At the heart of Charleston’s Alesya Bags is founder and CEO Aleysa Opelt herself! When you meet her, you immediately know she means business, just like her bags; polished, stylish, and totally #bosslady. Alesya began her career in Silicon Valley working with tech companies and ultimately left her position as VP of marketing to launch something meaningful of her own. Alesya Bags was born out of a dire need for a bag that actually functioned for the stylish, working woman and a desire to start a business of her own. She knew she had the secret sauce needed to launch a business and made the leap. We sat down at Collective Coffee to chat about her new line (launching this week) and to learn from this startup maven.
I first met Lee Deas when I was working as the Volunteer Coordinator for Pecha Kucha (a super fun series you can learn more about here) and immediately I knew she was a #bosslady. She managed to, along with a kick ass team of creatives, execute fun, exciting, and inspiring events for the Charleston community. When you look at her career, she’s spent most of it promoting and uplifting the community. I truly admire people who give back and find ways to run a successful business while helping other people at the same time. Her company Obviouslee Marketing works on some of Charleston’s biggest events and with some of its best companies including the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, Cigar Row, SEWE, Family Circle Cup, Kiawah Partners, The Gaillard Center and a whole host of local and regional businesses within the creative and hospitality realm.
I sat down with this born and bred Charlestonian in the beautiful OM office space after a quick pitstop at The Daily (#bestcoldbrewever).
How did you get your start?
I had a very short career before starting Obviouslee at 25. I mainly worked for non-profits and then worked for a global company, IMG. I worked in the golf division and thought that I had found it. I was about to accept the position to become tournament director but it meant I would have had to move and I decided to stay here instead.
I first met Beckie while she was working as the Business Manager at Redux Contemporary Art Center. Her sarcasm and quick wit made us fast friends. I knew Beckie was a badass business wiz and an arts educator but little did I know she had big plans up her sleeve. Within the last several years she finished her masters, created an amazing new arts program at her school here in Charleston, landed a job at one of Qatar’s finest schools and subsequently moved there. #BOSSLADY
She currently lives in Doha, the capital and main city of Qatar with just under 800,000 people. It has a population about the size of San Francisco but geographically is the size of Connecticut. Since she is officially our first #internationalbosslady I would love to share some photos that let us see her environment there. Click through at the bottom to read all about it!
If you’ve been in Charleston for any significant amount of time you have heard of Becca Barnet. Her haunting taxidermy pieces make everyone take notice and she’s had shows at Redux Contemporary Art Center, The College of Charleston, and the Waterfront Gallery as a part of Piccolo Spoleto. She’s originally from Spartanburg but spent time studying at RISD and then worked in New York at the American Museum of Natural History. You could call her artist, taxidermist, metalsmith, illustrator, sculptor, teacher, photographer, or businesswoman, and each time you would be right. You would think someone with such a breadth of experience wouldn’t be so fantastic in each discipline but she is. I was lucky enough to snag a few minutes of her time over crisp iced coffees from Kudu, just steps away from her beautiful home studio.
Firstly, what brought you from New York to Charleston?
When I was younger I came to Charleston to do the typical tourist-y things like eat, shop, and appreciate the architecture. I really enjoyed the colonial, small town feel of Rhode Island but it was just too cold for me. And New York was just too overwhelming and really, I knew what I wanted. I wanted what Charleston has to offer. When I came back I was blown away by the colors, art, lights, and the willingness of everyone here to engage in community and the arts. I thought I should just try it out. My Dad really pushed me to be job focused when making decisions and I thought Charleston as the right size because there is a demand and money to be spent on the arts here. It was also big enough to have that market but not too big where I couldn’t meet people and make connections.
The first time I met Gillian I just knew we were going to be besties. We are both Art History majors who found careers outside of the art world but nerd out over every new artist we discover. Gillian is a fantastic photographer, the blogger behind Coastal Bride, and the founder of Charleston Blog Society (of which I am a proud member.) She’s also a kickass kiteboarder! She tells us how she and her father built a successful photography business in the crowded wedding market that is Charleston while simultaneously launching a popular wedding blog.
We sat down at the magical Cafe Medley over acai bowls to chat about her Boss Lady Job(s).
I have had the pleasure of working with Jenny now several times. She epically talented and a bundle of laughs. I feel so lucky to have snuck a few minutes into her busy schedule to sit down and chat. (By the way, we were snacking on pretzels from Spero, some of the best food in Charleston FYI.)
Jenny is a former theatre kid turned Director. After an explosive bee sting in the grass of CU Boulder Jenny came to know behind the camera was where she was called to be. She got her start as an intern at The Director’s Bureau (http://thedirectorsbureau.com) and has worked on some amazing projects including Dig South, done two music videos for Rachel Kate and Hey Rocco (currently on a European tour) and created the catchy campaign for Aleysa Bags (talk about a boss lady!!).
When I first met Tory I thought she was so cool but I had no idea how cool. Not only is she an amazing painter, printer, sculptor, and conceptual artist but she is funny as hell too. She is my first interview thus far for Boss Lady Jobs and while her awesome, creative job is relatively new to her I couldn’t start a blog about amazing women I knew and not include her.
So being that this is my first post I would like to share with you what I hope to accomplish with this blog and why it came about. With this blog I aim to illustrate the lush variety of careers that we just never learn about in school. Hats off to all the lawyers, doctors, and bankers whose careers are so vital to our society but if you are like me the idea of a job that requires a suit and a neat bun sounds about as close to a nightmare as I can imagine for myself. I am insanely lucky to be able to be creative at work everyday and meet other women who do the same. So, with that said, meet Tory.
As a digital marketer living and working in Charleston, South Carolina I am lucky enough to meet some fabulous women. Women who are creative, blazing trails, creating new careers, and running their own companies. I’m here to share their stories, advice, and expertise. I hope you are inspired to find your own Boss Lady Job.