Madison Reed

Brilliant Women: Comeback Queen Kristen Philipkoski

by Cheryl Locke {{"2014-09-03T07:30:42-07:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

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live life brilliantly

Kristen’s tale of regaining her confidence–that’s worth a thousand trips to the salon in our book–inspired us. After losing her high-profile position, this tech writer turned fashion blogger decided the best way to bounce back was to tell colleagues about her experience. It was a brave move, and the right one. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Find out how she did it–and balances career and motherhood, including how she survived the emotional rollercoaster of adopting her baby girl–and all with effortless style.


What made you decide to be transparent after what happened at your previous company?

I’m not 100% sure I know the answer to that, but I woke up the night after I got fired at around 2am, and couldn’t get back to sleep thinking about what had happened, and worrying about what people would think. “I Got Fired Today” kept running through my brain in headline form, so I got up and wrote the post. A conversation I’d had with my husband earlier that day about how he’d felt liberated by being honest about getting fired from his previous job was definitely an inspiration, as was a desire to be a good role model for my daughter.  There’s so much “everything’s awesome and perfect” on the web and social media that it was energizing to present something not awesome at all, but to be OK with it—and to let go of caring so much about what people think.

How did you rebuild your confidence?

All of the supportive comments I got on Facebook and my blog were a major help in that direction. And even though it sucks to be fired, it had been clear for a little while that it was time to leave that job. So rather than feeling super shaken (after the initial shock, anyway), I felt liberated and excited. Which I still feel, peppered with occasional panic and self-doubt. :)

What have been the most powerful words of encouragement you were given to start your new career?

Again I have to say all the encouraging comments I got on Facebook and my blog. The thanks I got for sharing what happened made me realize people crave honesty, and that really motivates me!

How did you stay strong and keep a positive attitude during the adoption process?

I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, but I couldn’t really acknowledge the fact that we might not be able to keep her. She came home with us when she was 4-days-old, and we fell in love with her immediately. I really didn’t have any choice but to dive into caring for and loving her right away. And that pretty much consumed my life from the beginning until we legally adopted her 11 months later. There were certainly moments when I thought, “What if they take her from us?” and I kind of lost it. Being more realistic about the worst case scenario might be a healthier approach, but I just didn’t know how to do that!

What advice would you give working moms on balancing parenting and career?

For years I was hesitant about becoming a mother because I worried I’d lose my career and my identity, but that 100% did not happen. I have no regrets—except maybe that I didn’t become a mom sooner. So I would say, if you’re feeling crazed about balancing work and being a mom, ease up on work and enjoy time with your child. If your boss doesn’t support that, maybe the job is not the best fit. You will never say: “I wish I’d spent more time working!” If you don’t have the option to work less, ask for help from your partner or get extra childcare—and don’t feel guilty about it. You’ll be a better parent if you’re not a stress case.

Check out Kristen’s fashion blog at