10 Things I Learned: Megan Podolsky

The owner of Alexandria’s popular shop, 529 Kids Consign, shares how she got to where she is today.

Photo courtesy of self

What is the one piece of advice you wish you had heard when you were starting your career?

Listen to your heart and your gut. Do what you know is best for your business.

What has been your greatest achievement so far? / Your greatest regret?

Beyond my three beautiful boys, my biggest achievement would be reaching the five-year mark at my brick and mortar in Old Town Alexandria. I’ve grown as a person and a business over those five years and can’t wait for the next five. Biggest regret? I don’t have regrets. I learn from my mistakes and move on.

When did you feel you had “made it?”

Lots of little ah ha moments locally, when I see families walking around Old Town with my shopping bags in hand, or moms that come up to me and say “My kids are always dressed head to toe in 529.” But recently, I was on vacation and a mom at the pool recognized me and my brand from Instagram. The power of social media I guess.

How do you define success?

Success to me is feeling good about yourself and what you are doing to help your community. 529 helps local moms both make money and save money on their children’s clothing.

What job or position have you previously had that helped you get to where you are today?

My start in retail came as I managed multiple  Abercrombie  & Fitch stores in Pennsylvania. Soon after, I moved on to become an assistant buyer for contemporary dresses at local Arlington-based retailer Hecht’s (now Macy’s). In both of these roles, I learned so much about the retail clothing world from merchandising, pricing, trend forecasting, etc. Soon I was working at Calvin Klein Jeans and I was quickly promoted from retail coordinator to the East Coast regional manager for the brand.

What do you do after a disappointment?

Have a glass of rosé. No, in all seriousness, I find the positives in the situation and build on that. My mom always taught me to look on the bright side of any situation.

Give us an idea of your work/life balance philosophy.

I’m not sure there ever is a real balance. At any given point you’re going to feel like something is soaring while some other area is lacking,  that’s  just how it goes.  Instead of trying to achieve balance, I approach it by creating a healthy overlap. If I have  an opportunity to involve my three sons in my  business I do so. Whether it’s  having them model for a photo shoot or helping stock the shelves, it not only  gives  them real life work experience at an early age, it helps them understand why I can’t be home every day. More recently the boys have started taking over the 529 Kids Consign Insta-stories and are showcasing our new retail product.

What is the one thing you do for yourself every day, or at least once a week?

I get my nails done. It may seem silly to get a pedi once a week in the middle of winter,  but it’s about that one hour to myself to relax at the end of a long week. I’m also kind of neurotic when it comes to my nails, no chips here.

What’s one thing you still want to do with your life? 

One thing? I have a list a mile long. Launching my licensing program has been a dream for years, so I’m so excited to roll that out (more on that below).  On another note, my husband would love for me to open a men’s store, he is kind of a clothes horse. And lastly, I really want to show my boys the world, after I get over my fear of flying.

Any advice for those who are going into your field?

Learn, learn, learn. We’re so excited to launch our new licensing opportunity. Here we will give other aspiring mompreneurs and other entrepreneurs around the country the chance to open their own 529 Kids Consign boutiques. For anyone interested, the first thing I tell them is to gather as much information as possible. Join the appropriate associations in your community. Talk to other shop owners in your neighborhoods, ask other business owners the tough questions.  As a business owner there is always something new to learn, so you really have to be willing to listen and apply those learnings.

(July 2018)

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