Today marks International Women’s Day. I am so beyond blessed to spend every day surrounded by strong, inspiring women. Together, we are forces—we are mothers, sisters, wives, friends, daughters, mentors—we are warriors.
Above all else, today, I celebrate two women in particular: my mom (right), and my late mother in law, Alice (left.) You can’t have it all, but if you could, they would: two pioneering fierce female entrepreneurs, who also mastered being relentlessly loving mama bears and family women. They taught me I *can* have the career and the life I dream of, that challenges can be cultivated into beautiful growth, and most importantly, that I am enough just the way I am.
My mom—In one word, my mom is, and always has been a powerhouse. She became a single working mom when my brother and I just were toddlers, but she never missed a beat. An entrepreneur, she co-owned our family’s retail business in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Instead of choosing one or the other, she brought me with her, hand-in-hand, all over the Garment District—power-walking the streets of New York City in her trusted pumps while effortlessly negotiating big deals, falling somewhere between a 1980’s ‘Queen’ and ‘The Godfather.’ She taught me how to hustle, too, as she helped me set up my lemonade and cookie stand in our front yard, which transitioned into selling Bart Simpson tee-shirts out of our garage in the 6th grade. She taught me unconditional love and kindness; she also taught me how to be strong and a leader. But most importantly, she taught me that they were symbiotic traits.
My mother in law, Alice—Alice was, above all else, a fighter. I first met her when I had decided to go back to school to study nutrition. She shared inspirational stories of breaking glass ceilings and defying the odds that inspired me to persevere whenever I felt stuck. Alice fought to buy into a new franchise in a time when female entrepreneurship was often frowned upon, especially for mothers. She took on two chapters in two states, and in spite of everyone telling her they would be unsuccessful, she turned them into mega-businesses. Alice taught me endless generosity and tenacity. And, her ultimate gift to me, she raised a wonderful son who champions strong women: he’s married to one (me!) and he’s raising another (our daughter.) We miss her so, but on days like today, her legacy shines as she enduringly as she did.
Cheers to the women who shaped me, and to all the countless women I encounter day in and day out. “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”