How Running a Boutique Prepped Her to Run for Office
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
By Nick Fouriezos
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?” This as-told-to account has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Busy. Hectic. Things happening that you’re not really prepared for. But you just have to deal with things as they come up.
I’m a candidate for the Nebraska legislature in Omaha’s District 8. I’ve been ramping up to this for two years. I’ve never held public office before, but I feel like my experience as an entrepreneur and small-business owner gives me some unique perspectives about budgeting and organizational management. And my experience as an activist and mother gives me some interesting things that I can take with me too to inform policy I want to make.
Entrepreneurship. Activism. Political advocacy. I think all those things go completely hand in hand. Companies like mine, Hello Holiday, I think we’re benefiting from leveraging our political beliefs in today’s social and political climate because we’re telling our customers, “We’re with you.”
The more political work I did as an entrepreneur, the more comfortable I felt taking my place at the table in politics. I listen to the legislature every day. I can watch it online, I’ve done it for years. And I can see people on the floor saying, “Well, it’s property taxes, it’s income taxes, and that’s why people don’t want to move here.” And at the same time, they’re voting for fewer protections for LGBT people, voting for fewer services for DACA recipients, they aren’t passing things like equal pay for women, paid family leave, Medicaid expansion — things that much more affect women, that affect people of color.
I think it’s very shortsighted to say this is all a tax issue. I can’t watch them on the floor there, saying the things they say, and think, “I could never do that.” You become immune to the hype and realize these are just normal folks. It’s not exactly Jefferson and Lincoln down there at the statehouse. If they can do it, why can’t I do it?
I’m a single woman. I’m conventionally attractive. I can clean up pretty well, I’m young. I think that makes people sexualize me and infantilize me. You aren’t ever going to make any change if you care what other people think — but I’ve got to care what voters think because it’s really up to them. I know when people meet me and they speak to me, they have a great impression of me. But I am mindful of that stuff. And there are elected officials I know who are on Bumble, who are on Tinder, who are on dating apps, who are really out there not having to care. I’ve been criticized for that stuff a lot. Because we can’t picture women, whether they are politicians or whatever, as people with sexual agency.
That’s something I’ve internalized as a politician, as a candidate. When I go in to meet with someone, I need to give myself extra time in the morning so that I look professional. Whereas a man, maybe he would wash his face, brush his hair. I’ve got to do makeup, but not too much makeup. I’ve got to do hair, but not too girly, not too much. I’ve got to wear something professional, but not dowdy, not frumpy, not matronly — but not too sexy. And then when people realize that you’ve gotten ready for your day, they say you’re superficial. “She cares too much about her looks.” And then it’s like fuuuck. You cannot win!
If I’m working on family stuff and maintaining my friendships, I start to freak out a little bit because I’m thinking about everything that’s falling behind with the campaign. I’m not knocking on doors! I’m not making phone calls! I’m losing votes! Somebody is going to get elected who is going to do terrible things to our state, and I really care about this.
I’m not going to be outworked. That’s just my internal motto. Maybe all I could do was two errands. Maybe all I could do is a 16-hour workday where I finished my to-do list from the last week. Sometimes what you can do is 20 percent of what you did the day before, but if I go to bed at night thinking, “I did everything I could do,” that’s a successful day.
- Nick Fouriezos, Nicholas Fouriezos is a wandering journo with a black coffee habit. He’s knocked on the doors of meth labs, gasped while conducting jogging interviews with marathoners and holds the life accomplishment of pissing off Michael Phelps, albeit unintentionally. Follow Nick Fouriezos on TwitterContact Nick Fouriezos