Fortunate: Meet Meredith Sullivan
Growing up, Meredith Sullivan dreamed big as she flipped through the pages of fashion magazines. With each turn, she imagined a world outside her sleepy hometown where she was free to explore bigger things. Sullivan grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana, but made good on a elementary-aged promise to live with her grandparents in Philadelphia, Miss. during high school. “I spent a lot of time with them as a child, so when my parents divorced, I went to live with my grandparents,” she says. “They absolutely shaped who I am and who I wanted to be. I think I got the best of both worlds.”
Sullivan, now 32, pursued a marketing major at Mississippi State and met her now husband Terry in the process. Both worked for Harvey’s Restaurant while in school. Graduated and married, the couple moved to New York state in 2003 so that Terry could attend graduate school. But what would Meredith do? Watch TV.
“When Terry was in school, I watched a lot of TV,” she remembers. “I saw a fashion show and a girl with the clipboard, like, pushing models out. It seemed like she was running the whole show.” Sullivan spent all next day Googling the phrase “How do I become the girl with the clipboard at fashion shows?” Everything came back to a fashion school education. With a one year consolidated program, she became a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate in 2006 with a degree in fashion merchandising and management.
Having lived apart to pursue careers and schooling, the Sullivans came back under one roof in 2008 in Beacon, New York, an hour outside Manhattan. Meredith worked from home with a former friend on a clothing line and began traveling as an assistant on shoots for Seventeen, New York & Company, Earth Footwear and Chris Aire Jewelry. “I did a Yaz birth control shoot,” she says with a chuckle.
Still, she wasn’t settled. Sullivan and her husband wanted to make a change. “And we had no idea what that would be,” she says. So, the couple set out on a “last hoorah”, traveling and enjoying the city. With a plan to eventually head out west, the Sullivans moved back to Mississippi for what they believed would be a couple of months.
But it wasn’t in the cards, according to Meredith. “I had seen a fortune teller for fun at a trunk show,” she tells. “She said ‘You’re not going anywhere, sweetie. You’re not staying for a few months; it’s much longer.’ Sullivan says the woman went on to foretell a home purchase, despite her love of a nomadic life. “I thought she was crazy.” The fortune even called for a house with a green front door. “She was wrong about one thing!” The home they purchased in Fondren has a brown door.
Back at Home
Strong family ties may have helped to sway them home (Terry is from Winona) but a new lifestyle caused them to stay. “While I was flying back and forth to New York, Terry had down time and we lived in a home in Rankin County my parents were trying to sell,” Sullivan says. “The freezer there had nothing but garden-grown vegetables in it and that’s all we ate.” Terry lost weight and began working out. It was during that period that liveRIGHTnow was born.
Sullivan says they thought their New York City lifestyle was healthy but, in the years since coming back to Mississippi, it has evolved. “We were reading so many (negative) articles and people were asking why we would move to Mississippi,” she says. “We wanted to be a part of making changes. We were runners anyway and so we got more involved. And when we heard about Fleet Feet’s pub runs, all of it just went hand in hand.”
liveRIGHTnow may have begun as “Terry’s thing” but Meredith says her heart was always in it, too. Working for her parents has scaled to one day a week so that she can serve as operations director for their fitness focused company, handling scheduling, promotions and marketing.
But she hasn’t put down her fashion magazines and hasn’t quit her style. Sullivan is a freelance fashion consultant in her spare time. Her current outlet is as visual merchandiser for Kinkade’s Fine Clothing in Ridgeland. “I never thought I was really into men’s fashion that much but I actually love it,” she says. “And mannequins have no opinion about what they wear.” She uses Instagram to show off her work. “Social media was not what I was hired to do, but it has become a natural fit. I want people to see my work and (Keith Kinkade) wants people to see his clothing.”
It’s also one of the ways Sullivan gets the word out about liveRIGHTnow. “I take pictures of everything we’re doing,” she explains. “It makes people want to be involved or buy our shirts. It’s huge for business. It’s everything.” In their three years, she says it’s word of mouth and social media that has caused their business to grow.
Still traveling, but mostly for fitness, Meredith and Terry have run a host of relays in the last two years. Among them are Hood To Coast; Chattanooga to Nashville; Key Largo to Key West; and Baton Rogue to New Orleans. In the coming months, they and twelve of their friends will run the Ragnar Relay from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Meredith adds the New York City, Chicago and Greenville Marathons to her fit list as well as the Soak Up the Sun Triathalon, St. Jude’s Half Marathon and the Mississippi Blues Marathon Relay.
Sullivan says when she moved back to Mississippi and let go of working on a clothing line, she felt she lost her identity. “I fought Terry,” she remembers. “We went to 100 dinners and I cried at 99 of them. I thought ‘We have a life here (in New York City.)’ I didn’t necessarily come willingly at first.” But it’s funny how things have a way of working out. “I’ve had more people contact me about fashion since I’ve been back here,” she says.
Fit fashionista Sullivan says she loves Mississippi’s capital city. “A few months outside Jackson were okay but I was unsettled,” she says. “Then we bought our house and it changed everything.” Sullivan is confounded by what she reads and hears. “I read articles that call us lazy and say there’s nothing to do here, and I ask ‘How?’Â There are festivals, food, farmer’s markets, concerts, group fitness opportunities; if you aren’t fond of Jackson, you’re just not looking hard enough to find the good things here.”
Looking back on her life, Sullivan is reminded of something she says will stick with her forever. It’s even become a mantra. She explains: “I read a book last summer about an attorney who was striving to be an ultra athlete. His wife told him to ‘Pursue what’s in your heart and the universe will conspire to support you.’ I think that’s how I want to live my life. I’ve found happiness here. I love my life. Money and all of that doesn’t matter. In the end, it’s all okay, as long as I’m following my passions and doing good. That means everything to me.”