Making Lemonade. | Le Hoarder
Le Hoarder

A NYC -ish* Style and Shopping Blog

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Making Lemonade.

Like most people, I get a little introspective pre-New Years Eve and I thought I should take a moment to focus on all the good in my life and share just how grateful I am. 2017 was full of so many firsts and I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone and tell you all how appreciative I am. This year I had my first legit front row at New York Fashion Week, got several amazing collaboration opportunities, connected with a bunch of PR agencies who hooked me up with endless boxes of swag, had my first BFA photo taken, and broke 100k on Instagram. For all my successes, I'm just a regular gal who loves designer clothing and shoes - and has a knack for finding them on the cheap. I can't even tell you how much I'm looking forward to all 2018 will bring.

Overall, I'd consider myself a pretty positive person but there are some definite points of regret that have held me back. Over the years many dreams have come and gone and I've learned to adapt. I've had a whole lifetime before I started blogging 4 years ago that so many of you don't know about. Growing up, pouring over my Vogues, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. All my notebooks were filled with more sketches than math equations or essays. I went on to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology but I studied buying and marketing because I was afraid to put together a portfolio and apply for design. It was in college that I first discovered my voice and started to write little newsletters to my friends full of real and fictional stories. It was my way of dealing with growing up and leaving of the sheltered bubble of my youth. I lived at home in NJ during college but often escaped to my friends apartments in NYC or to their out-of-state college campuses.

During those summers I worked as an art teacher, bridal consultant and even stepped in as an assistant piece goods buyer at a fashion house during someone's maternity leave. Then the summer of senior year I sublet an apartment in the City with a friend who had a connection at a temp agency. We got jobs all over NYC at music and publishing companies for $18-25 an hour and were living the dream. This was back in the 90's so it was a lot of money for a college student. It was about then I decided I belonged in publishing and wanted to be a fashion editor. I was young, thin, pretty, energetic and had a killer wardrobe all scored for next to nothing. People would look for me at events just to see what I was wearing. Though I was fearless with my fashion, I was not as fearless with my personal and professional life.

At that point it was too late to get an internship at a fashion magazine and I was in such a rush to graduate and make money that I took a job as a production coordinator at a small garment trade magazine. That was when I got my first and only NYC studio apartment where I ended up living for 15 years. When I first signed my lease it was just $350 a month. Mind you it was literally 20 years ago but when I gave it up a few years back it was just over $1,100. I've always been the queen of the deal. Back then nobody lived above 96th street so it was a gamble to move uptown. But it was on Central Park West and I had the world's biggest front yard and a subway at the foot of the building. Life was good. I stayed on at my first job for a couple years and worked my way up to managing editor. It was an undeserved job title with a good paycheck for someone in their mid 20's. I was a naive young kid from a sheltered home and had a hard time dealing with some of the craziness of the Garmentos, the male owners and employees of the garment district. Many of them had a backwards way of thinking and treated women as objects. In hindsight I probably should have sucked it up for a little longer because the money was good, and most people are mistreated on their first few jobs (especially back then when sexual harassment was not such a buzzword). So I went back to my temp agency and the job center at FIT and hustled for several years. I could probably write of a book about some of those insane jobs and interviews back in the day. I had so many 'almosts' before finally settling at a marketing job at a major publishing house - not fashion related.

It was when I hit 30 when I realized I was not doing what I was supposed to do. I had just gotten married so I "retired" to have kids and be a stay at home mom. Don't get me wrong, those first few years of spending day in and out with my littles was fulfilling. It was about creating and molding these small children into people. I got a kick out of talking to them like adults, dressing them to the nines, and endless days of wandering the City with them in their tandem double stroller. But then I woke up. I woke up mid-thirties and looked at myself for the first time in years. I totally lost myself in my children and didn't recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. So I started to work out, stopped wearing shapeless mommy clothing, joined Facebook and online message forums to connect with people again...until starting at 38. I'd been using the nickname and handle Shoppinggal for years but decided I needed something to take me to the next level. And so LeHoarder was born. Le means the in French - and Michelle is a French name. You can tell I don't speak French because I should have used La (female) instead of Le (male). And if you've seen my closet, the Hoarder part is pretty obvious.  I started with couponing deals and glitches and shared endless Target 90% off hauls and penny finds at Nordstrom Rack. And then one day I decided to be brave a put myself in front of the camera - wearing all my killer finds. And that's when everything started to really take off.

The theme that has been on repeat for most of my life is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of success, but at this point in my life my only real fear is not trying. The way I see it, your twenties are full of self-discovery and angst, your thirties are more peaceful and about self-realization, and by the time you hit your forties, you stop giving a F what people think of you.

Your takeaway from this post should be a few things:

1. Internship, internship, internship! 

Do as many college internships as you can - even if they don't pay. Because if you don't have connections it's the best way to make them in your field of interest. And there is no need to rush "real life." It's gonna happen weather you like it or not.

2. Be fearless. 

There's never gonna be a right time. Just do it already. Seriously, what have you got to lose? I wish I wasn't such a chicken back in the day. More often than not you regret what you didn't do, not what you did. Just say yes to EVERY opportunity because you never know where it will take you.

3. It's never too late. 

At 43 I'm finally getting paid to do what I love with this job that I created for myself. When life gives you make lemonade. Make your own opportunities! When I got started I hadn't a clue what I was doing. On so many levels I still don't. I didn't grow up texting or with social media so it's all something I had to figure out as an adult. I combined my love of fashion, shopping and writing with the HTML I learned from when I was working in web production for an online publication, the photo editing I learned when I worked in a art department, etc... And now I Google what I don't know, joined a bunch of Facebook groups for online creators, and ask a lot of questions. A lot of bloggers will ignore you or even lie to you when your numbers are small, but eventually you'll find your crew and your niche and that's when the magic happens. And I still stumble and struggle all the time. But I choose to get back up and keep pushing.

4. Forgive yourself. 

In truth, I've put back the weight I lost since I started my journey. I'm the heaviest I've ever weighed in my life. I've weighed less 9 months pregnant. Yet I refuse to make another weight loss resolution like I've made in years past and set myself up to fail. I'm also not gonna point my fingers at others and be accountable for my choices. In 2018 I'm hoping to reclaim my bravado with my fashion regardless of my weight or size. While I'd really like to fit my clothing again, I'm going to resolve to wear what I love regardless if I'm a size 2 or 12. And most importantly, I'm going to resolve to make better choices. Instead of beating myself up, I'm going to try to forgive myself and move forward.

Does all this mean I've given hope of ever being a fashion designer or magazine editor? Yes and no. Like I said, dreams change. I'd still love to have a collection one day, and if I had the opportunity to be a guest editor at any fashion publication I'd jump at the chance. And I want to be on TV. I'm just gonna put it out there in the universe and see what happens. Do I wish I had these opportunities 20 years ago? Sure. But for now I'm gonna try to stop stressing over what hasn't happened yet and focus on all I have right in front of me - and enjoy the ride.

Head to toe:

  • Hat: H&M, $3
  • Sunglasses: Fendi, Nordstrom Rack, $13
  • Coat: H&M, $30 (still full price online - gotta love that sale rack!)
  • Gloves: Amato New York, sample sale, $29
  • Dress: H&M, $24.99
  • Leggings: Spanx, Kohls (c/o)
  • Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, sample sale, $75
  • Boots: Zadig & Voltare, sample sale, $75 (RV $498)

Photos are by my friend Andrew who took me on a post-Christmas shopping spree. We totally failed at Woodbury Common but I should have realized that outlets are not your best bet post holiday. (Go hit retail sales ASAP!!! Just scored this H&M coat on the cheap on their stellar sale racks.) Plus it was freezing AF and I totally regretted not wearing wool socks - so I actually linked a few pairs of my faves (as well as the rest of my look) below for you to shop. Although we did score at Nordstrom Rack that day -  he and his brother found me these $600+ Fendis for just $15 less 25% Clear the Rack discount. Almost as good as all my penny Pradas from a couple years ago. Plus we even saw them at the Fendi outlet for over $300 LOL. 

Andrew now lives out of town for grad school but we always try to meet up when he comes home. We met through my blog a few years back and he was the one who saved me all the $25 Sergio Rossi shoes at the sample sale a few years back. Sadly there hasn't been a sale like it since. 

So peace out 2017! Wishing us all a year filled with joy and success! What are your goals for 2018?




  1. Wait. You used to hang out at your friends' apt in NYC??? So glad you did! 😉

    Inspiring. Gives me hope for what might come next for me. Xxoo

    1. Please you are killing it. Aren't you getting honored or something? And Can you believe it's been THAT long....

  2. I loved reading this- there's so much I didn't know! I'm excited to see what 2018 has in store for you! xo

  3. You had such an exciting life, girl! No wonder you have so much insight to the fashion world. I am kind of new to this whole blogging thing myself and it's on hold due to my baby, but I'm gonna make sure I don't get lost in only being a mom. Already have work and workout plans post baby. So happy for all your achievements in 2017!

    1. Thank you! Exciting is one way to put it LOL. Enjoy being a mom - but totally make sure to enjoy being you too!

  4. Such a good read Michelle, learned a lot I didn’t know about you. You’re very inspiring to this newbie blogger and give great tips. I see even more great things ahead for Lehoarder.

  5. Happy New Year, dear! I truly love reading your blog and watching your insta stories. I hope we can go shopping together this year again or hang out at NYFW. So excited for 2018!

  6. Babe, I can relate a lot to this post as we're in the same generation (born 1981 here) My life has been amazing, and I'm not bragging, but it's had its downs as well. The thing is that we never know what will happen, but I've learned you have to work for what you want to do or become. The weight issue is temporary, if you choose it that way. Or then you're content with your weight. Neither is wrong. I truly am happy I found your blog during this year as you are so wise and to be honest. I'm so tired of reading 20-something's "OMG I love this dress" posts. I applaud and admire you!
    Love for 2018,

    1. My younger sister was born in '81 too. I still think of you as a youngin LOL. But I hear you, you too have lived a lifetime. And about the twenty-somethings it's really not their fault because they haven't really lived yet. And so many of them think they're supposed to only show the good and hide all their secrets. While I may not put everything on the table, I'd rather be authentic than generic. Thank you for getting it :) Happy New Year Thomas!

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  8. You really are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story with us and I'm so happy for you now getting to pursue what you love and enjoy, I'm sure more great things lie ahead! Happy New Year!

  9. Such a wonderful post, babe! Yes, it was a rather controversial year, we all had ups and downs, but let's concentrate on positive things, shall we? You've shared some amazing tips here, which I can only agree with. It's never to late to change your life, and there's never going to be a right time, so we need to do what we love now! Very inspiring post. And OMG, girl! I love this coat so much!

    Cheers, Eliza |

    1. Thanks! Yes-gotta stay positive! All good things ahead...

  10. Hey Darling,
    How was Holidays?
    Wish you Happy 2018:)
    This was sooo Amazing post Darling, It was sooo Nice to Read your Experience and Opinions:)
    You are sooo Inspiring:)
    Agree with you 100% in so many point:)
    Ps:Your Coat is just Gorgeous:)
    And that boots:)
    Love Kisses

  11. How was your holiday?! Hope your new year is going great so far! I loved hearing about your background a bit more of how LeHoarder started. I completely agree with you on the Intership part. I also went to school to buy and applied for an intership but was talked into being hired on. I was thrown into something I wasnt ready for and quickly realized it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I definitly can relate with the SAHM part too. While rewarding, it can be so easy to place your entire identity in our children. A bog is such a great way to get outside of our daily routines and be creative and you've had so much success which is amazing! Looking forward to seeing all of what 2018 brings your way!

    Manda |

    1. As a mom I know you totally get it. My blog totally saved me.

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  13. Absolutely love this post babe!! Happy new year!!
    I completely agree about the 20's been self-discovery and your thirties been more peaceful and about self-realisation. I love all your tips and you are such a great inspiration for many of us out there. BTW you also have such a great style which I love.


  14. One of my favorite things about you Michelle is your passion and energy for doing what you love. I have no doubt that in time Le Hoarder will be a well known name. I'm super proud of all your progress! <3 And your friend Chris seems cute! I'd love to meet him!!!

    xx Little Fashion Stylist

  15. I’m really glad to read you’re goals, good work always pay. Especially when you like your work. The pictures taken fby your friend are beautiful, the pastel tones and the pink beanie are cool. I’m thankful for read inspiring posts .

  16. I can't believe you used to live in a $350/month apartment! I can't even imagine staying somewhere for that little, but it doesn't surprise me at all because you always find the best deals! I also prefer how "le" sounds with Hoarder rather than "la." It has a better ring to it :) It's also definitely never too late. I didn't know what I wanted to do until AFTER I finished college and my MBA. What a waste!

    1. Higher education is never a waste. And thanks! Even back then I got a killer deal on my studio. Also, you're so young - you figured it out right on time!


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