Name: Jen Lewis
City: Austin, TX
Hometown: Tyler, TX
Profession: Business Owner and Director of Purse & Clutch, an online boutique for handmade, stylish, fair trade accessories
Are you currently doing things that you think will be a part of your life/career long term?
I’m excited to be able to say yes to this question! I’ve always wanted to find a way to pair what I’m good at with connecting men and women in developing countries with opportunities to support themselves and their families. I’ve tried teaching Chemistry in Central America and gardening with the homeless here in Austin, but they were never quite the right fit. I do, however, feel as though each random, odd job that I’ve had over the last few years has prepared me for a different aspect of my role in running a small business.
What motivates you (to go to work, to do what you’re passionate about, etc.)?
I keep pictures of the artisans I’m working with around my office. I learn as much as I can about the countries we’re purchasing handbags from and listen to music from their part of the world while I’m packing up and shipping boxes. I try to let the stories of artisan groups being able to hire new employees really sink in and focus on what I can do to help.
How do you balance your work life and your social life?
I’m such an introvert, I actually have to force myself to have a social life! Usually this combines work & friends since I try to go to local fashion events as often as possible. Since getting married this past year, my husband has really helped encourage me to get out of the apartment and connect with friends. So I guess I just answered the exact opposite of the question – oops!
When you have a lot on your plate how do you handle it?
I make lists like a boss! I’ve got lists of what needs to be done today, this week, this month, this quarter, and this year. When I finish what’s on my list of what must be done today, I try to allow myself the freedom to stop working or to blaze through to the next list. As a business owner, it’s easy to work all the time and never feel like you’re accomplishing anything. Lists. I’m telling you – magical!
Have you had to cut down on any activities or a certain lifestyle that you haven’t had time for since college?
Organized sports! I miss playing club sports and intramurals. It’s hard to find a group of people who will actually come play. What has happened to us?! Without my usual outlet for competitiveness, I am NOT fun to play board games with…
How do you keep your apartment clean during the week?
I try to put things where they go right away. Once I leave one dish in the sink, there’s a 100% chance I’m going to pile the next ones in until it becomes unlivable. Same goes with clothes and shoes. I usually leave the deeper cleaning for the weekends.
Best way to relax after a long day of work?
I love trying out new restaurants in Austin with my husband. There is a never-ending list of incredible restaurants that are all so new and different
Favorite post-work hangout and/or drink?
I think my go-to Happy Hour is Contigo. On Tuesdays, they have $2 Local Beers on Draft that are perfect with some fried battered green beans. And since it’s outside, it feels like a big breath of fresh air!
What is your go-to, homemade meal?
We get a CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden (a box of fresh mixed veggies that were just harvested). I enjoy grabbing whatever veggies we get and sautéing them with fresh herbs. I love how different herbs can bring out such different tastes!
Do you have a quick and easy work-appropriate outfit formula?
I either work from home, or a super causal co-working space called Center 61. I think I could get away with wearing whatever I wanted, but in the hot Texas heat you can usually find me in a summer dress and sandals. I have noticed over the years that I prefer simple silhouettes that I spice up with fun jewelry and a fabulous handbag, of course! The right accessories can make me look much more put together than I actually am!
What tools or apps can you not live without?
Is it sad that the Adobe Creative Suite was the first thing that came to my mind? Then I thought of the Reminders App on my phone. I’ve GOT to get a life!
What music pumps you up to GSD?
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Ghostland Observatory, and Katie Herzig
Best advice you’ve received?
Someone told me when I had just turned 20 that in your 20s you should do three things: Take Notes, Take Risks, and Take Advice. I really took these to heart and I believe it changed my perspective for the better. I’ll be 30 in a few months – I need a new mantra!!
Want to participate in GSD: Young Profesh Edition or know someone who would be great for this column? Email me, Miró!