The Love of Design

I was always drawn to fashion. Not so much the trends of the moment but more to the sociology of fashion and the fast-paced retail industry. I majored in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at Chamberlayne School of Design. I was most interested in classes that centered on consumer behavior and psychology. I didn’t quite know yet what I wanted for my future. I thought I wanted to be a buyer like most of my friends. During college, I worked at a retail store. It was a small chain north of Boston called Ensembles. I had the time of my life working there and made lifelong friends. They are the OG’s of my OC (original crew). The owner was this amazing, hilarious and brilliant entrepreneur. We were all young and impressionable, and we learned so many business and life lessons during that time. I don’t think we quite knew the impact that experience would have on us. I am so grateful still to have these fabulous people in my life almost 30 years later. Even though we lost touch while I was living in other states, they were always on my mind and inspiring me along the way. They taught me what real friendship is and how to make life fun.

Whole Happy Lesson: You don’t always have to have the answers.  Realize that what you are doing in the present may not feel like it has purpose, but it does. These are all experiences that have a bigger meaning in your life and may just be the important step you have to take in order to reach your highest intention.

The Retail Years

In 1993, I moved to Cincinnati, OH and took a job with Federated Dept. Stores (which later became Macy’s). I was a buyer as I intended, but not for merchandise. We sourced everything else in the store such as the shopping bags, gift boxes, distribution services and even toilet paper. It wasn’t what I had originally planned but I quickly found that I loved it! It was such great place to start my career. I was so lucky to have some amazing mentors and these were truly my most formative years. I learned so much at this company and I am forever grateful for the opportunities they gave me. The guy that literally wrote the book on the subject trained me as a Six Sigma Black Belt. I became an internal consultant that moved around to different areas of the company that either needed a new initiative rolled out or an old initiative redesigned and reenergized. I was trained in change acceleration process and built growth strategies and operational efficiency plans. My roles varied over the years from Director of Sourcing to Director of Marketing to Director of Liquidation and Director of Supplier Diversity. I was with them from the time they were very autonomous divisions to acquiring and changing the name to Macy’s. They moved me to NYC where I met my bestie (and my web designer), Louise, and then moved me back to Cincy. My job took me all over the country and also to Europe and provided me with valuable experiences that I will never forget. I was blessed to have worked with some of the best in the industry and they are a big part of who I am today. It is where I learned how to think strategically and be fearless in my pursuit of making things operate faster and more efficiently. I worked long hours and weekends, rarely took a vacation, and I loved every minute of it.

Whole Happy Lesson: Believe in the power of change and taking chances. I learned from a great mentor at Macy’s that you should be creative with your ideas, throw them up against the wall and take a chance. And if it doesn’t work just go back and try something else. I took many career and life chances during this time. Although some of them didn’t work out, they made me who I am and were an important part of my journey.

Back to Boston

After working in retail and spending so much time in the Midwest, I needed a change. I accepted a position in Seattle but quickly realized that my heart still belonged to Boston. So I moved back to my roots and made a change to the software industry. I was working for a software company that eventually was purchased by IBM. I had overall responsibility for the sales of their Sourcing platform. It was a very different environment. It was laid back. I could work from home. I further sharpened my sales strategy and influencing skills. I also realized it wasn’t the right environment for me. It was a little too unstructured for my type A personality. I missed the fast paced and ever-changing environment of the retail world.

Whole Happy Lesson: Trust is paramount to any healthy relationship (work or personal). Your authenticity will inspire and influence others. In contrast, if your boss, co-workers, employees, friends or partners are not being their authentic selves (or you aren’t), the bond has been broken. You can build it back up, but it will take a lot of hard work. Sometimes it is better to just move on and not look back.

Marriage and Baby and Screw this corporate life

I left software and went back to retail. I was home again (both physically and corporate culture). Once again, I met some amazing people…retailers just have a specific energy to them. I met the love of my life, we got married and had a beautiful son. I went back to work after maternity leave. There was daycare on site. It was perfect. Except for one thing. I soon realized that the corporate world no longer fits my lifestyle. Maybe it was the fact that I just wanted to look at his adorable face all day, or that I had to pump in a supply closet. Or maybe it was the executive that told me that “some people use their kids as an excuse” after I had to pick him up at daycare because he had a fever. Needless to say, I decided to leave this job and become a stay-at-home mom. Something I never thought I would do, but it felt right.

Whole Happy Lesson: Leave any situation that doesn’t show you respect. This is probably something I wouldn’t have done in the past. But after having a child, every move you make becomes a life lesson you want to pass on to your children. Show others, especially your children, that you will never compromise your self-respect. And I have to say when you make that decision to drop the mic and walk away, it’s f*cking powerful and invigorating.


Stay at Home Mom and a Life Changing Experience

I spent three years as a stay-at-home mom. I did some consulting work in between to stay fresh and connected, but my heart was always with my little guy. I loved every minute of being a stay at home mom. We had a regimented routine, and he was growing and learning right before my eyes. There was never a dull moment, and I didn’t miss any of it. I’m so grateful that I had that opportunity. Toward the end of those three years, something life changing happened. My Dad passed away from lung cancer. It was devastating. And still is. But it is what fueled me to start thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. He was a serial entrepreneur. His main profession was a police officer, but he always had side businesses. He was a photographer, started a Boy’s and Girls Club, fixed computers and opened his restaurant. After he had passed, it lit a fire in me, and I started plotting my path.

Whole Happy Lesson: Find the gratitude. No matter what adversity you face..and you will face adversity…find the gratitude. It will change your perspective. Although I was sleep deprived because my son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 3, I am grateful that I was able to be home with him and take naps after taking trips to the farm or museum or the beach. And although I still mourn my father’s passing, I am grateful that he taught me to be fierce, to always take chances and to give back.

Integrative Nutrition

In my 30’s I started experiencing a lot of symptoms that modern medicine couldn’t explain (weight gain, fatigue, anxiety to name a few). After childbirth, the symptoms got worse. I also experienced frustration when seeing how modern medicine was treating my father’s cancer. They were masking the symptoms. My business experience had always trained me to find the root cause of a problem. Why would a health problem be any different? I had always been interested in holistic approaches and was the person that friends and family would go to for alternative remedies. So, I enrolled at The School For Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Integrative Health Coach. I was trained in over 100 dietary theories by leaders in the industry; Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and Andrea Beaman. One of the first lectures was by Dr. Christine Northrup and she said, “If you sit on a tack, do you take an aspirin?” and I knew I was on the right track. All of the dietary theories, although different, came down to basically the same thing: drink more water, eat more vegetables and don’t eat sugar. Now there are different dietary methods and everyone has their bio-individuality so I don’t want to diminish the nutrition training. Most disease can be healed with the proper nutrition protocols. However, what really resonated with me was the training on primary foods. And this is where Whole Happy was born. I quickly realized that by focusing on the person as a whole…just as focusing on a business as whole, will create success.

Whole Happy Lesson: Naturally, I learned that in order to be successful; you must nurture all of the primary areas of your life. But I also learned that you should always explore and develop your passions. It didn’t make sense to many people why I was getting trained in integrative nutrition. It was always an interest and a passion and by cultivating that, The Whole Happy Method was born.

Back to Corporate…for a minute

I had an opportunity to go back into the corporate world working for another software company. Once again I was working for a leader in their industry and doing work that I love. My role was Director of Marketing, and it taught me all about inbound and outbound marketing. I was able to work from home and be there for my son when he got off the bus. It was the perfect situation, but I found that I was working 70 hours a week and not feeling fulfilled. I was once again feeling the pressure of having to choose between my family and my job. It was making me sick. My adrenals were burnt out, and I had horrible panic attacks. I started writing my content for own business in my spare time. And one day I took some time and envisioned my perfect day. I planned it out and wrote it down…hour by hour. I even included what I would be wearing and what I would be feeling. It was very eye opening. I quickly recognized that I needed to make it happen. And the time was now. So, an hour later, I gave my notice.

Whole Happy Lesson: Listen to your gut. Figuratively and literally. Your gut houses about 70% of your immune system. Not only does stress have an adverse effect on the physiological function of your gut but also it can disrupt the microbiota and increase the susceptibility of pathogens. Stress will make you sick. You can practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness but no amount of downward dog or Ohmmmm is going to help unless you let go of what no longer serves you.

A Business is Born

I started working on my business in March of 2016. I planned on the month of March to be “The Month of Kelli”. I would be focused solely on writing all of the content for my website and my ebook and would start a consistent routine of working out. Well, I immediately signed my first client…and then another…and another. Things moved very quickly. It wasn’t what I intended so it took a little longer to officially launch. I’m not complaining by any means. I’m appreciative for how rapidly things moved and have truly found my happy place. I am still working long hours but I absolutely adore the work that I do. And if I need to take some time to go to an event at my son’s school, I can do that without hesitation or guilt. It’s my perfect life. I’m Whole Happy.

As you can see, I have a full background in sales, marketing, and operations (SMOPS).

Some of my highlighted career accomplishments that add to my strategist toolbox:

Developed a strategic plan to grow a key initiative from $566 Million to $1 Billion.

Negotiated over $60Million in savings for Fortune 100 retailers.

Advised and coached hundreds of businesses on how to grow and thrive. 

Certified Six Sigma Black Belt

Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach

Launched my own business and landed my first five clients in one month.

Speaker at national and regional conferences and events.

My goal now is to inspire and teach other women how to apply what I have learned

and design thriving businesses and lives that they love.

Let's Do This!