Bradley University – B.A. Speech Communications + Political Science
Most women will tell you that accessories totally make or break an outfit. In Mandy Kellogg Rye’s case, a simple accessory ended up not only making an outfit, but laying the groundwork for her career.
Specifically, it was a bracelet produced from a bead store class and the inclination to pick up a new hobby. But sometimes gestalts happen and hobbies don’t stay hobbies for long: in a relatively short few years, that one bracelet had evolved from Etsy store to blog to online lifestyle brand to plans for a brick and mortar shop. And that’s the only slightly simplified version of how Mandy finds herself at the center of the Waiting on Martha universe.
Mandy’s a blogger, stylist, fashion buyer, boutique manager and dynamic entrepreneur all in one. While it all sounds a little daunting, she credits a “sky’s the limit” mentality, paired with the “understanding that I have to work hard to get there” for much of her success. “I believe I can do anything and have never questioned my ability to attain success.”
To be successful as an entrepreneur, it’s all about the blood, sweat and tears.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
You name it, I do it! As an entrepreneur with three businesses—the boutique, blog and styling—I don’t think there’s anything I don’t do. I’m responsible for creating fresh content for the blog 5 to 7 days a week, which involves working with brands like Deer Park, Smirnoff and VIETRI, creating campaigns to support their product and sharing my knowledge on all things fashion, food and entertaining.
For the boutique, I buy and curate a variety of ever-evolving items. Inventory, uploading products to the site, packaging and shipping and managing and supporting my team are all daily responsibilities. Also, on the styling arm of my business, I create and style editorial shoots for print publications, like Jezebel and Occasions, and digital outlets, like Style Me Pretty Living, Sweet Lemon Media and Delighted Magazine. These shoots include visualizing and bringing to life an original concept, pulling from various retailers like Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus and partnering with vendors to make the dream concept a reality.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
It feels like home. Every day, I feel like I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do. And that’s a feeling I’ve only had one other time in my life—when I married my husband!
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Aside from the typical entrepreneurial challenges, I’m constantly thinking about what’s next. Not just the daily grind of what’s next, but what we’re doing as a brand, how we’re growing, what’s latest and greatest and how to keep the momentum in everything we do. In this industry, you have to think seasons ahead, so I’ve conditioned myself to always be in that mindset.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
What’s work/life balance?!
Though I have very, very little work/life balance at the moment, when I do take a break or enjoy “life,” that’s what I’m doing. I have no phones with me and I’m in the present moment relishing every stress-free second of it!
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
No. I think when you start thinking that way, you stop learning and growing. I’ve had many, many “pinch me” moments and celebrations where I’ve reached a goal or accomplished something professionally that I never would have even dreamt of, but I’m always looking forward to the next thing. The next chapter is what I look forward to the most, because honestly, it just keeps getting better.
What are some of the rules you live by?
1 / Be nice.
2 / Surround yourself with the right people. And I’m not talking about social climbing; I’m talking about surrounding yourself with people who allow you to be your best self.
3 / Work hard, play hard.
4 / Trust your gut. Always.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
To be successful as an entrepreneur, it’s all about the blood, sweat and tears. If you’re not ready to give everything you have to your business, especially during the first few years, then it may be a rough road. I’ve worked harder on my businesses than I’ve ever worked at anything in my life and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.
It’s also really important to stand your ground. Know what you want and ask for it (because if you don’t ask, you won’t get it)! And like all things in life, building relationships is key. I work with hundreds of vendors, customers and other creatives on a daily/weekly basis. These relationships are the backbone of my business, and maintaining and cultivating them is of the utmost importance. That doesn’t mean being a “yes” person. We all don’t have to love and be BFFs with each other to have an amazing working relationship. Simply respecting each other for who they are and what they bring the table is enough.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Do what you love, not what you think you should love. Remember wherever you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Know what you have to give up to get what you want.
Who and what would you like to attribute my success to?
I attribute a lot of my success to my parents and husband. Since I was young, my parents told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. They instilled in me a “sky’s the limit” mentality, but they also made me understanding I have to work hard to get there (and nothing’s just given to you because you deserve it). My husband is my biggest cheerleader and because of these people in my life, I believe I can do anything and have never questioned my ability to attain success.