Kalina Gendel, work hard, play hard, her mantra in all things business. Full-time girl boss and mama, she gets things done.
Behind Breezies, one of QVC’s most successful/longest-selling intimates brands. The company founded by the mom, Kathy Gendel, and is currently run by her and her three daughters.
In this Beauty, Cocktails, & Girltalk, Kalina talks about her inevitable return to business and her beauty must-haves.
I am naked if I am not tan. I call my natural skin color ‘walking corpse,' and for this reason, I fake tan any way I can- mousses, creams, and all types of bronzers. My DOLL10 bronzer is an item I cannot leave home without wearing a little some. Whether I have a meeting at my kids’ school or a meeting for work, it’s in my bag. And there is nothing sexier than tan legs; you can tone up in a few seconds by tanning in the right places. It’s all about smoke and mirrors! After the tanning, the second most crucial beauty must do, lashes! I dabble in all kinds of fake lashes- dramatic, long, evening looks or full, shorter day-time looks. Whether I am flirting or rolling my eyes, fake lashes make every look bigger and better.
My go-to cocktails ALWAYS involve prosecco. This winter I started experimenting with spirits and landed on a cocktail that is PERFECT for chilling by the fireside. Because of the bourbon and the blood oranges, calling it the ‘Southern Vampire’ seems fitting.
Here’s the simple recipe:
1 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey
4 oz. blood orange juice
1 oz. lime juice
Three amaretto cherries (with juice)
Why this industry?
When I started college, I was determined to venture out on a new path and seek an accounting career. Upon graduation, I realized I could not fight what I was meant to pursue and passed down in my blood: fashion, sales, and marketing. My career CHOSE me. Once I immersed myself in this crazy world of bras, panties, and TV, I finally felt at home. I embraced my strengths and realized I was handed down incredible assets from my mother/boss to help guide me on my career path.
There are times when I’ve felt ridiculously overwhelmed, but each challenge I’ve overcome has become another building block in my foundation. Every single victory in my career has come from a series of setbacks. I’ve come to learn that delays frequently make up a good portion of getting to the end destination, and THAT IS OKAY. Embrace the discomfort and learn from it. It is always easier to run and hide than to show up, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty. Make a list of goals and do everything you can to achieve them.
How I stay afloat?
Multitasking is a tricky thing - it’s a concept that our culture has identified as a standard work practice, but in reality, it’s impossible to achieve for many people. In my opinion, multi-tasking is the epitome of half-assing everything, and not putting 100% into anything. The more I multi-task, the more mistakes I make, and the more things go awry. We all need to maintain a certain level of multi-tasking, but I think there are a time and a place for it. Addressing essential work emails while doing homework with your kids? A recipe for disaster. Try to concentrate on one thing at a time, so you don’t miss the crucial details. Being present is important. If you’re with your kids, be present with them and enjoy that quality time. If you’re in a business meeting, be present there and stop checking your social media accounts. You can excel in ALL areas of your life as long as you can put the right energy, at the right time, into each of them.
We've all done it, made mistakes in the beginning. What was your learning curve and if you could do it all over again what would you have done differently?
The most significant mistake I made at the beginning of my career was talking too much and not listening. I have met so many amazing and intelligent people in my life, but I spent most of the time trying to prove my worth and show them I had a brain, rather than listening and learning from them. I should have shut my mouth, asked more questions, and been more vulnerable in showing I didn’t know it all. Life isn’t about the win, the fanciest car, or being top dog at work; it is about our quest for knowledge. Learning what we didn’t know yesterday. It is the key to evolution and growth.
I love beauty apps - InstaBeauty is my go-to fix for teeth whitening and adding a little extra glow to photos. On the business side, I check LinkedIn regularly to read articles on growing businesses and to seek out different perspectives on success and what it means to people. When it comes to my personal life and how I manage my work, I am old school. No apps needed. I like notebooks, journals, pens, and pencils; I need to physically write things down to process information and to keep my to-do list in check.
Let's talk about the past:
Before I worked with my family, I was at a job in retail where I could not make a direct impact on sales, product, or marketing campaigns. I was frustrated and felt my voice and ideas were not heard and could not be implemented. I was part of a corporate ladder and felt restricted by how regimented even daily tasks had become. Working now in my family’s company, that has all changed tremendously. It is incredible to work with a team of entrepreneurs where we can see the impact our changes make on pleasing the customer. Making our customers happy is our number one goal; when she is happy, everyone benefits.
Cultivating a good alliance with others in your industry
The best thing you can do is support others in your industry. An industry is made up of multiple companies and personalities; nothing grows as a single entity in a vacuum. Supporting others and their successes are imperative for your growth. Putting out negative energy and highlighting others’ failures only leads to bad karma, in my opinion. Good energy comes back to those who give it freely.
When life throws you lemons, add BEAUTY, COCKTAILS, #GIRLTALK. Life obstacles can weigh heavy on your mental and physical wellbeing. How do you stay uplifted, motivated or even inspired to push through and maintain your happiness?:
I do a LOT to keep motivated and am continually working to support my well-being. Listening to good music can instantly change my mood. Driving, working out, cooking, happy hour - all activities have specific soundtracks and playlists to keep me going. But above all, my kids are my biggest inspiration and the reason I push through. I look at their faces and know I can’t let them down. They rely on me for everything, and I can’t give them proper emotional support if I let life’s obstacles weigh me down. The second I walk through my front door I have to let it all go. I need to be there for them in every way to keep them grounded and give them a loving environment to grow and succeed.
- Girl you gotta go: Verona, Italy. The art museums rival Florence, the historical sites are remarkable, the fashion is fantastic yet doable, and the food is PHENOMENAL. Verona is warm, quaint, and overflowing with culture.
- Girl you betta: Make goals: one year, two years, five years, ten years, etc. I write them down and create checklists of anything I can do to achieve each goal. It may sound crazy to write down a goal you have for yourself ten years from now - writing it down is the first step to actualizing it. The second thing is learning to let go; let go of anger, let go of grievances, let go of revenge.
- Popcorn & Cocktails: My favorite movie of ALL TIME is Defiance, based on the true story of the Bielski brothers and the village they created in the Naliboki forest of Belarus during the Second World War. I watch it when I feel defeated. Focusing on the strengths of each there, they were able to survive at a time when most would have given up. They became a solid team of people whose success is still celebrated and studied today. The amount of courage, strength, and endurance these brothers possessed not only saved lives but their commitment to each other helped to pass down culture and unity in families that otherwise would not have survived.
- What do you have to say to those aka (men) who say we are too sensitive, emotional, or sarcastic? I believe Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton said it best when they said, “Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all.” I will not address naysayers, haters, or people who think I am ‘too much’ of anything.
- 100 pairs of shoes and only 2 feet! What was the last thing you bought for yourself? I have an extreme weakness for art. I bought myself a piece of art for my fortieth birthday that I enjoy every day. It is provocative, warm, and mysterious all at the same time. (You can see a little peek of it in the picture of me holding my cocktail).
- Guilty Pleasure: I am obsessed with Game Show Network. Watching families win big money on Family Feud gets me so excited and happy for them; I can’t deny the fact it’s also made me cry a few times. I’ve also seen every episode of Big Bang Theory; it always puts a smile on my face. I’ve been known to get wrapped up in a reality series marathon now and again as well. Anyone who says they haven’t binge-watched a few episodes of a reality show is either lying or impossible to engage. And when I want to dream big? I turn on AWE - A Wealth of Entertainment, the 24/7 lifestyle, and entertainment national cable channel or CNBC’s Filthy Rich Guide.
Here are some words of wisdom/lessons I’ve learned throughout my career:
I have learned when one door closes; another one opens; this is true in all facets of life, so don’t obsess over the job you didn’t get, the school that rejected your application, or the person who turned their back on you. Opportunities are everywhere, but you can’t be afraid to look.
If I could change jobs tomorrow with guaranteed success, I would go into the hospitality industry. I love meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and talking to people about their life experiences. We have so much to learn from one another, and diversity is what makes the world go around.
Movers and shakers are the ones that make things happen. Don’t sit back and wait for change to happen.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Nothing fantastic ever comes easy. Have multiple plans on how to achieve your final goal and stop at nothing to get there. Taking a detour or a different path may be scary, but if it still leads to your final destination, it is worth taking.
It is ok not to be a ‘yes man.’ Companies, industries, and civilizations don’t evolve or grow with complacency or staying stagnant. Challenging others is a way to keep the momentum moving forward, make changes happen and propel us into the future. The greatest events in history and businesses never came from a constant state of ‘status quo.’
I am really into interior design. I love to combine old with new, mixing modern looks with vintage accents. There is a store a friend of mine opened called the Lyons’ Lair Antiques in Monroe, CT. I follow her looks on Instagram at @thelyonslairantiques. They have fabulous items for the house, and the pieces they refurbish and re-purpose are AMAZING. I also follow @aimeeandersondesign and check out www.laststile.com for inspiration and new ideas for my home.
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Photo credit: Team Kalina