Coming from family business, both male-owned by my father and grandfather, I was and never had been treated differently and rather I was raised knowing that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to – and for the most part, I did. Being one of very few women graduating with a degree in Information Systems from CU-Boulder, I was one of even fewer women in a high-tech job right out of college back in the early 2000s. Working in a very male-dominated industry as a young female, there were countless instances where I could’ve waved the harassment flag, and I didn’t. Rather, I did what I learned from watching my father and grandfather before me – I put my head down, turned the other cheek, and forged my own path. I left jobs because of this. I changed career paths because of this. Was it right? Absolutely not. But am I resentful? Absolutely not.
Along with strong entrepreneurial male figures in my life, I watched my mother get her college degree in her late-forties and applaud as my grandmother got her GED and then went onto take courses at our local community college in her seventies. They were not given the same opportunities I was, but they showed me that it’s never too late to go after what you want. I believe that women are valued in the workplace much more than they used to be. That said, there is still work to be done.
It’s 2018: an amazing time to be in business, and an even better time to be female. Many of the opportunities today were non-existent just a decade ago. While many women still face difficult issues, like workplace harassment, we have an opportunity to perceive these challenges as catalysts to becoming the very best version of ourselves.
I’m grateful that some (but not all, please take note of that) men opened my eyes early on to the fact that life is not fair, people can be unkind, but I choose to see that it’s the exception, not the rule. For every man that made a sexualized comment, there were 10 other men (and women) who supported my career, took a chance on me, and believed in me. After leaving the high-tech space for a very brief stint in advertising, I can honestly say that I saw more women being held back by other women than by men; hence my leaving to start my own agency at the age of 26. I went on to launch fitlosophy in 2008, which has grown from one product to a complete line of lifestyle and wellness products over the past ten years, lining the shelves of mass retailers nationwide.
The minute we start handing things to people that are not earned, we create a system of victimization that worsens, not changes the cycle. My entire company is based on the idea that we have the power to create our own best version of ourselves – but that does not mean that we don’t face adversity along the way. Whether it’s sexism, racism, religious intolerance, or socioeconomic inequity, this world can just be tough. My stance is that I forge my own path; I am tenacious in going after what I want; I ignore the naysayers and prove them wrong; and persevere knowing that the struggle is what makes us ultimately stronger. The most powerful thing someone can tell me is that something can’t be done. My response: “watch me.”
My philosophy is that we must take personal action. That’s why I have a phenomenal team of 5 powerhouse women who work in my business. That is why I hire marketing and PR agencies who are led by strong females. But I do not hire nor work with anyone because they are women – I do so because they deliver and do the job better than anybody else.
I never really consider myself a “woman entrepreneur” or a #girlboss– just an entrepreneur who perseveres, regardless of my gender. It’s important to celebrate entrepreneurial achievements of women not only to inspire other women, but to pave the way for the next generation. Our daughters and granddaughters are observing the path that we set before them and the hope is that with each generation, we make further strides. This isn’t about being better than men – or even being better than each other – it’s about being the best version of ourselves not because we’re women, but because we are capable.
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