Femme #1: Lucie
Tell us about your career path
My career path was pretty straightforward when I was growing up. I was always passionate about studying foreign languages and knew I wanted to pursue a career in Business. I went to the University of Economics in Prague and studied International Business. During my time in school, I worked part-time for big corporations like ExxonMobil and Goodyear. I despised every moment sitting in a cubicle and clocking in my hours. By the time I reached graduation, I felt like I hadn’t learned anything valuable that I could apply in the real world. Everything I learned at school was theoretical, and I couldn’t use anything in a modern business environment. Therefore, I decided to look for a program that would give me more hands-on, practical experience in a field that I could feel passionate about. I got into a marketing graduate program in San Francisco and through the support of my parents, who always emphasized the importance of my educational growth, I was able to move across the ocean to a city I only visited once before.
My first job in Silicon Valley was a marketing internship for a Fashion tech startup. The position was unpaid, we worked 6 days a week from the office and my commute was 1.5 hours, but it was a great opportunity to learn new skills. Even though my position was an internship, I was the only marketing person who ran all the operations and campaigns. I had to learn how to use all the digital marketing tools from Hubspot and WordPress to Google Adwords and Facebook ads. I worked there for almost a year, while I was still going to school. This was on top of taking care of a 3-month old puppy. While my school friends were having fun on the weekend, I stayed home and worked. I didn’t make as many friends the first year in San Francisco, but my hard work paid off when I received an amazing job offer right after graduation to join a fast-growing tech startup called HoneyBook.
I started as a Social Media Manager at HoneyBook, but soon after I started taking on more responsibility and I started managing content, working on email marketing campaigns and diving into front-end web development. The company culture was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before! Everyone in the company was very driven, went the extra mile with all the projects and strongly believed in the company mission. I had the opportunity to work very closely with very hardworking and passionate people who shaped my professional, and also personal development. I already had experience working in Photoshop from my previous startup, but HoneyBook is where I earned the opportunity to learn more design tools like Illustrator and Sketch. Since the company was moving very fast and we didn’t have enough designers, I took the initiative to design assets for all the marketing campaigns we were running. One day, I realized that design makes me much happier than marketing. At first, I was scared to change my career path, since I felt like it would be a long way to become a designer, especially because I didn’t have any design background. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to become a designer. I worked for weeks on my portfolio before I was ready to apply for design jobs. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my close colleagues, I was able to get a job as a website designer. Now, I work for a different company as a UX/UI designer and I am happy that I had the courage to pursue my dreams, even if I had to learn design from scratch.
What are the biggest lessons that you learned throughout your career?
Your educational background doesn’t matter
I learned that your educational background (where you went to school or what degree you have), is not important at all. The most important thing is the knowledge that you have, the skills that you’ve learned and how to market yourself. When I was interviewing, I was never asked about my educational background -- companies only care about your actual skills and experience. You will most likely never learn those skills at school -- you have to go out there and learn it yourself.
Don’t be afraid to speak up
Working for American companies allowed me to find my voice and taught me to share my thoughts, even when I talk to someone more senior than I am -- whether that’s my manager, the CEO or co-founders. When I was in the Czech Republic, I always had a feeling that I couldn’t express myself fully, especially around the men in the office who were the ones in leadership positions. It’s very different here - people in San Francisco are very open to others’ ideas and they treat everyone equally. I’ve also learned that you have to think about what you want to achieve in your career, and be able to communicate it with your manager or employer - if you don’t speak up, they can’t support you and you might be unhappy in your job because you’re not getting what you want. Your happiness and success is in your hands.
Build a connection with like-minded people
I would never be where I am right now if I hadn’t become friends with my colleagues from HoneyBook. They helped me to excel at my job, pushed my limits and made me even more driven. Even though we don’t work together anymore, we still keep in touch and I know I have someone to go to when I need help. This project would probably not have existed if it weren’t for them. Seeing my friends start their own companies motivated me and inspired to start something too.
What do you wish you knew when you were 20 years old?
I wish I knew about the design field (I didn’t know someone could do it for living!) and some other career paths. I also wish that I didn’t spend so many years in school - I could have started working much sooner and gain even more experience than what I have now.
Who helped you along the way to where you are now?
First, I would say that I owe it to my parents - they helped me get to San Francisco. Second, a few of my colleagues from HoneyBook, who became my close friends. They helped me become better at what I was doing, pushed my limits and challenged me. All of them left the company and run their own businesses now -- they are my main source for inspiration.
Why did you create Femme Palette and what do you want to achieve?
When I was in the Czech Republic, I was surrounded by my closest friends and was shy about meeting new people. After moving to San Francisco, I had to invest a ton of energy into building new friendships from scratch. As an introvert, I had to break out of my comfort zone and wanted to find a community of people like me. I always wished that it was easier to connect with like-minded, driven, and adventurous women of different backgrounds. That's why we created a place for women with the same interests to start conversations easily, meet 1:1 in person, and to make a deep, meaningful connection. I believe that's how we start inspiring each other, and helping each other grow, professionally and personally.