TRW NYC Profile: Hilary Rushford

The Refined Woman Profiles

http://www.therefinedwoman.com/hilary-rushford-nyc-profile/

Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

“New York has a bustling creative energy. It brings people that have big dreams and deep passion,” she says. “You move here because you want something extraordinary.”

“I am a teacher and a ‘psychologist,’ though I have degrees in neither [field],” says Hilary Rushford, referring to her work as a stylist and business coach.

Guiding others on how to feel at peace in their wardrobes and grow their business was not her original plan.

Rushford was a performer, including with the Radio City Rockettes, before she decided to take a hiatus from auditioning. “I thought I was just starting a side job to replace all of the side jobs I hated,” she says of her start as a stylist. She began by teaching one-on-one but knew that what she was sharing would help many other women as well, so she started teaching online courses.

When she was three years into her business, one of her Instagram courses went viral. Keeping up with the growth took a toll on her wellbeing. “When you’re so deep into something, it’s hard to see all of the other effects of it,” says Rushford, reflecting on how this stress led to a total burnout.

She hit rock bottom but recognized what she needed to do: rest. For Rushford, this rest began with a plane ticket to Europe.

“I got on the plane thinking I was going for six weeks,” says Rushford. However, three weeks in she found herself reflecting on the trip. “I didn’t know what I was trying to accomplish, but I knew I wasn’t fifty percent of the way there so I just didn’t get back on the plane,” she says. She had been traveling, but exploring and experiencing new things left little time for rest and personal growth.

“Traveling itself is doing, and if you really want introspective time to heal and grow and learn… that’s different than traveling,” Rushford emphasizes. Her final weeks on sabbatical were spent focusing on healing, growing, and learning in the South of France.

“I ended up traveling for four months until I felt ready to come home and then I bought a ticket,” she says. Rushford recognizes that quick fixes are highly sought after, but they never give the results you need.

She is grateful for the burnout she experienced because it made her realize that adjustments needed to be made in her life. She returned to her dear Brooklyn feeling refreshed.

Having lived in Brooklyn for over a decade, Rushford has a sincere appreciation for this city. “New York has a bustling creative energy. It brings people that have big dreams and deep passion,” she says. “You move here because you want something extraordinary.”

Rushford herself has big dreams and deep passion. A defining New York moment for her was when she was talking on the phone with her mother after a final round of callbacks for Thoroughly Modern Milly on Broadway. She remembers thinking, “Even if I don’t get this role, I’m in the game. In the hardest business, in the hardest city, I’m in the mix.”

She also has sincere relationships with those in this city. “I know the names of my local flower guy and the guy who makes me avocado toast every morning at the café,” Rushford says with a smile.

On a more personal level, she treasures her relationships with her friends. She has a supportive community around her and knows that those friendships are something to prioritize. “I want to be the kind of friend who, if you got into a massive row with your boyfriend at midnight, you wouldn’t think, ‘she’s probably busy, I shouldn’t bother her’,” says Rushford.

There’s something electric she finds in the women drawn to New York. “The thing I appreciate most about them, whether they’re 23 or 51 is their incredible wisdom, earnest vulnerability, and ridiculous shenanigans that make me laugh,” Rushford says as a laugh escapes.

Another priority of hers is empowering women. “I really believe when a woman feels beautiful, she’s so much more powerful,” she says, “whether that’s in how she talks to her daughter or how she walks into a boardroom.”

Rushford was a powerful force even as a high school student. She remembers showing great leadership skills as an active member in the theater department. “It was an SNL cast of horrible theater teachers, yet that gave me a lot of opportunity to be a leader,” she reflects.

She continues to lead as her team grows. Rushford is now writing a book, is already thinking about the next book she will write, and is planning on creating a docu-series. Spending time traveling with loved ones and seeing loved ones is also on her agenda. “One of the reasons I started this business was I wanted to travel more,” says Rushford. “Whether that’s with my passport or to play Aunt Hil.”

As a dancer, she was always tied to the city in case she got an audition. Now, she is a thriving entrepreneur who has the freedom to travel, and who will still remember to stop for a dance break every once in a while on Instagram.

 

TRW NYC Profile: Chinae Alexander

The Refined Woman Profiles

http://www.therefinedwoman.com/chinae-alexander-nyc-profile/

Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

“I am one of those people now,” she says. “I have become the person that I wanted.”

The sidewalks of Williamsburg are busy with people, some walking in groups, some walking alone looking at their phones. Sitting at an outdoor table at a small café, Chinae Alexander tries to put to words the many things she does in her life.

Alexander is an entrepreneur, a speaker, and a social media personality with a focus on lifestyle and fitness. Her career aspirations have shifted over the years from fashion magazine editor, to event planner, to where she is now. Through all of these professions, there has been a consistent and powerful driving force: people.

“I remember sitting in a diner on 33rd and Lexington and writing down all the things I loved in my life,” says Alexander. She found that human connection was the common thread. Now, she interacts with women in meaningful ways, whether in person or on social media.

Alexander emphasizes, “It’s about finding what’s badass about you and bringing that to the surface.” She notes that it already exists within everyone; it just needs to be realized.

It’s not her goal to change people or show them how to be like her, but rather to show them that the life they want is possible, and they won’t be alone on the journey to making it a reality.

Alexander believes that, while people should make an effort to better themselves, they should also maintain self-love throughout that process. She has always been a confident person, and she wants to help others feel the same.

Her confident attitude isn’t limited to certain chapters of life. No matter where she has been in her life, either professionally, personally, or physically, she has always maintained confidence as her baseline; it is not circumstantial, and that is the key.

She also hopes to be an important presence in the lives of others by simply being there. “If I can make people believe that they are not alone in their thinking, their sorrow, their joy…” says Alexander, “whatever it is, if you can tell people they are not alone, there’s hope there.” Her social media presence is an open one that invites followers to feel as though they are friends.

When with other people, it is easy to fall into a trap of not taking enough care of herself. Alexander finds that it’s important for her to eat well, exercise, and focus on community.

Taking this time for herself to relax and reset can sometimes be attended by guilt, especially when she has to say no to certain things. “I have to be a good sane person to do any of it,” says Alexander. She is learning to be honest with herself and others when it comes to what she has the time and energy for. Remembering a specific moment when she was honest with someone, she says, “It was so freeing.”

Alexander speaks lovingly of her mother, noting that her mother always believes in her. “Every time I talk to her in my life she’s told me she’s proud of me,” says Alexander. Her mother has been supportive every step of the way, including when Alexander decided to move to New York City.

Her first introduction to New York City was watching Home Alone 2 as a child. “[Life in New York] is nothing like Home Alone 2,” says Alexander. She pauses for a moment, then adds, “besides pigeons being everywhere.” As she got older, her view of New York went on to be shaped by shows like Sex and the City where she heard of “this place called the West Village.”

When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to visit New York on a school trip. While most of her classmates were off mixing into crowds of tourists, Alexander went in search of the West Village with map in hand.

Seeking shelter from pouring rain, she found herself in a French café. She remembers hearing jazz music playing and seeing people sitting around with newspapers, coffee, and friends. “It felt like a movie,” she recalls.

She remembers thinking, “I have to live in this city, and I want to be one of those people.” Now, Alexander has been living in New York coming up on ten years. “I am one of those people now,” she says. “I have become the person that I wanted.”

Pondering whether she’ll stay in New York forever, she says, “I think for the first time, I’m living freely without a plan in that way.” She loves New York, but she wouldn’t be heartbroken to leave it or spend her time in both New York and California.

“My growth is daily leaning in to what the world has for me,” Alexander says. She is welcoming of changes that may come, but she knows the most effective growth comes only when she is consistently mindful of core values and old lessons learned while effecting that growth. Helping promote positive growth in others is a natural extension of her willingness to grow herself. Her common thread remains: people.

 

TRW NYC Profile: Molly Hartman

The Refined Woman Profiles

http://www.therefinedwoman.com/molly-hartman-rye-workshop-nyc-profile/

Written by Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

“I needed to be brave and honest in ways that I didn’t necessarily want to be yet,” she says with a laugh, now that she has come through the other side.

Four stories above the Industry City streets of Brooklyn sits a small studio. One wall, from floor to ceiling, has shelves packed with boxes, vases, and jars of every imaginable size and style, and everything decorative. The summer evening light streams through the large windows to give life to the many flowers and plants that call this room home.

Lounging on a couch, a glass of Rosé in hand, Molly Hartman speaks fondly of the magic of New York City. “I never get over that moment of being in a cab with all of our flower boxes and going down 7th Avenue and zooming past tall buildings and small buildings and West Village and cobblestones,” she says. “You go through seven worlds in one 45-minute drive.”

Hartman is the founder and creative director of Brooklyn-based event design company Rye Workshop. Along with her team, she works on brand events, weddings, and other collaborations, bringing ideas to life in beautiful ways.

Living in a cramped New York City apartment has its downsides, and being an event designer who carts boxes of décor and flowers around a bustling city just adds to that. But it’s worth it to Hartman. “There’s a reason we make our lives so hard,” says Hartman. “It’s because we love this New York City life so much.”

For many, there is an epiphany in which they realize they have found what they love to do.  For Hartman it hasn’t been a single moment, but rather a constant feeling and reminder that she is doing what she loves.

Now seven years into this adventure, Hartman says they have achieved what she refers to as flow: “this great balance of where you’re feeling super challenged but also actively and productively learning and meeting your new needs.”

However, where success lives, challenges grow. This past year she focused on personal growth. Working in a creative field, she finds it is impossible to escape certain self-reflections.

Feeling insecure and placing blame on herself, Hartman realized she needed to make a change. “I needed to be brave and honest in ways that I didn’t necessarily want to be yet,” she says with a laugh, now that she has come through the other side.

Luckily she has a wonderful support system to help her through challenging times. “You need someone who, when you reveal those demons, will hold your hand and be like ‘you’re still a good human being,’” says Hartman, gesturing toward Wedding Design Director Julie Guinta across the room.

She expresses great appreciation for Guinta and everyone on her team. “It is never a one person thing,” says Hartman.

The most important thing for Hartman during this time was “letting go of the reins a bit more.”

As a creative director, Hartman finds her work can be constant if she allows it to be. “I can only achieve rest when I ask for help,” she says. Handing a project off to someone else is not always the preferred option, but she is beginning to recognize when it needs to be done.

She also credits her husband for being a great support system. He works in a completely different field as an engineer, but they manage to give each other “space to grow.” They’ve been together since she was just sixteen years old, and their marriage has been built on kindness and celebration.

After college, she began working in television and production in D.C. She was always drawn to projects that gave her the opportunity to work with her hands.

Even as a child, she showed signs of becoming someone who would one day work in a creative field. “I was a kid who ran away all the time,” she recalls. “I would run away from home and make homes somewhere else.” From the age of three, she could be found designing spaces for herself, using anything from a picnic bench to a rhododendron bush as her house structure. “My poor mother,” she laughs. “My poor, poor mother.”

Looking forward, Hartman sees the Rye Workshop continuing to operate as a small team as they begin to make their way into the interior design scene. She also hopes to set aside the time and space to have art shows and showcases celebrating their passion projects.

Though she’d enjoy having a chicken coop upstate, Hartman remains in the gentle grip of New York City. So here she stays in her fourth floor studio: a place of beauty that can sometimes get messy in the service of making beautiful things happen.