Melanie W., Senior Program Manager, creative agency based in San Francisco
On being true to yourself while keeping everyone else on their toes.
How are you empowered by the way you dress?
“I’ve always felt that style can affect and reflect mood. I remember when I was younger in school that anytime I had a big test, I’d always wear something bright to make sure my mind was energized. Sometimes I find myself still doing that now for important meetings, events or even dates.”
My style is inspired by my life experiences, but one thing is consistent: it’s always comfortable. When I’m comfortable, I’m confident.
Tell us about your journey and how you’ve taken your style with you along the way.
“I moved around a lot, so my style evolved based on where I lived and where I had been before. I was born in San Francisco and then moved to a small town in rural Louisiana when I was in middle school. After college, I left Louisiana and moved to a tiny village on Catalina Island, which is off the coast of Southern California. After a couple years enjoying island life, I moved back to SF and have been here for the past 10 years.
Given my experiences, I tend to mix a lot of the urban edge of the city, with the relaxed vibe of the islands—with the occasional throw to my inner country girl :)”
Tell us more about your body art—we’re sure you get asked a lot, but we couldn’t help ourselves.
“Body art is a huge passion of mine. I grew up with an older brother who was covered in tattoos by the time he was 15. And, as a kid in the 80s, my mom was the only parent I knew who had a tattoo (roses on her upper arm). I have a great love for the art of tattooing, and I started working on my Japanese-style bodysuit more than 7 years ago. For me, it’s an artistic expression of my life journey.”
What about breaking rules is fun to you—in style and in life?
“I spent a lot of my youth trying to “fit in,” but in college I had some experiences that changed my outlook on life. I didn’t care what others thought anymore, and I became more confident in myself in every aspect.”
I do what I want, say what I want and wear what I want, and I don’t worry about what anyone thinks about it. It’s empowering to just be yourself without the restrictions of worrying about what others are going to think. It’s liberating and exciting.
How do you think being a rule breaker has shaped your success?
“I’m definitely one to speak what’s on my mind; I’m not that good at always being PC. That may have gotten me in trouble every now and then over the years, but it’s also made me a strong, independent, and successful woman in my career. I speak my mind, push the boundaries, and create opportunities for myself and my team members to grow.”
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger yourself?
“Don’t stress so much over the little things and just enjoy being your true, authentic self. It took me years to learn how to do that, and when I was finally able to accomplish that, life truly opened up for me. And it’s been one hell of an adventure!”