It’s Women’s History Month here in the U.S., and the approach of this month of recognition got me thinking—not necessarily about the well-known female historical figures that have guided my development as an entrepreneur and adult woman—but about my personal history. Though you may not read about them in history books, my mother and grandmother are the warp and weft of the fabric of my own history, forming the launching pad that inspired me to make an impact on the lives of other women around the world.
If it weren’t for my grandmother, my sister, Justine and I would have been latchkey kids throughout the 80s. While my mother Gladys was working long hours climbing the career ladder of the finance world, my grandmother nurtured us in both spirit and body with hugs and homemade meals. It was from her that I first learned how powerful it could be to make something with love and share it with others. Grandma didn’t drive, so we participated in a carpool network—and though she was never a driver, she was always waiting with smiles and homemade snacks and lunches to share.
My early life was defined by this network of supportive women that simultaneously modeled professional accomplishment and nurturing. I was the beneficiary of both love and independence: my mother’s long hours empowered me to explore the world and everything it has to offer. I first traveled to Hong Kong solo at age 12, and counted hot air balloon festivals in Reno, donkey rides down the Grand Canyon, and grape-stomping contests in Sonoma among my adventures.
And my mom? Though she spent more hours at the office than at home until my junior year, her very particular ethos was embedded in every phase of my childhood—and it’s made me the person I am today. She sent me to piano lessons and gymnastics not to compete, but to channel my emotions and to learn flexibility. She emphasized sticking with my heart and my intuition, and emphasized learned intelligence over AP classes and grades. She encouraged me to enroll at Parsons School of Design, to travel to Paris, and most of all to plunge headfirst into what I believe in and LOVE, no matter the obstacles.
I asked my mother recently what she hoped and dreamed for me. She answered: Live free, like a bird. As I travel to my 105th country, as I seek partnerships with talented women around the world, as I watch my business grow in ways I never thought possible, I answered: I am.