One year

I have always enjoyed writing. Documenting my thoughts in any form — a journal, a blog, an essay — has been something that has come naturally to me ever since I could remember. But last May, I decided that it was time to pursue a different route; I wanted to test myself and my love of writing by starting a website.

It was all so daunting: What would I call it? What would its focus be? Would I be able to write regularly? Would anyone even read it? These questions swirled in my mind like a rip current, pulling me down into their depths and forcing me to swim against it in an attempt to prove to myself how much I wanted this idea to survive.

But suddenly, I made it to shore. On June 5, 2015, I launched TakeHerLead.com as a website dedicated to the things I love the most — fashion and feminism. I wanted to highlight women who were not only well dressed, but also were successful, strong and intelligent, proving that women could be both ‘beauty and brains.’

I remember distinctly the rush of energy I felt when I purchased the domain name, set up the site and hurriedly published my first articles. I remember feeling like I had already accomplished something just by following through with something I had talked about doing for (at least) a month.

But the hardest work was yet to come; writing at least one article every single day was not something I was used to, and my mind was often parched when I was thirsty for the right words to start a story. I also had no idea how to self-promote my work on social media; after all, how would my small voice be discovered in the midst of the whole world speaking at once?

Starting THL may have been difficult, but maintaining it and working through its early problems was even harder. However, all the while I felt like this site would open doors for me — what doors it would open I was not sure, but I felt like I was cracking open a long novel with the ending torn out so I couldn’t peek to see if my favorite character finally got her happily ever after. But, what I did know was that the story was going to be one heck of a journey.

And so here I am, on THL’s first birthday, reflecting on the incredible journey that I have traveled with this site. There are still challenges, but every challenge reminds me that there is, within it, an opportunity to be found — an opportunity to grow, evolve, persevere.

But there have also been so many successes; if someone told me a year ago that I would have interviewed not only a journalist for Glamour magazine, but also an Iron Chef America judge and the former senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan International, I would have thought you were insane. Yet I have done just that — the very thing I thought would be impossible in a year’s time.

And so I thank you, the readers, who have kept up with THL, followed us on the site and on social media and commented and shared my articles. Readers fuel my desire to write, so thank you for spending your time with me when there are so many other voices waiting to be heard.

While I still don’t know how the story of THL will progress or if it will have its own happily ever after moment, I do know that I have learned so much from running THL. From tales of generosity to stories of believing in oneself and pushing boundaries, the women I have written about for the past year have been my ultimate teachers, I the student and THL the virtual classroom.

If I had to sum up all that I have learned while working on this site, it is this: always leave room for the unexpected and the seemingly impossible. Never lose sight of your goals and be continuously creative. Work hard, but have fun.

And most of all — keep on swimming.

Here’s to another year, and many, many more to come.

XO,

Nicole

 

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