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Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from start-up founder and student Nicole Cuervo, who recorded a workday in October.

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Name: Nicole Cuervo

Age: 27

Location: Evanston, Ill.

Job title: Start-up founder at Springrose and dual-degree master’s student at Northwestern University

Previous jobs: Various college jobs: tutor, food service worker and career services peer adviser; management consultant for 3½ years

What led me to my current role: I’d been an aspiring entrepreneur since college and finally took the plunge to start Springrose once I began my MBA program. We design adaptive, attractive bras for women with upper mobility challenges, such as arthritis, stroke paralysis, nerve damage and shoulder injuries. It’s inspired by my grandmother Rose, who had osteoarthritis, and we aim to help women get dressed painlessly and independently.

How I spend the majority of my workday: My days are usually composed of a flurry of business meetings, classes, club meetings and class project meetings. If I’m lucky, I’ll also get to work on the more fun parts of the business — strategy, prototyping, talking to potential customers — and do a bit of homework. I usually try to end by 7 p.m., because most nights there’s a social event for my program.

My workday:

8:30 a.m.: I wake up a bit later than normal because I’m trying to catch up on sleep. The first thing I do is check my emails and my calendar to see what’s on my plate for the day. One of my meetings has been canceled, which always brings a bit of joy and relief. I get up and feed the two cuddly kittens I’m fostering, do an at-home workout and shower.

(Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)
(Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)

10 a.m.: I’m trying to put on muscle, so I drink a protein shake during my workout, and now I’m having scrambled eggs and avocado toast plus a hazelnut black tea. I’m going to be head-down for the next 1½ hours, working on my business. There are multiple pitch competition applications due this week, and although there’s a slim chance of getting picked, it’s always worthwhile to try to get free money.

12 p.m.: Just finished a call with a woman who wrote her thesis on bras, and she’s kindly going to send me her research. It’s rare to find someone who knows about the space, so we talked about her process and findings. Hopping on a team Zoom meeting for a design class now! We were supposed to meet in person, but the weather is ugly and it’s warm at home.

2:50 p.m.: We have a 15-minute break in my three-hour database design class, so I’m going to try to eat the lunch I made before speed walking back to class. Database design is not a topic I would have picked on my own, so I’m happy to be in a program that pushes me to learn new subjects.

4:30 p.m.: Merienda time! I’m originally from Argentina, and our third meal in the day is merienda, which roughly translates to tea or snack time. Today I’m having a peppermint tea and an alfajor de maicena. Alfajores are common snacks across Latin American countries — although there’s a lot of variety, at their core they are always two cookies with dulce de leche in the middle. I bought this one at the farmers market this past weekend from an Argentine couple.

Aflajores and tea. (Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)
Aflajores and tea. (Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)

6 p.m.: I meet with an undergraduate student team that’s working on some marketing materials for me and provide some feedback on their initial drafts. The meeting ends early, so I get to sneak in some time to work on homework, and then I head to a friend’s house where we’re hosting a dinner with homemade pasta.

(Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)
(Nicole Cuervo; Washington Post illustration)

10 p.m.: We failed! The dough wasn’t the right consistency, so it couldn’t be rolled out. Thank goodness for my friend’s dried pasta and the great company. When I make it home, the looming business deadlines are stressing me out, so I go to work for another hour on the start-up before going to bed.

12 a.m.: Through a combination of work and revenge procrastination, I’m just getting to bed. On the bright side, I’ve memorized my 30-second pitch for my start-up fellowship presentation tomorrow, finished the slides and replied to a few important emails.

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