We have a special Woman Wednesday feature with one of the co-founders of Femme Fair, Melissa San Vincente!
Melissa is a multi-talented woman. Besides being the co-founder of Femme Fair, she is also the Digital Art Director of Charlotte Russe and runs her personal blog, Melsanv.com. Her creativity, heart, and hard work truly inspires us.
We were lucky enough to attend Femme Fair’s second event a few months ago, and we are still amazed by how Melissa and her team created a space that blends fashion, beauty, entrepreneurship and a space for women in creative pursuits to meet and inspire each other.
Read on about this funny, savvy, and passionate woman that inspires us to share, connect, and boss up.
How did Femme Fair come about?
Truthfully? Probably via a group chat on a Wednesday at 1am. Kidding aside, Stacey and Christina had this idea to host a blogger garage sale about two years ago. I was also itching for a project that served a greater cause and had been toying with the idea of starting a non-profit where I could dedicate my time in helping the community. After a lot of back-and-forth, Stacey, Christina and I joined forces to create something bigger than we could have ever imagined. We wanted to not only provide a platform for women to sell their clothing, but to also promote female empowerment in the San Francisco community. Our first year around, we donated to Planned Parenthood and had more than 200 women in attendance. This year, we supported Global Fund for Women, a global champion for the human rights of women and girls. As many stories go, it all started with an idea and the rest is history!
This is your 2nd year of Femme Fair, did you do anything differently the 2nd time around?
This year, we really wanted to branch off and provide more networking and educational opportunities for women. We decided to include a panel discussion from 3 very different women in the industry, a headliner that shed light on the darkness of sex trafficking, and we also included mentoring sessions for our attendees. In addition to growing our team, we included more photo experiences, a DIY table, and had more bloggers to participate as well! As with any project, I think you always utilize your next go-around to get better and more efficient. I hope those things were apparent this year.
What was the biggest challenge of Femme Fair?
Definitely getting bigger. More sponsors, a bigger team, a bigger venue… all of these things mean more leg work and require more time. Along the way, I think we all found our separate challenges in helping prep for Femme Fair but I think that’s just something that comes with the business of event planning – a lot of late nights!
Your proudest moment?
I was honored to be the moderator for our panel discussion. I truly learned more about myself in that moment that I have in my entire blogging career. I am an extrovert with anxiety. Getting to open up and speak with other women in our community was both rewarding and terrifying. Finishing that panel allowed me to check off an item on my bucket list that I’d always feared doing. I also truly love our community and was so proud of our social media growth over the past year. It made all of the late nights scheduling content SO worth it.
What characteristics do you admire most in other women?
I really admire hard-chargers. The ones who push the status quo, question everything, and raise hell. I think we are often drawn to mirrors of what we aspire to be. When I see other women running businesses, while having a voice of their own, balancing a social life, and overall owning it; I’m in awe. The characteristics I admire most? Empathy, tenacity, imperfection, adaptability, strength, courage and self care.
What was the best piece of business advice that you’ve received?
“Jump! Then, build your wings on the way down.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve applied this throughout my career. Every job I’ve ever taken, there was always some sort of skill or program that I needed to learn, which ultimately helped build my skill set for the years to come. I utilized every step in my career to grow, learn, and get better. In business, you’re not always going to have the right answers and the answers you do have may not always present themselves in a timely manner. I once changed my business name on the way to a conference and made digital business cards in the car (from my phone) to text to new contacts. You have to always be willing to jump even if you aren’t ready.
What is your personal or professional motto?
“Check your ego at the door.” I’m a serious student to the world and love soaking in new environments, new processes and new ways of thinking. I never allow my ego to get in the way of my work or in collaborating with other people. I’m never afraid to ask the stupid questions in a meeting or to tell someone that I’m not sure of an answer. You learn so much from someone else’s experience and wisdom, so to let an ego get in the way of new possibilities or ideas is a damn shame.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently when you started?
I would have worked on my negotiation skills. Graduating from college, I was excited to land any role that I could get my hands on. I was eager and hungry to take the first number that was thrown at me and I know now that was a mistake. While adding to your resume is important, don’t shortchange yourself. Know that your skills, your personality, your background, and your experiences all bring something new to the table. Even if you are scared or uncomfortable, always practice negotiating. Whether that’s a bigger salary, a longer deadline, or more PTO – there’s always room for negotiation!
What resources do you recommend to someone starting in your industry?
In the graphic design or user experience realm, Behance is a great way to stay on top of design trends and to showcase your work for constructive feedback. Creative Market is also a site I wish I had when I was starting out in business. You can buy everything from business expense templates to website builders, all for a fraction of the price you’d pay on other sites. Additionally, make friends in your industry. Join facebook groups or find networking events in your area that cater to your area of expertise. Having friends in the field really help you navigate when you’re starting out. Not sure if you’re charging your client enough? Trying to find a photographer for a photoshoot at the last minute? Social media and networking fill the gaps and help you answer all of the lingering questions you have when you’re just starting out.
If you were given an extra 2 hours a day, what would you do with it?
I would facetime my family or spend more time with my husband. I grew up in Florida and left my family behind to pursue my career in SF and I miss them every. Single. Day. Our time difference makes staying connected pretty tough sometimes, so having those extra hours a day would give me more time to dish about work and hear all about the newness in their lives. My family truly keeps me grounded and brings me back to why I work so hard everyday. I think we all need a good support system in our lives. Any extra second I get will always go to building those relationships that I hold so close to my heart.
What inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by the hustle. My mom worked 2-3 jobs while raising 4 kids and I’ve always been drawn to those that stop at nothing to see a vision come to life. I’m also inspired by kind people. Kindness goes such a long way in my book and has such a ripple effect on the world around us.
What’s next for you?
My hope? A life full of love, growth and happiness. This year, I’ve learned so much about myself and the relationships around me. I’ve been challenged in unthinkable ways and I’m in constant amazement of change. At this very moment, I’m typing my responses from an airplane as I travel to visit family during a difficult time. Life does not have a pause button. I hope that the next chapters in my life will be filled with new adventures and experiences that make me a better person in the life ahead.