Steal her secrets series: Owner of Renee Austin’s answers 25 career questions

Credit: WOTV 4 Women

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room, and you can just tell she’s got it going on! You wish you could be her, or simply wish you knew her secret to success.

WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work. We’re having these women dish the details on work life, home life, and everything in between. What has really led to their success?

25 Questions with Maggie Feil 

Meet Maggie Feil. She’s the owner of Renee Austin, a popular wedding and prom dress location in Grand Rapids.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

My job title would be, Owner of Renee Austin Wedding, which is a full service bridal boutique with everything wedding attire in it. However my job is doing everything from helping brides find their dream dress, to the back room stuff that is less swoon-worthy. Just over three years ago I had my first baby and since then my roll within the store has changed dramatically. Where I used to be the face and know every single bride, I’m now the book-keeper and operations controller. It’s the most rewarding to me that I’m able to run my business in the hours which works best for my family and I’m forever grateful to my staff. They are everything and to be honest, they are what makes me love this job so much now. We have such a great team and I consider them my family, and working with family everyday is the dream.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must-have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

Ha! Chapstick, hand sanitizer and Chips Ahoy. I always have some sort of snack in there and 1 item I was surprised to see was a right shoe from my daughter Chloe. This happens often though, there’s always something she puts in there for me. 🙂

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

For as long as I can remember I always wanted to grow up and deliver babies. Obviously it wasn’t until I was older I realized what that entailed… but really I was always obsessed with babies so holding them, working in a daycare etc.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t try and please everyone, find your target market and stick to them. To elaborate, I think it’s easy to get sucked in and try to be everything to everyone, but it’s easy to lose yourself while doing that. Even though that advice might seem so basic, it really resignated with me and I was like, wowwww duh! Makes sense to simplify it and put the focus where you want to go.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

Luckily I’ve had some pretty great high school and college jobs that I loved. My first job out of college was Enterprise rent a car, and I certainly don’t want to wash any more cars in this life.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

Work hard. Again might sound like simple logic but putting the hours in really makes all the difference. The first year of business I was so young and I think everyone thinks, oh this is going to be so ‘fun!’ Then you realize there are the fun moments but it’s so much work. Through that I’ve learned to manage my time and make the hours I’m working count.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Heels! Unless at the airport, always where Nikes through the airport.

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

Not okay. Of course I’m not made of stone and there will come a time where everyone needs to shed a tear, but always be behind closed doors. Our business is a little different so I guess if they are happy tears, cry away. 😉

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

I just had this conversation with a friend about the ‘balance’. I don’t think I believe in it. On most days I wear a lot of different hats and unless I were to get super powers I don’t think every column can reach that 100% success rate. Which is okay! I find the most peace when I’m up before my kids and have the extra time to map out the day. On those days I really feel like I’m achieving the work/life act. I’m always sure to give myself the grace if some weeks require more hours at the office, or the flip side if one of my babies is sick everything else can wait. Everyday is different for me so sometimes I’m clocked out at 4pm when I physically leave the store but most days I’m still doing emails around 10pm before bed. I don’t like to be unreachable and anyone with a smart phone knows the work never actually ends when it’s at your fingertips.

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

I’m 50/50. Some days I’ll work right through lunch and snack or eat whatever I have at my desk. Other times I get out of the store and that’s always refreshing because I think getting away from my desk helps me eat better and get a little reset button on the brain.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

Oh gosh.. everything? This life is beautiful and I know I’m so lucky.. I’m happy for it all. Every experience, every situation, every blessing and every down hill, it’s made me who I am today. My family and best friends are my core and that’s everything.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

Hmmmm tough question because I haven’t had that many interviews. I guess I have interviewed quite a few people and the ones that always go the best from my perspective is when the prospective employee lets me know the reasons I should hire them. What makes a person valuable versus sitting and waiting for the next question.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

If I’m working in the store that day or not I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. I like getting up and being ready to go before my kids get up. On days I go into the store we are out the door about 8 a.m. and they go to daycare. The store doesn’t open until 10 a.m. so I have a solid 90 minutes to myself before anyone gets in. I love this time because I feel like I get so much done. I’d say once a week I have a breakfast ‘meeting’ with a girlfriend so than I get into work about 10 a.m. and start from there.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

I’m typically not so cheesy, but I’m really proud every day. There have been big milestones and big goals reached, but ultimately it’s the small day to day things that make me the most proud. When my staff thanks me for creating their ‘dream’ workspace, that makes me feel the best.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

My husband and my kids. In our house we always say, Team Feil! (Insert a hundred hearts) 😉

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

7 a.m.

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

I have two things.. their smile and what was their hand shake like. Is that weird? I don’t know my grandma always taught me to have a strong handshake so I have always paid attention to that. And of course I think you should greet everyone with a smile.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

I’m a vacation reader; nothing good to report here. I wish I had a book going at all times but I don’t make the time for it like I used to. With that being said I read what’s popular in book clubs at the time being.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

I just had to check my sent box for this.. on average 7-10 that I send an actual reply to. Not terrible.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

Anything ABC! Greys, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, etc.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

Hmmm, I guess it depends on time of day? Cherie Inn for breakfast, Starbucks for coffee, O’tooles for happy hour or Bistro for dinner.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

I’m laughing because of course my mind immediately went to appetizer. Yeah, umm… Instagram or Words with Friends.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

Anytime I’ve done an onscreen interview I get so nervous it’s actually embarrassing. If this was something I had to do on camera I would be a wreck.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

Specifically, when a bride finds their dream dress and the moms and grandmas, sisters and friends etc. come together in that yes moment, it’s really the best! Big picture it’s the best that I have the flexibility to be at home with my kids most days, and bigger picture this industry has the funnest work trips. Picture fashion shows and mini desserts. The wedding industry really is magic.


Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Other women featured in this series!

power woman of the week

Founder of community arts center answers 25 career questions

West Michigan TV station general manager answers 25 career questions

West Michigan radio host answer 25 career questions

West Michigan lawyer answer 25 career questions

West Michigan coffee shop owner answers 25 career questions

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