You probably noticed that my blog went dark for a week. It was for a very good reason. I was invited to speak and meet with some of the folks at Amazon for two days. With this opportunity to travel to Seattle, I also took some time off to visit my friend Cheryl who lives there and, totally unrelated to my trip, works for Amazon too. I arrived back home on Sunday and am a little travel-weary but also excited to tell you about my time away.
My trip to Amazon
I can’t disclose too much nitty-gritty about what exactly happened at Amazon because just about all of it is under tight wraps and the idea of being sued by one of the most powerful companies on the planet is not my idea of a good time. With fear of saying more than I should, I am going to err on the side of caution, but I will say this, it’s not often that my brain spins by what can happen when you put people of superior intelligence in one room. What they are working on in the fashion space is mind boggling, and, basically, their interest in having me out there was to crack open my brain as a stylist and look inside. They were seeking the a real life look of what a stylist does.
Let’s just say that I am always a cynic when it comes to companies looking to replicate or create something inspired by the services of a stylist, and I mean that in every sense of the word, not just technology. Retailers have been trying to do it and companies like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, etc. have been trying to create their own version of what stylists do. I have no problem with the idea of a stylist being more accessible to everyone, I just get a little protective and territorial when a company tries to pull it off without any respect or integrity.
And I’m not even saying this is exactly what Amazon is doing. Their efforts are so above and beyond anything that we can comprehend being possible at this moment, even if I was allowed to talk about it I probably couldn’t explain it while doing it any justice. However, what I will say about my experience with Amazon last week is if there is any company I would hand over my expertise and say, “please handle with care,” it’s Amazon. Say what you will about this company that employs hundreds of thousands of people, like Amazon is the big fish eating up all the little fish, after my experience with them one thing I will never say is that Amazon is smug. This is a company that is integrity obsessed, that challenges itself constantly and has the good sense to look outside itself to ensure they are doing things right.
What I will also say is they are customer obsessed. In fact, being customer obsessed is one of the Leadership Principles of the company, and this is where we are a match and likely why I felt so comfortable with them. As a business owner who has always put the client before business and who has been a strong advocate for women, I have turned down my fair share of opportunities that would have probably made me a lot wealthier than I am because of the integrity I hold with my customer, be it client or blog reader. I have never taken the easier road for a quick buck or for 15 minutes of fame. A quick memory that comes to mind is when I could have made $5000 for writing one review post that was sponsored by a company, that will go unnamed, if I promised to take down an honest review I had written prior. My integrity is worth a heck of a lot more than that. Getting a brief glimpse into how Amazon operates, meeting some amazing employees, listening to what they are working on and being able to offer my own real world experience to a group that was hungry for information was truly amazing.
I don’t know what the future holds for what I saw and experienced or how many iterations will occur by the time the public sees what I saw, so for now I will just say, keep your eyes out, it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds and what’s to come.
My trip to Seattle
With some downtime between meetings with Amazon I got to be a total Seattle tourist. Admittedly, I always snark a bit when tourists come to NYC, but never again. I completely geeked out and visited all the spots that most people visit then they come to Seattle.
Before I get into what I did, I will show you this, how I took one base outfit and changed it up. The first outfit is what I wore on my first day at Amazon. I was meeting with data and tech people and wore what I feel most comfortable in and is typically tech acceptable, jeans. I wore a pair of ankle length Lucky Brand jeans with a grey short sleeve sweater from Theory, popped a navy blazer over it, added an Etro scarf and Cole Haan red flats. Next, when I got back to my hotel and changed for walking and sightseeing, I kept on the grey sweater and jeans, threw a BCBG cardigan over it, added my Frye Melanie slip on sneakers and a pine green beret I knit. This was perfect for the 8 miles of walking I did with cloudy skies and a cool breeze. Later that evening, I met up with my friend Cheryl and her co-workers for drinks. I kept on the same sweater and jeans, added a leather coat from the London company Number 35, the same Etro scarf from the morning and wore a pair of navy Cole Haan mules. These quick outfit changes made going from work to sightseeing to drinks effortless.
While in Seattle I did two things that everyone probably does when they visit, I went to Pike Place Market and The Space Needle.
At the market I went to Pike Place Chowder for lunch (total YUM), passed the very first Starbucks and stopped at this piroshky place for dessert (I had never heard of this Russian puffed pastry before this) called Piroshky Piroshky and ate my sweet treat by the water.
After that I walked to the Space Needle because who doesn’t visit the Space Needle at least once if they have the opportunity to do so? Newly renovated, the observation deck has a glass bottom. Yes, you can actually stand on glass and look down. After getting comfortable with standing on the glass, I actually sat on it. It was quite liberating.
On to vacation
What was really cool about my trip was I got to turn it into a vacation. By Wednesday I was done with Amazon and I met up with my friend Cheryl who lives just outside Seattle in Kirkland. Cheryl and I have been friends since the 8th grade, 30 years this year, and have known each other since the 4th grade. Our lives have gone in wildly different directions and, despite this, we have remained very close. Wednesday through Sunday I stayed with her and I got to see just how beautiful Washington is.
One of our first outings was to Snoqualmie Falls, a 268-foot waterfall just east of Seattle. If you ever visit Seattle try to get there, it’s incredible and a quick trip. Seeing Snoqualmie Falls I realized this was the first major water fall I had every seen.
On Saturday we took a road trip to Leavenworth Washington which is this adorable Bavarian-themed town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. The trip alone was breathtaking and on our way we stopped at Lake Wenatchee (photo top left) which is a glacier- and snowmelt-fed lake situated in the Wenatchee National Forest on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. The water is so still and crystal clear you can see the mountains reflected on the lake. When traveling to Leavenworth, I also highly recommend you stop at the 59’er Diner for one of the best milkshakes.
In addition to seeing the sights, Cheryl and I just spent time together, realizing that it had been nearly 17 years since we had the opportunity to spend this much interrupted time with each other. We got tea and caught up at this adorable tea shop called Lizzy & Kate in Kirkland where we got deliciously customized tea lattes, picked her adorable son Bo up at his pre-K at the end of each day, drank a lot of cider at Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery, bought some yarn at a place called Serial Knitters so I could knit Cheryl some socks, did some consignment shopping (where I got those ridiculously fabulous sunglasses) and got leisurely breakfasts every morning. We even wore the same shoes one day and had to take a photo of that.
My trip to Seattle felt like one of the most comprehensive trips I have taken in a long time. It was a little bit of work, some city and country sights and a whole lot of catching up with a very dear friend. While I am still getting back on east coast time, I feel totally invigorated by the week I just had.