Boss Ladies / Inspiration

Boss Ladies | Courtney Poole

04.21.16

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Photos c/o Hazel and Pine

We’re both Texas girls, but our paths crossed years ago when we worked for the same non-profit organization in Southern California.  Courtney is a go-getter, and she has the best style — in her wardrobe and her home.  She’s a class act.  A few years ago she started Rose & Fitzgerald, where you can purchase artisan home decor made by Ugandan artists.  The pieces are hand crafted and gorgeous.  It’s a beautiful combination of Courtney’s passion for social justice and her love of style and decor.  The company quickly took off, and now you can find Rose + Fitzgerald in stores all over the US.  I seriously want one of everything.

Courtney:  you are killing it #bossladies.

XO,

Kat

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Growing up I really wanted to be
An actress. Turns out, I can’t cry on command… but a girl can still dream

My most-used emojiis are
Heart eyes, winks and handclaps

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
An almond milk latte

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Netflix

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m an adrenaline junkie. I’ve jumped out of a plane, bungee-jumped above the Nile, trekked for mountain gorillas and hiked an active volcano (and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do).

My real life hero is
My friend Jean Labuschagne, a conservationist in Uganda. She’s in her 20s and has been living in a tent and working for a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a couple of years. She uses her talents to protect the park animals from poachers and ensure that the park rangers are safe. It’s a selfless career few young women would take on, in a difficult and dangerous environment.

What I love about my work is
The complete and constant challenge. It requires all of my creativity, problem solving skills, patience and passion. It takes a lot out of me, but the overall joy far outweighs any challenge.

The hardest thing about my work is
Being so far from the artisans who create our handmade goods. When I lived in Africa I had the luxury of working with them every day.  Being in different time zones makes communicating difficult.

How I got started with my current career
A mixture of chance and hard work. My husband and I moved to Uganda in 2012 for his career with a humanitarian foundation. Moving across the world was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  I quickly realized I needed to make this foreign place truly feel like home. I took that task seriously: setting out each day to furnish our old, colonial-style house in a city that had very few options. Through my visits to local craft markets and small carpentry businesses, I met talented individuals who custom-made all kinds of goods for me: décor items, kitchen, barware, and even jewelry. Designing those items opened up a passion I didn’t know I had, and working with the artisans was really satisfying. I wanted to share these rare creations with the Western market and continue to employ these incredible individuals—and so, Rose & Fitzgerald was born.

RoseFitzgerald.CourtneyPoole.3 The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Underestimate how difficult it is to start a business in a foreign country. I was naïve, and didn’t realize how long a process it would be to legally set up a business in Uganda. I’m somewhat grateful for my ignorance, because had I known how hard it would be, I may never have taken it on!

My typical day looks like
I begin by reading my to-do list and prioritizing what needs to be accomplished.  I spend a couple of hours responding to emails, processing orders and dealing with invoicing and accounting. After lunch, I typically tackle a creative task:  working on new designs, copywriting, photo editing, planning a photo shoot, or blogging.

I used to think success meant
Moving up the corporate ladder, achieving the next pay raise and getting a new title.

My current definition of success is
Living your life with purpose and doing something you wouldn’t trade for anything else.

An example of when I pushed through my fear
When I decided to start Rose & Fitzgerald, people told me that producing high-quality goods in Uganda would be impossible, and that finding sales channels would be a huge struggle. Fortunately, I ignored all voices but my own, which was told me I had to try this.

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I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I wake up dreading the tasks ahead of me. The best cure is to take some time off.  It can be as simple as going to the beach for a few hours, taking my dog for a walk, or running errands. My time away from work keeps me motivated and excited to return to it.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Be true to yourself, chase those crazy dreams, and don’t be intimidated when you don’t fit in. You’re going to experience amazing places, make really good friends and find someone who loves you a lot. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you fail. Life really does work out the way it’s supposed to.

The legacy I hope to leave is
I hope my kids (and grandkids), remember me as an adventurer who laughed a lot, took chances, and lived with passion. I hope they remember me as someone who made a positive impact on the world, however big or small; who used her life to create beauty and meaning that wasn’t there before.

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