Lately on the blog, we’ve been talking a lot about female mentorships: the importance of finding someone who’s walked in your shoes before and is willing to share the wisdom they’ve picked up along the way to inspire your ideas and actions. So, I’m really excited to be part of Interview magazine and La Crema Wines Statement Makers campaign, in which five influentual women paired up with an up-and-comer in their field to discuss how they make a statement and inspire others along the way. I sat down with my great friend and mentor Myra Adkins over a couple glasses of La Crema, and we talked about the role she played in launching my career, as well as how she continues to inspire me today. Keep reading to listen in, and make sure to watch these inspiring videos of the Statement Makers conversations — (the Rachel Roy video is my favorite.)
*photos by Buff Strickland
interview written by Lauren Smith Ford
After working in fashion PR in NYC, Camille’s interest in the events industry was piqued. When she moved to Austin, she applied for an internship at Austin’s leading catering company, Word of Mouth. She interviewed with general manager Myra Adkins (and her soon-to-be mentor) and instead of an internship offer, Camille got a full-time job as an event planner in training. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Myra, what made you decide to hire Camille that day?
She clearly had a sense of style, but it was founded more so in an interest of bringing it all together — the events, the food. I think it is very important to have an interest in food in order to work for a catering company, although you can certainly just plan events. She also seemed very self-starting and self-motivating. She was actually wanting to do two internships at the same time!
Camille, when did you start looking to Myra as a mentor?
Right from the start! It was amazing to be able to soak up her (at the time) 12 years of knowledge, experience and wisdom in the field. Seeing the way she was cool under pressure and dealt with the inevitable disasters that are going to happen when you are working at events was such a great education. On a personal level, Myra was my first friend who was also a working mom. Seeing the way she was passionate and driven in her career, yet still never left the office late so she could pick up her sons from school. She was still the kind of mom that she wanted to be, without neglecting her career and keeping the respect of the people who worked for her. I think that was really great for me to see at an early age and it’s been inspiring to me as I’m a mom now and seeing someone who could do both and could do both well. (pictured with La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir)
Camille, how was working at a catering company a good training ground for becoming an event planner?
I’m so thankful I started in catering and not as an event planner or in PR. I think event planning is probably one of the most misunderstood careers because it’s easy for people to get the impression that it’s all dreaming up pretty tables and inspiration boards and there’s really so much more detail and nitty-gritty that goes into it. Under Myra, learning from her knowledge and experience, I learned the nitty-gritty, the unglamorous side of what you need to know to make an event a real true success —everything from figuring drink amounts for a full bar for any size party to how many trash cans you need for a party of 1,000 people.
What was the most challenging but exciting event you collaborated on together?
The Neiman Marcus Austin opening. It was a black tie event for 1,000 people. We used the dressing rooms as the kitchen and draped them top to bottom with plastic so that no food got on them.
“I couldn’t talk about Myra without talking about her work ethic because she’s such a hard worker and I think that I identify with that because I like to give my all to whatever I’m doing,”Camille says. “And Myra has shown me that it’s okay to sometimes turn your phone off on the weekends, so you can focus on your family, but then once she’s at work, she’s fully at work, giving it all she’s got.”
(pictured: Myra tastes the Monterey Pinot Gris)
Camille and Myra particularly enjoyed La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, a shared favorite choice for this time of year.
Myra, it must be exciting to see all that Camille has accomplished in her career so far. You must be so proud of her!
Absolutely! Going back to one of the reasons as to why we clicked so well was because we started off the same way. I started off as an unpaid intern, but we managed kind of a similar path. She is way more focused and driven career-wise than I think I was or am, and Camille just seemed to set steps for herself and achieve that and set the next one and achieve that. I remember when you showed me your business cards for the first time. You said that ultimately you wanted to be a lifestyle blogger. It’s been interesting to see how it came together that she knew the small goals she needed to get to the bigger goal.
What’s your advice for how to find a mentor and how to cultivate that relationship?
Camille: Look around you at the people who are already in your life who might be an organic mentor that you haven’t put that label on, but they are already serving that purpose in a way. I think that a mentor doesn’t have to be just like you. The number one thing to look for in a mentor is trust, both relationally and that you trust their wisdom and insights. I can go to Myra for advice on all kinds of things —career, personal, family, and I really trust the advice that she’s giving me. Cultivate that relationship organically.
How do you two stay in touch?
Myra: We get together over food —that’s one of our most common passions and interests. We get together some place where we want to have a great lunch together and talk about the food, talk about what we’re cooking lately or what new restaurants we’ve tried. That’s the way we bond and keep in touch, and then other topics come from that too!
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