POWER IS mentorship

By Deborah Metts
Boss, friend, mentor & taker-of-no-bullsh*t

Photographed in NYC by Rashida Zagon

Deborah uplifts her community in NYC in the Triple Up with rainbow foxing

“My goal is always to bring the next person along to whatever platform I have access to. It’s not about me...it’s always bigger.”

There are those who would do anything to reach their goal, including stepping on others along the way, and then there are those like Deborah, who took others under her wing as her wit and work ethic catapulted her career. Her story goes a little something like this:

“I was working in Store Operations right out of college. A few years into that I requested to be moved to the corporate offices but no one took me seriously. I decided right then and there to quit and get another degree. It was my extreme version of a personal rebranding.

Deborah Metts
“Our society is pretty tough on cookie cutter expectations for careers...especially for the professional woman.”

I came to NYC with a few suitcases and a shiny new Master’s Degree...no job...no home…just me. Starting afresh in New York is not for the faint of heart and let’s just say that I spent the first year working every gig under the sun and apartment hopping across 3 boroughs all while trying to break into Fashion. This is something that is admired when you are young but as a 30-something single woman in this pursuit I experienced a lot of raised eyebrows and a lot of rejection. 

I think that’s because our society is pretty tough on cookie cutter expectations for careers...especially for the professional woman. Combine that with a competitive industry (Fashion) and the toughest city in the country (NYC) and you have a recipe for an abundance of criticism and comparisons. I definitely get less "raised eyebrows " nowadays but the standards are always changing...the bar always being raised. I'm learning more to step away from all of that…it's a process.

Nonetheless I carried on and I eventually landed my first permanent corporate role in NYC within the Fashion/Retail space which gave me access to the inner workings of one of the biggest companies in the country. I leveraged that role and was promoted 3 times in 3 years. This advancement gave me the opportunity to eventually start to hire and build my own teams. I did so with fervor and needless to say I brought people to the boardroom table with me that were not the standard sight in Creative Leadership: women, people of color, and non-traditional Executives. As much as I love the Fashion industry and as happy as I am to finally be a part of it I am still miffed by the lack of diversity behind the scenes. My goal is to challenge people’s perceptions of what it looks like to be a leader here.

The bottom line is that you will always be more successful when you stop worrying about who gets the credit in your career. There is room for tons of excellent creative people at the table. Teach someone else what you do. Learn a new skill yourself. Stay fluid. Platforms are meant to be shared and they should always be full!”

PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT

Rashida Zagon, New York

Power is capturing the world as I see it

It feels amazing and sometimes surreal that I’m able to bring a moment in time back to life. I get to play a part in showing my subjects in a way they probably have never seen before. I find so much power in that.

Rashida Zagon

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