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cabi q&a: director of field training & development jeralyn cottam

November 1, 2018

Oh the fascinating things we learn about our Home Office team members whenever we sit down and chat with them! If she hadn’t discovered cabi 12 years ago, Jeralyn Cottam, our Director of Field Training & Development, would have been a chef. And, while we love her tasty treats, we couldn’t be happier that she set aside whipping up delectable pastas and desserts to help our Stylists grow and be successful in their businesses. In her free time, she’s a knitter, a reader, and she’s got a soft spot for ’50s fashion. We absolutely adore Jeralyn, and we know you will too. So sit back, relax, and read all about her travel plans, travel dreams, and that time she was a skipper on the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland—no joke!

Juniper: Today, we’re talking with Jeralyn. She’s our Director of Field Training & Development. So, we’re very excited to talk with Jeralyn. So, Jeralyn, tell us a little bit about what you do here at cabi.
Jeralyn: I focus on training. And really the bulk of that we deliver through two vehicles. One is our online platform that we call cabiYou. And then also through our conference that we do twice a year. We offer workshops and mainstage training. And so those are two of the biggest areas that I spend my time working in.
Juniper: How long have you been at cabi? Like since the beginning of time with me, right?
Jeralyn: Yeah. You and I have been here since the beginning of time. It’ll be 12 years in January. Wow, a long time.
Juniper: And you started as a CAM.
Jeralyn: I started as a CAM. In our customer service department, a cabi Account Manager, and worked my way through applications and then landed in training and development. Found love, and I’ve been here ever since.
Juniper: What is it that you love about training and development?
Jeralyn: I just think it’s so empowering to be able to help dissect information and concepts and find the perfect way to try to package it and deliver it so that I can help other women be more successful and do what they want to do with their businesses. That’s really exciting for me.

Juniper: What is your favorite Fall cabi piece?
Jeralyn: My favorite Fall piece is the Display Top—the lace with the scallop around the neck. It’s a nice high neckline. I love a high neckline. And it kind of has the cutting-in details right here and the beautiful eyelash hem. So, I love that top.
Juniper: A good date night look.
Jeralyn: Oh, it’s such a good date night look. I love it, yeah.
Juniper: And date nights are important, because Jeralyn has a little one at home, too.
Jeralyn: I do. I don’t go out on as many date nights as we probably should, but I have a 19-month-old son, James, at home. So, yeah, we spend a lot of time at home. But now that I have my Display Top, maybe I’ll go on more dates.

cabi Clothing | Fall 2018 cabi team Jeralyn Cottam

Juniper: And so Jeralyn is another one of these amazing mom boss women who we have here who’s got her hands full at home, hands full at the office. And she just manages it all so beautifully.
Jeralyn: #workingmomlife.
Juniper: Yes. So, with that note, coffee or tea?
Jeralyn: Coffee, lots, black.
Juniper: Yes. What’s your go to ice cream flavor?
Jeralyn: Pistachio.
Juniper: And you’re sort of a foodie, right? So, what’s your favorite food?
Jeralyn: I’m a carb girl, so a good pasta with the naughty kinds of sauces, the creamy ones, and the pesto. That’s kind of like ultimate comfort food for me.
Juniper: Nice. And little known fact, I hope this isn’t one you’re going to share, Jeralyn actually went to culinary school.
Jeralyn: In another life. It feels like another life, yeah. I did.

Juniper: What’s the song that will get you on the dance floor?
Jeralyn: “Can’t Stop This Feeling.”
Juniper: What is your favorite movie?
Jeralyn: My favorite movie…and this is the legit answer, this isn’t the, “I’m fancy,” answer…it’s “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore. I just love that movie. Princesses and princes, and…yeah. That’s my favorite.
Juniper: What movie makes you cry?
Jeralyn: The movie that makes me cry every single time I watch it, “Steel Magnolias.”

cabi Clothing | Fall 2018 cabi team Jeralyn Cottam

Juniper: What do you do to relieve stress?
Jeralyn: Well, we’ve talked about this a lot, but cooking. I love to cook, and it totally relaxes me. I also knit, and there’s very Zen time when you’re just knitting away. And reading, I love to read.
Juniper: What book have you read most recently?
Jeralyn: “Gentleman in Moscow” was phenomenal. It’s one of those that I raced through. And then when I got to the end, I was panicked that it was almost over, so I stopped reading it as much because I wanted to make it last as long as possible. It’s a great book.

Juniper: Do you have an all-time favorite book?
Jeralyn: All-time favorite…I have several. I would say the one that always comes to mind is “Gone with the Wind.”
Juniper: What about books you would recommend for women entrepreneurs?
Jeralyn: “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s like totally an oldie, but just so solid. I was just looking through it the other day actually. And such good, good information, especially for the tech-heavy world that we’re in now. It’s just really all about connecting relationships and how to nurture and develop those.

cabi Clothing | Fall 2018 cabi team Jeralyn Cottam

Juniper: What was your first job?
Jeralyn: My first job, babysitting. So, when I was in sixth grade, I decided that I was fully ready to become a babysitter. So, I sent a letter out to all of the families that I knew who had young kids, letting them know that I was open for business. And I got a taker almost right away, and it became this steady job that every day for a year, I walked home with their kids. And it was my first very steady paying job.
Juniper: When you were a kid, did you ever dream of being something? Or was it chef?
Jeralyn: Yes, a chef. Also lawyer. I thought that I was for sure going to be a lawyer.
Juniper: Who is your style icon? Or do you have a favorite decade or favorite trend?
Jeralyn: I always said was born in the wrong decade or wrong era. I love the ’50s when they wore the gloves and the hats and the structured shirts and blouses. So, that’s a very Audrey Hepburn kind of look, very classic.

Juniper: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Jeralyn: I want to fly for sure.
Juniper: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Jeralyn: So, I’m fangirling on a podcast lately with Jen Hatmaker. She just cracks me up.
Juniper: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Jeralyn: Italy, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany. I’ve been to Tuscany. It was heaven on earth. I want to go back. I never want to leave. And Amalfi Coast just in a cove on a boat, swimming, taking it all in.
Juniper: What is one thing you can’t live without?
Jeralyn: Can’t live without? Coffee. It is the necessary fuel to my life.

Juniper: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Jeralyn: Best advice…okay, let me think for a second. So, when I was in college, I had a professor who was also on the law school admissions board. And I was pre-law. And I had taken my LSATs, and they hadn’t gone swimmingly. At least not up to the standards that I had for myself. And so I was really feeling dejectedand down. And we sat down, and we laid out all my transcripts for all that I had accomplished in my four years at college. And he really painted a picture for me that I was more than this number that I had been ascribed and that I had so much more to tell and that I needed to tell that story and not focus on this label that had been put on me. And that just always affected me. You know, just to not let some arbitrary label define who I thought I was.
Juniper: What advice would you give your younger self?
Jeralyn: Don’t be afraid of failure. Just go for it. And even if you fail, that’s a win, too, because of all that you learned from those experiences. I think my younger self was very afraid of failure. And the older I get, the more I realize that trying and failing is better than not trying at all.
Juniper: How would your friends describe you?
Jeralyn: I think they’d describe me as a little silly and very loyal. And I’d like to think I’m a good hostess. I like to have people over at my house. I like to have my friends at my house. I like to take care of them in my home. So, I think that’s what they’d say.

Juniper: She’s a very nurturing person. That’s why you’re so good at training. And I think your husband would say you’re a good wife.
Jeralyn: Thank you. Ditto.
Juniper: Her husband is so cute. He always posts cute Instagrams of her when she’s on stage at Scoop.
Jeralyn: He’s very proud. I have to be away a lot for work and travel, and he has to hold down the fort at home. And he’s always very supportive, very helpful, and very proud, yeah.
Juniper: Yeah, so you guys are a good team.
Jeralyn: Good team. It takes two.

cabi Clothing | Fall 2018 cabi team Jeralyn Cottam

Juniper: What’s a cherished memory that you have?
Jeralyn: My most cherished memory is from a family vacation when I was probably eight years old. We went on a road trip all around the southwest and we were in Utah at the time, and there was a meteor shower. And it was like five a.m. in the morning. And my dad woke me up, and my mom and my sister were still asleep because I had said I wanted to see it. And we stood outside. It was pitch black still. And we watched this crazy meteor shower where it just looked like the sky was raining shooting starts. It was amazing. It was a special moment, daughter-dad moment.
Juniper: Do you have a favorite family vacation?
Jeralyn: My favorite family vacation I would say was when my mom, and my sister, and I all went to Chicago for a week. And I had never really been in a big city like that before. And we went to museums, and shows, and out to dinner. And we went shopping on Magnificent Mile. And it was so much fun. I remember laughing until my face hurt. You know when you just laugh until your cheeks hurt from laughing?
Juniper: And you guys went on a family vacation more recently, too? Like as a mom.
Jeralyn: It’s a whole different story. It’s life in another location. But we went to Wyoming, and I saw the Grand Tetons for the first time, which was breathtaking. I was like in tears most of the time we were there, because it was just so beautiful and breathtaking. But it was great.
Juniper: What’s the greatest experience you’ve ever had?
Jeralyn: I feel like this whole chat is mom life because it’s giving birth. It was just the most incredible experience of my life. It was so primal and so, I don’t know, spiritual. And it was such a happy moment. So, it was very out of body kind of, “Wow, this is real life.” Yeah, it was amazing.
Juniper: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Jeralyn: I used to work at Disneyland. I was a Jungle Cruise skipper. And I also worked in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Juniper: Do you remember any of your script from the Jungle Cruise?
Jeralyn: My favorite line was: “For all you ladies on board, welcome. My name is Jeralyn. I’ll be your skipper. For you fellas out there, you can call me cupcake. I’ll be your hostess.” Another favorite was a test to see how closely people were paying attention, because there’s a Bengal Tiger where you say, “Wow, that’s a Bengal Tiger. When fully grown, it can weigh up to 500 pounds and jump over 25 feet. Wow, that’s amazing.” But then I’d say it at the elephant, and at the zebras, and at the villagers. And so, you really get a feel for if people are actually paying attention to what you’re saying on the boat.

Juniper: What do you love the most about working at cabi specifically?
Jeralyn: I think what’s been so cool about being at cabi, you’ve realized this as well or experienced this as well, is that it’s about finding the right people and then putting them in the right place. So, getting…as Kimberly Inskeep would say…getting the right people on the bus and then figuring out where they sit. And so I was able to get on the bus and then experiment, and try new things, and work on various projects. And kind of through that winnowing process end up where I am here today. And if you had told me when I first started working here that I was going to be doing what I’m doing now, I would have thought you were crazy. So, it’s been really exciting, and fun, and challenging to continually evolve in that way, and for cabi to be so supportive of that. You were the first smiling face I saw in the CAM Department on my very first day.

Juniper: We’ve both sort of grown up here together.
Jeralyn: We have, for sure.
Juniper: Yeah, back when we were just two single ladies.
Jeralyn: And now you’re just a video maven.
Juniper: Well, with that, we’re going to say thank you so much for letting us hang out in your office today.
Jeralyn: Any time.

If you could have Jeralyn cook a three-course meal for you, what would you have her make? Then, of course, she’d sit down and join you for the meal, at which point you’d have a chance to ask her all the questions we’d forgotten to cover in this interview. What are you dying to know? Leave your thoughts in the comments below—no guarantees on dinner, but we just might ask our next exec one of your questions!