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Conversations with the Inspiring Cristin Wondergem

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristin Wondergem.

Cristin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
All of my experience thus far has led me to where I am at today, and even though my experience may seem odd to some, the collection of experiences has really been the best mix of subjects for creating an online community for female positivity and empowerment. My background really starts with retail cosmetics, working for a popular cosmetic company. Shortly after starting, the retail manager role opened up and I went for it knowing that I could lead a team and continue on driving sales. The new role was such an eye-opening experience. Working with so many women, as well as serving women daily, I began to see how much self-esteem and confidence was lacking in the average everyday woman. And learning how to manage a team of all women, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. The experience was a fast track glimpse of what it was like to be an entrepreneur. Of course, this was a huge company, but really, they provided no real training in management, leadership or even any marketing strategy. This terrified me, and excited me at the same time, I was up for the challenge.

Later, I then started working for another highly recognized cosmetic company as a MUA, and this company in particular had more of a reputation of being the place to go to for special occasions to get your makeup done. Quickly, I had clients asking me if I did Freelance Makeup. I then realized, I could start making extra income on the side if I started freelancing, so I went for it. After months of doing this, I started doubling my monthly income, and sometimes, 4x my monthly income. The rush of it all was so exciting, making something out of nothing, literally creating you own business for myself was thrilling. I finally understood why so many people talk about the “freedom” from working for yourself.

After a few years of this, I started to feel like I was missing something, and decided to go back to school. Once I was there, it wasn’t long before I started getting that nudge to “Do my own Thing”, so I started focusing on things I knew that would be helpful to me in any future entrepreneurial pursuits I had, writing and marketing.

Fast forward, through several more years of working as an MUA while finishing up my degree I took on any side job or internship I could get my hands on in marketing to learn how businesses and agencies ran “in the real world”. My new plan was to work for a marketing agency, then open my own agency. While learning and interning, I really experienced a severe lack of community and leadership from those in the field as I was starting out and I just kept telling myself, I can’t wait to mentor other girls when I have my own agency because I was constantly trying to find a mentor and felt so lost navigating this new territory, even though that was always the advice given, “find a mentor”.

Fast forward to 2014, I decided to start a lifestyle blog. I loved the idea of still talking about life, but also talking about the more frivolous things, like makeup, travel and food. I loved this outlet because it started out as a way for me to have a creative outlet that took care of the feeling of “doing my own thing” while I was gaining agency experience, and allowing me to use all of my skills in one place. Then, as life does, I was thrown a huge curveball right after the new year in 2016 and was laid off from my agency job. It was around this time that I decided that I wanted to take the whole blogging thing to a new level. I wanted to not only provide content to be consumed by women, but, I really wanted to make an impact in some way. It took me a long time to figure out exactly how I wanted to do that, and I still wasn’t done with the idea of having my own agency, but something just didn’t feel right about it. I knew the struggles of agency life and just how hard it is to scale that model of business. So, I continued on, blogging away about gluten-free cookies, and just continued on. I now am happy to say I have the clearest vision of exactly how I am going to make an impact and “do my own thing” through my blog and brand. My mission is to help millennial women feel empowered to start their own side hustles and kill it when it comes to their makeup and entertaining. Women are multifaceted, so I I know I need my content to be.

I am working on creating a positive, empowering community for women that focuses on real life, and sometimes, life is crappy, It’s not always that perfect Instagram feed, and I think women are hungry for that and I am so happy we’re finally all here for it. My goal is to share valuable information on how to start a business, market and launch product and how to prepare for the unexpected. And, of course, mindset and motivational topics, because you can’t be an entrepreneur without needing to get your mindset right and stay focused. I’m extremely proud and excited about what I’m building and the content that I provide for free to visitors to my site. I’m also working on some exciting stuff that will be launching *fingers crossed* at the end of summer that will be an extension of my brand and will further my mission to mentor, motivate and empower women who want the freedom that entrepreneurship brings.

Has it been a smooth road?
NO, it has been anything but! I’ve wanted to quit so many times because it’s tough to keep going sometimes, especially when you run into roadblocks or feel like your efforts are not working out. Keep in mind that, I do/have done this for multi-million dollar companies, and somewhere, when you’re doing things for yourself, it’s so much harder because you are personally invested, and that makes you emotional. The best advice that I remind myself of constantly and that I would give to other women would be to forget about what everyone else is doing, and just DO YOU! It’s such a cliche at this point, but it can’t be truer. With social media, it’s hard to not constantly see what others are doing in your industry and constantly compare yourself, or your progress to their progress- but it’s a dream killer to do that to yourself. I try to always remember that, regardless of my progress, I’m still moving forward even though sometimes, I want things to move faster, lasting entrepreneurship is a marathon not a sprint, you have to be in it for the long game. It’s seriously about loving the journey more than the destination.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Life and Splendor story. Tell us more about the business.
As I mentioned, my brand mission is to create a community that inspires, empowers, teaches and celebrates women on their entrepreneurial journey while eliminating the mean girl culture. I provide content for women who want to start their own business, learn more about marketing themselves, a product or starting their own online companies. I also consult with businesses who need marketing strategy and content creation. I think what set me apart from others, is the fact that I can talk about what’s in my makeup bag and what makeup products I’m using and then, we can also talk about how to use a new social media feature, I know the modern day millennial woman. I never try and pretend that I’ve got everything all figured out, and even though I have a set of skills, I’m still a vulnerable and transparent person connecting with an audience that is also multifaceted. I don’t pretend to think that my community only cares about makeup, women care about a lot of things, so I deliver that in the most unfiltered way possible. I never want to be the brand that is so perfectly filtered, it becomes un-relatable.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I love this question because it’s really what pushes me forward with my mission. I think that one of the biggest barriers in female leadership and entrepreneurship is women not wanting to help other women to the top. The idea, that  helping other women, somehow means, that you’re cheating yourself. And I think it sucks. I saw this in so many agencies that were predominately all women. There was so much competition, that really just didn’t need to be there, and especially, if you were the new girl and needed some mentoring, you were left to be fed to the sharks. It certainly gave me some thick skin, and forced me to learn on my feet, but the systemic problem of women not supporting women in the workplace because they think that there isn’t enough room for every one of us to succeed is terribly untrue, and just quite frankly not productive for any of us. There are not enough women who want to share their knowledge. It’s funny, in the blogging world I see this too, even something as simple as a question about a specific app, some women out there refuse to give any advice or let people know what app or technology they are using because they think that one specific thing is what is going to set them apart from everyone else. But what I’ve learned is that your visual presence is superficial, there is no layout design or filter that is going to take you the distance, your content and mission have to do that.

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Cristin Wondergem

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