Girl em[Power]ment – Anna E. Cottrell

Girl em[Power]ment – A Series of Short Essays.

Over the next few months will be bringing you the Girl em[Power]ment series, which consists of interviews with several working women of all ages in different stages of their career. These are women I not only find inspiring and interesting, but who I think women of all ages should know about and learn from. These women hold careers in several different industries, from creative design to politics. They’ll give us an inside look into what their job is like, how they got there, share their advice for twenty-somethings, and touch on what Girl em[Power]ment means to them .

[be sure to follow along on insta – @girlempowerment]

I’ve been waiting to share today’s influencer for a long time now, as she was one of the original women who inspired the series. I first met Anna in person forever ago at a fashion event, but I had been following her and her blog for much longer. Our paths finally crossed when I decided that I wanted to somehow get involved in what she was doing with Lola last year. Fast forward – she has now been my lady boss for almost a year now [insert a happy eek here!] and I’ve learned SO much under her fabulous wings. She’s taught myself and the others around her what perseverance looks like – that it you want something you’ve got to not only hustle to get it, but also put forth a positive attitude and be kind to get it. Anna is always open to new ideas [even when I think she’ll think I’m cray-cray], and even if she’s not totally into, she’ll help you to make it bigger and better. She is always looking to uplift those around her, she is always teaching myself and the other Lola gals that although perfection isn’t real – being the absolute best you can is absolutely attainable. Oh, and along with all that she’s accomplished so much in her career, and is more than happy to share advice daily.

Introducing Anna E. Cottrell, owner of Lola and Tulip Louise.
Website + Blog: ShopLola.comTulip
Insta: @lolaboutique + @tuliplouise 

Q: What is your current job title and can you please explain your career path?
A: First off, hi flannery!  Thank you so much for having me.  My name is Anna and I am the owner of Lola.  I always knew that I wanted to be in the fashion world from a very young age– it was just in my blood.  I have vivid memories of when mom would take me ‘back to school shopping’ before the start of a new year and I would get home as quickly as I could with my new loot and a simple spiral notebook.  From there, I would work to stretch my new clothes into as many different outfits as possible, try them on [down to the accessories], and jot down every detail of my final look.  Once I wore it, I would mark it out in my little notebook.  As it turns out this is eerily similar to what I do for personal styling appointments now!  I digress.  

[Focus, Anna] Career path.  I interned at Findings Showroom in New York for my college internship, which is when I first fell in love with the pace of the city– even though I was filing, faxing, getting coffee, wheeling massive trunks to the Javits Center for market, etc… I couldn’t have been more energized x this was when I paid my dues.  First job out of college was with the e-commerce division at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas.  Having zero background in .com at the time, this was a major leap of faith [on both parts!] that I accepted as a learning experience and [quite frankly] for the chance to add a powerhouse of a company to my résumé.  So small-minded. While the cubicle life didn’t turn out to be my jam, I learned endless lessons about workplace professionalism and company protocol within a corporate environment [i.e. e-mail etiquette, managing an editorial calendar, balancing workload, etc . ].   Honestly, just to be a fly on the wall and learn how the “big dogs” communicated was a major turning point for me , for instance the opportunity to sit in on calls with David Yurman about  new products that needed to be uploaded by a certain holiday deadline .  It was fun to be a point person between the buying office, graphic designers, copywriters, marketing department, and vendors– this opened my eyes to many different avenues within the fashion industry, and also the importance of everyone having a niche x working together for a bigger goal. Pretty cool now that I think about it.  

Hitting your first career stride out of college is kind of like having your first love– there’s nothing that can compare to the growth you experience, and you find yourself eternally grateful because it taught you so much about yourself. 

When I was in Dallas, I became even more interested in learning about the arts–spending weekends over wine + french film, gallery openings or the Nasher Sculpture Museum [still a favorite].  When I moved back home to Northwest Arkansas, it was to be the Web Director at a local boutique.  Note: I said “Web Director” as if there was an existing site, but there wasn’t.  However! This was an amazing opportunity to enter into a small business and try to make a big difference with an e-commerce site, by utilizing what I had learned at NM.COM— it was a fabulous time in my career.  

A couple of years later, I decided to turn what was then a hobby of blogging x styling, into my full-time gig… Enter: Tulip Louise.  This was a life of hustle. It was creatively stimulating because I was shooting with talented photographers x makeup artists for the blog non-stop, getting endorsed / written up, started covering backstage at New York Fashion Week for Revlon every season + getting some publicity, rubbing shoulders with some of the greats, and then brands started sending me things to wear.  Before I knew it, all of my shoots were subtly endorsing things that I hadn’t hand-selected for myself, which is when blogging began to lose it’s luster for me.  I needed to take a break and press the reset button on it.  Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m living back in New York as a freelance Art Director… but on the weekends shooting blog photos eating / endorsing a new Wendy’s frosty [huh?] — I guess it paid the rent, ladies.

In 2013, I returned home to my native Northwest Arkansas as owner, buyer, and creative director of Lola.  I remember telling my now business partner that I felt that my experiences in the industry [showroom, e-commerce, marketing, blogger, stylist, business owner] had melded together to help best prepare me for this peak opportunity!  Now, only a mere two years later, Lola has a beautiful e-commerce site x will be opening the doors to a third storefront this month.  Whirlwind, but none of the growth we’ve experienced would ever have been possible without the tremendous x inspiring team we have [including you, Flannery!]

Q: Where did you go to school and what was your major?
A: I studied fashion x marketing at the University of Arkansas. 

Q: How/or do you deal with negativity towards women in the work place? 
A: You know, Flannery, there was a time in my life when I would have had time to dwell or deal with negative people x thoughts, but I just don’t anymore.  I was telling someone recently that something shifted when I turned 30– ha — unless someone [or something] is additive to my life x what happiness I’m working towards, it has to go. We only get so many days on this planet, and I have less and less tolerance for toxicity. I know it sounds harsh, but it truly just isn’t worth the energy– I’d rather spend that priceless time with people that I love, or working to build something great… instead of devoting energy to anything negative. It is a conscious effort I make every day.  If you knew me a couple of years ago, you’d know this is a new lease on life for me!

Q: Who are three of your role models or mentors, and why?
A1: My mom, Jill.  If you’ve ever met her, you’re lucky enough to know why she is a great role model. She is unbelievably kind x thoughtful x warm.  Family and  faith is everything to her, and I would be lucky to become half the woman she is.

A2: Jeannette Balleza Collins.  This woman is a powerhouse.  She is so eloquent, as business savvy as they come, and has a pure heart of gold.  Just an overall lovely human, that makes me want to be better.

A3: Jade Terminella. She is the perfect no nonsense counterpart. A woman with a strong moral compass, get sh*t done work ethic, and gentle soul.

Q: Have you ever felt unsure of yourself or felt that you weren’t “enough”?
A: Oh, of course!  Some days are harder than others, which is why we have to encourage women in our network.  Life is hard… but really beautiful.

Q: What are other things you do [hobbies, projects, interest] that you feel passionate about?
A: Photography, art, travel.  I used to be really into music — would like to get back to that.

Q: What do you do in your free time to relax?
A: When I get the chance, I honestly live for a spa moment; manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage?  Sign me up.  Totally the way to my heart.

Q: What career and/or life advice would you give to your twenty year old self?
A: 1- Always go the extra mile– it is so worth it.  2- Life can be very tricky, but keep your chin up– one day, all of those little twists x turns will make sense.  

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed Anna’s profile. She’s an incredible driven woman with such a drive for what she does! Hopefully we can all catch a bit of this spirit.
Stay tuned for Sunday’s profile – you won’t want to miss it!

Xo, Flancake