DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Sev Cities, Founder! My name is Aylin Sevgili (EYE-lin SEV-gilly) and I’m a life-stylist and creative consultant born in Washington D.C. SEV Cities, is an independent life and style website based out of Washington, D.C. curating fresh ideas and creating a social platform through unique events for young and hungry millennials living in The District who are stylish, curious and creative.
Nine months ago I launched a blog for my friends and family that is now being recognized as a brand that acts as a virtual city guide 75% of the time which becomes a reality, the remaining 25% of the time at different pop-up events I host around town to gather, push, promote, and introduce like-minded creative people, places, and brands all in one place (DCF: We are so glad you did!).
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
AS: To me being funemployed means loving what you do and never feeling like your work is stopping you from being who you really are. I quit my 9-5 working 40 hours a week to pursue my passions and “”work”” 80 hours a week, but ultimately I love what I’m doing so my work doesn’t drain or limit me anymore, instead it’s further pushed my passions to reach their full potential.
After I graduated from George Mason I started working right away to pay off my school loans. I was so focused on earning money at the time and spent years at jobs that didn’t quite seem to fit who I am as a person. As a kid, you’re always asked the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And you think, well I still have time to figure that out right?! Haha well at 24 I thought to myself… I’m not getting any younger here! I was at a crossroads and realized I was sacrificing my own happiness and was faced with living with the regret of not following my dreams (DCF: Yasssssss). So I decided to throw caution to the wind and take a year off to travel, eat, explore, and try new things.
Prior to Sev Cities, my primary work experience was in events, fashion, brand development, social media, design, and even administrative work for a government contractor at The Pentagon. So I’ve worked in many sides of the industry – from sports to entertainment to fashion and e-commerce, and definitely learned a lot from my experiences.
Also, I really think being native to the area and having grown up and gone to college in the suburbs of Washington D.C. has really worked to my advantage and helped pave the path to being funemployed full-time.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
AS: It’s actually impossible for me to name one person here. In my eyes, my family and friends are the most supportive people in the universe and I would’ve never done any of this without their support (DCF: Amen sister!!). Going back to the last question again, I truly stand by what I say when talking about the people in my life. They inspire and encourage me every single day by listening to my crazy new ideas and spreading brand awareness without being asked. They’ve really helped me stick to this even when I wasn’t sure it was going to ever pay off or pay the bills haha.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
AS: I’ve always been someone that’s open to different and exciting experiences that take me out of my comfort zone. It’s always been a passion of mine to experience new things and introduce them to my friends, but I really started putting everything into gear after my grandmother passed away and I saw a window of opportunity to drive cross country on a road trip with one of my closest college friends. During this year off I took to travel and grow, I made it a personal goal to visit my grandfather twice by using my savings to travel to Turkey where he lived. Hard to request time off to travel when you have a full-time job right?
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
AS: Outside of my immediate circle of family and friends who 100% helped build this brand, I’d say making connections with other creatives in the industry is really important as well. It isn’t that hard to connect with someone if you just take time to listen to their story. Being able to have a real and honest conversation with someone you might not know that well can really resonate with them and inspire you in different ways too. I’m extremely grateful for the network of people I’m surrounded by, they’re awesome and extremely motivating. It means a great deal to me when individuals, who’ve been in the industry for a lot longer than I have, express their admiration and show interest in what I’m doing. That’s some serious motivation for me for sure! haha 🙂
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
Balance is figuring out how to manage and maintain your life through prioritizing the things that take up most of the room in your heart and mind. I find the most balance through surrounding myself with things that remind me of who I am and where I came from. Being able to build and maintain a big presence in a major city like Washington D.C. is not always an easy job. In a constantly evolving world it’s hard to stay balanced since a lot of things (like money & power) require us to compromise who we are. I think it’s an incredibly valuable skill to remain true to your roots. I know that when I find people who seem to have found the right balance between what’s work and what’s real says a lot about their character and intentions. Aside from surrounding yourself with the right people hanging out with my dog and meditating 10 min a day really helps me find balance too! 🙂 (DCF: We swear by meditation as well, even a little bit each day makes a big difference!)
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
AS: The biggest sacrifices I’ve had to make to take my career to the next level would would be time, sleep, financial stability, and smoothing over challenges that I’ve faced maintaining some close personal relationships (DCF: just a few things here and there). I think everyone’s forced to make many sacrifices in life and when you’re trying to pursue a life-long career goal/follow your dreams, you have to push yourself to make these decisions at a much faster pace than everyone else.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
AS: Being hit on by the males in the industry! Seriously, can I say that haha? Nothing is more frustrating sometimes. I’ve actually had a few meetings already where I’ve realized half way through this person didn’t even research what I do… walking out with the thought of “wait, was that just a date that I went on and I didn’t even know it? (DCF: We know EXACTLY what you mean!!)
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
AS: Get more sleep! I never sleep anymore, I really wish I took advantage of those naps my mom said I refused to take when I was younger!
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
AS: Getting into e-commerce I ended up making a few mistakes that cost me a lot of valuable time that I can’t get back now – but hey you learn from these things. As an entrepreneur you can sometimes take on way too much. Nobody is perfect and we certainly can’t do every task right. I need to be more patient at times instead of jumping on an idea I think is brilliant. Quick, spontaneous thinking and planning has been both good and bad for me.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
AS: The turnouts at my events have been some of my proudest moments. My launch party was cool because it was a way to celebrate with those closest to me, but it wasn’t until the second event where I literally had to take a step-back from talking to guests… I was in shock over the turn-out and the amount of faces that were not familiar to me yet. At each event I meet and see new people who talk to me about SEV Cities and it’s so cool to hear people talk about the stuff I’m working on every night until 3-4am!
DCF: So what are you doing now?!?
AS: Just launched the new and more “grown up” SEVCities.com having just launched, I’m working on 3-4 upcoming events – celebrations in honor of our birth month! The new more sophisticated image of the brand gives me more opportunity to work with big names.
After my last event in January, I received a call from my childhood friend, Maha Hakki, who works for Georgetown based PR company, Moki Media, telling me that Union Market wanted to collaborate with me on an event. “Wait, did I hear that correctly?” In my wildest dreams, I had somehow captured the attention of people I admire and respect because of the their creativity and hustle, because they helped pave the way for all things creative in the straight-and-narrow, 9-5 city I was born in. So if I was getting the opportunity to showcase my brand at the biggest creative corner in Washington, D.C, well you better believe I’m giving this SEV Cities event 200%.
After months of day dreaming about an event at Union Market’s Lab 1270, Hakki gave me even more awesome news. “Have you ever heard of No Kings Collective?”
“Of course.” I’d like to think I’m kinda on top of my Instagram game, and these are guys I’ve admired and followed (literally and figuratively through social media) for over a year now (DCF: We are big fans for the kings as well, .they do awesome things in the DMV!)
Then she said, “They’re taking over Lab 1270 at Union Market to transform it into an pop-up art expedition and want to do a collaboration event with you this Spring.”
*quickly grabs iPhone to make phone call* “MOM! I FREAKING MADE IT.”
Despite the fact that my mothers in another country, this is a woman in her mid 50’s that’s still pretty darn hip if you ask me. “”Wait, No Kings Collective? Are these the artists whose murals you keep posting on Instagram?” (DCF: Yasss to mom being in the know!!). These guys take it even further than murals. Peter Chang and Brandon Hill are hip visionaries who express themselves through making art and pop-up experiences based off of what they think is cool.
So having the chance to work alongside these guys gives me the most exciting opportunity I’ve had yet. On Saturday April 16th you’re all invited to a sev cities x no kings collective pop-up experience at Union Market’s Lab 1270 , “ the Beasts of England!”
***Also coming soon:
Maketto One Year Anniversary Party – April 17
Sunset Party at The (newly revamped) Graham rooftop – April 23
Hustle 2.0 at Lab 1270 with No Kings Collective – May 14