We had the good fortune of connecting with Alison Okerman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alison, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I fist had kids and was working a usual 9-5 the balance was simple. While at work, that was the priority. While home the family was the priority. The hard part was during work hours when I would get called because someone wasn’t feeling good, or I would have to be late for work because I didn’t want to miss an activity with the kids. It was a constant guilt of missing work for the kids, or missing the kids for work. Once I was out of the 9-5 routine and started doing something on my own, everything shifted. In this role I think about work 24 hours a day. I could work 24 hours a day. So now I have to put real effort into managing that balance. I have to make sure I take time off to be with my kids, or not feel guilty when I need to work. Ultimately this balance is more chaotic but much better. I am with my kids more, I am in control of my job and I am feeling less guilty. Balance is a tricky thing. There will never be this perfect balance where all aspects of your life are getting the equal amount of attention. But there is a way to manage it all and to get the most our of your time with your family, your friends, or at your job. Balance requires a little less guilt and that is something that I have to remind myself of. We all want that perfect “work life balance”. It honestly doesn’t exist. But I think that when we take control and let go of the guilt, we can get a little closer to it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started working in apparel in 2003. I started as an office assistant not really knowing what part of the business I wanted to get into. I ended up working in sales and realized I wanted to be on the product side of things. My first big product focused job was at Juicy Couture. It was so exciting and I really thought I had made it! It’s a very challenging job. As a merchandiser you are focused on every single aspect of the product. The design, the cost, the production times, the sales team, and the marketing team are just parts of what you have to focus on. However, I loved it and knew I wanted to pursue this as my career. The thing about this industry is that the higher up you go, the fewer positions there are. So after working my way up at a few companies I saw the challenge of taking that next step. No matter how good you are, how smart you are, or how experienced you are, Its’ a very hard business to reach to the top in. After 10 or so years I began to feel like I was not going to get there. Was it me? Was it the industry? Was I content knowing this might be the top for me? I kind of became content, which led to boredom. When I left my last corporate position, I kept trying to think of “something else”. Should I switch paths? Should I go a totally different route? They say things happen when they are supposed to. I always thought that was crap. Then on a whim I made a sweatshirt for myself. That was a little over a year a go. I did as a creative outlet, I always liked making clothes and having something unique that not everyone would have. I never thought that mindset would allow me a business yet it did. Im thankful for all of the past experiences. Without them I would not be able to navigate this new venture the way that I am. The big lesson? Things can actually happen when they are supposed to. Sometimes you just have to be the one to make them happen. Don’t wait for someone else to give it to you. If you want it, go get it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The South Bay is such a fun place to be. What I love most is the mix of places that have been here for decades along with new fun places to explore. The easy family friendly vibes are simply the best. Start your day with coffee at Java Man in Hermosa Beach Head down to the strand for a nice beach walk Grab brunch at Manhattan Beach post Walk around the local shops (we love Waverly Boutique!) Dinner and drinks at Dia del Campo for some delicious Mexican food and margaritas Take a day and head up to Palos Verdes. A hike with the gorgeous ocean views followed by lunch at Nelsons at Terranea Resort is a favorite to do. Make sure spend a good day at the beach. Head down to the water for the day, and when you are done walk up to the Manhattan Beach Creamery for ice cream. The kids (and adults) love it!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband and kids have put up with a lot. They get so much credit. From a chaotic house turned warehouse, to Saturdays and Sundays working, they have been so supportive during all of this. I have had moments where I have wanted to shut it down, or questioned what I was doing. They have kept me going and I am so thankful. My mom and my sister have been huge helps as well, from helping with my kids to doing odd jobs for me. All the friends and family who have supported me have had a bigger impact than they could imagine.
main image photo @summerhopperphotography