Always on the go and open to adventure, Angela Lee Diaz needed a place to stash her stuff. After unsuccessfully searching for a stylish hands-free alternative to a purse, this resourceful country girl from rural Nebraska took matters into her own hands. With a $20 sewing machine and no industry connections, Angela made a leap of faith in 2010 to sew her first prototype and secure patents.
Full Name: Angela Lee Diaz
Current Title/Company: President/Founder of SHOLDIT
Educational Background: Bachelor of Journalism University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Please tell us, what was your first job and how did you land that position?
I grew up on a ranch in Western Nebraska and began working at a very young age. After I left the ranch, during my freshman year in collage, I landed a position at a top advertising agency in Lincoln. I met them by attending an event at the University while networking. I then showed up at their office the next day to reintroduce myself and inform them I intended to work for them to earn experience. I worked there until I graduated my senior year and still maintain friendships there today.
How have your designs evolved since your first sketch?
At SHOLDIT, all of my designs incorporate our mantra; function, fashion, and freedom. Each design starts on paper and begins to take a living form once it’s built out of fabric. Fabric selection is very important to us in how it lays, how it feels, how it drapes, etc. Though the original design has not changed much, we have created natural line extensions to include our Convertible Neck Gaiter, Convertible Nursing Scarf, and RFID blocking wallet.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?
I had absolutely no industry connections, no understanding of the fashion retail industry, however, overcame it by understanding hard work and persistence were going to be the only way. I began building SHOLDIT’s infrastructure by attending trade shows and building relationships within the industry.
How did you learn the ins and outs of owning and operating your brand?
It was a lot of trial and error in the very beginning since I knew nothing about the industry. I owe much of my success and survival to the power of networking and being able to respectfully ask others for insights and experience sharing.
As a business owner, how do you achieve a work/life balance?
Being the boss there are definitely perks, however, it comes with a cost. It’s easy to always be working even nights and weekend. I strive to build my day around creating balance and like anything, moderation. Life is like a three legged stool you need all three, otherwise, you will fall. It’s easy to put business first because you always think your personal self can wait and that family will understand. However, this is a grave mistake and the reason people fall into Life’s quicksand. Every day you need to commit a portion of your day to each. Some days will require more of one but it must be balanced out in a short amount of time.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have so many highlights in my career and consider myself very blessed. I love the personal reward of creating something from nothing, I love when customers tell us how much our designs have changed their life in a positive way, I love the freedom of my schedule, I love the ability to donate to good causes, I love the people I work with, I love the people I meet along the way and relationships that are built, I love helping other entrepreneurs with sharing my experiences….the list can go on and on. The reward can also be found in the hardships too. It’s very humbling and makes you appreciate the hills, valleys, and mountains along the way.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I start by making my bed. I then like to wake up and take a quick peek at email for any emergencies to put my mind at ease. From there I get a workout in to fill my body with more positive energy for the day. Then I eat a nice home made breakfast with my husband and then dive into my work day. I enjoy taking breaks with some jumping jacks etc to get the heart rate up and blood flowing, keeps the mind sharp. I think this is really important. Then depending on the day, I like to break up my afternoon with a walk or some type of personal enjoyment and then finish my day with last email checks and focus on family.
Best moment of your career so far?
I have had so many, it’s hard to pin point just one. If I had to pick one, I would have to say being recognized by national media. It is really rewarding to know my designs make a positive difference in people’s lives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy the journey. Life is full of challenges, so conquer each day to the best of your ability and don’t let yourself get in the way.
Go-to coffee order?
Water or tea but on the rare occasion I do coffee, I like all the naughty stuff in it.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and what would you order?
Leonardo da Vinci. His talents spanned the board from art and literature to science, engineering and beyond. He was incredible at looking into the past, being aware of the present and seeing the future. I think I would let him order some Italian for us!
Best advice you’ve received?
Be willing to adapt and don’t let yourself get in your own way.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
ME of course!
The Nolcha Shows are a leading award-winning event, held during New York Fashion Week, for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists and industry influencers. Over the past seven years, the Nolcha Shows have become established as a platform for discovery and have promoted cutting-edge, innovative fashion designers through runway shows and exhibitions.
The team at Chic Galleria is thrilled to collaborate again with the designers featured at the Nolcha Shows, September 7 –12, 2017. We look forward to showcasing these talented designers and attending their shows this fall. — Beth Anderson, Founder and Senior Editor, Chic Galleria