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The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries, Vol. 30: To Bosnia & Herzegovina with Photographers Without Borders!

Doesn’t this salmon and avocado bowl look amazing? It’s from Kuma in Tofino. I discovered them this summer – they do Japanese comfort food and I think we’re a bit in love.

This week I’m back at university after a lovely and productive 25 day break. My big news this week is that I signed a contract with Photographers Without Borders to shoot with their NGO in Bosnia and Hercegovina this spring! (!!!) I’ll be based in the capital city of Sarajevo.

Please give me all your recommendations! Tea houses, book shops, hikes, streets, books recommendations re: the Bosnian War, anything. I want to get to know this city.

Unfortunately Duolingo doesn’t offer Bosnian, but I found some learning materials online. Any other Bosnian/Serbo-Croation language learning recommendations would be much appreciated!

Working as a photojournalist for an NGO (non-governmental organization) has been one of my dreams for a long time. Photographers Without Borders is a Canadian non-profit with a huge vision to improve visual communication between people worldwide. I could not be happier to be working with them. Even during my Skype interviews and email correspondence with them I kept thinking, “I really like these people. I hope they pick me.”

Here’s a brief description of the NGO I’ll be working with:

[white_box]This NGO works to build relationships between adults who grew up with the aftermath of war. The heart of this NGO’s work is conflict resolution and communal reconciliation between separated people groups. This project would include covering several of this NGO’s efforts including their Photo-Voice Project; which is aimed to empower young adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina by providing them with cameras and thus, a medium to voice and document their daily lives and communities.   [/white_box]

In the coming months I’ll be fundraising money and selling photos to contribute to the Sarajevo project. Stick around, because there’s going to be lots of interesting news about that.

In the meantime, here are your Sunday Sundries:

That’s all the sundries for today. Thanks for sticking around!

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only

Lifestyle

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS_Mel_Had_Tea_Review

This badass bitch took the time to write a book. You should probably read it.

Amoruso went from selling stolen books on eBay to running her own incredibly successful business selling vintage clothing through her online company Nasty Gal.

She’s an outlier in the world of internet and tech businesses in that she started as a home-schooled, anti-capitalist teenager who never went to university and now owns a 100-million dollar company with hundreds of employees. Her story is cool and crazy.

This book is part autobiography, part how to be a badass #GIRLBOSS guide.

#GIRLBOSS spelt in caps throughout the book. That’s some great free marketing incentive built right in. And, according to Amoruso, one of the reasons Nasty Gal grew so rapidly those first few years running it from her apartment was because of the  free advertising friend power of Myspace. Girl knows how to spread a word.

Most impressive about Amoruso is not her crazy business success, but her awesome work ethic.

“Life is short. Don’t be lazy.”

She also taught me that the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility” comes from Voltaire and not Spiderman.

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Or does it? Amoruso cites Voltaire as the origin of the quote, but when I looked into it, it seems that this is one of those mysterious phrases that seems to have just phased its way into history with no provable source. The mystery continues.

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One invaluable section of the book includes DOs and DON’Ts for cover letters and job interviews. As a high-profile boss for a large company (Nasty Gal now has over 255 employees), Amoruso has seen the lot. There’s a very practical checklist that mirrors and adds to the advice I’ve heard from other hiring professionals.

The chapter on money also shines. Even if you don’t start off as a dumpster-diving freegan like she did, you can appreciate her logical approach to money. As she puts it, “money looks better in your bank account than on your feet.”

Although she is now worth millions, she tells us about her thrifty background (haggling with thrift store employees in her early days and never paying more for anything than she has to):

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.” – Calvin Coolidge

Amoruso tells future #GIRLBOSSes not to waste time looking up to other idols, but to instead “be your own idol” this might be on-brand with Nasty Gal’s values, but it also ties in with her waste-no-time mentality. If you’re looking up other idols all day, you’re not working on creating yourself.

Cut away anything that is holding you back (whether it’s your extravagant Starbucks purchases, your star worship, or your unwillingness to work a long-ass day).

As expected, behind all the pragmatic business talk is a lady who believes in the magic of a good set of clothes:

“Clothing is the suit of armour in which we battle the world.”

Amoruso’s writing shows she knows herself. She writes that if she had started Nasty Gal intending for it to be a multi-million dollar company, it would have:

  1. Scared the shit out of her and she never would have started; OR
  2. She would have tried and failed to be something she wasn’t (at the time).

She arrived at today by starting up a mountain, keeping her eye on what was right in front of her, and trudging ahead, working day after day, listening to her customers and working, working, working while trusting her gut instincts.

Your self + gut instincts + magical thinking + not spending all your money + hard work = success.

There’s a whole section on intention setting and magical thinking. Whatever you want to call it. Call it focus. She drops magic and practical advice in the same breath. She worked hard to get where she is and she’s not afraid to tell you to do the same for yourself. There might be some repetition in her writing, but the pragmatic advice is solid.

I’m pretty confident this book would not fail as a gift for any entrepreneurial lady in your life or anyone who wants to be their own boss.