For those of you who don’t know who Kahlana Barfield is, you need to find out quickly. For one, I wish she was my best friend. She is a huge fashion maven who is a Fashion and Beauty Editor at Large for InStyle Magazine. From red carpets, to talk shows, to HSN, to her own fashion installation at Barneys, she’s GOALS. Her career began as an intern at InStyle, where she learned the in’s and out’s of the magazine business. After her internship ended, she was hired on and the rest was history. I was so intrigued by the podcast interview she did with Myleik Teel on her MyTaughtYou podcast, that I felt compelled to share the snippets with you. We all need a reminder of why we do what we do, that the hard work is worth it and the dots will all connect. If you have time to listen to the full interview, I suggest that you do. If not, here are some gems for you to take throughout your week with you!
It’s Not Always Going to Pay
When she began her first internship at Suede Magazine in NYC, she was getting a stipend of $15 a day. Not an hour, a day. The money wasn’t what was important to her, she simply wanted to be in the building and feel the energy. All of her friends had landed paying jobs, but that didn’t detour her. When we want an opportunity bad enough and have the vision for it in our heads, it may require that we have to do things that don’t pay what we’d hoped for, if at all. As much as people are convinced that they shouldn’t move unless money is involved, money is not always a prerequisite for success. One major takeaway that stuck with me from Charlamagne Tha God’s book was when he said “people don’t recognize opportunity if it’s not a paycheck attached to it.” Don’t miss the chance to get your foot in the door because of what it will cost you.
Stick With Your Plan A
When you’re dead set on your Plan A but it becomes too difficult, too unrealistic, or too challenging, we’re suddenly okay with the idea of a Plan B. When you take your plan B into consideration, it distracts you from how badly you wanted your Plan A when you believed that it was actually attainable. Kahlana was dead set on her plan A working out. She had faith that it would turn into something bigger and was willing to do the work for it. that By sticking with her Plan A, it eventually evolved past what she could imagine. Imagine what your desires could turn into if you’d stick with them all the way through.
Work Around What You’re Given
She was hired as a general office intern, when what she really wanted to be a fashion intern. They just didn’t have the slot available. She was disappointed, but it ended up working to her advantage. Instead of only learning about fashion, she was able to learn about InStyle in it’s entirety and work with the editors in each department. You may not get dealt the cards you wanted, but you can still play the hand you’re dealt to the best of your abilities.
No Days Off
Or very few, at least. The way Kahlana was able to leave a lasting impression on the Fashion Director who ended up hiring her, was because she filled in for her assistant while she was gone on a two week vacation. In the two weeks that Kahlana was filling in, she had the opportunity to not just do the assistants job, but it was enough time to prove to the Fashion Director that she could do it quicker, better and smarter than the assistant. The valuable lesson in this is to never give someone else the opportunity to do your job better than you. Prove why you deserve to be in your position daily because even if you don’t take it seriously, someone else will.
Dedicate to Making Impressions
Kahlana would show up at 7 am when the office didn’t open until 10. She’d stay in the office after everyone was gone. She recognized as a triple minority (African American, young, and a woman) she had to work three times as hard to prove her worth. She was continuously thinking what else she could do, what else she could learn, how else she could improve, not just to impress those at InStyle, but to continue to soak up what she could during her time there. On the last day of her internship, which is a seemingly forgettable position, she still walked around and gave everyone handwritten thank you cards, noting what she’d enjoyed about working with them most. Now that’s how you become memorable.
Be Confident in Speaking Up
During this podcast episode, Kahlana addresses something I think many women struggle with – knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet in the workplace. Because we’re often the minority, we’re afraid to rock the boat and are just thankful to have a seat at the table. Instead of feeling like we have something valuable to add, our confidence is combated with the idea that we should “just be happy to be here”, when in fact, we’ve earned our spot there. There were times where she felt like her voice didn’t matter and eventually had to find the confidence in knowing she had something worthwhile to contribute.
Passion Catches The Eye
Kahlana mentions how so many people she interviews only want the job for what it looks like to the eye. They see a tall building, a beautiful lobby and a lot of expensive clothing, so they’re instantly intrigued. What she wants to know is, that you’ve done your research and why you really want the job. Passion is always apparent. She’d want to be convinced that this is what you’d done for free because you love it that much. Do your homework and research, know about the position and company and be able to communicate why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Build Genuine Relationships
In a world of instant gratification, it’s so easy to have access to people you admire. She speaks about her biggest pet peeve being people reaching out to her wanting something from her that don’t know her and I can definitely relate. Some of the most valuable relationships I’ve built since launching my personal brand began with genuineness. If you admire someone, let them know. There’s nothing wrong with sending them a quick message or a professional email. If you like what they post, or their style, compliment them, but please do not overstep your boundaries. Say hello every time you see them, but don’t intrude on their personal space or time. Someone you look up is likely very busy, so you asking if they’d have time to meet for a cup of coffee or review your resume when they’ve never seen your name before is quite far fetched. If you want to rub shoulders with them, find a way to get put in the same room so that you have the opportunity to build a genuine relationship.
To listen to the full interview and get familiar with Kahlana’s hustle, click here.