Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
So I have a confession to make…
I’ve had this blog post fully written in draft mode for the last five months.
Just sittin’ here… in my WordPress dashboard… collectin’ some dashboard dust.
I’m not exactly sure why but I think it has to do with a few things:
First — because I’ve been worried.
Would anyone even care to read this story of my life and how I got to where I am today?
Second — because I’ve been feeling vulnerable.
If I expose all my thoughts will I open myself up to possible ridicule and judgement?
And Third — because I’ve felt doubt.
What if I share to everyone these plans and then am not able to do it?
Well, I’ve been holding this chapter in for too long and I think it’s time to confront the imposter syndrome feelings I’ve had and turn them into self-confidence.
I’ve always been a sharer. My friends would even say I’m an over-sharer.
I share to find commonalities with my audience and this little gem I think deserves a share — because there’s likely a handful of you out there that can relate.
This March I made a crazy life decision that I still cannot believe is real.
Like — holy shit, did I really do that? — real.
It has to do with my life, and it has to do with my career. Some of you already know, and some of you can probably guess.
Regardless, it’s a story i think deserves some attention – because life is just straight up too short and sometimes, we straight up sell ourselves too short.
So here we go kids, grab your coffee — it’s a long one.
To give a little context to my life until now, I thought I’d share some key moments that have defined me — Cortney — the face behind The Grey Edit.
Here’s what you need to know —
1985 | I’m born in Chicago to a passionate and kind stay-at-home mom and to a driven and determined entrepreneurial dad — (yes, that makes me 32 ;))
1990 | My parents raise me in the suburbs, where I attend catholic school for 12 years (uniform and all!)
1999 | Dad decides he wants to make a big move by moving family of five (I get two little brothers within the last decade) out to the state of Washington. I beg him to wait until I finish high school (and it works).
2003 | I think life is over when our family moves to a super small town in the middle of nowhere (Colville, WA), jump on applying to the closest college in sight (Washington State University) to get an education and be a part of a more “populated” area stat. Dad insists I don’t need college, rather I could become an entrepreneur like him and work for his machining business (halp).
2004 | I attend Washington State University (Go Cougs!) to build off of my creativity and get that damn education. I start off as an interior design major, switch to architecture, said screw building all of these cardboard models, then switch my major again to advertising where I could be creative via communication.
2008 | I graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a focus on Advertising and a minor in Architectural Studies (mouthful), move immediately to the closest biggest city of Seattle, struggle to land anything in the world of advertising at the highly sought after agencies (recession yo), work with a staffing agency to land a temp-turned-full-time position in operations / finance at a healthcare company (whaaa?).
2010 | I get offered an opportunity through a friend to join a tech startup as the 20th employee. I take a chance as a billing assistant to join a team of under 30-somethings not really understanding at that time what the company actually did (they were an affiliate marketing platform — HA).
2016 | Six years into the tech startup, belly full of koolaid, enjoying bringing my dog to work, drinking wine from a keg at 4pm, working finally in marketing, attending all the tech events and parties girl could ask for, hell, planning all the events a woman in tech could ask for — I decide it was time to pursue my dream career: working in marketing at my favorite fashion retailer’s local Corporate Headquarters — Nordstrom. I decide to start a fashion blog (my third ever blog) in an effort to “put it out to the universe” that I wanted to work in fashion.
2017 | I quit my tech job without anything lined up (yolo), apply to the first job I see pop up in Marketing at Nordstrom, get offered a role that was lower in pay and title than what I had and decide that since the company was ultimately where I wanted to be, it would be worth it.
2018 | I spend one year at Nordstrom gaining experience on two different teams, realizing very quickly I was qualified for a higher level role, but now that I was at the bottom, also realizing it’s going to take years to get up to the level I deserve and want to be at… also realizing that maybe I shouldn’t have sold my self short at the first role that opened up (well, shit).
Which brings us to now… and the moves that followed after the above realizations…
If there’s been any constant throughout my life, it’s been that I’ve wanted to make moves.
Maybe I owe my dad for this one since he made the boldest move of all (just google Colville folks) or maybe it’s because I’ve had the drive in me from the start.
In high school I dreamt of moving to California to live a successful life as a designer, rubbing elbows with the crème de la crème…
… in college that shifted to practicing architecture back in the big city of Chicago, to be reunited with my friends and family.
Post college that evolved to making up my mind to move to New York City to work in Advertising and start a new life and build a new network…
… and post finding my soulmate Trevor in Seattle, that morphed into leaving the startup world to join the corporate world where I’d work my way up to a VP level in Marketing at Nordstrom.
You see the thing you don’t realize when you’re young and dreaming of the future, is that as you get older, your immediate environment constantly changes.
You move homes. You change jobs. New people come in and out of your life.
And as your surroundings evolve, what you want to do next often evolves too.
You adapt, you feel it out and then you shift your set of short and long term goals.
After working for the tech startup for soo long (millennials think six years is a lifetime), I craved what seemed to be the total opposite — corporate vibes… structure… hierarchy… mentorship. I wanted to climb and know exactly what I needed to do to get there.
But once I finally made the leap, I realized all the things that I thought came along with the public name weren’t actually what I thought.
I adapted, I felt it out, and then realized maybe startup life wasn’t all that bad after all. I was able to make the moves I wanted to make, as disorganized as it may have seemed. There were different types of politics, and it wasn’t a waiting game.
As I talked about in this post a little over a year ago (which seems oddly similar as a previous life edit) — I’d landed my dream job.
It was in marketing — which allowed me to practice my creativity. It was at Nordstrom — a company I respected and truly felt a connection with. And it was getting me on the right track to reach my long term goal — to work my way up to successful VP of Marketing for a brand I adored.
Fast forward to current times, well almost half a year ago now, and I couldn’t help but feel a little lost, somewhat dissatisfied and quite frankly confused.
I was at my “dream company” doing what I “loved”… but why wasn’t I happy?
I can’t speak for everyone, but the move I made — not upward, not parallel, but downward — was really, really hard.
It’s something that I wouldn’t recommend doing, if I can give any advice from the life I’ve lived so far and the career I’ve had.
No I don’t regret making the move over to Nordstrom, but I do regret jumping before knowing my true value.
I interviewed for a manager role after holding a manager role for four years and was told I wasn’t qualified.
I convinced myself the level below would be worth it as I learned the ropes of the organization, but the book of work I was used to doing diminished into what felt like work of an assistant, and quickly I grew dissatisfied and ultimately incredibly anxious.
I was a hard worker. I had great ideas. I wanted to be a part of decision making.
I’m going to be incredibly transparent here, because there’s no use in sugar coating.
The team I first joined was led by a female director. The one who told me I wasn’t qualified for the manager position I was interviewing for. She told me I was at a higher level than what I was coming onto as, but it wouldn’t be long until I moved on.
The person who got the manager role, and ultimately ended up managing me, wasn’t qualified for the role. He was a he. And I had to carry the weight of our team for the bulk of the year.
I was confused. I confided in my director. She told me I “thought too highly of myself“, “had a long way to go before I was at the manager level“, and overlooked pages of documentation I kept about the person everyone knew wasn’t fit for the role.
So, I moved teams. I was still the lower title, but the new manager would be someone I could actually learn from.
Shortly after, I realized the learning curve wasn’t the work itself, it was navigating the people within the organization to actually get the work done.
This is where I truly felt like I was doing assistant work. I couldn’t do what I was used to doing in the startup world — owning things start to finish, making informed decisions, being at the table.
I was in that “so called hierarchy” I wanted. With mentorship and a clear path of how I’d get ahead. But the only thing clear here was that I was staring down years of working my way up and earning the clout I had previously built up all over again.
I’d come home and cry. The people around me were great, the vision of the company was great, the fashion, the discount! All great.
But this feeling I had — something felt off.
I was 32 years old and thought I’d be at such a different place on my life.
I wanted to create. I wanted to leave my mark. And this place wasn’t going to allow me to do that — at least not right away.
Trevor was such an amazing confidant. I’d vent, he’d listen. I’d ask for advice, he’d give me damn good guidance.
He’d highlight the things I was good at — naturally. He’d encourage me to lean into those and to not look back.
Funny enough, I took a personality assesment test at Nordstrom: StrengthsFinder.
If you haven’t heard of it — I urge you to buy the $10 book and take it.
Life changing. Clearly.
You answer a series of questions as in any personality test, that are timed so you answer by instinct. What you get at the end are your top strengths, in order of importance, and a personalized report about what each means to you and how you can leverage in your life with an action plan.
I learned I was a futurist who is best suited as an entrepreneur.
An activator who likes to just do.
A positive person that aimed to encourage people.
An empathetic person who was able to feel out a situation.
And a strategist — who was always plotting the next best move.
It got me to thinking —
Was my creativity something I innately had from my dad? The entrepreneur who did and did and did. Was marketing for Nordstrom actually something that was going to fulfill me?
I had my blog, which had turned about 14 months old, that I’d had as a hobby and creative outlet, but quite frankly ignited something from within.
What if I was meant to do something on my own? Work hard and actually reap the benefits of every ounce of sweat I put into it?
You’re probably like, Cortney, I get it. You left corporate life to pursue your passions.
Well, ya nailed it. I did.
I left my “dream job” to take a leap of faith, and shit man, it was scary.
And as the universe would have it, the day before I was set to officially leave, I got offered a promotion to the role I should have been given from the start, by the female director who told me I wasn’t fit for it originally — the manager role with the responsibility and work that I could have done and frankly was doing.
So I was faced with a decision.
Do I listen to my gut and follow the fire I had about building something great — my brand, a business, and beyond?
Or do I play the safe card and stick it out at Nordstrom, take the promotion, the benefits, maybe cut off a few years from the 10 I was staring down before becoming VP?
Well, I listened to my gut. I faced my director and told her I was confident in my plans and would have to decline her offer.
She congratulated me with a sense of shock and a fake smile I’ll never forget. She also “left” the company shortly after…
I officially started “life as an entrepreneur”
this last week at the end of March.
I enrolled in an online business school for entrepreneurs. I’ve built plans of what my day to day looks like and what goals I want to achieve. I have an idea for an actual business
with a friend with my husband.
Things are just starting, adjustments are being made to our lifestyle, it has been and will continue to be tough, but I’m optimistic.
I think it’s going to be good.
If you put yourself out there and stay open to opportunity, good will come.
I’m a firm believer of this and I have faith it will reign true.
So for those of you who managed to make it through this long post — I’m here to remind you to listen to that little voice in the back of your head and in the pit of your stomach. It’s your inner self trying to tell you something.
Life is really short. And if you’re spending time doing something you don’t truly love, or that’s not fulfilling, life might be a little shorter, and a lot less fun.
So friends — I promise to share what I learn along the way (and what’s actually been going on these last five months) in this little mini series in hopes to inspire you to truly follow your dreams and do what you love.
Because what else is there?
Thanks for reading.
Love you all.
// cb ✌????
Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor.
I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Mother. Wife. Blogger. Photographer. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Hi, I'm Cortney
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