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Life / Working It Studio Life Levi in her workspace, in Red Hook, Brooklyn Insta-Success “You can grow your fan base online and show your work every step of the way,” says Levi of how she’s used social media to expand her business. This Is My Job Helen Levi, 29, turned her hobby—pottery—into her paycheck. Here’s how to make that happen. I’ve been making things out of clay since my parents enrolled me in a ceramics class in first grade. I made everything from tiny animals to mugs and bowls. I kept at it through high school and college, and eventually taught myself new techniques by reading and watching YouTube videos. After I graduated I had a series of part-time gigs in New York City—waitressing, working as a photo assistant—and was making pieces on the side. Then I met fashion designer Steven Alan at an event in 2013. He liked my colorful tumblers, simple off-white teacups, and terra-cotta planters, and placed an order for his new home-goods store. That was huge for me. I put all my energy into my business, and soon I was making plates for a Manhattan sushi restaurant and porcelain necklaces for a store in Brooklyn. I went from sharing a studio with 30 other potters to working out of my own space. I’m still not a big name, but I’m doing what I love and making a living while being authentic to me. Woman at Work Above, Levi’s marbled Beach Series breakfast bowls, which take her about two weeks to make, and, right, the potter at her wheel On my average day… I get to the studio around 10:00 A.M. after taking my business partner— that would be my dog, Billy—for a walk. I check on whatever pieces I threw (that’s potterspeak for shaping clay on the wheel) the day before. I might put handles on a mug or apply glaze. I do my best work in the afternoon; that’s when I’ll try out new ideas or tweak old ones. The hardest part of my job… I have a lot to balance: paperwork, sales, taxes, finding clay at the best price. My kilns are like cars: They need upkeep all the time! I didn’t know anything about electrical work, so I had to learn. And I have to promote myself. Sometimes you don’t want to be like, “Hey, look at what I’m doing.” But no one’s going to do that for you. I have to put myself out there. The best part of my job… Whenever I see a photo of someone’s kitchen and I spy one of my pieces on the shelves. It makes me proud to have my stuff out there in the world. What I tell people who say you can’t make a living off art… No one’s said to me, “When are you going to get a real job?” But the stereotype that artists can’t make a living persists. The truth: It is possible. Not everyone needs a 9-to-5 to be successful. My idea of success is, Do I feel good about myself? I enjoy my day, I pay my rent, and I’m happy. My best work advice… Focus on the aspects of your job that make you the happiest. When I waitressed, I loved talking to people and cooking. I concentrated on those things so I could be content while figuring out my next move. That attitude helps you feel fulfilled no matter what you do. —as told to Lisa Liebman LEVI: ATISHA PAULSON. LEVI AT WHEEL: JAMES CHOROROS. CERAMICS: HELEN LEVI 56 glamour.com
Life / Working It Girl, get back to work. y HEELS: JULIA KENNEDY/FOLIO ID/TRUNK ARCHIVE Work Mistakes to Avoid in 2017 The office—if you’re even in an office—can be a confusing place these days. A few life lessons here. By Bess Levin ou’ve probably heard these workplace adages: Don’t leave before your boss or curse at the office, and definitely don’t get drunk at the holiday party. We’re not saying those rules don’t apply anymore—let’s be real, it’s never kosher to knock down multiple cosmos in the same room as the person who determines your salary—but things have changed. You’re more likely to hear people drop an F-bomb while on the clock (research shows it can actually bring employees closer), and a younger workforce is blurring hierarchical lines. So how should you behave now? Heed this advice! Don’t wait to do great work. Stuck at a job you don’t love? Yep, been there. Young people now are more likely to be underemployed than past generations. But the biggest mistake you can make is to act like you’re above the menial tasks you’re given, says Deborah Rivera, founder of The Succession Group, an executive search consulting firm. “I’ve seen employees who aren’t even trying to excel,” she says. “They think, When I start my real job, I’ll do well. But no one will recommend you if you don’t take your current one seriously. Find value in every task— and do it better than everyone else.” Don’t talk sh*t on the record. “A client asked me for some recommendations for an ad agency,” says Jackie K., 45, a communications director in Westport, Connecticut. “So I reached out to a great agency and wrote about my client’s existing publicity campaign, ‘My client needs you; you’ve probably seen their hideous ads around the city.’ When the agency said yes and I forwarded their contact info to the client, that little tidbit was forwarded as well! The client called my boss to complain. Thankfully, my boss was nice about it—he reminded me to be careful—but I learned a valuable lesson. Nowadays everyone does work on their phone, where it can be harder to see an entire email thread. If you’re not sure, don’t forward. Just start a new chain to be safe!” Don’t hook up on the clock. Dating a coworker? Totally happens these days. But be warned: “Because the work environment is less formal and folks work weird hours, there have been increasing reports about people literally having sex at work,” says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach, and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “When you’re working, you’re being paid to work.” Plus: Hello, boundaries! Don’t ignore the pecking order. “I was working at a huge media company, and an opportunity came up to switch into a department I knew I’d be a lot happier in,” says Nora C., 29, an editor in Brooklyn. “I had no idea how to go about it, so I took several meetings behind my boss’s back to try to make it happen. Of course, she found out and was upset. Things ended up working out—she let me split time between the two departments. People my age are always looking for professional growth and purpose, but you have to be up front, no matter how awkward it may be.” Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. “A few weeks into my first job, my boss offered to take me out to lunch,” says Lauren P., 30, a marketing director in Columbus, Ohio. “I’d been told he was a history buff, so when he asked about my interests, my desperate-to-get-ahead self blurted out, ‘I love U.S. history!’ My boss was eager to dive into the subject. But when he asked about my favorite books, it became clear I knew nothing about the topic. It’s so easy to stalk your boss on social media to find out his or her interests, but now I know: If I want to make a real connection, it’s best to be myself.” glamour.com 59
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