PROFILE DIARIES: A Q&A with writer and life coach, Victoria Greenwald

Something you may know about me, other than the fact I tend to publicize my life on social media, is that I am a HUGE people person, and I love to write feature stories. I’ve done one for my rockstar fashion designing friend, Maria Del Carmen Mercado, but this time I chose someone from my hometown (Medfield, MA) who is killing it as a writer and a life coach. That someone is no other than Victoria Greenwald!

A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

V: I went to Wheaton College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Illinois, and I studied psychology, English, and journalism! I loved my experience there, from the classes to the intentional community. 

A: Describe your writing career.

V: I’ve been wanting to be a professional writer as long as I can remember! One of my earliest memories is writing a short story on an old typewriter in my basement (it was about 4 superhero middle schoolers. Very cool). I decided to major in psychology in college because it felt a little more practical, but throughout my 4 years I ended up adding 2 writing degrees to my studies and all of my extracurriculars and career pursuits ended up in the writing realm. I graduated college with a full-time job writing at The Everygirl, and eventually launched my own blog after switching jobs. Now, I use writing as a huge part of my coaching!

A: What made you decide to pursue coaching?

V: I went to college thinking I’d be a counselor, as working with people through transitions has always been something I’ve been gifted at. I learned early on, however, that my strong desire to give direction and advice wouldn’t really fit into that job (which is great!), so I shifted career paths. Fast-forward a few years when I left my first writing job to work in full-time ministry, I started a blog to keep up the writing. I realized I liked writing about career tips, so I thought I’d offer a resume writing service, which I hated. It was a terrible move on my part — BUT I learned that for the 15 minutes that I got to talk with my clients about their dreams I absolutely loved. I learned that what I wanted to do was coaching, so I found a certification program that specifically helped me learn how to coach people through a Gospel-centered lens and I’ve been off to the races since then! 

A: What are you working on now?

V: Currently, I’m building out my business. I work with clients 1:1 in tailored programs, and I’m working on a self-paced course that’s all about purpose and vision. 

A: What do you have to say to those who are working on their spiritual growth?

V: Spiritual growth is a life-long process, and that’s really beautiful. We have an innate desire to be known and loved, and to know and love in return — God is the only being that satisfies in both directions. Pursue Him with eagerness and curiosity, that obedience will never be returned void! 

A: What do you have to say to those who are in the writing profession?

V: Pursue excellence. Everyone can call themselves a writer these days, so make sure that what you’re contributing to the written world is of great value. Lots of us writers know that we have a million things to say, so I encourage you to use discernment in saying what needs to be said, not just what can be said (and said well, you wordsmith you). If you’re just looking to get into writing as a profession — practice! Write the kinds of stuff you want to write in the future, even if no one is paying you for it. Interview your friends. Write an op-ed on a political issue. Start a blog! There are many avenues for you to grow and learn. Learn to be self-motivated and pursue being great at your craft.

A: What was your goal, prior to your current vocation?

V: Such a great question — I wanted to be the Editor in Chief at Elle magazine! That was the goal. It’s so funny to see how I’ve shifted from writing for my own glory to writing as service to other women.

A: What has influenced your spiritual lifestyle?

V: I give a lot of credit for my early experiences with Christ to my parents. They love Him and they wanted me to know and love Him, too, so I got lots of exposure to Bible stories and life transformation from them and from my church when I was younger. Once I was off to college, it really became my responsibility to keep following Christ on my own, and He has impacted my life in such incredible ways that I had to keep following Him. He is the reason for my hope, for my joy, for my purpose! 

A: What would you say to those who are trying to be as confident and successful as you? Or growing their own brand, like yourself?

V: Confidence comes when you’ve defined success correctly. For me, success is serving my God and the people in my life every day — and the means for me to do that (coaching, prayer, friendship, working at my church) bring me SO much joy. I know that I am a part of God’s incredible plan for the whole world, and that takes a ton of pressure off of my shoulders to be the hero. For the gal who is reading this wanting to grow a brand: remember to only be pursuing things that serve your actual goal. What do you want? Know the answers to that before you start taking action steps. 

Big thanks to Victoria for the pictures, as well as the extremely thoughtful and candid answers! You can read Victoria’s blog and view her coaching services here.

Living La Vida De Moda: Maria Del Carmen Mercado

A year ago when I wrote an article called Meet Local Fashion Designer Maria Del Carmen Mercado for my internship. We’ve been in touch since I sat down with Maria in Dave’s Coffee Shop in Providence, but I decided to write a follow-up article (a whole year later) about the Dominican Republic-born, Providence-based fashion designer.

“I didn’t choose fashion, fashion chose me.”

Maria recalls the days where her career as a designer, and essentially, a creative began: “My story of a fashion designer or creative began as a child, where I would sew the clothes for my dolls and my friends’ dolls, and everything around me was usually transformed into dolls.  For example, mango seeds. I would usually paint a face on them with nail polish and they would become my dolls. [My] business also started early; I would make doll clothes and trade them for candy or coins.”

Her curiosity for fashion and particularly the art of movement peaked when she was in high school. “I was involved in after-school art programs and activities.  But it wasn’t until high school where I started to work after school in a clothing store.  I also modeled with two agencies and started to draw clothes.  During this time I became very curios why the clothing that I loved never fit correctly so during my time in my job I would put close attention to the fabrics that I handled, the details of the clothes but most importantly, I would ask myself how would I change the garment to make it fit me the way I liked,” says Mercado. And because of this experience, she likes to work with clients to give them the perfect jacket, wedding dress, bathing suit, etc that fits them just right.

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After graduating high school, she received a scholarship to attend the Rhode Island School of Design pre-college program (concentrating on fashion), where she built a portfolio and eventually got into her first-choice college: The Fashion Insitute of Technology in New York, New York where she graduated as a fashion design major in 2007.

“Fashion is a form of expression, my own personal way to see a shape or garment.  It is my way to represent a body’s figure.  To me, fashion is away of life. Things become shapes, color and structure.  It’s a way of putting attention to the details around me.  For example, my opinion on politics, history and culture. Fashion is thinking outside the box. It is knowing when to listen to your intuition and being able to recognize what is and isn’t there.”

If you are thinking about a career in fashion design, Mercado does have a few words of wisdom for you: “First I want to say that fashion is NOT what you see in the magazines, another word is NOT just glamour.  Just like a doctor or engineer, there are certain things that a fashion designer needs to learn.  In my opinion, to be a good fashion designer, I feel education is key.  Even if you are wealthy how would you communicate what you want to the pattern maker or the seamstress or most importantly, how would you know the difference between a patterned sleeve or a skirt?  To be a fashion designer there are so many components that you need to learn that you can’t learn by watching youtube channels.  Pattern making, draping, fashion illustration, color theory,  are just a few things that are a must for a fashion designer.”

Mercado continues: “to be a great fashion designer you need to be adventurous, willing to take risks and be different.  Learn to look within yourself and make decisions that YOU feel that work.  You need to have the confidence to turn off the voices and follow your heart.  I feel that the best direction is to design what I feel is correct NOT what is trendy.  I believe that you can’t teach someone how to be an artist but they can learn the technical side and the best way is through formal education.  Being an artist is seeing and feeling beyond what’s there, how can you teach that?”

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When asked what her favorite part of being a designer was, she said she enjoys every aspect of it! But that isn’t to say, that there aren’t times when she doesn’t have creator’s block. When she does get creator’s block, she doesn’t go by what other people are creating or what’s “in style,” at the moment. She just moves on to another project or takes a walk to recharge and refresh her mind. That also isn’t to say that she doesn’t get critical with herself, either, which she said is a weakness of hers.

“Although I am much better now, but it took awhile to realize that no one is going to give my brand 100% but me.  MDCM designs are my feelings, the way I see things, my way of life.  Realizing that no one but me could convey this has helped me a great deal, most importantly excepting that perfect does not exist.”

With that being said, in the fashion world, one is always learning, making mistakes, taking risks, and finding themselves through their work!

To view Maria’s website, click here  and to shop, go to http://www.mariadelcarmenmercado.shop! Thank you, Maria, for the interview and for your powerful, impactful words of advice!

***Photographers of the design images are @gabinichi and @denzzzadd from ristudio504.com — check out their work! 

 

Sprinkled by Kristen: Meet Kristen Bauer, the Baker!

BOXBORO, MA — The day before our best friend’s (hi Katelyn!) graduation from Saint Anselm College, I had the chance to interview my dear friend, Kristen Bauer who happens to be a baker! When I sat down (while she baked), she was working on the frostings and fillings for the cake: a strawberry filling with a white chocolate ganache.

In order to make the ganache, she steams some cream until it boils then pours it over white chocolate chips for 5-10 minutes. “The ratio of the cream depends on how you thick you want it [the ganache] to be,” says Bauer.

The day prior to this interview, she made a fresh strawberry jam. She did this by cutting up some fresh strawberries, pouring a cup of sugar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and let it simmer for two hours for the rich, thick, and savory flavor! Alongside the jam, she makes a whipped cream frosting which she will then decorate with pink and purple coloring.

Kristen has essentially been baking her whole life! Just like (almost) every other little girl, she had an Easy-Bake Oven, which sparked her passion for baking. She also adds, “I have a really big sweet tooth! And something about making desserts is a lot more satisfying to me than making other ‘creations.'”

“Normally, when I have problems with the logistics of my cake, I brainstorm with my mother […] she understands that this is a passion of mine and that I care about the minute details. For this cake, for instance, I’m trying to figure out how many layers I should make. I originally made two vanilla layers and cut them in half to make four layers. So, with that, you would get a different ratio of the jam and the white chocolate ganache. So I need to figure out what would be best for this cake, but also not ruining the structural integrity which is very important because if I do attempt to cut these two layers into four, I could very much destroy this cake, and we would have nothing!”

You can follow Kristen’s creations on Instagram @sprinkled_by_kristen .

And look at the finished product, everyone! It was scrumptious!

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