I QUIT MY JOB
I can’t believe it has been ONE YEAR since I quit my job. It still doesn’t feel real that I get to wake up every single day and get to chase after my dreams and live my life’s purpose. I feel SO FREAKING LUCKY and grateful.
In case you are new around here and are feeling like WTF are you even talking abut…. Let’s back up a second… (this is going to be the spark notes version of my life lol)
QUICK CAREER TIMELINE
2013 : I was a junior in college and landed an internship at Good Morning America aka my dream job
2014: two days after graduation (I went to The University of Texas in Austin - hook ‘em!) I moved to New York City to start working at Good Morning America
2015: I tested positive for the BRCA gene
2017: On January 3rd I underwent a preventative double mastectomy
2017: In February I started hosting meetups for Breasties
2018: In January Leslie, Allie, Bri and I came together to host the first ever Breastie Retreat
2018: In February I decided to leave my career as a National News TV producer/ booker
Sooo that’s the short version. Here goes the rest….
In 2014 I tested positive for the BRCA 1 genetic mutation. I was 22 at the time and I had just landed my dream job working as a Booker/Producer for Good Morning America. I didn’t understand what BRCA was and I didn’t have time to worry about it. I was young and living in New York City - there were more important things for me to worry about, like brunch and boys. L O L .
When I eventually met with my oncologist everything changed. She explained to me that my likelihood of developing breast cancer in my lifetime was 87% percent due to my family history and genetic mutation. To me that felt like a WHEN not an IF and I no longer recognized my body, I immediately felt like I had two ticking time bomb strapped to my chest and I needed to get rid of them ASAP. I knew what I had to do. I had to beat cancer before it got the chance to beat me and the best way to do that (in my opinion) was to have a preventative double mastectomy.
Before my double mastectomy I felt completely alone and afraid. It felt like I was the ONLY young woman in the world who was going through this. My friends and family didn’t really understand why I was dong this and tried to convince me not to. They told me they were supportive and that it was my choice, but I could tell that they thought I was freaking insane to be doing this at such a young age. So I did what any millennial would do - I took to the internet. I tried to find another woman online who I could relate to who had gone through this before me but I came up pretty empty handed. Instagram was just starting to take off at this point and there wasn’t this amazing community of breasties yet. Plus, everything and everyone I came across was super negative, discouraging and much older than me. My experience interacting with these people was so scary and discouraging, I almost questioned whether I was making the right decision by undergoing a prophylactic mastectomy. But I reminded myself that MY experience didn’t have to be like that. I could go through this MY way and remain as positive as I always have been.
On January 3rd, 2017 I underwent my mastectomy. I will never forget when I first came out of surgery and looked down at my chest - I saw my scars for the first time and felt incredibly sexy, proud and brave. I DID IT!!! I felt a surge of positive energy, empowerment, and sexiness and I wanted other women to know they too could taken control of their lives and their bodies and still feel strong and beautiful. I also have a little sister who is 11 years younger than me, named Cammy, who hasn’t been tested for BRCA yet. I knew that I never wanted her to go through this the way that I had - afraid and alone. So I vowed to put my story out there hoping to create community and a space where women could come together and help each other rise through their diagnosis.
PS. If you are thinking - PAIGE WTF?! I thought this was about quitting your job… I promise this background info helps and all makes it come together! Hang in there…
My sister Cammy was 13 at this time and all she and her friends really cared about was Instagram. So I created an Instagram account to document my journey for Cammy to look back on and almost immediately hundreds of women started reaching out to me. Over the next few weeks the most amazing things happened. Tons of news outlets started reaching out wanting to cover my story - like People, Elle, SELF, and Good Morning America. I was invited to walk in the AnaOno fashion show as the only previvor. But most importantly - I started hosting meetups for Breasties so we could come together for fun events and really create life long friendships.
In the first year after my mastectomy, my Instagram continued to grow while I hosted soooo many events, made incredible friendships, spoke on panels, received a public service award, planned the first ever Breastie Retreat and so much more. It was an incredible year but it was really hard to balance Breasties and my full time job. As a breaking news producer, my job required me to travel around the world at a moments notice. If there was a terrorist attack, a high profile trial or a huge celebrity scandal, I had to jump on it RIGHT AWAY. Though I loved my job, I was starting to feel like I was Hannah Montana - living two different lives.
BECOMING THE BREASTIES
In January of 2018, Leslie, Bri, Allie and I came together to plan the first ever Breastie retreat. It was an amazing weekend where we took 10 survivors and 10 previvors up to the mountains to show these women that their bodies were capable of doing so much more than just getting sick. We managed to get the entire weekend donated - from lift tickets and ski gear to food and swag - we were shocked that we were able to pull this off and keep the retreat free for these women - and we weren’t even a nonprofit! We looked at each other and thought - wow if we are able to do this and we aren’t a nonprofit, imagine what we could do if we were an official 501(3)(3).
We registered to get our status and The Breasties was born.
IT WAS TIME
This was a major turning point for me. I am the type of person who wants to be the best at everything I do and I pride myself on giving everything I do 110%. If I am going to do something, I am going to REALLY do it. But it finally got to a point where I couldn’t do both anymore. I had to choose between my career as a breaking news producer or as a cofounder of The Breasties.
But how would I possibly make this work? I had saved a LITTLE bit of money but I still would need to pay rent, feed myself, and be able to afford to travel home to CA every now and then to see my family. We also decided as cofounders that we didn’t want to be taking salaries from the nonprofit, we wanted 100% of every dollar to go directly back to our retreats and events. We are really proud that is still how things are today! None of us cofounders take a salary from the nonprofit.
Apart from my job not enabling me to take time off for retreats (which would obviously be a problem lol) I was also MISERABLE at work. It wasn’t anything against my job - it’s just that when you know what you’re meant to be doing and you KNOW its your life purpose - you HAVE to chase after it at all costs and you kinda want to start RIGHT AWAY. I also couldn’t help but think that it was really messed up that the entire reason i had decided to have this surgery was to give myself more time here on earth and to fully take advantage of every single day. It felt like I was now wasting the time that I gave myself by being sooo miserable at work every day. I literally showed up in the worst mood and I felt like it was unfair to be putting that energy into my workplace.
FAB FIT FUN
At this point my Instagram had grown to about 15 thousand people and I had such an engaged and amazing community of women interacting with each other on my posts (if that is YOU - then THANK YOU - I LOVE YOU!!)
I had had quite a few brands reach out to me since starting my Instagram account asking if I wanted to partner for paid posts but I always turned them down. That wasn’t the reason I started this Instagram account - I felt like I was making good enough money as a TV producer and I didn’t want my IG account to be about money. I wanted it to be a safe space where women could find love and support and community. Also, if I am being completely honest, I have always kind of judged influencers. I felt like it was all really fake and it rubbed me the wrong way. (After meeting sooo many incredible women who are influencers I realized I was soooo wrong and that its actually a really hard career and I have SOOOO much respect for them and what they do!)
Sometimes in life we have to admit that we were wrong or that our initial judgements were off. So it’s important to keep an open mind!!
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting at my desk feeling absolutely miserable. I had to call someone to convince them to come on our show and I was just SO OVER IT for sooo many reasons.
The person I was convincing to come on our show was someone who didn’t need to be on national television at this time. They had just experienced a major trauma and I knew what was best for them was to go home, spend time with their loved ones, and heal. So I felt like an icky person trying to convince them to come on our show.
Once you know how you want to spend the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start IMMEDIATELY. I was SO ready to commit to The Breasties full time. I wanted to pour all of my love and energy into our retreats and events and so any time spent NOT doing that felt like wasted time.
Right as I was about to pick up the phone to call this woman to convince her to come on our show, something amazing happened. It was as if the universe KNEW I was ready.
I received an email from FabFitFun asking me if I ever did sponsor posts and how much my pricing was.
I had never done a sponsored post at this point so I had NO IDEA what to tell them. I also was struggling with this - it seemed like this could be the answer to all of my prayers -but I was really worried about what people may think and I was worried that my community would be upset if I started doing sponsored posts. But this was so ideal - if I could make money through Instagram partnerships I would be able to be my own boss while also commit 95% of my time to The Breasties - I couldn’t afford NOT to do this.
I decided to respond to FabFitFun saying I was interested…. just to test the waters and see what this was all about.
I replied with a number that felt good (but I was nervous about it because it seemed CRAZY to be getting paid to work with a brand - especially one like FFF who I was already paying for their boxes myself anyways because I loved them so much - now I was going to get a free box AND get paid for it!? It seemed too good to be true)
After sending in the number they asked if they could call me…
Oh great, I thought. Now they are going to call to tell me they don’t want to work with me because of the amount I asked for… My heart sank as I went down the rabbit hole seeing my dream disappear before my eyes.
But instead - we got on the call and they told me THE OPPOSITE!! They explained how much I was worth, that I had low balled myself and offered to help me get everything that I would need to start working with other brands - like how to create a media kit with my engagement numbers and a price sheet. They truly empowered me to know my worth, feel proud about the content I was naturally creating, and took me under their wing to show me the ropes. The best part? I asked if my contract could include them donating boxes for our retreats - so every Breastie who came on a retreat would also get to experience how amazing their boxes were. Without hesitation they said yes and its been amazing working with them both as an individual and as The Breasties!
***they have now donated almost 200 boxes to our retreats and they are donating a mini box for every breastie coming to Camp Breastie this May. Talk about an amazing brand!!!! ***
*** also - they totally could have laughed at the number I sent them and just paid me less than I deserved but I have SOOO much respect for a brand who values the people they work with and empowers them to know their worth as well!! That is the EPITOME of women supporting women!! ***
When I realized that starting my own business in order to work with brands, consult on campaigns, and share my true thoughts and feelings about these brands and campaigns on Instagram would be an amazing way for me to quit my job, make enough money to pay rent and eat, while also focusing most of my time on The Breasties without having to worry about a salary - I knew I had to lay out guidelines for myself. I really pride myself on the brands I choose to partner with, why I choose to work with them, and the manner in which I work with them.
I won’t bore you with ALL of the requirements I have but here is a small list of a few things that are REALLY important to me when I choose which brands to work with:
I have to believe in the mission of the brand
I have to actually use and LOVE the product
I have to be EXCITED to share this brand with my community. If it doesn’t excite me or feel natural then its a no from me dog. (anyone get that reference?!)
If there is a brand that reaches out and I have never used their product - I have to test that product out for 2-3 months before I decide if I want to partner with them
they have to have a giveback component - aka offer a code for my community to get a discount or they have to make a donation to The Breasties - either a monetary donation or a product donation
the products must be natural and nontoxic. I will not partner with a brand that uses parabens, toxins, or any chemicals that cause cancer or health problems.
Every single brand that I partner with is a brand that I wholeheartedly love, use, and would recommend to my friends or my family - which is what my community on IG consists of anyways!! I would NEVER partner with a brand just because they were offering money to do so. If I don’t believe in the brand, the answer is always NO. I have turned down thousands of dollars because a brand didn’t fit all of my requirements and I am really proud of that. I LOVE the brands that I work with and I am soooo grateful to them!!! So many are sooo generous to The Breasties and believe in our mission SO much. It has been really fun working with brands, meeting other female founders and entrepreneurs and finding new resources and products for breasties.
Here are a few campaigns I have done in the past:
I truly believe that everyone should whole heartedly pursue their dreams at all costs and do whatever it takes to make them happen. BUT I am not saying you should go quit your day job tomorrow. It takes A LOT of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice to make it work. This has been by far the hardest year of my life and also by far the best.
I had to make a lot of sacrifices and life style changes in order to make this work. I moved out of my dream apartment in my dream location in New York with a washer/dryer in unit and a dishwasher and hugeeeee bathtub and huge room and amazing kitchen and moved in with Justin (yay!) in a location that I never wanted to live in, that doesn’t have a washer/dryer, doesn’t have a dishwasher, has the smallest kitchen, super old rundown building, the shower barely works and its the size of my toenail. BUT we love our little home and its definitely been worth it!!! I also sold a ton of my favorite clothes and things to make money, I quit my Equinox gym membership and gave up a ton of other luxuries to make ends meet. I know some of you may roll your eyes at these things because they are definitely not the end of the world to give up - but I had worked really hard in my career to be able to afford these things and I had been proud of the lifestyle I had built. So sacrificing these things all at once was hard - but SO SO worth it!
THIS IS REALLY SCARY
It was a little surreal when I quit my job. I initially thought I would give my boss two weeks because thats what nice responsible people do, but I had a HUGE opportunity to fly to Australia to consult for another nonprofit and it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. Only problem - I would have to leave that week. Sooo when I told my EP (executive producer) that I was giving my two weeks notice but would also be leaving for a trip and could do those two weeks when I got back - he immediately sent me packing. L O L. He was NOT happy. Sooo I thought I would be working two extra weeks aka getting two extra weeks of a pay check but that didn’t happen so off I went to Australia and I was just soooo excited to be doing this full time that I didn’t even think to worry about what life would be like when I got back….
The trip was SO worth it and I had the best time - plus its AUSTRALIA!!!!! But looking back that was INSANE of me. Life is crazy, y’all. Also… how crazy is it that we have Breasties in AUSTRALIA??!?!?!
I thought I had enough money to last me about a year (I highly recommend you do this if you are looking to quit your job - having a little safety cushion REALLY helps) but I quickly realized I had wayyyy under- calculated. So in July I was STRESSED. The first five months were pretty epic and I was loving life but when my bank account started to go lower and lower I was like WTF AM I GOING TO DO?!
Idk why I thought it was going to be really easy to partner with a ton of brands I really believed in and it would be super authentic and organic and just be perfect. Well turns out - a lot of the brands I WANT to work with don’t necessarily want to work with me. WOMP WOMP.
Ps. rejection sucks and getting turned down by brands does feel personal. REALLY personal.
I had been doing a TON of reach out, basically cold emailing my favorite brands and trying to come up with a bunch of creative campaigns and things for us to do together. Some said yes, a lot said no, and even more just straight up ignored me. It felt SUPER great on my ego. NOT. Around this time I started seeing a therapist because my entire life basically imploded all at once and I needed some professional help to navigate my anxiety, stress, and emotions. In one specific session I remember telling him how afraid I was. “I don’t understand Dr. Wayne - I am doing everything right! I am living my life’s purpose, I am only partnering with brands I believe in, I am doing everything I can to help as many women feel confident and happy and creating a safe space for everyone to come together. I thought the universe is supposed to reward you for living life in alignment. I have been manifesting but nothing is happening. I really don’t want to go back to working in TV or at a job that I hate. I am so scared I am goin to fail. I am going to be so embarrassed. WTF!!! You know what… I cant fail. I won’t let myself. I know I am going this the right way. I am so proud of who I am and what I have created. This is goin to work. I am going to make sure of it! I believe !! I have faith!!!”
Basically I spent the entire session digging myself into a hole and then pulling myself out of it. I think the trick to manifesting or the universe or life is to believe in something so much and want something so badly but also having faith that everything is going to work out how its supposed to and to trust that so much that you aren’t attached to the outcome. You have to surrender to what will be will be and go with it.
I know I know, thats a whole lotta woo woo but I am a huge believer in the universe and timing so I had to let go and surrender to it all.
Well, when I got out of my therapy session I got into the car and checked my email. In my inbox, there were about 10 different emails from brands who FINALLY replied to my emails saying they loved my ideas and they wanted to work with me. WHAT!!!!!! I started crying and couldn’t believe it. My friend also introduced me to Sarah, a talent manager, who agreed to work with me and take over the negotiation process, help with brand reach out and manage my campaigns AKA give me wayyyyy more time to focus on The Breasties and help keep it all separate. I am obsessed with her and so grateful to have her as a manager. Love you girl!!!
I guess sometimes the universe gets really quiet and you think its because nothing is happening but most of the time its because its ALL happening - you just have to be patient and sometimes eat taco bell while you’re budgeting trying to fugue out how you’re going to pay rent. L O L.
Overall, this past year has taught me so much. I am so grateful to be in a financial place where I am now much more secure and comfortable. Some months are better than others and I still have days where I freak the fuck out and worry like crazy but overall I feel much more secure now.
I have learned SO much about myself this year as an entrepreneur and female founder. Like - who I am, not to define who I am or my self worth off of my job title or my salary, and I have learned that taking a leap of faith to follow your dreams is the best thing you can do.
Life is short, we have to take advantage of the time we have, and we sure as hell cant waste it being miserable.
Thank you to every single one of you who has helped make this happen. If it werent for your belief in me, all of your likes and comments on my posts, trusting me to lead you, believing in the products and brands I recommend - I would never be where I am today.
I hope this helps you feel more comfortable knowing who I am, how I choose to work with brands, and you know that anything I ever recommend - paid or unpaid, sponsored or unsponsored - it’s because I truly love it and I am wholeheartedly sharing my honest and true feelings with you. I know sometimes seeing #ad or #sponsored makes you not want to believe it actually works or that I really recommend it - but I promise that I do. So please continue to like my posts, comment and engage with them, send them to your friends and family, because it helps SOOO much and it is what has enabled me to give soooo much of my time and energy into The Breasties without having to take a salary or worry. And thats an amazing thing for us all!!!
So now I am essentially back to working two full time jobs - running my personal business and also running The Breasties - FUN FACT: ALL of us cofounders work full time jobs ON TOP OF running The Breasties together which is insane!! So the next thing I am manifesting is ALL of us quitting our jobs to dedicate our time to The Breasties - FINGERS CROSSED FOR JANUARY 2020!!!! Eeeek!!!!!
Love you all so much!!!!!