transformed by loss and grief,
emily chooses to journey off the beaten path
to live her fullest truth
HER STORY OF LOSS AS A DEFINING MOMENT IN HER LIFE:
"For the longest time, I thought I'd be the girl who followed the linear path. I checked all the boxes: I took the Wall Street job after college, moved into a great first-year apartment in Manhattan, locked in the long-term relationship. My life was stable and predictable... and then it wasn't.
My world broke when I was 26 and lost someone very close to me from addiction. One day, everything in my life seemed to be going as planned, and then the next, everything I held true and had taken for granted fell apart. Experiencing loss was more than a transition. It was a defining moment in my life - it was the chasm that separates who I was and who I am today. I went through an extreme period of grief and anger, an admittedly very dark time for me where I felt like I was constantly in a dream but awake. Being in my mid-20s at the time didn’t help either – it was challenging to find people around my age who had gone through similar experiences, which left me feeling isolated and like an outsider in many ways."
HOW GRIEF LED HER ONTO A MORE AUTHENTIC SELF-JOURNEY:
"Someone once said to me, "There’s nothing redemptive about someone's death, but there is possibly something redemptive about grief." Over time, I gradually learned how to confront my grief and pain, and allow it to become a teacher and companion. While the pain of losing a loved one never truly goes away, it has shaped my ability to be more resilient, more compassionate and empathetic, and to have a greater appreciation for each day that I’m alive! It’s also given me a tremendous amount of perspective of what’s truly important in life and how I want to spend my time, while I have the chance. For me, this has meant journeying off the beaten path.
In many ways, I founded Will Lane as an expression of this journey (which I’m still on). The brand is very much built on the belief that there’s strength to be found in struggle and vulnerability, and it’s my hope that this message will resonate and connect with women who have or may be currently going through something similar."
"I gradually learned how to confront my grief and pain, and allow it to become a teacher and companion."
re-inventing herself through her CAREER:
"Whenever I share my career trajectory with someone, I always joke that I’m on the “5-year plan” because I’ve changed careers twice now (from finance to education to apparel entrepreneur), and the changes both occurred after five year periods! But, third time’s a charm, right?!
Changing careers forced me to live outside my comfort zone, as I had to learn about whole new industries, acquire new skill sets, and build different relationships each time. At the onset of establishing Will Lane with no real fashion background, there was a tremendous learning curve. I had to learn quickly about the apparel and athletic wear industry IN ADDITION to all the business elements. Starting from scratch post-30 and for the third time also solicited skeptical questions and some confused reactions from friends and peers, yet I’ve learned how to take it all with a grain of salt. Having had different careers has afforded me a huge range of experiences, the chance to meet people from different walks of life, and the chance to see A LOT.
I’m still not done learning and pushing my own personal boundaries, and that’s one of the things I love the most about running my own business. You never truly know what’s going to happen in a day, month, or year from now, but that’s the exciting part and it keeps me on my toes!"
ON THE STIGMA OF BEING A SINGLE WOMAN:
"Being a single 33 year old female entrepreneur is still something that feels fresh and vulnerable for me. The truth is that I’m not completely immune to society’s expectations of where a woman in her 30s should be in life. I’m fully aware that there’s still a stigma attached to a single 30-something year old woman, and the fact that this comes up as a question, issue, or topic requiring explanation/justification is often frustrating! Also, being in a new field, I’m still grappling with how to be a business owner in an industry that I sometimes feel I have no right to be in. I tend to do things against the grain, and while it isn’t always easy and can leave me feeling vulnerable, I firmly believe there’s no other way than to live your truth!"
"I tend to do things against the grain, and while it isn’t always easy... I firmly believe there’s no other way than to live your truth!"
HER STRUGGLE WITH BEING BRAVE:
"I struggle with being brave all the time! Funny enough, I especially struggle with being brave when it comes to the most seemingly simplest things — like starting a conversation with a stranger. I’m actually very shy and it can take me a while to become comfortable in a new environment or around new people."
ON REDEFINING NOTIONS OF BEAUTY THROUGH HER OWN SCARS:
"Shortly after I experienced loss, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that manifests itself through skin issues. After years of trying different treatments, I have it mostly under control (for now… there’s no cure). But for a long time, I was ashamed of wearing short sleeves and shorts in 90-degree scorching Summer weather for fear that parts of my skin would scare people. The truth is that it still makes me cringe with shame when people stare at my scars, but it all makes me even more appreciative of body positive messages and movements out there. My experience with this condition has also informed the importance of Will Lane’s messaging around body image and how we have a chance to redefine and challenge traditional notions of “beauty”."
ON TRUSTING HER INNER VOICE:
"While it sounds obvious, I’ve recently been trying to rely more and more on what my gut instinct tells me. For many years, I struggled with self-doubt (and still do!), constantly trying to suppress my instinctual reactions to situations and people - thinking that there was something wrong with ME or MY DECISION-MAKING and that other people’s views were more worthy. By experiencing the consequences of NOT listening to my own feelings, I’ve come to realize that my internal voice is pretty darn important for my own decision-making and is worth paying attention to. Learning how to confidently trust my own intuition and thoughts/feelings is something I wish I had learned sooner."
On healthy habits:
"A daily good sweat will always do the trick for me! Those endorphins and just sweating that sh*t out is a great way to refresh, restart, and get through whatever your day or life throws your way."
"JUST SWEATING THAT SH*T OUT IS A GREAT WAY TO REFRESH, RESTART, AND GET THROUGH WHATEVER YOUR DAY OR LIFE THROWS YOUR WAY."
HER LOVE FOR SURFING:
"I LOVE surf life. To be more precise, I love the idea of surf life. I’m not a surfer myself (though, I’ve taken some face-flopping lessons in Hawaii), but I find the surfing world to be completely mesmerizing. I’m currently reading Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. It’s a beautiful metaphor for man’s attempt to attain the unattainable in the name of obsession, love, perfection and thrill. There’s something utterly romantic and adventurous about leaving home to chase the ecstasy of waves around the world at any expense."
ON CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE THROUGH HER OWN BRAND:
"I’m grateful for being able to do what I do. Through the Will Lane label, I’ve had the chance to connect with some amazing people - from artists to athletes to business people to random people with far more interesting lives and abilities than me. The chance to use Will Lane as a platform to connect with women and men from all walks of life is truly one of the best things about being me, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity!"
On what people admire about Emily:
"You’d have to ask them! But some might say risk-taking."