If you are new to Cedar & Rush, Work Smarter, Not Harder (WSNH) is a weekly column showcasing Chicago’s leading ladies – think CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and everyday women making a difference – and how they work smarter, not harder. I decided upon Monday so we can kick off the week as productive and s motivated as possible.
Today’s ladies are not only different from past WSNH guests, but they have three children each for goodness sakes! Moms truly inspire me and are incredible role models for all women. Sarah and Leslie run an upscale consignment event for women and teen girls. Sarah and Leslie are actually neighbors in Elmhurst, which is how they first met one year ago. After meeting them, you would think they’ve been friends for years!
Their spring event is coming up next week and Leslie and Sarah are generously giving away 5 complimentary VIP tickets. So be sure to scroll all the way down to find out how to win.
In the mean time, you are going to adore Sarah and Leslie’s career advice and tips for getting stuff done. It’s not easy with three little ones at your feet. Not only is their story inspiring for mamas, but all women of all ages! Take it away Sarah and Leslie!
1. Leslie and Sarah, tell us what you do!
Leslie: We love shopping… but we also love the ‘O-M-G call your best friend you just got the best deal ever’ sales too! That’s why we founded Savvy Sister, LLC, an up-scale Women and Teen Consignment Event that sells gently used clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry and accessories! Our pop-up events are in the western suburbs of Chicago and occur twice a year – Spring and Fall.
Sarah: My job is a full time mom! Savvy Sister is an amazing idea my great friend Leslie presented to me and I LOVEd IT immediately. I think it’s a great way to bring amazing deals to the women of our community. Kinda funny my hubby, Joe, and I were chatting about what I’ll do when our youngest is in kindergarten the day before Leslie presented me with this amazing idea. I came home, told him about it and he was completely supportive of our idea. He’s really been an amazing rock through this process. I think the best part of doing this whole thing is seeing how proud my boys are when we are out and about town and they see on of our flyers…. They’re always like “look mom it’s your store!”
2. How did you both get to where you are today?
Leslie: We moved our family to Chicago from Charlotte, NC after my amazing husband took a new job here. After spending a few short months living directly across the street from Wrigley Stadium (as in Taco Bell was our neighbor) we headed out to the burbs to take advantage of the larger yards for our two dogs and three kids. In October 2015 we unpacked our boxes, started our Kindergartener in school, and headed out to make friends. Sarah and I immediately connected over our similarities. We have busy lifestyles which include our three children (each). We both come from entrepreneurial families and were thinking about getting back into the work force after several years of being SHAMs (stay at home moms). In January, Savvy Sister was born, and we have been nurturing and growing the company and getting ready for our first Spring Sale this June.
Sarah: I was born and raised in the inner city of Chicago in Ukraine Village. Now among the trendiest of Chicago’s neighborhoods, growing up not so much. Growing up in that type of neighborhood I knew I always wanted to be a teacher and work with the kids who needed the most help. I attended NIU university and got my B.A. In Education. Immediately following I took a teaching position on the West Side of Chicago working with inner city kids who really just needed a safe haven. After four years I moved schools and worked on the Southside for the next three years. During this time, I married, had three babies got my masters and went through National Board Certification!! Whew, I was tired. Starting this business has been a whirlwind of events and is my new chapter! I look forward to everything it has to offer.
3. What time do you mamas get up in the morning?
Leslie: Bed??? That would imply that we sleep! Just kidding! At our house, it’s unpredictable. Sometimes I’m up at 6AM to have coffee with my husband before he goes to the train. Other days it’s 4 AM when my three year old decides its time to chase the dogs around or wake the baby.
Sarah: Up at 6 AM because my youngest is standing over me. Bed at 10 PM, because at 6 AM my youngest will be standing over me.
4. How do you ladies take your coffees?
Leslie: I take my coffee anyway I can get it! Usually its lukewarm, but only after its been reheated in the microwave three or four times. By 2 PM I usually give up and turn it into an iced coffee! Yes, I’ll take my coffee anyway I can get it!
Sarah: Coffee, lol, I like to drink it hot, but will reheat as many times as I need too!! Usually at least 6 times per cup. Although, I must admit the ladies at my local Dunkin Donuts know my car when I pull up to the drive through window and have my order ready.
5. Quickly walk us through your morning routines:
Leslie: Mornings are the busiest time at our house! I start by making the most delicious coffee, but don’t drink it because I have to get three small people breakfast, dressed, pack backpacks, iron my husband’s shirt for work, find the lost car keys, dry some tears and kiss a few booboos. After all that, I take a cold sip of my coffee before reheating it. The coffee will now stay in the microwave for a good 30 minutes while I check and respond to emails and post on Facebook. Since the coffee is still in the microwave, I heat it one more time before pouring into my to-go mug. Then I head to the gym where I’ll meet Sarah for our morning workout and brainstorming or planning meeting. Yes, multi-tasking at its best!
Sarah: Getting three little people up and ready in the morning is always a mad dash. Wake, make breakfast, make sure oldest has lunch and backpack ready to go, drop little one at preschool and run errands with the middle one till it’s time for afternoon kindergarten. Oh yeah, don’t forget to pick up 3 yr old from preschool, then the oldest at three before starting after school activities.
6. What is the best way to get your foot in the door of your industry with little to no experience?
Leslie: I’ll talk a little about our Consignors here. They are the biggest part of our company and who we look to network with first and foremost. We spend a great deal of time chatting, texting and emailing our clients/Consignors to make sure all their questions are answered, ensuring they get the most money for their items and make them feel like they are part of the company! This type of business spreads via word of mouth and we want our clients to say the best about their experience with Savvy Sister!
7. What resources do you use to stay organized and remember tasks?
Leslie: Sarah and I have planning and brainstorming meetings three times a week. We keep a weekly to-do list in our emails, as well as use apps on our smart phones. We really help each other stay organized and communicate. If I’m not talking with Sarah, you can bet we are in the middle of a conversation through texts (that’s 4 in the morning or 10 at night).
Sarah: The Wave Accounting app and Phone Calendar app.
8. What mistake do you see people constantly make that they should be aware of?
Leslie: This would definitely be GOALS. I don’t think people set high enough goals for themselves. If you don’t like your career… change it! If you have big dreams…. reach for them! I always tell my children to want more, do more and ask for more. It is okay not to reach your goals the first time because that gives us a chance to learn more!
9. How do you conquer your inbox?
Leslie: I read everything when it comes in. I flag and color emails by priority as follows: now, this week and later. Sarah also cleans out and organizes our shared inbox to easily locate items.
Sarah: Multiple times daily. If I don’t clean it out 2-3 times a day it’s unbearable. I must stay on top of it at all times.
10. What’s the most recent thing someone did that really impressed you?
Leslie: For just moving here, I have an impressive group of Mom friends, who always come to the rescue. Need a break? Someone will come pick up your kids. Have a client meeting? Someone will pick your kids up from school. Have to leave your house immediately to take your kid to the ER? You bet another Mom (or three) will be there to feed your kids and clean your house!
11. How do you make time for working out and staying healthy?
Leslie: Like running after my three kids is not enough, I love to run at the gym. Read this as I love quiet time (by myself) while I run! You can find me there at least 4 times a week running and cross training. I also love to dance – in a class or out with my friends. It’s fun and freeing!
Sarah: Leslie and I make a great team. Our weekly meetings happen on the treadmill at Courts Plus. We talk business, make plans and tackle tasks while running.!! I’ve recently began the 31 day fix and that’s REALLY helped me make sure I’m eating healthy during this crazy planning period.
12. What are your favorite tips for keeping an organized workspace?
Leslie: I don’t know, Sarah always keeps me organized!
Sarah: Don’t let anything sit. See it, do it, file it!
13. What other pieces of advice/tips can you share?
Leslie: Working hard really pays off. I truly believe you get out what you put in. If you believe in yourself and your goals, you will reach them! My tip would be to spend more time with your kids; talking to them about who they are; and who they want to be when they grow up. Play with them, laugh and be with them on their level. Don’t be afraid to look silly. How you look does not matter to them. Just have fun!
Sarah: There is nothing like hard work. It’s what I tell my children on a daily basis. If you’re not willing to work for it, it’s not worth having. I try to set that example everyday for my children and I think they have really seen it start to take shape since starting Savvy Sister with Leslie. My children now see me, not only as their mom, but as a person who sets goals and achieves them.
* Favorite Apps: Facebook, Nike Run, PhotoWonder and Wave
* Favorite Resources: My mom and my mother-in-law
* Favorite Websites: SavvySisterSale.com
* Favorite Gadget: iPad, iPhone, my coffee mug
* Favorite Meal: Brunch
Leslie and Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your tips and tricks with us today. I can’t wait for the Savvy Sister Sale and such a pleasure getting to know you both!
If you want to join the Savvy Sister Event too, it takes place next week from Wednesday, June 1st – Saturday, June 4th in Villa Park and it’s completely free (except for the VIP night). They have over 50 consignors to date and going to be quite the rush. You can find all the details on their website.
To win FREE VIP shopping passes (AKA get first dibs on all the goodies!), just leave a comment below. I will announce the winners this Friday, May 27th by 6 PM! Extra entries for following Cedar & Rush on Instagram, Facebook and/or Pinterest. Just leave a separate comment for each one. If you already follow me, just tell me so in the comments below.
Also, if you are interested in a free closet clean out and consigning some of your own items for the Savvy Sister Sale, Ashley Markgraf – a Savvy Sister consigner and stylist – is offering her services before the event! You can email her at ASHLEY@THESTYLEEFFECT.COM. She will come to you, help purge items you no longer need and help you make you moolah for something new! Note, there is a $30 fee – this handles EVERYTHING from gathering your pieces, pricing, collecting, donating to good will, etc. Who’s ready to go shopping?!