I've got a dope, interesting, loving female for you to fall in love with today. Jen Glantz, of 'Bridesmaid for Hire'.
What started as a craiglist ad Jen has turned into a full blown empire. She's a professional bridesmaid, author, blogger, entrepenuer and all around badass.
You may remeber her from being on the The Almost 30 Podcast a few weeks back, where she blew me away by her kindness, her warmth, and her hustle. This girl had a job she hated in NYC, got laid off, and made her dream life by working hard and following her gut.
I could go on FOREVER.
But a good place to start would be here:
Once you've listened, subsribed and rated The Almost 30 Podcast :) please enjoy my interview with the amazing Jen Glantz of Bridesmaid for Hire.
Can you please give readers a brief introduction to who you are - what you do :)
I'm Jen Glantz - hello, new friends!
I'm a dry-clean only kind of mess who pulls herself together behind a Forever21 dress and hair products from CVS.
But if you want me give you a verbal on my resume, I'd love to tell you that first I am a storyteller and then I am a professional bridesmaid. I'm the heart behind the blog, TheThingsILearnedFrom.com, the author of the book All My Friends are Engaged, and the proud founder of the business, Bridesmaid for Hire.
I'm also a wanna-be contender for the world's fastest pizza eater and library book reader.
Can you tell us about the circumstances or situation that prompted bridesmaid for hire? I love this story!
All of my friends got engaged in our early twenties and I became the "always a bridesmaid" of the group.
One day, I had two friends ask me to be their bridesmaid. They weren't super close friends of mine, but before I could even bat my eyelashes or look away to roll my eyes, I said yes, of course. I came home, told my roommate, and she blurted out -
"Wow, Jen. You're becoming a professional bridesmaid."
At that moment, I was going broke from being a bridesmaid and I was going mad trying to piece together the reason why every single person I knew was smooching their prince charmings and the only thing I was smooching were American Express Bills.
This idea formed in my head that since I was "good" at being a bridesmaid and I had done it more times than I could count on one hand, maybe I could do it for strangers and...I don't know..get paid?
I did what any poetry major would probably do when they want to start a business, I turned to Craiglist. I wrote an ad offering my services to strangers as their bridesmaid for hire, shut down my computer screen, didn't tell anyone about this, and went to sleep. Two days later, the ad went viral, my inbox was filled with emails from brides-to-be, and my heart was beating toward a gigantic opportunity I created almost by pure accident.
Were there ever any times when you doubted yourself on your journey?
Oh yes, of course. I'm human and I'm proud of that! But the doubt that hit me hard never stemmed from other people's remarks or hesitation to the business idea. A lot of people laughed in my face at first, and even now. I went on live TV plenty of times and had to answer to reporters who were calling me crazy and saying this business idea must be some kind of delayed April Fool's Joke. I always whole-heartedly believed in the idea and the need for a business like this to help brides during a very emotional and stressful time. A time when they may not have a strong or stable support system in their lives.
My doubt, I think, stemmed from the moments when I would look myself in the mirror and feel as though I wasn't smart enough, brave enough or even fierce enough to run a business on my own. I have moments like that all the time.
But do you want to know what I do in those moments? I slap myself across the face. Not literally. But with words. When I feel those things, I force myself to say them out loud and when I say them out loud, I usually whisper those things because I live in NYC and my walls are thin. I don't need the entire neighborhood of Murray Hill to know i'm having a "moment". Plus, those are rough and tough things for a person to say to themselves and usually they are said as words that mask what you're really feeling.
So then I scream, I scream so so so loudly that sometimes I hear the neighbors on the 26th floor of my building open and close the door to see if anything is okay, I scream, "Jen you are enough. You are everything you need to be. You are able to do and feel and fight more than you can even bare to imagine."
Maybe living in NYC for 5 years has made me think that talking to yourself out loud, on occasion, is an OK thing to do. But I'm telling you right now, I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without those motivational monologue pep-talks I give myself quite often.
What has been the reaction of your family and friends?
I'm grateful to have a mini, yet mighty, support system.
My family has always had my back and have always pinky-promised me to never give up on my wild dreams. My brother stepped in when I first started the business and helped me get to be something more than just an idea. My roommate, Kerri, and my two friends, who live in NYC, Jess and Sarah, have loved me and put up with me on my best days and on my nightmare days. I owe them the world - or at least access to a good therapist!
Of course some people I know haven't been so kind to me about the business. I remember I was in Macys shopping for bridesmaid dresses for a friend's wedding with her other bridesmaids. One of the girl's said nasty things to me about my business and I literally dropped my arm-full of dresses and ran out of the store crying.
But I've learned that no matter who you are, what you are, or what you work day-in and day-out to become, there will be people who laugh in your face, smirk behind your back and try to tell you that you're not good enough.
And that's okay. You never ever have to listen to them.
What's hard about what you do?
It can be a challenge dealing with all different types of people.
Weddings, while they are rumored to be the best moment of your life, are often filled with drama and pressure and just headaches that Advil can't cure. I'm usually what brides use as their 5"7 version of Advil, so I deal with a lot of personalities and attitudes.
I fall in love, a little bit, with every single person I meet. I think that's why I love my job, even on days when most people would get agitated after dealing with three bridezillas in a row. I guess I believe people have mostly good in their hearts. I want to help them bring that out.
What's the best part of what you do?
Meeting people who hire me to change their life but without even realizing it - they change mine. I've had the chance to meet strangers from all over the world because of this job.
My life, my personality and my heart has evolved and changed in the past two years because of all of those people.
What's something you're really excited about right now?
Since I was a little babe, I dreamed of publishing a book. I published my first book as an e-book in 2013 - because close to 35 publishers told me I wasn't good enough or popular enough to write a book that would sell at a place like Barnes and Noble. I refused to give up and am excited to announce that my second book, Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire) comes out February 7th to bookstores everywhere - and Amazon. Simon and Schuster believed in me and they published it - after close to 20 other publishers pointed me to the exit door.
What do you think it is about you, that's made you so successful?
I think there's truly only one secret to success or to get what you want in this world. I'll tell you that secret but I beg that you believe me.
The secret is: don't you dare give up. Even when there's more reasons to give up than to go on - that just means you're almost there. Please hold on. Fight on. Figure out ways to fail over and over and over again. But then figure out ways to piece back together your game plan so it makes sense in ways you never imagined when you first started out.
So yes, that's my secret. I never gave up. If you viewed the list of people who told me I should - throughout my life - you'd be reading a list that's practically as long as the 7th Harry Potter Book.
What has been the most rewarding thing about being successful?
Accepting in my gut that anything is possible - as long as you're willing to work extremely and painfully hard.
Nothing long-lasting happens over night - not love, not forgiveness, not success.
What's your favorite topic to cover on your blog or when you write?
I love writing about the people who enter my world, even if they enter for only 20 minutes, because I met them on a park bench or at the table top of a bar in the east village, and they said something to me - a sentence or two - that forever changed my life.
I love telling those stories because they show the power strangers have over our lives.
What would you tell someone who is in their 20s, and feels like their career isn't fulfilling?
Here's something nobody else in your life will whisper in your ear: you were made to do more than one thing in your life.
When you're in school, you're hammered into picking one major and getting one degree so you can skip town and get one job. That's not what we were truly meant to do. We're humans and we're complex. We love more than one thing and we're not made to settle. Channel your instincts and find a hobby or a side hustle that makes your heart beat out of control - because it should. It always should.
What's one piece of advice you'd give YOUR 20 year old self?
Don't try to make everyone around you happy.
I take that back.
Focus on making yourself happy.
Our 20's seem to be the time when we're focusing on everyone else - because we have to.
We have to impress our boss so we can get paid and have a place to live. We have to impress our friends, because we start to realize how ruthlessly hard it is to make new ones.
We have to impress the person we're in a relationship with, because we far starting from scratch and downloading 8 dating apps.
What happens is that we lose ourselves or we don't ever get to know ourselves. My fear was that one day I'd wake up in my 30's with the wrong job, the wrong friends and the wrong guy.
I guess I learned if you don't want that to happen you have to really take inventory on yourself. Find out what you love - what you will never compromise on - and what you want to get out of this one chance you have at life.
What's something related to your business that you didn't expect to happen, but that's been a challenge for you?
There was a time when I was working full-time, building Bridesmaid for hire on the side, writing my second book, oh - and trying to date! For a while, I distanced myself from a social life just so I could work, work, work.
I think finding balance is a terribly hard thing to do. I think sometimes you need to give in to the extremes (too much work...too many nights spent on the couch binge watching a show with your roommate or spending the weekend laptop-free, biking Brooklyn with your boyfriend) to get you to realize that you can have both, you can have it all, if you just understand and embrace balance.
Do you have anyone on your team working with you?
Right now, I'm a one-woman show! I have a couple of gals that sometimes will work weddings with me and for me - but i'm managing this business all by myself.
What's been a project or piece that you've worked on that really stuck with you?
I'd say writing my second book was one of the most challenging projects i've ever done. I had two months to write the entire book and at the same time, I was laid-off from my full-time job.
My emotions were all over the place and the idea of having to write close to 100,000 words in 60 days left me sleepless. I poured everything I had into writing that book and now when I read over the manuscript, I can't help but fall on the floor and flood myself with tears. I'm exposing a huge part of my heart to the world and while that's so scary it's also extremely therapeutic.
You talk a lot about dating and being single in your posts. But now you're in a happy relationship (yay!) how does that affect what your work?
I've always had the goal of writing about what was currently going on in my life.
When I started my blog, 5 years ago, I wrote mainly about the struggle and the blahh of living at home in my parent's house while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and snag a job that paid more than $8 an hour. Then I wrote about my perpetual singledom and being a constant bridesmaid. So I want that trend to continue. If I get married, have kids, move to the moon - I want to expose stories about what that's all really like in hopes that my readers can relate, laugh and realize that live is sometimes disgustingly beautiful.
What scares you?
Time. I'm scared of running out of time. That may be the best and the worst thing to be scared of. Best because it makes me get out of bed in the morning faster. Bad because sometimes I exhaust myself.
What's one of your life goals?
To become a motivational speaker for young women. That's my forever career goal. I just want to change people's lives using the hurt, mistakes and the love that i've hugged onto in my lifetime so far.
What's next for you?
I wish I knew where or who i'll be in a year from now or even in a week from now. Life has this brilliantly delicate way of keeping us on our tipy toes, showing us that we can stand on them longer than we think, even when the pain sinks in and the temptation to fall over just seems so contently easy. I'm on my tipey toes - eager to find out what's truly next.
There are some SERIOUS nuggets in there, right? If you haven't already, definitely listen to the Podcast Episode, it's SO GOOD I was in tears at points.
Let me know what you think. I reasonated so much with the parts of doing your own thing, finding your own way and sticking true to who you are.
So glad to introduce you to Jen :) Keep me posted on what resonates with YOU.