Faces of Friday: Annie Spano Co-Founder of Style Collective
The purpose of Faces of Friday: Faces of Friday is an interview-based series that I launched to provide readers with insight into the lives of some of the unique, inspiring, & influential people I have had the honor of meeting/ knowing. Life can take you to unexpected places and the people you will meet throughout the series are willing to share with you where their lives have taken them.
I believe that one of the most important things in this life is the connection we share with one another. Identifying with another human being is an amazing gift, and it can inspire you to learn, grow, create, and open your eyes to what the world has to offer. We are not alone in this crazy thing called life. Life is a beautiful thing filled with beautiful people, and not everyone gets the opportunity to share their story. I want to provide others the opportunity to share their story and I want to give you the chance to hear it, learn from it, and maybe, just maybe, identify with it. I believe wholeheartedly that we were all meant for incredible things. I hope you enjoy reading these stories, and I hope that they touch you in some way. We are all learning to navigate life’s murky waters, why not learn from each other along the way?
Where are you from?
I’m originally from New York – about an hour north of NYC.
Where do you live currently?
I currently live in coastal New Hampshire. I’ve been here for 6 years and it is just gorgeous in the summer months!
Did you pursue higher education? What did you study?
I have my BS in Mathematics Education and was a HS math teacher for 2 years before jumping into the corporate world.
Mid-way through my corporate career, I decided to go back to school to pursue my MBA full time while working full time. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I can’t even begin to explain the knowledge, skills and confidence I gained from the MBA program at UNH.
What do you do for a living? Is this always what you had planned to be doing?
Business school gave me the confidence to try a million different things outside of my corporate career to find what I was truly passionate about.
I left the corporate world this past November to pursue my dreams as an entrepreneur. I cofounded the Style Collective influencer community with my good friend Ruthie and function as the CEO for the business.
Starting Style Collective was a mix of right place and right time. Ruthie and I both saw the opportunity to create something amazing together. We’re a great team and compliment each other so well – she really has given me the confidence to feel like I could make the goals and vision of Style Collective come to life.
Since graduating from undergrad in 2007 I’ve changed careers 3 times, so I guess I’m not surprised that I’m doing my own thing now, but it certainly wasn’t planned.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are centered around my own self-development. I am always trying to be better in every facet of my life: mentally, physically and spiritually.
I love listening to books and podcasts while going on long walks outside, when I’m driving or getting my nails done. Basically anytime I can pop headphones in, I do.
I love pushing myself physically at the gym with a challenging workout, always trying to one-up myself. I think it’s so important to be physically strong also.
And I am trying to get better at meditating. It’s not my favorite thing to do, so I really need to make an effort to be better at carving out that time for myself to give my mind a rest.
What are you the most passionate about?
I am really passionate about helping others in a creative, fun way. When I was a teacher, I loved taking boring topics, such as polynomials, and turning them into fun learning games for my students.
In my corporate career, I had to give a product presentation to 75+ store managers and instead of the usual snooze fest, I created a sing-along presentation that people talked about for years after.
I find so much joy in taking something that exists and making it different, unique and enjoyable for others. I am trying to do that in the influencer/brand-partnership space right now with Style Collective.
What is your personal mantra?
My Grandmother wrote me a card before she passed away and it says:
“Remember that anyone who can jump from the high diving board into a little pool can do anything.”
I keep at my desk and remind myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. The impossible can be possible, you just have to set your goals and work hard.
Has life taken unexpected turns? And if so what were they?
YES! I think that unexpected twists and turns are what give people the motivation to do something great that they wouldn’t have otherwise done. It’s SO important to take your hardships and use them to fuel your passions instead of letting them bring you down!
For me, losing my Mom to cancer at the age of 17 was so hard. After she died, I made it my mission to work hard my senior year. Most of my friends became lazy senior year, but I decided to take advanced courses and bring my GPA up for my final year of high school.
My Mom always told me that she was proud of how well I did in school because she was always a C student. I wanted to do my best for her as she watched over me. I also wanted to set the example for my younger sister and show her that hardship doesn’t mean you let your life fall apart; you pick yourself back up and keep going.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
The best piece of advice I have been given came from the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek:
“WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money— that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”
This ties to the best piece of advice that I’ve been given, which was from my neighbor who just retired last year. He told me that no matter how hard you work, no one will ever put “Best Employee Ever” on your headstone – life is too short to not do what you love every single day.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
You know, I have been reflecting on this a lot lately with my birthday coming up in May. I think my biggest pieces of advice would be:
Enjoy the journey instead of just focusing on the end goal.
Do things that make you happy and follow your passions.
When you are under 30, it’s all about figuring out what you want to do in life. I would tell myself: it’s okay to be broke; life is not about chasing paper, it’s about being happy and doing what you love. Making money is a by-product, not the reason to do something.
Be happy and help others.