HOLIDAY 2021 - Page 20

Inspired , Bonner wrote a letter to the owners of CP Shades suggesting that it would be a good idea to open a store in Burlington , Vermont . “ I was astonished when they actually called me , told me that they wanted to open a store in Boston instead of Burlington , and then asked me to run it for them .” Bonner managed the store in Boston for several years . She was then promoted and moved to Sausalito , California to oversee and manage CP Shades ’ retail operations . After three-anda-half years with the company , Bonner took a job with a recruiting firm in Michigan and soon applied to the University of Michigan ’ s Master of Business Administration ( MBA ) program . “ The first year that I applied , I didn ’ t get in . It felt like the MFA rejection was happening all over again .”
Undeterred , Bonner began to study rigorously for the application exam . She then made the bold decision to walk into the admissions office , where she asked to speak with the head of the department . “ I didn ’ t think that my resumé and experience was going to be what they wanted , so I decided to take matters into my own hands . I got to talk to the head of admissions for 15 minutes , and I told her about how much I wanted to go there .”
18 VERMONT MAGAZINE
Bonner ’ s courageous decision paid off , and she was admitted to Michigan ’ s prestigious MBA program . In her final semester , she collaborated with three fellow students on a pitch project called , “ Posh Pages ”, an affiliate model-based home décor destination . Bonner had been honing her design skills throughout her late adolescence and early adulthood , and the project gave her a chance to integrate her love of design with her emergent passion for business leadership . Over the course of the project , Bonner and her classmates envisioned content and curated products aligned to four different design styles . They also built accompanying financial models . The project was eventually presented to a group of potential investors , who encouraged Bonner and their team to move out to the Bay Area to give the business a go .
Bonner was then faced with a difficult decision : she could branch out independently and attempt to build up her own startup operation , or she could pursue a promising corporate career opportunity with Dell . “ I had done an internship program with Dell between my first and second year of business school . And I think , looking back , I ’ ve always been somewhat risk-averse . My parents were proud of me for going to business school , and I had made a sizable investment in my education . A corporate job sounded like the right move at the time , so I took the job with Dell .”
Over the following decade-and-a-half , Bonner rose through the ranks of Dell ’ s corporate structure and worked in a variety of roles . “ Dell really encourages people to change functions and change careers . I worked in tech support services for a while , and I also worked in consumer marketing . Eventually , I got the opportunity to work in Ireland running sales over there . My husband , Matt , and I lived there for seven years and had our two boys over there . We came back to the United States in 2010 , and I worked in several lead positions in Dell ’ s marketing division .”
After Bonner came back to the U . S ., a meeting with a friend at a New York City coffeeshop would plant an important seed in her mind that would stick with her for a while . “ I met with a friend who had recently quit his advertising job in New York to pursue his passion for photography in Los Angeles . When he showed up , he was dressed casually in flip flops and sunglasses . I told him how much I admired him for risking his career to