As the creator of Inspirations & Celebrations, my mission is to educate and empower women through inspiration and information. While I often write fashion, beauty, and lifestyle guides – the underlying message behind everything on I&C is to love and value yourself as a woman of worth.
Since International Women’s Day has been an annual tradition since the early 1900s (celebrated on March 8th), being part of the female empowerment movement in modern day society is something that is meaningful to me.
Celebrating International Women’s Day with 25 Inspiring Women
In celebration of International Women’s Day, today’s personal growth & career guide shares girl power advice by 25 inspiring women around the country. From beauty industry veterans and fashion designers to public figures, CEOs, and entrepreneurs – the following women (listed in alphabetical order) are truly exemplary gals who we can all look up to.
Alice Chiu is the Proprietor & Interior Designer behind Miss Alice Designs. She won Best of Houzz 2015 in customer satisfaction, Best of Houzz 2016 in Design, listed as a Top 20 Interior Designer 2017 & 2018 on Expertise and Homedit, and has been profiled in Bella NY Magazine, House of Turquoise, Apartment Therapy, and Freshome to name a few.
She says, “Whatever talent you have that brings you joy and lights your fire, share it with the world. Pursue your dreams no matter how grand it is. The bigger your dream, the better I say. It won’t be easy. There will be a lot of ups and downs, money down the drain, time wasted, negative people who don’t want you to succeed, and much more. You’ll feel like giving up so many times as I have. But, you just have to keep trying different things until you find something that works for your business. Don’t ever give up.”
“I think the hardest thing I’ve had to learn was to really love myself, to believe in myself as a woman, a designer, an entrepreneur, and to know my worth. Clarity is the key. My biggest advice and the first step would be to really love yourself, to believe in your talents and skills, and absolutely own your worth. Because if you don’t love and believe in the amazing, beautiful, and talented person YOU are, no one else will.”
[Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles]
You probably recognize actress Alison Sweeney from television (as she was a star on NBC’s hit soap opera, “Days of Our Lives”, which earned her a Daytime Emmy award). But she’s gone on to do a number of other exciting projects in entertainment, including being the host of the popular reality show – “The Biggest Loser”. She’s currently the Star, Co-Creator & Executive Producer of “Chronicle Mysteries” for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
She says, “When I was very young, I told my dad that one day I would be making movies. Today I feel I’ve really fulfilled that dream with “Chronicle Mysteries” for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. When I look back on how I got to this point, it’s crazy. Often the road to achieving your dream isn’t linear but have faith and stay the course.”
“Only through hard work, grit and determination will you achieve success in building a business. It’s important to believe in yourself, take a chance on yourself. Working hard and having passion about what I do has always been my recipe for success.”
“I’ll often beat myself up about what I wish I’d done differently, which is only natural. The trick is to acknowledge the moment, learn from it and quickly move forward rather than getting caught up in something that cannot be changed.”
Relative to personal branding, her advice is “be truthful to yourself and authentic in your message to others. If you pretend to be someone that you’re not, it’ll always come back to bite you.”
Last, but certainly not least, when it comes to work/life balance, she says, “Rather than trying to balance it all, just focus on being your best in the moment and make time for all aspects of your life as best you can.”
If you’re a makeup maven, then this next gal should be on your radar. Amy Nicole is the Founder of Chic Studios School of Makeup, a national school for aspiring and professional makeup artists. As a professional makeup artist and content creator, she’s shared her expertise at New York Fashion Week and BeautyCon. In addition, she’s worked with top models and celebrities (such as Irina Shayk, Julie Henderson, Jessica White and Jill Zarin to name a few).
Amy says, “I followed my dreams years ago when I decided not to work for other people, but rather go to school for business management and work for myself. I wasn’t sure what would transpire exactly, but I was ok with that as I was clear on my loves and interests (beauty, business, makeup, helping others and philanthropy) and I decided to merge those passions. I never really feel like I am working, which has been a dream beyond my wildest imagination.”
“Building a business has not always been easy. It’s a never-stops choice I made that I truly have no regrets about. What I do is balance life as much as I can. There are always highs and lows with business, but I get to do what I love, educate others, give back, and share my expertise.”
When asked how she overcomes challenges, she said, “This is inevitable if you’re running a business – there will be challenges along the way. How I deal with them varies, depending on what the challenge is. For example, an employee issue – I try to discuss directly with the employee and do my best to understand their concern or hear their feedback before coming to a conclusion.”
Relative to the value of personal branding, her opinion is that “How you present yourself (ie: your personal brand) can set you apart from someone else trying to gain the same client or take the same position you want. As Warren Buffet said best, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.’“
Work/life balance as a woman “is something I reevaluate often, and it’s never the same thing. When I think about balance now, I don’t always have time to do everything I want. I have kids and, for those who do, you know that adds to the juggle and balance of life. I try to give 100% to all areas in my life, even if some of those things only get done periodically at that point in time.”
As a top-charting Jazz performer, writer, producer, and advocate for the Transformational Power of Jazz, Anna Danes has done more than become a successful musician. She went from being (as she explains) “a three-time immigrant, a two-time cancer survivor, a former lawyer, and a stay at home mom – to the top of the Billboard and iTunes Jazz Charts… showing women everywhere that anything is possible!”
“I did not follow my dreams till was in my 40’s when life brought me to that proverbial ledge (when) my marriage was over. As scared as I was, I jumped in and went for it! It transformed my life and me into the person I’ve always only dreamed of becoming!”
Her advice on building a business – “JUST start, that’s the hardest step! Decide you are going to do it. Then, surround yourself with great people who will support you and your business dream.!”
“We all face challenges in our lives. The key is not to run away from them but face them head on with strength and dignity. Give yourself the time you need to regroup, figure out a new plan of action – and keep going.”
“Personal branding is your treasure trove. I strongly urge to have others help you figure out who you are as a brand – start with friends and ask them “how do you see me?, “what’s my story”, and follow up with experts in the field who will draw out all the necessary nuances about you and your brand to make it strong and cohesive and marketable!”
Work/life balance is “unpredictable every day and not quite perfect, so never beat yourself up that your life is not a magazine. Do it your way, for your family and your lifestyle.”
Annie Spano is the Founder of The Style Collective (an online community with education for female influencers), the host of “The Becoming Fearless” Podcast, and an interior designer.” She connects thousands of fashion bloggers and influencers, providing a support system for them to grow their careers.
“Take the time to reflect on your life story to find what it is that you’re passionate about. How can you find inspiration and form a personal agenda to make an impact in other people’s lives? This process can take months or years to figure out, but the people need you.”
“Start moonlighting and figure out how you can add value to a problem that people have. How can you solve it and make their lives better or easier? As a natural by-product, you will make money if you focus on helping others first and foremost.”
“Sometimes our greatest learnings come from mastering the most significant obstacles. Challenges can turn into transformative events that help you find meaning and purpose. So keep in mind that it’s temporary and will be over soon. The dark times are what make the best times feel so good; we need that contrast in life.”
“You need to know why you are different from everyone else. Strong brands focus on these four things: fostering community, having a great aesthetic, creating a unique niche, and building an emotional connection with customers/readers.”
Finally, with regards to work/life balance, she says, “a mantra that I picked up from Cara Alwill Leyba is this: woman first, boss second. Make the time to take care of yourself and make it non-negotiable. If you aren’t healthy or balanced, your work will suffer. Make yourself a priority above anything else.”
Antonia Hock is a successful woman leader, luxury expert (she was named to 2019 Luxury Daily Top 25 Women to Watch List and the global head of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, a leading consultancy that advises organizations on customer experience (CX).
She says, “I recently watched a great video of Tony Hawk coaching his daughter on how to execute a maneuver on a skate ramp, and he said, ‘Everything that you want is on the other side of your fear.’ That sums up my advice for all women as they think about their dreams and passions.”
“Don’t live a fear-based life. As we grow older, we question our behavior more, second guess and worry about failing publicly. And with that, we lose the power to chase our dreams, take the plunges, or execute that maneuver on the skate ramp.”
“Your life is your message, so don’t let it be ruled by fear. Challenge yourself to always make the choice that you truly want, show the world why you are here, and never allow fear to be the reason you don’t.”
Bobbi Brown made a name for herself as a professional makeup artist who launched her famed cosmetics company, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. She’s written multiple books about makeup and beauty and has been a Contributing Beauty & Lifestyle Editor of Health magazine. Most recently, she launched a wellness-based beauty company called Evolution_18. This new venture was launched as a way to introduce consumers to the idea that “beauty comes from within”. Through high-performing, clean ingredients, the line of wellness supplements were created to boost skin’s natural radiance, enhance your glow, and make your more beautiful
To inspire you to follow your dreams, Bobbi says, ” If you believe in something, don’t ever give up. If one door closes, find a window to climb through. Surround yourself with loyal people who are good at doing the things you are not.”
“Failure does not mean defeat. You have to be able to get back up again and learn and grow from your mistakes.”
“Your brand is a direct reflection of you. If you don’t care about the details, it will show.”
Lastly, “remember to breath and take time for yourself, even if it’s just a quick walk to clear your head. Also, find a great partner, as I have in my husband, to support you.”
You could say the definition of “girl power” is evident in this next woman. As the CEO of Boxing & Barbells, Cary Williams is also an Olympic level Female Boxing Coach, gym chain owner, and former boxer. She was featured on the cover and in national magazines including Shape, Muscle & Fitness, HERS, Inc., Entrepreneur and many more. She has also been on numerous television shows including Fear Factor and Billion Dollar Buyer.
Cary says, “The only way to follow your dreams is to not care what other people think of them. There will always be people along the way; even family, who think your dreams are too big for you to follow. Ignore them.”
“To build a business sometimes you cannot be perfect. Even though we want things to be perfect, sometimes this can hinder the process. If we keep trying to correct something before we actually do it, it may be too late once we are ready. You can perfect things as you go but never let it stall your progress.”
“Always understand that it will not be smooth sailing. There will be a lot of challenges along the way, but you love challenges, right? Look at challenges like a game and welcome them, dig your heels in, figure it out and press on. Never let your challenges define you as a person.”
“Creating a connection with people is more important than you know. Keeping it personal helps your authenticity shine through and lets everyone know what the brand is all about.”
“The balancing act in life and business is hard. As an entrepreneur, we feel like our work is our life because it is our passion. You still need to get your mind into something else sometimes. Have something you can do each day that takes you out of work mode. Just pause a bit in your day and take a deep breath. If you reflect on what you have accomplished, it will help to breathe.”
If you often have wanderlust or are an avid traveler, then Claire Soares can help you. As a former Fortune 500 sales executive, she went on to launch the multimillion-dollar flagship start-up travel company, Up in the Air Life, which connects guests to epic and exotic experiences around the world. She and her company have been featured in the Wal-mart Black Girl Magic Campaign, The Airbnb Inaugural Black Travel Leaders List, USA Today, The Huffington Post, Essence, Ebony, The Root, Rolling Out, The Grio, and other online publications.
“Take time to define your “dream world.” Be clear on what ideal looks like to you and aim for it. Establish an accountability system among peers and mentors to keep you tracking up against your goals. And keep your dreams to yourself and your inner circle – beware of naysayers who are simply not capable of envisioning (and therefore believing in) your utopia. Having a plan helps.”
“Years ago I created a “Life Map” outlining my goals. It helps to be super specific about what your goal is so that you are in a position to attract it. Writing a list of affirmations and reviewing them daily/weekly is also very powerful. I launched my business 6 months after beginning this law of attraction based process and saw sales right away. There are no coincidences.”
“After you’ve decided on your business I recommend hiring a reputable Business Coach to help you expand the idea, build out your business plan, outline next steps and identify required capital and resources.”
“Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow. When you make mistakes, learn the lesson and determine how to use it to be successful the next time. Forgive yourself in this process and realign yourself to your mission and belief in self to keep pushing. Very little that is easy is worth having.”
“I’ve learned over time to trust my gut. Your first instinct should not be ignored. Often times, bad decisions were not decisions I was never comfortable with. If you are saying NO in your head don’t ignore it. Don’t question it. Trust yourself and move in another direction.”
“In today’s modern times, people buy into a business because of the person behind it. If you are the face of your brand being authentic is important. This can be tremendously powerful one way or another as you build your business.”
“Ensuring you are healthy, of sound mind, and energized will ensure you are making sound and quick decisions when it comes to balancing work and life. Make sure you take the time to figure out what passions excite you. As you become successful that will be extremely important and help you stay excited and connected to your work.”
If you love celebrations, then you’ll enjoy the delightful home & entertaining website, Sugar and Charm, created by the entertaining expert, Eden Passante. She launched the site in 2010, and in 2012, became an affiliate with A&E’s Lifetime Moms and was one of the first hosts of a Lifetime Moms-branded video series on entertaining and baking. She has been featured in publications such as Crate and Barrel, Martha Stewart and Good House Keeping. Plus, she’s been a guest on ExtraTV, the FYI Network, and Home & Family TV.
Eden says, “I’ve always followed my dreams, almost out of fear that I only have one life and if I don’t pursue them, I’ll miss out or have regrets! You have to build and work for your dreams, sometimes tirelessly. What do you dream of? As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
“Build a business you’re passionate about. Your business will evolve as you discover new insights as to what your followers/customers/consumers want. Invest in yourself and your business! Stay focused and true to you and to the core of your company!”
“Since challenges are a crucial part of building a business, you’ll never get around them. They are there for you to learn from, so it’s important to know how to defeat the challenge. Really, this means finding the best solution, staying positive and never giving up. Facing your fears is also a good challenge to overcome in business.”
“The value of personal branding is huge! It’s what sets you apart from other businesses. Establish a set of values, goals and what you want your brand to be and always stay true to the brand essence. This will help build a loyal audience and following for your personal brand.”
“You have to find your own balance. What is the balance to you? I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to doing it all. I just do my best each day and if I don’t find balance, I know tomorrow is a fresh start!”
When you’re hunting for your dream job, then one of the first places to help guide you in the right direction is Fairygodboss. It is the largest career community for women, reaching millions of women seeking advice and support in their careers. Created by CEO & Co-Founder Georgene Huang, she launched this business as a way to help women get ahead in their careers.
“Dreams can sometimes feel out of reach, but I believe the best way to do something, is to do it. If you have to have passion and dedication for what you do, it’s more likely you’ll be successful and at the end of the day, happier.”
“When I started Fairygodboss I didn’t know if it would be a success, but I knew there were other women out there looking for answers to the same questions I was asking. While it’s certainly a challenging task, finding people who will bring new ideas to the table, who value your mission and want to succeed is extremely important when building a business.”
“The world isn’t always a fair place but there are things you can do. You do have power. To maximize your power, you have to take advantage of every resource available to you.”
“Building your personal brand is key to being recognized as a thought leader in your industry. Not only will this help build credibility for your business, but it will help distinguish you, individually. You will become the go-to source for information which can help attract and sustain a loyal following.”
“As a mother of three, I’m no stranger to the challenges women face when trying to strike a work-life balance. While there’s no formula that works for everyone, for me the key is ruthless prioritization and being present in whatever I’m doing.”
As the Founder & President of By Gina, Gina Rivera is a well-known leader in the world of beauty. She founded Phenix Salon Suites, which became the fastest growing salon suite company in the beauty industry and the only one to ever be named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchise List. The company has over 200 locations nationwide and plans for international expansion to Japan and China. She’s also been featured in numerous publications including Fashion & Style, Modern Salon, the Huffington Post, and others.
“When it comes to building a successful business, I believe that having pride in yourself, and your work, is key. Always be on time and be ready to go. Design a plan with clear and defined goals, keep a positive attitude, and don’t get distracted. Then, you will be successful.”
“Drive is an essential element. You have to push through challenges and conquer obstacles, get up early and get after it every day.”
“Solid branding is the foundation for a successful business. Having a well-developed, positive, image is essential. Good branding equates to success and longevity in the business world.”
“Many of us juggle careers and families. We are constantly at work trying to balance items like being a professional, a mother, and a partner. I have heard the saying “Be Blessed Not Stressed” and that is what I hope for each of you.”
Kerry Yates is an accomplished inventor of brands, creator of concepts and a recognized expert of beauty in every form. Yates has created many of the recognizable brands found at Revlon, LVMH, L’Oreal, and Unilever. Passionate about the beauty industry, Yates has over +20 years of beauty experience with 15 years focused on marketing and developing brands within the hair category, which led to creating, Colour Collective, a company with a tailored, seamless approach to the design, develop and deliver process at the heart of bringing product to market.
“One of my favorite poems is Invictus and I especially love the line ‘I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul’ by William Ernest Henley. It reminds me that I am responsible for my successes, failures. I am responsible for making my dreams come true.”
“My mom presented me with a plague roughly 10 years ago that states….what would you do if you knew you could not fail. I started my business 3 years later and have the plaques placed prominently in my office. Never let your fears hold you back!”
“Female entrepreneurs are constantly facing challenges and I quote I tell myself which funny enough came from the movie Point of No Return is “I never did mind the little things”. It just reminds me that this is just one challenge of many that will come across my desk so suck it up and get solving!”
Relative to personal branding, “As a business owner you are not only selling potential customers your services/products but you are also selling them you. Be memorable by establishing that one element that defines your personal brand!”
“As women, we are excellent multi-taskers, problem solvers and cheerleaders and sadly the last person we take care of is ourselves. But without rest, the mind and body will start to lag and can potentially fail. It is okay to take a break so you can be energized to save the world the next day!”
Maria Halasz has been the CEO and Managing Director of ASX listed Australian life sciences company, Cellmid Limited, since 2007. An accomplished public company CEO, a non-executive director, and senior adviser, she has successfully executed transactions in the US, China, Japan, Europe, and NZ during her 25 years of corporate career. In 2013, adding to the company’s portfolio, Maria identified and successfully acquired a novel hair loss technology from Japan, and developed a range of consumer health products, which have since been sold successfully in Australia, Japan, the USA, and China. She’s CEO of Evolis Professional – a consumer brand that helps to restore hair to a healthier state by focusing on the hair growth cycle. The company claims that users experience faster hair growth and less hair fall.
“Don’t underrate daydreaming. When you focus or meditate on your dream you’ll find that your actions are directed towards reaching it. Write down your dream, but even more importantly write down the goals that will make you achieve them.”
“Building a business is hard work, requires stamina, perseverance, and resilience. There will be more “failures” than successes, so learn to celebrate your small victories. My most important advice is to do your best and more for your customers.”
“Life is hard. Whether it is business or personal, challenges are part of our existence, so get used to it. Learn to see challenges as your greatest opportunities. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Surround yourself with positive, “can do” people. I found over the years that they push you through any negativity or self-doubt. Remember that you don’t actually fail until you give up trying.”
“Your personal brand reflects your passions, dreams, goals, and ambitions. Building a brand that truly reflects your values allows you to move with confidence.”
“The most valuable commodity in the world is time. So how do we make the most of it? Don’t work too hard, don’t give away too much of yourself to things and people that ultimately don’t matter. Have fun, make it part of your day. Define what is important for your long term. What do you want to look back to when you are 100? Pursue it and make it a priority.”
Nurit Siegel Smith is the executive director of House of Blues Music Forward Foundation, which creates access and economic opportunity for youth – with a focus on disadvantaged youth – using the music industry as a bridge. Since 1993, the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation has impacted over 1,000,000 young lives and invested $25 million towards providing transformational music opportunities to youth from under-represented communities.
“Be patient and be hungry as you pursue a dynamic journey to manifesting your dreams (which may get redefined throughout your life).”
When building a business, “stay nimble and stay resilient as you evolve and reinforce the vision and foundation of your company.”
Relative to overcoming challenges, she says, “fail sometimes and fail forward as you undertake and uncover some of life’s greatest lessons.”
“Be authentic and be confident in your values and mission and you will find you will be magnetic.”
“Find happiness and find inspiration as you continue to strive for work/life/family/self/health/wealth-balance. But it’s okay to also aim for a great massage every month!”
And finally, as Miles Davis says, “Don’t play what’s there; play what’s not there.”
If you’ve ever struggled to make new friends, then you’re not alone. To solve this problem, Hey! VINA Founder & CEO Olivia June launched this “Tinder for girls” app to help women connect more easily. Described as “the friend-finding app for women that connects, celebrates, and empowers women by helping them build their tribe”, the company proudly says it’s helped “Women in 158 countries around the world (meet) their best friends, travel partners, roommates, and bridesmaids—all from a simple right swipe.” The app has been featured in PopSugar, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, etc.
“It’s so important for you to find people who are as ambitious as you are. Find the people and the community who hold up the mirror to you and show you how awesome you are, motivate you, and who hold you accountable. They’ll keep you on track and build you up when obstacles or roadblocks happen.”
“The first step is to nail the networking game. Make a list of 10 types of people you’d love to meet or learn from, and go out there and make those connections. Focus less on a hero, and more on finding peers who are specialists in different areas, offer and provide help without anything in return, and don’t be afraid to ask when you need help, too!”
“When faced with challenges, I ask myself two key questions: “What is the problem?” to first identify the problem at hand. Then, “why is this not a problem?” Asking why something isn’t a problem is my fastest way to finding a solution, or realizing that it’s not as big of a deal as I thought it might be.”
“Think of your personal brand as your North Star. Everything you do should fold into your mission and the direction of your North Star. When you become known for your North Star, it works magic for you!”
“I don’t believe in work/life balance! I strive for work/life harmony. Look for harmony in your work and your health, because everything you do either folds into your health (physically and mentally) or into your work, and you can’t do your best work if you’re not healthy!”
If you love reggae music, then you’ll surely be inspired by this next woman. Patricia Chin is the Co-Founder of VP Records, a reggae label she started with her husband and business partner. VP Records is considered the world’s largest record label for reggae music. Together, the Chins have acquired a roster of reggae legends including Shaggy, Bounty Killer, Mavado, Sean Paul, Shaba Ranks, and Beres Hammond to name a few.
“When you love what you do, it’s easy to find yourself working nonstop. Getting on a path to your dreams takes work. Surround yourself with others that have similar interests and who will propel your career forward, but don’t rely on them to make it happen for you. Prove that what you have to offer will better a company and make it impossible for them to turn you away. Most importantly, work hard and be passionate. Your dreams are what make you wake up each morning and feel inspired.”
“Every business will have their own unique challenges when being built, but there are specific fundamentals that I have discovered when growing VP Records. When you love what you do, it’s easy to find yourself working nonstop. My business has been built with sound business practices at its foundation and an entrepreneurial spirit that runs through each of our many talented and loyal employees. You are only as good as those you surround yourself with and as a leader, you must set a good example.”
“Every career path is going to come with its unique challenge. When starting VP Records, I had to act as both an entrepreneur and a leader during a time when women were still trying to carve a place in the corporate world. I often encountered adversity in this male-driven landscape but needed to ensure that the mission of VP Records would not falter just because others were not ready for a female CEO. I never realized my role as a woman and how impactful it was until I was recognized as the First Female recipient of the A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) lifetime achievement award.”
“Hard work, integrity and keeping your word will drive your personal brand. Do not lose sight of this. Without it, there will be no personal brand to consider.”
“I have had a unique journey in the fact that I created my business alongside family. So, I not only had a team of employees to oversee but a family to look after. I had to carefully balance my life and nurture both. You don’t want to work so hard that your passion begins to fade.”
As the Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer for UI Global Brands, LLC and the socially-responsible beauty brand, Urban Hydration, Psyche Terry has been featured in Forbes, received the Editor’s Pick in skincare from Essence magazine, and has earned recognition from Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business, United States Excellence Award, and Golden Key Honor Society.
She says, “A quote that remains constant to keeping me lifted and encouraged to get up and go after what I want is: “If you want it you have to get it, therefore I have to earn it to own it.”
“Building a business is no different than building a house. Make sure it is built on faith – solid foundation, invest in the structure, and get help from professionals to specialize in making it be something you want to come home to every day.”
“Challenges will happen unless you are standing still. The idea is to quickly learn how to life hack the challenge and be the boss of the resolution so that you are not overcome too long by the effects of the cause.”
“Personal branding is as peanut butter is to jelly you can’t be a great woman-owned business without being a “Great Woman” owning a business first.”
“My challenges are many as a mom, wife, business owner, mentor, friend and confident but I know I not only signed up for this but I stay healthy daily so I can be available for everyone that needs me. I feel like this is my gift to the world and the world, through love and acceptance, gifts me right back by loving the brand I built for 10 years.”
Sabrina Gennarino is an actress best known for The Purge and The Walking Dead. She is a mom and entrepreneur with a vegan, cruelty-free skincare line called CrapFree Skincare. You’ve also seen her on television shows like “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Criminal Minds,” and “The Sopranos.”
In regards to following your dreams, she says, “You MUST DO IT and you must do it in a state of joy and gratitude. Otherwise, for me, you are not living the life meant for you.”
“What defines a challenge? Everything is just a step to more knowledge. It’s the way you view it. If you perceive something to be “challenging” then that is exactly what it will be. If your perception is that of gaining knowledge or as simply a path to the end result, the term “challenges” can be viewed as “journeys”. You are always going to be on journey to something else. The trick is to enjoy journeys!”
Regarding personal branding, she says, “Is there any other kind of branding? You are YOU! No matter what your thing is, do that and THAT is your personal branding. Just. Be. You.”
“I think because, as women (for the most part) we’re taught societal imprints that you have to find a balance. Once I shed those imprints, and became ok with it all, I no longer have the guilt, stress and feelings that I’m inadequate because I don’t have or want, everyone else’s conception of “balance.” Everything just got easier. I didn’t focus on balance, I just focused on happiness. My balance is more about downtime and work time. I get better and better at achieving that every day when I focus on happiness.”
Inspired by her partner’s food allergies, Samantha Abrams (Co-Founder & Owner of Emmy’s Organics) started by developing a clean, vegan, gluten-free cookie recipe ten years ago. What began as a homemade recipe and a passion for health & wellness, has since turned into an organic snack food line that is sold in 20,000+ retailers nationwide (including Starbucks and Walmart).
“Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, but also keep your mind open about what you are going to “do with your life.” When we’re young we come up with these ideas about what the future is going to look like and 90% of the time, it doesn’t turn out that way. It can be a really hard experience to let those expectations go. My one piece of advice is embrace the unknown!”
“But, by focusing on growing sustainably, we’ve given ourselves room to make mistakes, learn from them, and come out as a stronger company because of it. The hardest part of my entrepreneurial journey has been learning to not compare my business with other businesses. I’ve learned throughout the years that every company is different, and there is no one formula for success.”
“I try not to bring the business home, but sometimes it can be difficult to separate the two—especially when you work in the same space as your husband every day. Openness and communication have been key to balancing work/life.”
Combining beauty, drive, and a passion to help others, Sarah Rose Summers was crowned Miss USA 2018 in front of millions of television viewers. Last year, Inspirations & Celebrations did a Q&A with her, and learned that she is also a CCLS and advocate for Smile Train, Ryan Foundation, and Project Sunshine. This midwest-native has since moved to New York City, to better serve in her role as Miss USA, traveled the globe to represent the USA in the Miss Universe pageant, and has been a positive role model for women everywhere.
“As the first Miss USA from Nebraska I am passionate about encouraging girls and women of all ages to chase their dreams despite any foreseeable obstacles. I support writing down specifics and attainable goals toward their biggest dream to work toward them daily.”
“It is important to think of yourself, your personal brand, as a business. In the social media influenced world we live in, we must be conscious that what we portray in our daily lives can then be a representation of our businesses.”
“Challenges are inevitable. When studying to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, I applied to Practicums throughout two states for five separate seasons until I obtained a position. I was defeated, questioned if it was the profession for me, and at the end of the day I had to reflect on my why, why I was passionate about this career field; that is what kept me going. I chose to request feedback from each decline letter to better myself and my chances in the future. Rejection and challenge are difficult but remain focused on your why, with support of family and true friends, remain steadfast and you will accomplish your goals.”
“Serving as Miss USA is my priority because this opportunity is only for one short year. However, whether I am fulfilling this opportunity or helping a child understand their recent diagnosis at a hospital as a Certified Child Life Specialist, self-care is always necessary to prioritize. For balance, I schedule workouts that I enjoy, friend time, and always schedule for adequate sleep. Finding what fills your cup and actively planning for those moments will provide balance amongst our busy lives.”
Stephanie Lin is the Co-Founder and Designer of KESTAN. An alumna of brands including J. Mendel, Mara Hoffman, Esprit, Volcom, Armani Exchange and Diane von Furstenberg, Stephanie has a wealth of design experience with both luxury and commercial brands. Her diverse and international design experience informs her vision of conceiving collections that blend utilitarian design and artful direction.
“Start small, and be patient! When I started KESTAN, the idea of launching a womenswear label felt daunting. But when you break down your dream into smaller, more actionable goals, suddenly it doesn’t seem so scary. Sometimes the word “dream” can feel vague, but “goal” feels much more attainable.”
“The most important lessons I learned was how to ask for help. As much as we all wish we could be Superwoman, sometimes that’s not realistic. Drawing opinions and resources from others allows you to have a well-rounded view of your business. Most great things weren’t built by just one person!”
“During times of difficulty, I like to focus on my “why”. Reminding myself of a purpose is powerful, and gives me the clarity to move forward. It allows me to remember my passion, and aids in any difficult decision making that I may be faced with.”
“With so much noise out in the world today, it’s important to hone in on what you represent as a woman and as a business. “Authenticity” is a word that people like to throw around, but when done earnestly it can be a powerful motivator to bring people together behind a cause, brand, or individual.”
“Just as it’s important to be kind towards others, I think it’s important to have compassion for yourself. To me, finding balance is being able to take life in stride – the good and the bad. Being able to understand that I’m not perfect allows me to move on the hiccups so I can look forward to the wins.”
As the Founder of the at-home hair removal product line, Nad’s, Sue Ismiel perfected the No Heat wax and grew the product to Number 1 in its category in a year. Today, Nad’s is a 100% family-owned, women-run global beauty brand that is still #1 in its category. She and her three daughters own and operate Sue Ismiel & Daughters, which is comprised of five successful brands. Sue is recognized as one of Australia’s most successful businesswomen (she’s even been named InStyle “Woman of Style”) and dedicated philanthropists.
“Your deepest dreams can become reality if you have the “right” attitude towards situations, circumstances, people and life in general. When you decide what you want, stop wondering, pondering, doubting and the rest. That decisiveness is so powerful, you become unstoppable and when you focus on what you want, the rest just falls into your lap!”
“Building your business brick by brick from the ground up takes courage and this means sticking to your convictions and acting in accordance with your core beliefs. In business, especially new business – this type of courage is really important.“
“I would much rather see (challenges) as opportunities! Admittedly, some of the business challenges are devastating when you are faced with them, but when you look back you have nothing but gratitude for the experience.”
“One of the strongest points of difference in our business is having a brand with a face, a voice and a personality. People relate and connect with real people. There is a great value in personal branding and this is what we continue to showcase around the world.”
“Work / life balance means that we must take care of all areas of our life. Neglecting any of these areas make us imbalanced, unhappy and unfulfilled. I was diagnosed with glandular fever because of exhaustion and stress back in the days. It was going to turn into chronic fatigue if I didn’t take care of myself. So I turned to yoga and meditation! This commitment revolutionized my life. Find that space of no thought, the silence and the place where infinite intelligence reside to tap into.”
As the President of Driven Inc., Suzanne Evans went from secretary to a 7 million dollar business in record time. She developed a proven blueprint for success to build and scale a client-based business that has been on the Inc. 500/5000 for five straight years. She has provided support, consulting, and business development skills to the over 30,000 entrepreneurs enrolled in her wealth and business building programs. Plus, she was ranked #5 on the NY Times Bestseller List.
Here are her inspiring quotes regarding following your dreams and creating a life you love.
“Love something besides work so much that you will work your ass off to be able to have more freedom to do the thing you love.”
“A tactic without a strategy is just a to do list.”
“If you haven’t done the work, being confronted can feel like being criticized.”
“When your message moves people, you’ll never have to sell again.”
“Sacrifice means doing something you have never done to get something you have never had.”
Tanya Sam might be a face you recognize from television, as she’s a cast member on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. But you might not know that she’s also a successful businesswoman, as she’s the Director of Partnerships for TechSquare Labs, which is a multi-million dollar early stage tech venture capital firm. In April 2019, Tanya’s company will be hosting Atlanta Startup Battle, a 2 day competition where startup companies compete to win $100K in funding. As a passionate businesswoman, she loves helping other women succeed, which is why she’s involved with BuiltxWomen – a business accelerator for female entrepreneurs and POC.
“Now more than ever following your dreams takes on a whole new meaning. There is so much positive change happening, that’s not to say there isn’t a lot more work to do, but women have been working so hard for their place at the table, we can’t afford to not follow our dreams and achieve our full potential at this point. There truly is nothing more fulfilling than chasing and accomplishing your dreams, no matter how big or small.”
“Technology and startups are a second career path for me. Building a startup is an all-hands-on-deck, all-consuming endeavor so I just started pitching in where I could. This experience inspired me to start my own startup beverage company, Limitless Smart Shot. Working alongside a serial entrepreneur like Paul Judge and then starting a company of my own, I realized that a large part of being successful is surrounding yourself with other like-minded people as well as opportunity. As the Director of Operations and Partnerships, I have a lot of freedom to create programs and I am passionate about helping minority and female founders build businesses.”
“Having worked in two industries, oncology nursing, and startups, that tend to have high rates of burnout, I would advise people to quickly find an outlet that they love. my biggest piece of advice, is to never give up, even when the odds are stacked against you, or if the gatekeepers keep telling you no, be creative and find a way to make them say yes, or just create the opportunity yourself, if no one else will for you.”
“Personal branding is especially relevant for me, as I move forward in my professional life in the public eye. Stamping out a forward facing identity helps your followers and potential customers feel like they know you before they meet you, therefore establishing trust in who you are, and what your business is about. Creating that image and connection is so important because it can directly correlate to ROI in other areas of your business.”
“It’s the 21st Century and it’s a powerful time when women from all walks of life are creating their own path and choosing to have it all! At the same time, I understand the importance of creating a balance with life as a whole, with my family and my fiance who is incredibly supportive. If you work hard and surround yourself with people that want to see you succeed and truly support you, you really can have it all!”