Mark your calendar! Our Spring Collection drops March 1. Mark your calendar! Our Spring Collection drops March 1.

The J. Margaret Weaver Journal

Meet Magpie: The Woman Behind the Shift Dress

Today, we're sharing a sweet sister story of Ashton and Magpie, the inspiration behind our newest shift dress.  I hope you love this story as much as I did!

Magpie is almost 10 years younger than me, which means in high school I watched her a lot.  One time, when she was about 4 years old, I was babysitting her and fed her spaghettiOs for lunch while I was getting some homework done. At one point I looked up from my trigonometry to realize Magpie had wandered away from the table. I knew immediately where she had snuck off to - my bedroom. She liked to go in there and play with “big girl things”. I hustled upstairs to try to stop her from getting messy handprints all over my room.

I opened my bedroom door to find a much worse mess than I expected. Pillows were tossed off the bed with red fingerprints on them, my physics homework was spread across the floor, a bottle of nail polish was opened and spilled across the carpet, and Magpie was sitting in the middle of it all trying to paint her tiny nails. 

She looked up and smiled at me and said “Look Ashy I look bee-you-tee-full too!”. “Yes you do!” I responded and in that moment I realized that it didn’t matter that stuff was a mess, all that mattered was that those SpaghettiO covered cheeks were smiling and were in fact beautiful.


I don’t think I realized until I was well into my 30’s how someone else’s existence can actually become part of who you are. Having Magpie in my life made me a big sister, which is deeply ingrained in my identity. I knew that being responsible for her as a young child formed some of my values, but as an adult she’s one of my best friends and greatest loves.

To have someone as a child be your shadow - your mini-me - grow up into a kind, thoughtful and intelligent adult is kind of mind blowing.


One thing so unique to Magpie that I admire is how compassionate she is. She cares for every living thing - people, animals, even plants. She wants all of them to feel love and care.  And, because of her, I learned responsibility, patience, and compassion, and I understood true love.

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Meet Ann: The Ann Trousers

Meet Ann: The Ann Trousers

As told by Teresa

I met Ann when I applied for a Project Manager position she had posted.  During my interview, I found it so easy and nice to talk with her.  We had an immediate connection, but I don't think I realized just how much until a little later when we began working together on projects.  Ann is a natural-born leader - it comes pouring out of her.  I soon realized that she could not only teach me a great deal of things but also that by watching and observing her behavior, I would become a better associate, and eventually, a better leader myself.  

Since then, Ann has been my mentor, manager, and friend for the past six years.  She is a successful and influential healthcare leader, and I have learned so much from her about being a woman in leadership.

Ann has always encouraged me to try new things and to take on stretch assignments.  She often believed in me way before I believed in myself.  She was the one who gave me a chance at a Manager position and then at a Director-level position.  She had faith and confidence in me.  

Another way Ann invested in me was that she was always direct with her feedback.  I appreciated her directness, knowing that everything she said and did came from an area of deep care and concern for my well being and career.

I cannot think of a more humble and kind person who could receive this honor.  Thank you, Ann!

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Meet Melissa: The Melissa Mockneck

When we shared a sneak peek of our new mock neck top and shift dress at a show this spring, we could not get Melissa to stop asking for a mock neck to take home with her that day.  While I loved her enthusiasm, I only had one sample available! She gave the top so much love that I finally threw my hands up and said “if you like it so much, we’ll just name it the Melissa Mockneck”!  

The group of friends and colleagues shopping with us thought this was a fantastic idea.  Beyond the catchy alliteration, Melissa has been a mentor, friend, colleague, and cheerleader amongst this group.  When I was on my first maternity leave, she texted me on a regular basis to check in, to share words of encouragement, and to help me prepare to come back to work with a baby in tow.

Michelle, who was with us as well, had this to share: “Melissa has an infectious energy like no one I have experienced. She is gifted at connecting with people and making them feel like they are the star of the show. Melissa is truly one of a kind!”

Anna, a close friend and colleague of Melissa and an important member of the J. Margaret Weaver community said, “There are so many words to describe Melissa - she is bubbly, kind, caring, and funny. She is simultaneously a brilliant leader and visionary. Everyone who meets her, without fail, loves her! She has the most incredible, genuine spirit. “

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The Story Behind the Seams: the Nita Peplum Top and Skirt

Our newest early spring collection is here, and I am eager to share the "story behind the seams" with you! Introducing the Nita peplum top and fit and flare skirt, both named in honor of my mom, Nita.
Since launching J. Margaret Weaver two years ago, my mom has been an amazing source of encouragement, help, and perspective.  She always puts others before herself and gives honest and direct feedback, even when it's hard to say it.  We all need someone like her in our lives! I wanted to do something to recognize all she's done for me, so here we are!
The Nita peplum top and fit and flare skirt is made with the same navy Ponte as our Barbara dress was last fall (coming back again soon)!  It's comfortable, thick and flattering, and (as always) machine washable.  The skirt has a 2" elastic waist and comes in three lengths for those of us of all heights (even those of us below 5 feet tall :) ).  The top -- oh the top! It's fun while still professional and goes perfectly with our skirt, a pair of white jeans, and our first pair of navy Ponte trousers (coming soon)!
Check out our new pieces here and pre-order by Saturday, March 11 for 10% off your order as a thank you for supporting our sustainability and stewardship efforts.
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New Years Resolutions, Goals, and Habits: Overrated or the Key to Success?

New Years Resolutions, Goals, and Habits: Overrated or the Key to Success?

I love the fresh start of a new year.  There's something about the excesses of the holiday season - from Halloween through New Years, that gives me a craving to simplify, cut back, and reset come January.  

It's also the time of year when many of us, myself included, visualize and plan the for the coming year.  Over the past week as I've been holed up sick with strep throat I've been bombarded with messages on social media about creating resolutions, setting goals, or starting better habits.  It's amazing how many ads and videos I've seen for goal planners, day planners, new morning habits, and systems that will "change my life".  And, in some ways this can be a good thing; a fresh start and a new focus can help us reset old habits and focus on new, specific things we want to achieve.

That said, after going down the rabbit hole of watching some of these videos, I felt incredulous rather than inspired.


In one example, I saw someone talk about an "all or nothing" diet and exercise plan for January that left zero flexibility for any deviation from the plan.  In another, I watched a "30-day morning routine reset" that realistically would take three to four hours to complete every day.  Four hours! While that might be feasible for some people in their current season of life, it's beyond comprehension for me in a season with young children and a lot of commitments to other people, and I think that is true for most people.  The concept was wonderful (start every day with an hour of reading - glorious!, then exercise and get ready for the day, make a delicious clean breakfast, take a prayer walk for 15 minutes, work on one big goal for an hour, and on it went), but in execution....I don't think it's realistic for most women to aspire to do this every day.  And, you don't need this sort of morning routine to "be your best self" or to "become a better person".

Most of us need simple steps and a little discipline.

Many years ago, I was connected with a mentor who shared his approach to goal-setting that changed the way I thought about life as an adult.  I was in my mid-twenties and trying to figure out what to do with myself now that I had checked off the steps on path that I'd envisioned for my life.  I'd planned out college, getting a job, and even business school, but not much beyond that and was feeling unsettled.  

He helped me set specific and measurable goals in different areas of my life.  But, more importantly, he encouraged me to start by writing my own personal mission statement.

Many companies have a mission statement or a purpose statement that explains why they exist or what they are here to achieve.  Mine is similar, but it's personal to me.  It paints a picture of how I want to live and to serve others in the different capacities in which I interact in my family and society.  I go back to this "plumb line" when I set goals so I have a consistent view of where I'm going and who I want to be every day.

As my life has gotten busier over the past decade or so with more responsibilities and many more hats to wear, I've found myself simplifying my goals after making the mistake of expanding them a few years ago.  I had so many things that I wanted to accomplish in 2020 and my goals reflected this.  While I don't have a copy of the goals anymore, I had set at least three to four goals across seven different categories of somewhere between 21 and 28 goals for the year.  I also had a two year old and a two month old going in to 2020, and no idea that we were about to be hit with a pandemic that would shift all of my plans, in hindsight, for the better.

This year, I am challenging myself to focus on a handful of goals.  They are goals that will deliver a big impact on my life and in some cases, they do not require much effort on my end.  For example - I set up automatic transfers from the checking to the savings account so we'd hit a savings goal at the end of the year. I've already booked a babysitter for monthly date nights.  I have a workplan for every product launch this year that I can now follow step-by-step, even if I only have ten minutes to work on something.

For me, I've found that short, simple goals and disciplined energy spent on a goal every day - even if it's just ten minutes - makes a much bigger impact over the long-term.  This may feel small or inconsequential at first, but when you have a clear vision for your life and some organization on how you're going to achieve a goal, you can accomplish amazing things in small amounts of focused time and energy.

It's January 5.  If you haven't kept up the new exercise/morning/eating/reading plan you set for yourself four days ago, it's okay.  You haven't failed.  Take a deep breath, make a realistic plan, and build the discipline to move forward, even if an imperfect start for ten minutes a day.  Sometimes, you just have to get started and let momentum take over.

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A Message of Thanksgiving: Join Us and Donate a Dress to Women in Need

A Message of Thanksgiving: Join Us and Donate a Dress to Women in Need

During this time of year, I try, with varying degrees of success, to slow down and savor the season. To enjoy the lights adorning homes in our neighborhood, to be grateful for our many blessings and to communicate that gratitude with others, and to give with generosity.

Starting this business has been an honor and a joy. It's stretched and challenged my mind in new ways, it's pushed me out of my comfort zone more than I thought possible, it's shown my children the magic of entrepreneurship, and - most importantly - it's given me an opportunity to meet and build or deepen friendships with so many amazing women. J. Margaret Weaver customers are the best ladies out there - you are kind, gracious, giving of your time, honest with your feedback, and wicked smart. It is such a neat community to be part of and I'm proud to know each of you. Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, and ideas over the past year and a half. It means so much to me.

I wanted to try something a little different this holiday season. As I was going through my closet and packing up suits that are no longer worn (a mix of COVID + two babies), I created a donation pile specific for "Dress for Success" in Kansas City. If you aren't familiar with their organization, Dress for Success provides women in need with free, professional clothing to wear for interviews or for work so they can look and dress the part, which can provide a huge boost of confidence! Typically, women go in to pick out clothes before going straight to a job interview. In my experience, having a great outfit can boost your confidence which is crucial before job interview!

If you'd like to get involved, I've got two options for you:

1. Donate Your Clothing: If you are in the KC area and would like to donate gently-used professional work clothing, I'd love to pick it up and drop it off for you. Simply reply to this email and we'll coordinate a pickup. This option is available through December 24, and as a thank you for donating, you'll receive a $25 J. Margaret Weaver gift card.

2. Donate a Dress: We also have the option to donate some of our bestselling Barbara dresses to Dress for Success. If you'd like to participate, simply contribute using the link below. You can contribute in increments of $25, up to $195 for one dress. As a thank you, I will match every donation dollar-for-dollar so we can double our impact, and you will receive a $25 J. Margaret Weaver gift card. Details on the results of "Donate a Dress" will be shared the week after Christmas.


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What Makes a Great Leader? Four Fundamental Traits that May Surprise You

What Makes a Great Leader? Four Fundamental Traits that May Surprise You

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

What are you going to write next?

This was the last question during an interview for an article about the book I published in 2017. Prior to this, one of my lifetime goals was writing a book. After three years of writing and editing; pausing and restarting; I had not thought about writing anything beyond this book. At that moment, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to never spend another Saturday writing again. I was also six months pregnant with my first child and focused on birthing my real baby instead of another book baby. No. More. Writing.

Compelled for an answer; however, I shared a couple ideas for future books, one of them being about the transition to one’s first leadership role. This phase of my life stands out for me as a particularly painful time. Transitioning from an individual contributor to a leader and a manager of people is challenging; you have to completely change not only your mindset at work but also the mindset of how other people interact with you. I struggled with this transition for a couple years and only made it through by leaning on mentors and colleagues at work as well as professors and peers in my MBA program, as well as a few good writers and thought leaders for guidance on how to become a good (ideally great) leader, especially at a young age. I'd also be remiss to not mention the grace that many people gave me as I learned to lead.

I’ve thought about this topic off and on over the past few years, debating on the timing to tackle another book (Baby #2 was born almost three years ago, and  the idea of starting book baby #2 is even less appealing now than it was two years ago when I write the first version of this article). Instead of diving into another book during this season of life, I decided to start a four-part miniseries to preview the content that I’ve been reflecting on for new leaders. This seems more manageable, it gets the content into the hands of people who are in that season of life, and it opens the door for comments and feedback - both of which I’d love to hear.

As I reflected on all the feedback and learning I had during my transition to a leader and a manager of people, there were four themes that emerged: Character, Credibility, Caring, and Connection. I’ll explore each theme in depth one week at a time; right now, I want to explain what I mean by each and why each is important. Also, I want to clarify that while you do not need to manage people to be a leader, if you are managing people, you should also be a leader. While they are two separate things, both are important.  These traits have also been heavy on my mind as habits I have lost sight of between COVID, working from home, having small children, feeling the constant pull of too much to do and never enough time to do it, and a personal lack of intentionality to shift how I live these traits out daily.  Virtues rarely surface without a plan or an intent to pursue that path, and I will be the first to admit that I've let these go for a variety of reasons.  Consider this my own self-checkup. 

Character defines character as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”. I'd take it further and think about defining it as someone who has integrity, virtue, or perhaps high standards of behavior.  As a leader, you must be intentional about defining and exemplifying your character. How do you want people to describe you? Is that the kind of person you would want to follow? Can people predict how you will behave based on your past behavior? The best leaders I’ve worked with have character traits like integrity, transparency, and authenticity. There are many more attributes that make up their character, but these three are fundamental to a healthy leader and team or organization.


Leaders can gain credibility with others when they actively listen to others and take the time to learn how things work, either by doing the work themselves or spending the time to ask questions and gain a deep understanding of the work by the people doing it. This is especially important when a leader wants to institute changes to a team or organization.  The idea might be amazing - but if the leader lacks credibility, the implementation will often fail.


Great leaders care about people. Period. That doesn’t mean they are pushovers or avoid tough decisions; sometimes caring about people means making extraordinarily challenging decisions that unfavorably impact some people for the overall good of the organization. During these times, leaders who care about people will execute the decision in a way that shows their humility, conscientiousness, and empathy for others.


Of these four themes, I personally struggled with connection the most. As someone who is competitive and can become laser-focused on finishing the thing in front of me, I tend to focus too much on accomplishing things and not enough on connecting with people. Through feedback from others and by gaining a deeper understanding of myself and my flaws, I have found joy in connecting with people and building relationships with them. One question interview candidates often ask me is what my favorite thing is about my employer, and I always tell them it’s the people. Connecting with people, understanding where they are in life and with work, and finding ways to help make their lives better is part of my “why” and is so important for leaders to practice.

Join me each week as we explore these four themes in depth with stories, examples, and resources to help you wherever you are in your leadership journey. And, as I mentioned, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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Laura Thomas on the Psychology of Mental Health, Motherhood, and Reinventing Her Career

Laura Thomas on the Psychology of Mental Health, Motherhood, and Reinventing Her Career

To say "mental health" has been a buzzword the past two years may be a understatement. There is so much that could be unpacked within this simple phrase, and probably just as many opinions about how to improve your mental health.

Whether in your professional or personal sphere, I think that most, if not all people would say that talking more about our mental health is a positive. To add flavor to this conversation, I asked Laura Thomas, a psychology instructor with a background in leadership development and counseling, to share some of the themes that she teaches as well as tips on when to seek help, how to better navigate conflict, and how she came back to the workforce after pausing to stay home with her three children. Our conversation is interesting, thought-provoking, and science/research based from a psychology perspective. She also debunks some of the common "pop psychology" that is out there that isn't based in the actual science or research of psychology - who knew?

Listen to our conversation on Apple, Spotify, and Anchor.

Recommended Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Psychology Today

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

StrengthsFinder / Living Your Strengths

About Laura Thomas

Laura Thomas is currently an instructor of Psychology at Central Washington University. She teaches Introduction to Psychology as well as Psychology of Adjustment. She is writing a textbook for her adjustment class this year. Laura was a Career Counselor at Texas State University and Southern Methodist University. She also taught leadership classes as the Assistant Director of the Leadership Center at Texas State University.

Laura was raised all over the world as an army BRAT. The traveling helped create her love for people and learning from others. She married her high school sweetheart and they currently live in Sammamish, Washington with their three children. The family loves to spend their time visiting national parks, camping, hiking, anything outdoors.

She received a Bachelor of Science at Kansas State University with a double major in Life Sciences and Psychology. Her Masters degree was from Texas State University with a focus on Counseling Psychology.

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