One Door of Opportunity Leads to Another…

September 10th, 2012 by under Arts and Culture, The Smith Experience. 4 Comments.

The Third Week. Things start to unfold and roll.

When I signed up for a lunch with Camilla Olson, I was all curious about how a microbiology majored 30-year pharmaceutical professional shifted her career to a fashion designer. As a designer buyer and shoportunist myself, I was also keen to explore insights into the business side of her story, especially in sourcing, pricing and brand strategies.

And there I was, sitting among those beautiful and aspiring future women entrepreneurs, listening attentively to Camilla’s captivating stories about how she started five companies before opening her own line and her emphasis on the profound value of people working with her.  I almost jumped when I was told there was a volunteer opportunity for a trunk sale the next day. I had no idea what “trunk sale” or “truck sale” was, but who cares!

And there I came. Congressional Country Club, an old Spanish style ballroom reminiscent of European elegance and glamour. And I was dressed, first time in my life, by a designer herself. Moreover, I came to realize the event was way beyond a trunk sale. In fact, it was an inaugural luncheon of UMD’s Women in Entrepreneurship Scholarship Fundraiser! We had roughly 40 alumnae, many graduated from the university half a century ago and still actively engaged in women’s development and the promotion of female entrepreneurship. Sitting beside me, were Abby a senior undergrad who just incorporated her social enterprise, and Caroline, a sophisticated traveler, former speech and now independent biography writer, and Shermine, owner of  a full service design house, whose family are all entrepreneurs.

I was deeply touched and inspired by Camilla who started her sixth business sometime in her late 50’s, and other lifetime women entrepreneurs who embrace new challenges and good things in life regardless of their ages or previous career domains.

Network to me is more about learning and growing than directly landing an internship or job. Do not purposefully look for network just for a job; look for network related to your true passion and interest. Network by supporting others, not just seeking support. Network, and let the doors open for you…


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Halo  on September 13th, 2012

Just checking…

camilla94301  on September 23rd, 2012

Hello Yang. THank you for taking the time to come to both of our lunches! It was so much fun to talk with students and to hear what others think about. You are so lucky to be in school, so keep focused and enjoy every minute.

Camilla Olson

Yang Zhao  on September 23rd, 2012

Dear Camilla,

I was so proud to receive a comment from you. Sorry I planned to write you a letter but was swamped by recent mid terms. But will do after my buyer tour to NYC By then, I hope to share more thoughts with you about my humble understanding of the US fashion indutry.

Best regards,

Designer Camilla Olson Visits Smith | My Blog  on December 8th, 2012

[…] Following the luncheon at Smith, the Office of Marketing and Communication’s own Yang Zhao, a first-year MBA candidate, had an opportunity to volunteer at Olson’s trunk sale in Washington, D.C. – you can read about her experience on her blog. […]