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#WCW: Novella Founder, Abby Adesanya

Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.

Up next: Abby Adesanya, the founder of Novella, a Women's Writing Club

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in New Jersey and I’m willing to tell anyone, unsolicited! I’ve lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for 4 years now but I know one day I’ll end up back in the Garden State.

Where does your passion for storytelling come from?

Growing up, I was always talking. I had so much to say and would go up to people I didn’t know, tug them down to my level, and babble on about something I just felt like they needed to hear. I grew up as an only child in a pretty quiet town so I think storytelling, via written and spoken word, were forms of exploration and connection for me.

What was your initial vision for Novella and has it already come to fruition?

My initial vision for Novella has come to fruition tenfold! I truly only expected 10-15 of my closest friends to show up to the first Novella salon and I planned for it to be more like a small gathering of ladies I had pestered into stopping by. I was thoroughly shocked to find 30 additional faces I’d never seen before in the mix. That meant a lot to me. Now it’s about fostering that community, giving them more opportunities to connect with one another, and planning new and exciting ways to bring more women together.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?

The best advice I ever received from my mentor was “Do it. You’ll figure it out.” She said that because we had spent months going over what Novella would be, shaping what the experience would look like, and after all that planning ...I was still too terrified to share it with the world. I kept being worried about who would come, why people would choose Novella over anything else they had to do that night, and most importantly, I didn’t have a space to host it yet.

Her advice to just press “Send” on a message announcing our first ever salon without a location felt like a risky one at the time, but it did the job and I found a place. I kicked into action because there was an event to be had and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was powered by fear of failure and looking back, I’m grateful I took that plunge. My mentor was right: no one is ever truly ready, it’s all about figuring it out along the way.

How do you balance work and play?

Be purposeful about your time! There’s a tendency to be “always on” when you work a job you want to excel in or when you have a side-hustle, because you’re afraid of missed opportunities or looking like you aren’t working hard enough. However, as a person who has recently experienced the physical impact of stress (adulthood is very real,) I prioritize time for myself and schedule windows for additional work. I leave work at a reasonable hour on most days and decide when I’m going to spend time working on the weekends. Balance is super key to your well-being and I think it’s important to remember that in both work and play.

When do you feel most empowered?

I feel the most empowered when I’m with my loving friends and family, whether on a long weekend upstate, via a too big group text, or over happy hour drinks. They really just make me feel like I can do anything – and they tell me so! I am lucky to have solidified a lot of found family in NYC, which can be difficult to do in the biggest lonely city in the world, but it really is special to have a support system. I think Novella is where a lot of women are finding a crew of their own and it is wonderful to see.

Describe your personal aesthetic.

My personal aesthetic is simple and gold. I really love solid colors and laying on a bamboo hoop or gold bangle with it. My whole vibe is switching up simple looks with a chunky sneaker or a big denim jacket. I love the 90s – Naomi Campbell is my High Priestess – and follow a lot of inspirational Instagrams focused on that decade, the perfect example being @90s.era. Everyone was so carefree, gaudy, and chic at the same time. I love that shooting film is back because we’re all better with a rich hazy filter over everything.

How do you overcome failure?

I don’t know if you can overcome failure, to be honest. It’s one of those things that is going to hit you at some point no matter what. I’ve lived in fear of failure for a large portion of my life and all it really did was keep me from the things I could have loved or been good at. I think the strongest ammunition you have against failure is bravery, whether that comes in the form of a cold email or introducing yourself to a notable stranger. When you’re able to accept failure as a chance and not a definite, it gets much easier to go up against it - because there’s always a chance you’ll win!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be like you?

Based on my experience, my advice would be to ask for what you want and to say yes to help when it’s being offered. Those are two things that absolutely changed the way things were going for me and Novella. I think if you are looking to build something, whether a community or a website or a store, you have to let down your guard. For a long time, I didn’t know people were asking for early press, I thought they were being discovered! I also didn’t believe people when they would ask if I needed help, I thought it came from a place of pity and I didn’t want to burden them with my issues. Say yes - to sending an email, to asking for money, to making a phone call, to people who want to get involved, to people who want to talk to you, just say yes. You’ll see how many doors open when you do.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

My biggest guilty pleasure is television. I can spend a very long time melting into the couch, binging a show from sunup to sundown. And I absolutely love it. I’m really not ashamed of my ability to watch 10 hours of TV in one day, although my roommate thinks I’m insane when she leaves the house for hours and comes back to me in the exact same spot. It’s honestly cathartic after being on, active, and social every other day of the week!

3 fave LIVELY pieces?

I love the No-Wire Push Up, the T-Shirt Bra, and the Colorblock One Piece! The No-Wire Push Up is iconic actually, because I’m not sure how LIVELY discovered the science that keeps the goods up without wire poking out the sides but it’s much appreciated by us all. And I the Colorblock One Piece is just a gorgeous arrangement of smooth, solid colors - plus the back is a wonderful surprise.

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