So many of us find ourselves years deep into careers that don’t make us happy. We ignore the calls of our dreams that urge us to take action. A million excuses keep us from pursuing our true passions and a full-time job is a prime example because it can be draining, especially when you don’t love what you do. But you can absolutely make it happen even if you have a 9 to 5, because let’s be real, we can’t all afford to quit.
Cynthia Maria Blanco is a Social Media Coordinator at one of the most powerful advertising agencies in the world, and she is still making her dream career in fashion happen in the most unique way, despite having a demanding job. The 23-year-old Dominicana from the Bronx, New York has always loved fashion but decided to choose a career path where she could earn more money. But Blanco soon learned that the pay check wasn’t everything and that fashion was her true calling. She was unhappy until she realized she was providing a service to her friends — free fashion advice and shopping recommendations — that she could turn into a successful side business, and serve as a launch pad for a permanent career in the industry.
Today Blanco runs a fashion consulting and styling business, is a freelance writer, AND has an internship while holding down her full-time job. We spoke to the go-getter about how she made it all happen and picked up these universal lessons:
Get clear on your goal and it will be the fuel you need to keep going when things get tough.
It’s easy to get consumed with the daily grind but having a clear goal can give you that extra boost when you’re ready to throw in the towel. In Blanco’s case, it is to become an editorial fashion stylist. For you, it can be getting to a point where you can work on your business full-time.
Don’t be afraid to tell your circle what you’re up to because they could end up getting you your next customer.
Having a great circle of people that believe in your dreams is essential. Blanco’s friends, family and boyfriend keep her inspired. “They are able to spread the word and keep me motivated because it’s good to know that someone else is recognizing your work,” she told HipLatina.
Don’t ask for permission to try something new.
“Once you get an idea, go for it,” Blanco recommended. She has had people around her shut down ideas she has had for her side hustle, only to see someone else do the same thing and watch it take off, which brought her to a very important point. “Don’t seek validation from other people because that’s going to be the death of you,” she said.
Make sure you carve out a specific time in your schedule that you dedicate for your business.
“I don’t sleep and I barely go out,” Blanco confessed. Her Friday nights are off limits and she uses that time to prepare for her internship with a freelance stylist where she is learning the ropes of that business on Saturdays.
Find a way to unplug.
Balancing so many plates makes it difficult to stop your brain from firing at a million miles per minute at the end of the day. Turning on Netflix might sound like a great distraction but you can get caught up in binging an entire season of a show and not getting any rest. Blanco knows that trap all too well and found an alternative solution. “I meditate right before I go to sleep and I fall asleep immediately.” The practice also helps her manage the anxiety that comes along with a busy schedule.
A stress-relieving activity is a must.
Blanco recently fell in love with boxing. “It allows me to unwind and punch all of my stress out,” she said.
A strategy for staying organized is a major key.
Writing things down in a planner didn’t end up working for Blanco. She uses an app called Trello for appointments. “Every time I have a commitment I just put it in there and it gives me a reminder the day before just letting me know tomorrow you have to go to this,” which makes sure her commitments don’t fall through the cracks
Use social media to expand your network.
Blanco is a pro at finding people to connect with and learn from the fashion industry. She dedicated part of her time to LinkedIn, Instagram, and industry websites to find new opportunities. Blanco made connections by leaving comments and sliding into the DMs of the people she admires. Another great piece of advice is using your alma mater as a way to find people to talk to on LinkedIn. People are more likely to respond to you if there is a common thread.
Blanco recommends keeping your message short and to the point. She introduces herself with her story and says that she would love their advice and mentorship. “Don’t email someone acting like they owe you something because nobody does. Seek advice, seek help, some type of mentorship.” That tactic is more likely to get you a response.
Try an unpaid internship if you have no experience.
Blanco’s tips for reaching out to strangers she admired on social media paid off. She knew she wanted to become an editorial stylist, so she reached out to people she wanted to work with and sent them emails with her availability and willingness to work for free. It took her a couple of tries but she finally found someone willing to give her a shot and now she’s learning the valuable skills she needs to do her own thing.
You don’t have to break the bank to promote your brand.
Social media is one of the greatest free marketing tools on the planet. Her experience in the industry taught her that even something as little as putting $3 behind an Instagram post has gotten her a couple of extra followers. You never know who could be watching. One person can change the entire trajectory of your business.