We had the good fortune of connecting with Kay Litwin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kay, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
The adage, “Never Give Up”, cannot be undermined. I personally did not start my undergraduate degree until I was 22 years old – after which it took me two years and endless applications to finally land my dream job. You may find yourself in a situation, professionally or even romantically that is not fulfilling – but whatever your goals are they are not only attainable, they are attainable right now. I wake up everyday and try to be the best version of myself. We only have this one life, that can end at any moment, so make the most of it! But most importantly, while I absolutely love my job – it could not be more tailored to my interests and needs, I have realized that true fulfillment and happiness is within you at all times. Rather than chasing fleeting and ephemeral moments of perceived happiness – which will leave you wanting, I cannot stress enough to find happiness within yourself at any given moment. With the right mindset, and a “never give up” attitude, the rest truly will fall into place.
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.
Currently I am in the world of philanthropy and fundraising. I am awarded the honor and privilege to take a small company and run with it. In an attempt to be brief, what my company does is helps individuals, organization, really anyone who needs to raise funds do so by collecting new and gently worn shoes from their friends, family and community. We pay the organization or individual for what they collect, then we are able to send the shoes to partnerships we have with female micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations. Our contacts are located throughout South America and Africa – these women who may be widowed, or victims or domesticate abuse now have the opportunity to gain financial independence and support their families by reselling the shoes in the local market, which in turns shoes the community who needs it most, while also keeping shoes out of landfill. It truly is a full circle – helping people at home and overseas while also reducing, re-using, and recycling textile waste. I am finally at a point where I am my own boss, and I get to let my creativity run wild – and I endeavor to take what is currently a small company and use it to change to face of textile recycling across the country, by making large business and corporate partnerships. Millions of pounds of shoes and clothing get thrown away every year because they are no longer in style or they were returned but are now unsellable. By partnering with out company you have the change to keep landfills empty, give back to the organization of your choice in your own neighborhood, and help those in developing nation! It has not been an easy journey by any means, and that is why, again, I cannot stress enough…never give up! I started my first job when I was 13 years old working at a flower shop, making $6 an hour and still clocking in on a time punch card. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to go to college because we simply didn’t have the money. Dozens of interviewers have told me that they’re going to hire the person with more experience. I have been caught in this Catch-22 of sorts for whole life, and now…I have an amazing job, I not only have a Bachelor’s Degree but am working on my Masters in Science, and I gained invaluable experience operating this fundraising company. You will have to say no to going to that party sometimes, you may have to take that unpaid internship – but put in the work and be a good person, and good things will come your way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
While I was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia, I have now lived in Los Angeles for 1o years…and I will never be leaving Southern California. This is home now. I have a insatiable lust for life – each day I take as an opportunity to go out and “get ’em” – so if you’re looking for an awesome time in Los Angeles…I know just the things to do and places to go!! You’ve just arrived at LAX, and where are we headed? Well luckily for you this week we will be visiting Huntington Botanical Gardens, where you can walk through kingdom like rose bush gardens, or pass over bridges into the Chinese forests and get lost in the tropical jungle! After we’re done there, we’ll drive over the The One Last Bookstore in Downtown LA – not only is it an amazing collection of new and used books, and various vendors selling their arts and crafts, but it has been made into a artistic maze of sorts filled with art made of books! There is not time for rest, much to see and much to eat! Lets go get some sun at the beach in Redondo, and then we can stop by Quality Seafood for fresh steam crab legs in the Marina! Before the week is over we will definitely head over to Dockweiller Beach in the evening for a beach bonfire and s’mores! Theres endless thrift shopping, we can go to all the best spots, and if you’re in mood for an adrenaline rush I have season passes to Six Flags Magic Mountain!! Trust me, you come to LA with me, we will have an AMAZING time! I have managed over the past ten years to turn this big city into my own small town, so whatever you’re desires are…I’ll know where to find it!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh my gosh! When it comes to books that have helped me get to where I am now, I don’t even know where to start. I so hope each and every person out there can find the time to sit down with a good book, and find the enjoyment in it that I do – it is by far my favorite hobby. Personally, outside of Harry Potter of course, I only read non-fictions – I feel more productive and find myself more entertained when I am reading something that either really happened or is educational to my future self. Top of the list, I would have to say all of Simon Sinek’s books, in fact not even just his books – even his interviews are amazing to listen to! That being said, I have used “Start with Why” has been my bible in my career. The position I find myself in currently is allowing me to take a company and transform it into something more. Everyday I wake up and turn on my computer and help change lives, I ask myself “Why”, and when I take into consideration the direction I hope to take my company, I always start with “Why”. Another must read, and a book I live by and basically carry around with my in some fashion at all times:, “How to win friend’s and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. Whether in business or in your personal lives, his words of wisdom are applicable to nearly every facet of your communication techniques. Rules from Carnegie that have stuck out to me the most, and words that I live by in any social setting – do not condemn or criticize, do not talk about yourself too much, and LISTEN…really listen and engage with what the other person is trying to tell you. Before I can leave this prompt I have to give a big shoutout to my oldest sister Bethany, I wouldn’t know who the above authors are without her, I would not have a Bachelor’s Degree without her, and I would not quite know the power of my own will and determination without her. She has not only been a significant source of encouragement in both my professional and educational life, but she has also been an incredible inspiration. She is a kick ass entrepreneur, owns three companies, one of which is a law firm, has 2 kids under the age of 5, and is an amazing wife and sister. Obviously…she never sleeps. So thank you to her.
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