We're very excited to launch our monthly feature series with a good friend of ours, Julie Viray. We spent the day with Julie and her adorable family capturing moments of her life while getting a glimpse into their typical Saturday in Brooklyn. Julie spent a lot of her career traveling while working at Levi's and she now works in the HR department of West Elm.
Tell us a bit about where you were born, raised and went to school.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, kind of in the country - more woods really. My grandparents had a lot of land and gave a plot to each of their kids so I grew up surrounded by family. My grandparents lived in the middle of it all and had a swimming pool, so my sister, cousins and I spent most of our time swimming, sledding, riding quads, putting on performances in our clubhouse, having fires... pretty much always being with family. A lot of happiness and even more love.
My family moved to Atlanta when I was in high school and I went to University of Florida, then studied in Germany for a bit. I figured since I'd been on the east coast my whole life, it was a good time to explore something new so I moved to San Francisco when I graduated. After 6 years there, I moved to New York and have been loving it here for the last almost 5 years.
What is your favorite aspect of your current career?
I'm in HR, which suits me well. I have never been a super gifted person in the typical creative sense of having big, innovative ideas, but I am creative in terms of people and communicating and navigating life and complex relationships. I have always been more of a facilitator of a vision and can see the connectedness of many parts and how you can sort it all to make the vision a reality. I'm a little OCD and obsessed with progress on any level, so organizing people and things to make stuff happen is a very tangible driving force in my personal and work life. What I love most about my career is working through a lot of angles in a given situation and coaching people on every side to get to the best outcome for everyone.
What are your go-to sneakers?
A pair of Vans with a camouflage terrain print. They are neutral enough for almost every outfit but not boring.
What is currently your favorite thing that you own? Your favorite brand?
I hate favorite questions because my answer is usually 'it depends' followed by a series of clarifying questions on the criteria on which I should be basing my answer... but I'll let that go for now... ha. It may be unoriginal to say, but I guess my favorite thing is my wedding band. My beautiful friend Anna Sheffield created it and it suits me perfectly - minimal, yet detailed + edgy, yet classic. And I guess it goes without saying, I love all it represents. My favorite brand is probably Black Crane.
What does "sisterhood" mean to you?
I never thought much about sisterhood because my sister and I have always been best friends. Even when we weren't really close, I've always known that she is part of me so the bond that allows you to say nothing and just know or laugh over a glance was always a given. I've had some amazing and beautiful girls in my life and love everything they are to me. Especially now, seeing how I've grown close with people drastically different to me because of where I am in life. I've probably learned to appreciate how close you can become with someone because you share something like motherhood or a job. I think sisterhood is just being honest about who you are and letting someone else in and inviting them to be honest about who they are without reacting to it.
What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in the last five years?
The value of saying no. I naturally come from a place of yes and had to learn through some times when I was way overextended that I need boundaries to be any decent version of myself.
How has motherhood changed you for the better?
It's made me a little more of everything I already was... it made me softer/more gentle in some ways and tougher in others... harder working so I can be more relaxed... more intense and more mellow... more yes and more no... I think there's a misperception that once you have a baby, you're not all in at work. For me, at least, I am more driven and focused than ever because I want to maximize the time away from my boy and get home as quickly as possible. And at home, I try to be more present because I only have a few hours a day with my family.
If there is one piece of advice you can tell to a large group of women, what would it be?
Probably that no dimension of you is wrong - it's all okay, and even good. Be hard and soft, intense and mellow, sweet and gritty, innocent and wise, accommodating and bold, humble and confident, obedient and rebellious. Don't be scared if it doesn't seem to make sense - it can all fit if it's you.
Thanks Julie for this insightful interview and letting us "in". Follow Julie's journey and her cute son @jkricher on IG!