Celebrating Changemakers — International Women's Day

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Courtney Grace Peterson

This year we are celebrating International Women's Day with interviews from four changemakers of our own —friends, entrepreneurs, and movers and shakers that are all contributing to the advancement of women on the global stage and leading companies that support women in business.

SS: You create jewelry that women of all ages love — do you design with someone in mind?

JV: I design what I want to wear and also I design the type of profiles that have proven to be our customer’s favorites.

SS: How did you start your business?

JV: With the help of generous and dedicated friends and family members, by the sweat of their brows and mine.

SS: You are about to celebrate 10 years in business.  What is the most important thing you have learned about growing a successful business?

JV: That the team is the company and the company is the team and the esprit de corps is everything.  All of our best work stems from the atmosphere of collaboration.  Recently, I asked the very first person I hired, who is still with the company, “Why do you work here?”  He said, “Well, for the salary, to start with.”  I said, “But you can make a salary anywhere.  Why here?”  He said, “I really like working with the people here.  They make me happy to come to work.”  Did he say “happy to come to work”?  How many people can say that?

SS: Life philosophy or favorite saying?

JV: I started with this taped to my laptop when I was on the road doing trunk shows the early years:  “Paradise is wherever I happen to be.”  (Voltaire)  I simply had to believe this to keep going.  So I kept going, even though I didn’t know where I was going.  I didn’t know at the time what I was doing was market research, developing a deep understanding of my customer and what she wants, which informs everything I do to this day.

SS: Most memorable moment of your career?

JV: There is no moment!  The moments I hold dear are the employee moments, when something is said which reveals that he/she knows I have his/her back.

You can follow Julie on Instagram @julievos and shop her jewelry at https://www.julievos.com/

 

SS:  The most important lesson you've learned since launching your own business?

LB: Trust your gut. Our worst mistakes are always when we go against our initial feelings

SS: What advice would you have given yourself at the beginning of your journey?

LB: You're going to get knocked down, and the most important thing is that you get back up again. Every single time.

SS: Life philosophy or favorite saying?

LB: It's all relative.

SS: Most memorable moment of your career thus far?

LB: There are a lot of them, but our client collaborating with Vogue on The Met Gala and designing much of the decor was a highlight for sure. Opening an 11 page spread in VOGUE will never get old.

You can follow Nylon Consulting on Instagram @nylonconsulting.

SS: You are known for capturing soulful portraits (and especially of women!) How has photographing women influenced your  career and how you have evolved as an artist?

CW: It has taught me that every woman that I have had the pleasure and honor to capture and learn from over the years, has a beautiful story to tell and share. The stories aren't always full of joy or perfection….they can be from overcoming tragedies, healing from pain or grieving from loss. Each of the stories of these women's lives have enriched my own.  There is so much resilience and it's absolutely beautiful when they can be shared in truth, trust and vulnerability. There's nothing more powerful for me than to capture that light that each of these women carry and for them to be able to look at themselves through my perspective as an artist and feel strong and beautiful and worthy — it’s hard to find words for that.

SS: What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

CW: I don't think there's one single piece of advice that stands out for me — but more so the lessons of living and learning along the way (and that includes your own mistakes!) The important piece is gratitude and being aware of all the lessons along the way.

SS: Life philosophy or favorite saying?

CW:

  1. Finding joy and purpose and meaning in my every day and not rushing things and letting them unfold in time.
  2. Trusting the process and staying true to myself along the way.  
  3. Realizing that being a good artist is really more about being able to give love to others.

SS: Most memorable moment of your career?

CW: Being in Oprah’s studio and watching my big black and white photographs tell a story was certainly one of those pinch-me moments. But it was more of what got to me to that place that has more meaning.  Photographing for organizations and causes that create, heal and inspire change in other people’s lives is what’s most close to my heart.

SS: You are an incredible mother (and here is the inevitable question) how do you balance your career with family?

CW: To be honest, it's extremely hard and always has been.  You have to protect your energy and be very intuitive about who and how you spend your time.  Learn the importance of saying no so you can contribute to the aspects of your life that you hold most sacred.  You cannot be everything to everyone all at the same time.  I can only hope I’ve been a role model to my own daughters in pursuing my career as an artist and photographer.  I think it’s very important for your children (especially girls) to watch their mothers have an identity outside of being a mom. If you protect what you care about and feed your soul with what you love, you will live with a thankful heart.

You can follow Cathrine on Instagram @cathrinewhitephotography and visit her website at http://www.cathrinewhitephotography.com/

SS: Tell us a little about your career in the UN and your journey to start your foundation. Was there one specific moment or experience that inspired you to start Artemis?

HJ: The plight of women and young girls in developing countries has always concerned me.  At the UN, I worked on finding strategic and innovative solutions to complex problems.  After attending many meetings and conferences that focused on the problems preventing women and youth from succeeding, I asked myself, “where are the women and youth in the decision making processes?” How are women and youth supposed to succeed without being heard; without even being present? At the last Climate Change Conference in Paris, there were very few women represented. That was one of the biggest successes in the area of sustainable development and women were practically absent. That concerned me.

Aspire Artemis is a way to create opportunities for advancement for youth in vulnerable and marginalized communities by connecting them to positive and inspiring mentors.  One of the services we will be providing them with is communications training, so that they can utilize their voice in very powerful ways.  Many young people fall into cycles of violence and discontent when they are left without any real opportunities for success and advancement.  Being able to present ideas clearly is a very important skill necessary to succeed in a professional environment. Therefore, through debate training and other methods, we teach young people the skills they need to foster positive use of language that helps them utilize their voices in constructive and empowering ways.

Many young women have the education they need, but they lack the communication and skills training they need to succeed in the global marketplace.  This, coupled with me belief in mentorship is what inspired be to create the Artemis Foundation.

I think on a very basic human level, one of the most important things that helps any individual succeed is knowing that there is someone who is genuinely focused on advising them without any preconditions;  a mentor.  If you think about it, we all have had mentors in our lives.  Perhaps we may not think of it that way, but we have a mother, an aunt, a neighbour, a father, a friend.  Someone who was able to advise us and connect us in ways that we would not have imagined doing on our own.  For many they provide advice on what colleges to attend, facilitate access to internship programs and training opportunities.

SS: Best piece of advice you've gotten? Most inspiring piece of advice / wisdom from the women you feature and interview for your foundation?

Don’t ever allow people to determine who you are, what you want to do, or where you want to go in life.  Life is a journey filled with struggles.  Think of yourself as tripping and falling down into oncoming traffic, get up, dust yourself off and move forward at great speed.  This is incredibly inspiring to me because there are many difficulties one encounters when setting up a business and doing anything worthwhile in life.  You struggle a lot.  You go through ups and downs, but ultimately, when you are feeling discouraged or uninspired, you just have to work hard, get up, dust yourself off and go full speed ahead.  It’s the best way to work on things.  Give it your all and go full speed ahead.

SS: Life philosophy or favorite saying?

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

― Maya Angelou

SS: What do you think it will take for more women to be on the global stage?   

HJ: I think it will take a lot of political will and action from all stakeholders.  It is not enough to say that women are important to our societies and businesses; actions need to be taken to actually have a 50/50 balance in business, industry and government.  I think that men have to play more of a role in acknowledging and speaking up for the need to have women's voices matter.  Not just superficially, but concretely!

You can visit Hermina's foundation at: http://www.aspireartemis.org/

 

 

 


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