One of our LITGers, Henry Watkins, recently reached out to us to ask if he could contribute to the site. He said he had a lot of friends living interesting lives in the grey that he wanted to share with the community at large. We thought it was an awesome idea and are very excited to call Henry our first ‘reporter!’ We hope you enjoy Henry’s first post!
Take it away Henry…
Edythe Hughes is an NYC-based model and the founder of Project Model Tee, a platform for models to showcase their artistic pursuits. And just as she elegantly graces runways from around the world, she walks the fine line between her personal and professional life. Between work and play, between black and white, she lives in the grey. Project Model Tee’s tagline reads, “Models as artist, Models as philanthropist, Models as Visionaries”, and after participating in a couple of their events it was clear that Edythe and the ladies over at PMT are the real deal. Lets see how real it gets:
Henry Watkins: So, what is your passion? What is it that you love to do and how have you brought that into your life?
Edythe Hughes: I’m passionate about developing a vision, bringing it to life, and building a community around the idea, to help that vision grow. I feel that building a community is a necessity and something that in many ways NYC is lacking. Coming from a small town, where everyone knew everyone, it was only natural for me to develop the same environment, so I decided to found Project Model Tee in October 2012. PMT gives professional models a platform to showcase their talents and works of art, while benefiting worthwhile causes. My formula for success is create -> nurture -> flourish. PMT has held three events so far, raising over 10K in the last event alone, its community, fan base, and impact continues to flourish. The money we have raised in past events have gone to RAINN- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network and NAMI NYC- National Alliance on Mental Illness.
HW: How does it feel to have identified what makes you happy?
EH: Knowing what makes you happy will greatly increases the value of your life. I’m a grateful for the realization and very excited by PMT’s success. My outlook on life is so much more abundant now, it’s as if living in the grey makes colors more vivid.This pursuit of happiness has opened doors and unlocked potential within myself, that I didn’t know I possessed.
HW: Are you actively blending your personal and professional life?
EH: Yes absolutely, I’m living my dream job as a model in NYC and my profession gave me the wherewithal to create PMT. I feel it’s really important to be honest with your desires, because neglecting those feelings only leads to conflict. As a teenager, I dreamed of becoming a model, but because I felt it could become a vain ambition, I didn’t pursue. Years later, I confessed my hopes to model to my family and close friends, and lo and behold within a few days I was scouted in a mall and the rest is history. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way.
HW: How did your colleagues react to PMT? Were they eager to collaborate with you?
EH: They loved the idea and for a lot of models, it was their first opportunities to showcase their work in NYC. Word is spreading about PMT and its network is growing swiftly. PMT shatters the idea that models don’t offer anything besides aesthetic beauty and that gives a lot of people that little extra incentive to join in the fun.
HW: What would you tell someone who is just beginning their life in the grey?
EH: Personal accountability is key. The tipping point of momentum for PMT occurred at a very early stage, when I contacted 100+ people about the the idea before I had even began putting in the real work. I put my reputation on the line and it has been a driving force in times when I felt less motivated. This goes back to building a community, as I’d already built relationships with the people I reached out to and they would hold my feet to the fire if I didn’t follow through with my plans. I can’t stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with people who support you.
HW: Have you maximized your social networking? How?
EH: I don’t use Twitter, Facebook, or any other contemporary methods to connect with people, instead I choose to build face-to-face interpersonal relationships with the right people, at the right time. I’m from Alexandria, Ohio, where there’s a gas station and a church, that’s it. Before moving to NYC, from the day I was born up until 17 years old, I lived in the same house and interacted with the same people everyday for all those years. That type of connectivity is something I’m accustomed to and it helps me build strong bonds with people. This also comes back to accountability and sincerity. For example if I only send an email to 20 artists about participating in one of our events, the response won’t be ideal, people are busy, make false commitments, and overlook worthwhile ventures all the time. But if I take the time to have a one-on-one discussion with each person, not only will they see the the sincerity behind my intentions, but they also will be more accountable for decisions.
HW: Have you kept true to your intentions? And what’s the best outcome for you?
EH: Project Model Tee has become bigger than I originally envisioned it to be and I’m very proud of our accomplishments. Eventually, I would like to start my own business, all the while still maintain PMT.
HW: What are you currently reading?
EH: Currently reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
Thank you, Henry for sharing Edythe’s grey story with us! One of the things we love best about our job is learning about so many people’s career journeys and how they learn to blend personal with professional. This interview is packed with great lessons and insight on how to #LiveGrey. Here are our takeaways from Edythe’s story. What are yours?
- Share your aspirations.
- Test your ideas.
- Continue to motivate yourself through resistance.
- Get an accountability partner.
- Look your social network in the eye.
- Start small but aim for bigger.