Laura DiFrancesco and Melissa Larkin are on a mission – “creating a network of women to face our greatest challenges in life: getting out of bed on a cold morning, and then conquering the world!” Through LVLY (livelvly.com and @livelvly on Instagram), these “good souls, animal lovers, doers and dreamers” have created an exciting, fun and empowering community. Be sure to check it out for workouts, interviews, recipes and lifestyle advice and more:
Laura and Melissa, how did you two meet?
Laura, why did you start #liveLVLY?
A few reasons… one because most of all, I just really love sharing the tips and tricks I learn with others to hopefully add value. It’s a true passion of mine. I’m very entrepreneurial, so I started LVLY to channel that energy. Second, I believe in having back up plans on back up plans on back up plans. While I love being a lawyer, I would also love to be working on LVLY full time.
Melissa, what inspired you to get involved?
I teach elementary school and adore it (most days) but I cannot begin to tell you the amount of mothers who thank me and tell me how grateful they are their daughter had a “strong female” teacher like me. At first I brushed the comments off, but after a while I really started thinking about why I kept hearing comments like that. My students are always interested in my personal life (keeping them at bay is harder than my immediate family – 10 year olds are hyenas!) and I have no qualms telling them my priority is their learning and my career. I started realizing if girls in elementary school were growing up still needing role models, friends around my age desired them as well. I’m a do-er, so after this epiphany I couldn’t NOT be part of the solution. Laura had LVLY so I reached out to see if she wanted to expand the brand to include this women empowerment feature section. The timing was perfect and she was immediately on board. LVLY was re-launched late April and we’re continuing to improve, while staying true to our mission, every day!
You knew you had a good idea. Who did you need to convince before you got started? How did you do it?
Laura: Honestly, when I have an idea, I just go for it. I have a strong belief to the core that I can do anything I set my mind to. I talk it over with friends for ideas on how to shape it once it’s under way. When I initially launched LVLY three years ago, I googled everything I needed to do. As a lawyer, setting up the limited liability company was easy. I used designcrowd.com for the logo and wordpress to design the website. Then, I set up the social media and started creating the content!
Melissa: Myself. I started to question myself immediately. Who actually wants to listen to me? I don’t even know how to make a blogpost much less a subscription newsletter… there are other brands out there with similar ideas, is there room for another one? Etc. Laura is an incredible partner – she reminds me all the time that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There’s plenty of room for more brands to celebrate women and their incredible accomplishments. Also, my friends and family are incredibly supportive along with a boyfriend who embraces my feminist self. He likes everything we post – what a gem.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would have done differently in college to prepare you for adulting?
Melissa: One of our features said “know your worth” and that has stuck with me as the perfect summary of everything I’ve learned. Whether opportunities, friends, relationships, I think any of my regrets happened when I let others have a say in my worth. There are things I didn’t realize would be as helpful as they turned out to be: taking courses such as Latin American Economics while studying abroad (out of my comfort zone in a low risk way, allowing me to consider moving out of my comfort zone in bigger ways), being in a sorority (I can promote myself and maintain conversation with ANYBODY), and my parents making me create and maintain a budget starting in high school (you may now say “I told you so”).
Laura: I think I would have reached out to more professionals at different levels of their careers to walk a day in their life. I’m happy that our LVLY feature does that in a way. Sharing someone’s experience is invaluable. The more honest the better too.
In college, we are making such a firm decision regarding the direction in our career, and while you can certainly pivot and change directions, it would be great to have more insight into what a career is three, five, ten, twenty years in. Internships just don’t get you there. You should shadow as many careers as you desire, whereas an internship is a more limited commitment for a longer period of time. A week or so shadowing would also be so much more helpful than a day, and that time should be exactly what that professional has going on – not a staged schedule – to show what a day is really like, rather than just the interesting highlights.
What’s next on the horizon for #liveLVLY?
We are planning our first LVLY retreat this coming April! Our goal is to continue to get like-minded women together because we know the powerful support women can provide one another. Most weeks we provide this support through our newsletter (www.livelvly.com) and social media posts (@liveLVLY), but we are craving some face-to-face interaction as well! The retreat will match the areas of life we focus on: food (Yum), exercise (Burn Baby, Burn), career (Lovelies), and lifestyle (#LiveLVLY).
What three words would you use to describe yourselves? What three words would you use to describe each other?
Melissa: Three words that describe me… Vocal, loyal, active. My three words for Laura… kind-hearted, dynamic, capable.
Laura: Melissa is the sweetest ever. My three words to describe her are energetic, original, and super sweet (four but the last one needed emphasis). My three words to describe myself are always overly confident. It’s a good thing but it comes with its challenges.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Melissa: Snugging. Staying still, not being productive, feels like a cardinal sin. But a good snug, does wonders to re-charge me.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Melissa: When I’m not working… well during this rare 30 minute block of time during the week, I like to… just kidding… kind of.. Wine Wednesday with the girls, go on walks with my dog, read, pretend chips and queso are good for me, catch up with friends on the phone, watch addictive TV shows, etc.
Laura: I hang out with my boyfriend, my animals (pup, cat, horses) at my house or our farm, or try to get outside as much as possible. I love warm weather and short days when I can’t hang out outside make me sad.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Melissa: Do research. Whatever you are interested in, you can find a way to make it happen. The internet is scary amazing and full of resources. I love C.S. Lewis’ quote of “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” Reach out, get support, because you are not alone. Also – pick a mantra and repeat it over and over until that is the voice inside your head. Mine is “examine what you tolerate”. Which makes sense why I loved our feature’s “know your worth” comment so much.
Laura: Go for it. Today. Right now. Make a to-do list of what you need to do to get there and get to it, missy! Keep at it by trying to complete at least one task per day to get to your goal. If you have the time, three tasks per day is even better! It may not seem like much, but if you do one task a day, a year later you will be 365 tasks closer to your dreams. If you do three a day, you will be 1095 tasks closer to your dreams. Also, finding the right partner (so hard, but so amazing when you do) can make all the difference to sharing the work load and keeping you accountable.