I met Kelly Díaz almost ten years ago, in our early twenties, when we were working at MTV Latin America in Miami Beach, FL. We were Production Assistants to different departments. We had nothing to do with each other, except for one magnetic friend in common, Laura Barboza, who introduced us.
After a brief period of sharing fun lunch breaks and chatting side by side in at least one fundraising walk, Kelly left MTV and Miami to go to New York, then San Francisco, and she is now back in New York. I haven’t seen her in years, but thanks to our mutual friend and Facebook, I’ve always been up-to-date with her life and successful career as an Advertising copywriter. I always knew that her attitude, style and sense of humor would take her far.
On Facebook, she would share the most creative and honest ads that I had ever seen for feminine products. And then, earlier this month, she wrote this on her Facebook wall:
“A year and a half ago, I quit a job I really liked to do something I would love. And that was to launch a fun chick brand. After working with (and annoying) hundreds of amazingly talented friends, that thing is launching.”
The news made me so happy. I needed to get in touch with her. I emailed her and we scheduled a call for the following week.
After a few minutes of catching up, I was amazed to see how she managed to create something of her own with the same honesty and character that she portrays: Ethel + Frank, an online vintage handbag shop that celebrates saucy old ladies, their closets and most of all, their spirit.
“I had been wanting to launch a chick brand with some personality and humor, after working on one too many stereotypical and “vanilla” female-targeting ad campaigns.” said Kelly, who took a major leap of faith. She left her steady job, worked on the project on and off, in between freelance jobs. First she dedicated 40% of her time and then upped it to 75% in the last six months prior to launch, all while branding the company, selecting the bags, models, and writing the advertising campaign.
One of the aspects that I love the most about Ethel + Frank, is the fact that it honors aging women, giving props to the ladies who first owned the shop’s curated pieces. As its website declares: “We think old is pretty rad. When it comes to fashion, old ladies ignore magazines and trends because more than anyone, they know style has little to do with the outfit you wear.” Now that Kelly is in her early thirties, I was curious to know if any of her decisions were motivated by her age. She doesn’t think so: “I am still waiting for the “turning-30 feelings”. It’s easy to be thirty in New York. Other than my “canas”, few wrinkles, and the need to spend more time with my family and good friends, I don’t feel any major difference. Business-wise, my experience made me feel comfortable enough to launch this; I was able to use my savings and lean on the expertise of friends in the business,” she said.
And for those who have a business idea and are afraid to start, this is Kelly’s advice to the entrepreneur in you: “Don’t think about your age. Make it happen, year by year. In your thirties You Do You.”
Congratulations Kelly! I am proud and inspired by you!