In the nineties, U.C. Berkley became an unlikely incubator for the future of fashion. Leon (who majored in communications and art) and Lim (economics) overlapped there…Fashion wasn’t offered as a major. “It was more, like, this is my tribe, that’s your tribe, based on how you dressed,” Laura Mulleavy [co-founder of Redarte] told me. “‘I like your Docs’ – that’s how Humberto and I met,” Cynthia Leung, a Berkeley classmate who is now a fashion publicist, said. She introduced Leon to Lim during their sophomore year, and she accompanied them on epic shopping trips to the Salvation Army. “Carol would find one or two things, maybe a cashmere cardigan that was beaded and lined. And then Humberto and I would have these mammoth piles. Our main question was ‘Is this ugly? Is this beautiful ugly?’“May we always embrace the beautiful ugly. And may we always be ballsy enough to love doing so.
Please excuse my absence, I’ve been in a feminist depression. And now for something completely different: I’m reading “Annals of Retail: Mom-and-Pop Shop” the March 20th volume of The New Yorker about Opening Ceremony’s founders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and this quote really hit me:
The past twelve months have given me an unexpected change of course and I didn’t see it until today. In that time:
- I was given a promotion based off the belief I step up into what the role would require.
- My boss quit, leaving me with even more responsibility to figure out.
- I was invited to speak as a token Millennial at the Bullhorn conference with the President of my company.
- Hillary Clinton was nominated the first major female candidate for President of the United States.
- I was put in charge of the relationship between my company and Levo League.
- I hit the 18-month count-down to my 30th birthday.
“In a world of writers, there exists the idea that frivolity and intellect are a misaligned pair. So I play the devil and, at least with my appearance, the tease.”-Stephanie LaCava
I’m sitting at a large, wooden desk – purchased from GoodWill for $30 and meticulously painted and distressed by my husband. I’m wearing a down coat, because I’m directly beneath the air conditioning and I hate being cold while he is always hot. (It’s the biggest struggle in our relationship.) We’re watching the Crimson Tide drown the Gators, which I like, and I smell as much like Chanel as a pulled-out magazine ad will allow. I love looking through fashion magazines – today it’s Elle – because my quirky, creative side enjoys the pulling pieces from high fashion, but more importantly I can’t get enough of the stories about young, entrepreneurial women who are kicking ass in designer heels or designing jewelry in industrial Los Angeles. I’m inspired by them. They remind me that I need to act, and not just watch; they prove that you don’t have to follow the rules to be successful and I really just want to be friends with them. Fast forward two weeks and I’m at the same desk, this time in light green bush hat eating dried mangos and cheddar jalapeño Cheetos. Every day I feel like I’m closer to grabbing the entrepreneur-bull by the horns full-time, and every day I find something that keeps me going. This week, I was inspired by a Wisconsin bar tender who told me of his big plans in a small town. Thank you, for the push.
As the atrocities in Syria continue I have repeatedly heard the world call to and plead with Asma al-Assad to do something. As the first lady in Syria, educated in Britain and modern and glamorous in every way, she has stood as a beacon to the women of her country and the surrounding area. Not only has she represented the potential of woman in her country she has come out as a spoken advocate for women’s betterment and human rights. And yet her silence is a stronger statement of the regime than any crazy statement left from Bashar al-Assad. That is what I find so striking. Her inability to do anything shows more about the region’s affect on women’s rights than it does on her personal strength and conviction. She stood a progressive ground on women’s rights and education but at the time where her country needs her to become the women she claimed to fight for, she disappeared. A sad realization for everyone that she was simply a facade used by the Syrian government to keep the people happy. The most difficult truth to accept is realizing how far women of the region need to fight before they reach a level of rights on par to what we expect in this day and age. I look at countries such as Germany and the United States where some of the most powerful and influential women are not only respected, but actively listened to. The men and women in these countries work side-by-side with Hillary Clinton, they look up to Angela Merkel’s leadership and they do it knowing these women have proven their abilities in a country open to their strengths. While Asma stands silenced, whether from her own choice or the State’s, we do not know. But the fact she has been unheard* after the global call for her help says to me she is under the fist of the government and the rebels fighting to bring Bashar’s government down have more power to make change than she does. *The Times reportedly received an email from her on 8/2/12 saying she stands behind him as supporter of the President of Syria. This to me does not break her silence since I view this as another empty action of the State’s pawn. She, the woman who stood for so much good and hope, has not spoken.
My brother recently tweeted a link to an article on Foreign Policy titled, “What Sex Means For World Peace,” written by Valerie M. Hudson. A little background on Hudson: As a former Brigham Young University and current Texas A&M professor she has established herself as one of the top world political analysis thinkers. I was lucky enough to listen to her lecture at BYU, and my sister took a couple classes from Hudson, the ideas and topics from which my sister and I would dice, examine and discuss. I personally know people who do not like Valerie Hudson’s ideas, but I find her work fascinating and critically important to my personal education and the global view. Read more about her here. This article analyzes global statistics about the female citizen’s role in society (how they are viewed and treated politically, culturally and educationally) as compared to that country’s global standing. Each country was then rated according to the amount of freedom and safety the individual woman enjoys, and that data was then compared to national safety and security. Their findings in Hudson’s words are:
Our findings, detailed in our new book out this month, Sex and World Peace, echo those of other scholars, who have found that the larger the gender gap between the treatment of men and women in a society, the more likely a country is to be involved in intra- and interstate conflict, to be the first to resort to force in such conflicts, and to resort to higher levels of violence.She continues on to give examples and theories which are eye-opening and fascinating and yet somehow innately resonated as accurate. For me, the real power of reading this synopsis of her findings came in evaluating myself as, not only a woman, but a woman in a situation with the power to bring about real change in the world. So often I rationalize immobility because of my seeming insignificance in and ignorance about the “big picture.” But if not me, and if not now, then who and when? Another point to which I constantly return is my belief, and one supported by Hudson, is that women are not “better” than men. I believe deeply in the importance of men and women working independently and interdependently. I do not necessarily believe in the stagnation of traditional gender roles, but I do believe men and women possess individualized strengths that must be tapped in a way that enhances the talents of both sexes while negating each sex’s weaknesses. Men and women are inherently different. We shouldn’t spend time trying to pick a winner, or trying to make men and women the same, we just need to learn to use both together.
These are passionate people who lead the dramatic changes going on in our industry and are taking new approaches and using new tools and channels.
-Melissa Waggener Zorkin, SEO, President and Founder of Waggener Edstrom
I am constantly astounded at how perfectly my personality fits the public relations mindset. I want to collect thoughts about advice from successful women in public relations. Check it out and let me know your thoughts about balancing life, love and career.