consistent greatness.
    X X X love your work X X X
    Sam

  45. Alex

    27 April

    One of the most helpful posts I have ever read! I have recently started a fashion/lifestyle blog plus a Youtube channel. I am Irish and moving to NYC in August on the graduate visa! I’m so happy all of your hard work paid off!
    x

  46. Sarah

    2 May

    So inspiring Erika. I have been following your blog the last few months and I am hooked!
    I am moving from Ireland to New York in a few weeks with my husband but am in a job that I do not have a true passion and grá for, but after reading this post it really puts things into perspective for me that you should do what you love. Best of luck in everything you do as you sure have earned it!

  47. Lauren O' Shea

    10 May

    This is the most inspiring and honest posts i’ve ever read! You deserve every bit of success you have earned and even more to follow in the future!

    Thank you for this, amazing!

    Lauren x

  48. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  49. This was an amazing read! And believe me I read it all! Really enjoyed hearing about every step of your journey. I feel throughly inspired to go out there and hustle myself now. I know what I’ve gotta do – just gotta do it. Thank you so, so much for sharing this post!

  50. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  51. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  52. Sophie

    20 May

    I’m not usually a fan of blog posts and prefer to browse bloggers through Instagram but this post may have changed my opinion on blogs. I have heard about your success over the last few months but it was so inspirational to read about every step your journey that has gotten you this far. It’s clear that you are very driven and are more than deserving of every inch of success you have achieved. Both your honesty and your enthusiasm radiates through this post making it nothing short of inspiring. Thanks for giving me the courage to pursue my own dreams as I’m approaching the world as a graduate unsure of what to do next. Keep up the amazing work <3

  53. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  54. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  55. […] Why I Quit My Job […]

  56. Conor Jack

    5 October

    Truly inspiring. I’ve read a lot pieces about start-ups in the past but yours has been the only one to offer actual detail about the baby steps it took for you to succeed. Thank you for sharing your story.

  57. Emma Kivlehan

    24 October

    You are an inspiration erika 😚😚

  58. Jasmine

    27 October

    This is such an aspiring post and having followed you on social media for the past 6/8 months I love seeing how everything has come together for you. It just goes to show if you believe in yourself and work hard, anything is possible.

    Thank you for sharing your story and insight into your life :)
    Jaz
    xoxo
    http://www.thelifeofasocialbutterfly.co.uk

  59. […] job in fashion last year, I worked harder than ever to keep growing Retro Flame here in the US, so I could eventually quit my job and work for myself. It was always my goal but I knew I would have to work hard to get there. Some […]

  60. […] in my 9-5 job last year, I would get the subway nearly every day to and from work and ever since I quit that job – I find myself avoiding the subway as much as I can. I guess it always just reminds me of […]

  61. Keelin

    31 October

    Amazing post RF, so inspiring! A similar experience happened to me, I was not accepted into my dream college, which six years later I’m still a little sensitive about. But I’m slowly starting to see everything happens for a reason.

    I also quit my full-time job to focus on what I was passionate about so seeing your successful gives me hope!

    Such a fan,

    Wicklow lass, currently in Sydney :) x

  62. […] live in and I don’t plan on leaving it behind any time soon. The move to my new apartment and going full-time with Retro Flame has almost given me that second wind I needed and I can honestly say, I’m probably happier […]

  63. […] No experience is a bad experience. I spoke a lot about my career path so far in my ‘Why I Quit my Job‘ blog post and although some of my jobs/internships along the way have been a far cry from […]

  64. […] you’ve already read my ‘Why I Quit My Job‘ post, you’ll know that this was the year I finally found a way (and a visa) to go […]

  65. Louise

    19 January

    Very inspirational I don’t usually comment on blog posts but it’s the most informative ” real”down to earth one I’ve read.It just goes to show firstly even if you “map” your life out the way you want, sometimes the path you end up taking even at the time it may be terrifying is always the right one, you are beyond mature for your age. It’s invaluable when you have parents who support you im sure they are very proud of you, fair play to you making it all happen, you should be extremely proud of yourself, best of luck with it all ;)

  66. Heidy

    21 January

    Love this post I already finish my college and I’m in the USA as an AuPair learning english… in some point I was stressed because I have 25 years old without work experience and I love fashion, but I study Marketing. I was looking for someone that can explain to me how can I get a intership in the USA and how that works; so I was just in YouTube and I saw your video (GET TO KNOW ME – New Business Plans, Soulmates & Hair Talk), then I see this post and it was perfect.
    Thank you so much for explain so well everything in this post.

    I’m going to star looking for internships before to finish my year as an AuPair!

    Good luck in your future projects from a Colombian girl!

  67. […] well me anyway. I remember when I was working full-time last year in here New York, I seriously did NOT look forward to Monday’s. I wished and wished that instead of going to work for somebody else, I could be getting up to work […]

  68. One Year On

    6 March

    […] media manager at a fashion brand here in the city, but as Retro Flame began to grow here in the US, I knew I had to make the leap. This day last year was the first day I properly sat down at my desk (a couch at the time) to work […]

  69. Laura

    7 March

    I loved every inch of this post!.. so honest, and a true picture of what it took to get to where you are. You are a true inspiration. Looking forward to perhaps some day reading your ‘book of success’… perhaps that might be on the cards too!..
    So very proud to say you are Irish!! 🙌🏻
    Laura

  70. […] is, ‘Can you believe how fast time is going?’…and honestly, I can’t. Since going full-time with Retro Flame about a year ago, I can truly say that there hasn’t been one single day/week/month which has […]

  71. aoife

    1 June

    Lovve it!

  72. Jessica

    16 June

    wow iv just read this post, it so inspiring and helpful. amazing thank you
    Jessica
    x

  73. […] I wrote the post all about ‘Why I quit my job’, I never expected how much it was going to help some of you. I still get messages from people […]

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