Growing up, I had a dream to become a successful fashion photographer in New York City. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be running my own photography studio in Manhattan today, but I know that dream may not have been possible even just a few generations ago. It is so different to be a woman now, the opportunities presented to us that were never available for our grandmothers or mothers. I feel so blessed to be alive now and able to do what I love, and I know that comes from the courage of the women before me, my own determination and faith in myself, and the love and support of many other inspiring women around me.
I think it is important to take time to commend these inspiring women – both because of how far we have all come and also because of the incredible things they are doing. And I’m not alone in this – Pandora started an Inspiring Women Initiative in order to honor the incredible women in each of our lives. Part of this celebration is their new Pandora Essence Collection, a series of beautiful, stylish charms that helps women express their inner beliefs – love, wisdom, balance, courage. We presented this idea of photographing three inspiring woman across the United States as a new series in partnership with Pandora, in celebration of inspiring women.
One such woman is our friend Courtney Klein, someone I met in New York but who has now moved to the city of San Francisco. She came to the city with the intention of being a modern dancer (so gorgeous!) but fell into the world of digital production and eventually became a partner at Hard Candy Shell, a digital product agency focusing on making excellent websites, applications, and other digital media. You may have seen their work: Of a Kind,The New Republic, and Rent the Runway are among their many clients.
Now that she’s in a new city, she’s busy starting her own company, Storq, one that’s focused on empowering women through fashion during pregnancy. How does one get from partner in a digital product agency to maternity fashion?
“When I moved to San Francisco, I had the option to keep doing what I was doing or to do something completely and totally different. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a couple months and really think about what’s next, what kind of things interest me, what do I want to work on? It was a little weird to not go to a 9-5 job, and I felt a bit lost for a little while, but then I found a lot of different types of things I could potentially work on, and I ended up with this idea called Storq.”
We started the day by walking her dogs, who were getting very excited. “Today is their ‘beach date’,” Courtney explained. “They get to go to a special dog beach called Fort Funston!” How cute is that!
On the Balance Charm she chose by Pandora:
“Part of moving to San Francisco was about reclaiming a more balanced life…doing lots of different types of things, like the garden, and a career that supports not being in the office 70 hours a week. It’s hard to have a balance in New York…there’s always something going on, so you’re working and working or you’re out all the time, so it was really hard to carve out a space for myself. Here, it’s about taking a step back and allowing myself to slow down. It’s definitely something I’m working on.”
Located in San Francisco’s colorful Mission District, their house was built in late 1890s and was most recently a bar before Courtney & Zach bought it. Their bedroom was where they used to store beer! I asked Courtney if she was afraid of earthquakes after living in New York for almost a decade…she explained, “The house survived two of the largest earthquakes in modern time without any structural damage so that makes me feel good. However, when we signed the papers you have to acknowledge it’s on a particular fault line, which means your house could end up in the ocean…which is unsettling.”
All the beautiful plants inside their home were found at the S.F. Flower Market