After a few text exchanges Ally Varady agreed to meet me at a Williamsburg bar to chat about how she beat the 9-5 by creating a LLC at the age of 27. We also discussed how she identifies as a millennial.
We decided to meet at Donna, a bar and restaurant serving contemporary cocktails with names like Money in the Bank and Tea for the Tillerman. While it was an extremely frigid Brooklyn evening the streets were still bustling with people ready to unwind from a week of work.
Ally arrived with a red lip, blonde hair and a Planned Parenthood canvas tote bag with Stand with Planned Parenthood messaging on it. She didn’t spot me on her first lap around the bar because I was nestled in at the community center bar top.
A Detroit native, Ally now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her Scottish Fold cat, Aubrey (name after the R&B artist Drake). She runs a project management business, CV Partners, out of her partners Manhattan apartment.
Do you identify as a millennial?
I do in a literal sense because I was born in 1989 and grew up in an era of constantly changing technology. I remember when we got our first computer in elementary school and we had AOL instant messenger. Since that moment I’ve been constantly talking to everyone. I think that constant communication and endless information at your fingertips has probably changed the way I view the world versus my parent’s generation.
What are your views on the negative connotations regarding millennials? I don’t identify with a lot of the negative things that people associate with millennials like laziness and entitlement.
People often use the word millennial pretty negatively. They say we’re the laziest and most entitled generation. I read a lot about us being the poorest generation and broke living with our parents. But personally I think that is an unfair assessment because that is true of every generation. For example, with our parent’s generation, some were successful and some weren’t.
Our generation probably is one of the most innovative and go-gettery? If that’s even a word. Maybe it’s just that we like to work for things that we believe in and stand up for. Maybe those ideas are so beyond generations before us so they don’t see it as hard work.
On that same front I think our generation is filled with passion. For example,
my brother has a start-up selling sneakers. It is something my grandparents try to understand and they can’t. They think he’s unemployed, but he isn’t. He’s one of the hardest working people I know.
Our generation wants to be working towards something they believe in which is the opposite of entitlement. I personally believe our generation is open-minded and tries to help everyone have access to knowledge. So if anything, I believe we are expanding things for our generation and the future.
You have your own business, CV. Tell me about the progression and how you got into project management.
It took me a long time to get to that. I studied communications with a focus in PR and a minor in Spanish. In the summer before my sophomore and junior year of college I interned at a fashion and entertainment PR agency and that is what I wanted to do. After I graduated I was hired by the first company I interviewed with, which was the company I interned at. Three weeks in I knew it was a huge mistake. I hated it. Being an intern was so different because everyone wants you to like it, but when you work there you discover that it is a very cutthroat industry and very superficial. It was not worth crying over everyday.
You cried everyday?
Everyday for the nine months that I worked there. I started applying for 15 jobs a night. I did that for about two months. I came across an executive assistant position that I was probably over qualified for, but it was at an project management company. I really wanted it, but I didn’t understand what I would be doing. They had a really high end profile and notable architects. Plus I really liked the people I interviewed with. I ended up getting the job.
At this point tropical cocktails interrupted our conversation. One served in a champagne glass and the other in what appeared to be a bamboo-shaped tumbler with pineapple foliage sticking out the top. A cheers and a taste test took place as we marveled over the crushed ice and wished that we had a crushed ice machine in our apartments.
By the time Ally left the architecture firm she was the Senior Project Manager. She left the company with the then COO after realizing they needed to get new jobs or break off and create their own. As of May of 2016, they had both resigned and started their own project management company, CV Partners. They realized their worst-case scenario was to try it and fail and end up getting another job, or try it and be successful.
At age 27 you have your own LLC. What would be your first tip of advice for anyone wanting to open their own project management business?
I can’t give much advice about planning, but I can say trust your gut. One thing my partner and I realized was that we knew infinitely more than we thought we did. I think that is true for most people and you won’t know that until you’re forced to. Be honest and forthcoming and do your research.
What steps do you take to have a balanced lifestyle, if at all?
When my partner and I sat down to start our business we quite literally said the same three words; excellence, integrity, and balance. We wanted to go above and beyond with whatever we do. With integrity we want to be honest with our clients and upfront. A lot of times we have clients who think our price is too high, but I guarantee what we give them is what it cost and the time that it takes. I think balance was important. My partner wants to spend time with her family, so we’re good about having separate lives. If we’re tired than we stop what we’re doing and we go home.
I used to be up way earlier when I had to go to an office, but now I wake up a little bit later. One of the beautiful things about working from home is that we can work from anywhere. The social aspect… I force myself to be social and go out on the weekends.
What has been your favorite project to date?
All jobs are really different so it’s hard to pick. I did a 30-story luxury residence in Midtown East. It was special to see it start as a vacant lot and then all of a sudden you see 30 stories. Then, you see them install 30 stories of luxury furnishing. In 60 years I’ll be able to walk by and know that I helped create that. I also really like working in retail – we built out both of the flagship Club Monaco stores and every time I walk past them I’m so proud of the work, it’s so beautiful.
Where is your favorite NYC cafe location to get work done?
My partner and I made sure to get a Verizon Hotspot to have access to wi-fi anywhere. We frequent Madison Square Park in the warmer seasons, it’s so beautiful and some days we get Shake Shack.
Other than the park I like Equalibria. They have 40 different kinds of teas served on a burner. It’s cute. They have natural light and it’s a unique experience.
I like Freehold in Williamsburg especially on Friday’s in the summer. They have outdoor seating, free wi-fi and you can start with coffee and end your work day with a cocktail.
You have great style. Who inspires you the most fashion-wise?
Aw well thank you- I feel like I dress like Steve Jobs, I have about 40 black turtlenecks and I wear glasses. But if I had to pick someone I’d say the Man Repeller– I think she is so inspirational.
You protested at the Women’s March- as a women what do you believe in the most in regards to women’s rights?
As a blanket statement I am a feminist and I believe in social, economic and gender equality. But specifically for women, I believe strongly in educational resources so that they can make their own decisions. I think the idea of taking away Planned Parenthood is awful. If people aren’t educated in preventive measures, family planning, STIs etc. and they don’t know enough about their bodies or have access to Planned Parenthood than they are going to have a lot more instances where they need to make that terrible decision. I think education is the way to this information.
(After this, she flashed me her Planned Parenthood tote!)
Why did you decide to live in Brooklyn?
Mostly because my brother lived here and I lived with him for two months. I was going into an industry that I knew was very stereotypical with the girl who wears the Tory Burch flats, the Kate Spade purse, the North Face jacket and I was never going to be that girl so I thought I had a better chance of fitting in if I lived in Brooklyn. Which is a totally douchy response, but it’s true.
Are there any books or podcast you would like to recommend?
I’m reading a few books, but on a kindle. Right now I’m really into
Devil in a White City– HH Holmes is my favorite serial killer of all time. On the same topic, one of my favorite podcast is called My Favorite Murder. Otherwise I listen to Still Processing which is a New York Times podcast about culture and I listen to Real Talk with Bill Mahar.
Do you have any thoughts on the future of the millennial generation?
I think that we need to make it through four years.
We have a generation that is very pro-environment and pro-equality and I hope that over the next four years we continue to be vocal and help make a change.
I read an article about the election that our generation has very little interest in politics. I hope that this shocking upset and all the things that are happening will change our generation and have us get more involved. I want our generation to break the lazy and entitled stereotypes.
To learn more about Ally or to contact her visit her Instagram.