Have you ever been in the presence of someone who just exudes artistic license? Who is so fearless and compelled to live a creative life that they took a leap of faith from their safe 9-to-5 to pursue their purpose? One such woman is Natalie Alcala. The former senior editor at Racked LA quit her position of five years to turn her side hustle into a business, and it's paid off big time.
Just short of three months after having her son, Diego, in 2014, Alcala sought community and likeminded moms to connect with who not only understood the struggles of motherhood but could also relate to the juggle of balancing this new role with a demanding career. So she started Fashion Mamas—a members-only network for influential mothers who work in fashion and creative industries. But soon after the launch, Alcala quickly realized that her side hustle needed her full-time attention.
Now, the community has more than 500 members worldwide and a combined social reach of more than 13 million followers. So how did she do it? And what was the process like to move from one career to a new one that doesn't even have a job description yet? Keep reading as Alcala explains the challenges and what she learned along the way.
MYDOMAINE: Tell us about your first career path.
NATALIE ALCALA: I was the senior editor at Racked LA for five years, and I've also freelanced for Vogue, Elle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, Refinery29, Bullett, Blackbook, Los Angeles Magazine, LALA Magazine, and more.
MD: How did you make the transition from writing to starting your own business?
NA: It was a natural progression after I had my son. I was juggling both for a long time. Fashion Mamas was founded in December 2014, and I only left my full-time role at Racked last August. Although I loved being an editor and finding new ways to excite Racked LA's loyal readers, my accidental business (I say accidentally because I never knew it would turn into this) really needed my full attention. I finally took the plunge, and the universe rewarded me in so many ways for it.
MD: Tell us about your current career path and business.
NA: I'm the founder of Fashion Mamas—the first members-only network for influential mothers who work in fashion and creative industries. Our members range from designers and stylists to bloggers and editors to models and actors. We have more than 450 members worldwide with city chapters in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and we just launched in Miami.
If you feel it in your heart and soul, just do it—seriously.
MD: What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers, and why?
NA: Definitely time management. I'm an extreme perfectionist, so I need to give 100% to every project I have my name on. So, if there are too many projects with my name on it, you can imagine how overwhelming it can be to give 100% to them all. But I try my best, and it's working so far. Also, delegating: I am protective of my process, and I'm not the most patient person. I do have an assistant now, however, and she's a rock star.
MD: What triggered your need to change this time around?
NA: Fashion Mamas was rapidly growing, and since it's a membership-based community, I wanted to make sure that I was delivering high-quality services to these invested women. Also, I love writing more than anything, but after five years of publishing six or more stories a day, I was getting a little burnt out. I still freelance here and there, but now I have the freedom to only take on in-depth features that have a more relaxed deadline.
MD: Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
NA: I love connecting people, and I love curating experiences, so managing a community is my ideal role.
MD: What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
NA: If you feel it in your heart and soul, just do it—seriously. As mentioned, the universe will reward you for your decision beyond your wildest dreams.
MD: How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
NA: I have to admit that when I finally left my editor role, I cried. I was such a creature of habit and also didn't want to let down our amazing readers. But I had to follow my heart and give this passion project the love it deserved. I'm running on complete adrenaline—my members and I are building magic together every single day, so that's reason enough for me to think I made the right choice.
MD: What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
NA: Some might consider this a mistake, but early in my career, I said yes to every task I was given. I did it all, I worked insane hours, and I kept a smile on my face even when I was under a lot of pressure. I never complained, and I never asked for help. I've been a receptionist, an executive assistant, a project manager, a coordinator—all before I dove into writing in my early 20s.
I used to think "wait—that wasn't even in my job description—why did I do that? Why didn't they tell me to slow down?" but now, in retrospect, I believe that built my work ethic and my ability to create a business from the ground up. I always tell young people to say yes to everything now so you can earn the right to say no later.
I'm running on complete adrenaline—my members and I are building magic together every single day, so that's reason enough for me to think I made the right choice.
MD: What do you love most about your current role, and why?
NA: Connecting all these inspiring, hardworking women and watching them build lifelong friendships and business relationships together.
MD: When you look back and reflect on your previous career, do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
NA: Zero regrets.
Have you made a career change we should know about? Hit us up in the comments below, and you might be featured in an upcoming Second Life feature.