February / Abigail
Updated: May 5
Name - Abigail Harrison
Age - 23
Lives in - Louisville, KY
Alma Mater - Asbury University in Wilmore, KY
Studied - Theater and Communications with a PR emphasis
Graduated - 2016
Coffee preference - Coffee of the day with cream
Last read - The Young Victoria by Alison Plowden
Works at - Commonwealth Bank & Trust in Louisville, KY as a Graphic Designer and Marketing Assistant
Responsible for: Partnering with the bank's marketing director to develop promotional products and plan customer/business events; maintains the branch's website; encourages business-client relationships
SIB: Some people thrive on deadlines, while others cringe at them! What have you found is the best way to manage deadlines and multiple projects?
AH: It's all about prioritizing what's going to benefit the most amount of people. And timeframe. What timeframe do they need it in? I’ll have a morning list and then when I get done from that I'll throw it away and make a new one for after lunch. That I've found is most effective because I love the feeling of crossing something off my list. I like being very planned like that. If something immediate comes in, then I can move it up. I don't feel over-organized, like I don’t feel like I'm living for my list.
SIB: In your opinion, what is the best way to collaborate without stepping on others’ toes?
AH: I recognize that I don't know everything in the world, so I try to listen as much as I can to what [my bosses] need, whatever the project I'm working on. That goes into the design concept, whether it's a flyer, an invitation for an event, social media posts, anything. It's been really fun working there because I have so much creative freedom. If they have changes then I'll gladly make them because ultimately it's for what they are doing.
SIB: What does the role of criticism play in your work? How do you respond if it’s a little hard to hear?
AH: Sometimes it's scary to get feedback, but [my boss] presents it in a way that's really encouraging and helps me grow and she’ll never ask me to do something that she knows that I can't do. I try to [let harder critiques] roll off and then step back and see how I can do better, because obviously [she’s] coming from a point with more experience. I take that into account and then try to infuse it. In the end, it's always a better product than if I had done it on my own.
SIB: In your job, what have you found is a critical ingredient in client conversion?
AH: We just rolled out a new digital app last year for banking. By having a platform where [customers] can do banking online appeals to a lot of people, so we try to beef up that app, and I think we're rolling out more stuff in the future too. It's the community too, the face to face interaction. Knowing your [bankers] and [that] they'll help you out for financial fitness.
SIB: What are some tips for financial fitness?
AH: It's all about saving. That might mean little sacrifices or big sacrifices. But really, if you can get your monthly payments down, then that allows you more freedom to save for the bigger things in life that you want to do and not running up the credit card. Really being conscious about how you're using your money day to day, like eating out. That's huge. You hear that all the time. But it's the little things too, like your coffee. Maybe start making coffee at home.
It really is about looking ahead, planning long-term. Even for retirement savings as a millennial, you have to think now, which is so scary. But if you can say maybe $50 a month towards your retirement, that's better than saving nothing. I have a 401k through my work plan, which is awesome. But Isaac [and I] want to start a Roth Ira together. You can make it aggressive or not depending on who your financial advisor is, but you don't get taxed when it comes out, which is a big part. Your 401k - yes, you have all the money saved up, but when it comes time to pull it out for retirement, the government's going to take a cut from it.
I believe, with Commonwealth Bank and Trust, you just have to have $500 [to start a Roth Ira] and that little amount will get you started, build up a little nest egg, and you can actually get it drawn from your account automatically each month. I'm all about automatic payments.
SIB: You and your husband, Isaac, bought a house about a year ago! Tell me about that adventure!
AH: I had been saving all the way through college. That's something my parents really honed in when I was little. So we already had a pretty good down payment. I was living with my parents before we were married, and that saved a lot too. And then right after we were married we actually lived with my parents for a little bit. We were looking for a house while we were engaged, but the right one didn't come along.
We found the condo where we are now in December . It was really rough. I mean, you're talking pink shag carpets, pink walls. It was very seventies. Even the outlets had been painted over pink. But we saw the potential for the space because [the issues were] cosmetic; it just needed new floors and new paint. We held back a little bit from our down payment for the renovations. Our realtor was really helpful in that.
We got [our condo] at a really great cost. And then they did the inspection [and] everything and they found that our electrical panel needed to be updated. We told that to the seller and they gave us a little money to update that. So always ask, you never know what you're going to get. We closed on it in January [2017 and] started the renovations.
We opened up the kitchen to make it more of an open concept. It had a wall and shutters that open with a little counter. We cut a hole in it and made a picture window, and then we extended it out and made a bar with pendant lights. It's my favorite part of the house. We were in by Valentine's Day, so right around this time last year.
I really owe a lot to my parents because they helped. My dad helped quite a bit with some sweat equity. He was kind of the project manager, and he had a lot of friends that helped with the plumbing and electricity. They treated us really well. That was really helpful to have people looking out for us along the way, especially being first-time homeowners.
SIB: What are the benefits of buying vs renting?
AH: I live three miles from where I work, which is amazing. So I can come home on my lunch break sometimes. My parents lived in Mount Washington, which is south of Louisville. It’s about an hour commute each way in rush hour, so that’s two hours a day I was gaining back by living so close to where I worked. And Isaac has a new position now, and he lives about twenty minutes away too, so it's perfect. [Traditionally], you have a job, then get married, and then you get a house. That was just not us at all. We got married, we got the house and then I got the job I wanted. I had that mindset of “That's how my life is going to work out,” but it's never going to go that way. God had other plans and it worked out more perfect than I ever imagined in the end. We're still not done [with the condo], but there's more life ahead.
SIB: Which books have challenged you the most?
AH: When we were doing marriage counseling, my minister growing up since sixth grade (he married us and we're really close to their family) recommended some great reads, especially The Five Love Languages [by Gary Chapman]…loved that one. It challenged what I thought my role was in our relationship and how to love my husband better. What to expect when you're living full time with someone, and what that relationship looks like. There was a pretty big transition going from college student to wife. So all the books [my pastor] recommended during that time were a great resource. I really do like non-fiction too, just living people's lives. It's like walking a mile in their shoes. It's a cliché, but I love reading through those.
SIB: How do you stay cheerful during winter’s depressing days?
AH: I still really try to get out and run. I grew up on 4.5 acres and my parents have a 67-acre farm, so I'm very much an outdoors person. I love hiking. I love being outside. So winter is really tough getting out and trying to feel the sunshine because I'm such a summer person. I'll just bundle up and go for it because once you're moving you're still warm, and especially if I can go with Isaac, that's even better, because then we get us time away from screens. But getting home from work and it’s dark, that’s the most miserable thing ever. I'll try to read or do yoga at home. Just anything to felt happy.
SIB: How do you incorporate a slow-paced activity like yoga into your schedule?
AH: Nothing compares to having an actual yoga instructor, but the down dog app [is] really great because you can put in your time limit [and] what you want to focus on. I'll do it if we’re watching TV or something. You can still watch, but you're doing something productive. it's better than just lounging on the couch.
SIB: You went snowshoeing recently! What are other adventurous ways you stay moving?
AH: We love going hiking at Bernheim [Arboretum and Research Forest]; it's just a short drive from Louisville, [KY]. The scenery is gorgeous. I grew up going there to different festivals. I'd always be out there in the fall, during the Color Fest and just seeing the leaves. You can really enjoy every season out there. Showing Isaac that has been really fun.
SIB: What’s another way you keep yourself healthy?
AH: I used to have yogurt every morning. And then I [thought], "Why do I feel gross by lunchtime?" Then I just [cut] dairy out. I switched to almond milk and try to limit my cheese, which is the hardest thing in the world. That's been huge. I feel so much better.
I'm a huge avocado-toast proponent. It's a great way to get necessary natural fats. You don’t need to cut out everything you love, but having a nice balance is perfect. Maybe focus on being healthy for lunch and then dinner, just focus on portions.
I feel like since I've tried to focus on making healthy meals and healthy recipes, I've enjoyed a lot of different flavors and kind of explored my taste palate. And it's a more fun way of eating if you cook at home than going out all the time. It takes planning, [but] it is more rewarding. I love making a soup at the beginning of the week and that way you can have it for the rest of the week for lunch [or] pair with a dinner.
SIB: You’ve got the most gorgeous wardrobe. Where do your favorite pieces come from?
AH: The Loft. Especially for work, but I will go and stock up on [clothes], especially their sales. They have amazing sales, so you can get a lot for cheap. A lot of times I shop at the outlets, like Gap or anywhere. I love Target’s new line too, A New Day. I feel like it was made for me. And then Von Maur. They have an amazing sale rack, and nobody knows that, but they have an amazing sale going on all the time because they can never get rid of their inventory.
SIB: Can you please tell me how your eyebrows are always on point?
AH: I just try to keep a natural angle. I don't like the over-plucked look, and that made me not a fan of the super waxing stuff. And my skin is so sensitive that it would be like red marks for days. So I just try to do it myself. I do a little bit of filler. I get the ELF brand. It's like two bucks at Target [and] has gel and powder.
SIB: What makes you happy?
AH: My husband. He's so sweet and encouraging and he's just awesome. He's always there to listen even though he could be doing something else. Especially through that difficult time where we were engaged but not everything was settled yet, he was my rock. Also my cat, Stella. She was actually my kitten in eighth grade. She's super playful and fun and cuddly. There's something to said for taking care of something together, but not having a baby yet is great. Not ready for that yet.
SIB: What is your perspective on the work/home life balance for potential motherhood in the future?
AH: Growing up, I always imagined myself taking off work when it's time to have kids and taking those precious years with them. But now I just don't know that I will at this point in my life, and I think that's okay. At first I was like, “Is that okay that I think that?” But I think as a professional woman, that's okay to have my career I think you can definitely do both.
My boss definitely does it all with a smile. She has a toddler and he goes to daycare during the day, but the daycare is close to her work. She's definitely a professional women and I aspire to be like that. And I think Isaac definitely supports me in that too. We'll see how it plays out in the very, very distant future.
SIB: Your husband, Isaac, is a video producer and loves photography. What is your favorite photo he’s taken of you?
AH: Oh gosh, that's such a funny question. I'm going to have to look at his Instagram. Gosh, he is a mess. He loves taking photos of me. But he loves it. I think there is one on my honeymoon that I just loved. I'm not wearing any makeup and that's when he thinks I'm the most beautiful, as cheesy as that is, but I just felt really natural and very comfortable and very happy.
^ from Abigail's husband's IG feed, @isaachachihong
SIB: Any Valentine’s Day plans?
AH: I thought about doing [My Old Kentucky Dinner Train]. It's probably already booked up at this point, but I want to check it out because I think that would be so much fun. We went to go see the Orient Express and [now] I want to do train travel! That is my new dream.
SIB: What do you love about yourself?
AH: I like that I try to be kind to everybody that I meet and I like that I'm career-driven. I think that's a good thing.
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
AH: I think balance means having not too high expectations for yourself. That's something I've always struggled with. I always wanted to have the best grades, be the best in everything, and I think that's too much to ask of yourself. [Take] a step back and [look] at where your priorities lay in life, and [focus] on cultivating joy, cultivating your relationship with God, your husband, those around you that love you. And then, I think, everything else will fall into place.