How can women cultivate career success? How did some of the world's most powerful women manage to progress in their careers while also enjoying life outside of work? My coaching work has allowed me to meet and work with incredible women at all levels of their careers, whether they be in the stage of both fear and unbridled possibility at the start of one or among those who have found success and are ready to kick it into the next gear.
This week I am proud to introduce a new feature on the Hear Her Roar Blog: the #WCW Spotlight. Popularized as #WomenCrushWednesday, each Wednesday this blog will feature a woman who is crushing it in the professional and personal realms.
I could think of no one better to start this series than my old colleague and dear friend, Ariti Kaziris. A true Hear Her Roar woman, Ariti recently took control of her life by launching her own fashion label in service of her passions for creativity, beauty, and making women feel confident. Read more about her journey below for her advice on how other women can own their professional dreams.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
I launched my own womenswear fashion label about two months ago. My target market is essentially women ages 20-35, and I'm all about romantic silhouettes while using fabric that is comfortable and flattering. I design everything myself so everything is a direct representation of my style and energy. I'm Greek-American and always loved the braiding and drapey style that came with that Grecian vibe, so I of course had to incorporate it into my collection.
What were you doing before this, and what had you come up with your business idea?
Before branching off on my own, I worked for a Manhattan based networking start-up company. It was there that I really saw what it took to help run a fast paced new business in the heart of the hustle and bustle of NYC. I incorporate so much of what I learned there in my day to day work routine. I had always wanted to pursue my own label from my teenage years, however the fear and "what-if" factor always kept me from taking the big leap. One morning specifically I remember sitting on the train on the way to work and thinking, "I'm doing this and I'm starting today." Something so powerful came over me and I swear I went home that same day and hopped on my sewing machine. I haven't slept since.
What woman inspires you?
I'm so glad you asked this question. My mother. She is the epitome of the kind of woman I aspire to be every day. She displays so beautifully equal parts loving and hardworking and has shown me that it really is possible to do anything in life if you work for it. Both her and my father grew up with very little and built an unbelievable life together. Growing up as a first generation American to immigrant parents, she worked 3 jobs to put herself through pharmacy school. She waitressed overnight at a diner and would go straight to class after her shift ended at 8am. When my father opened his own business, she would work at the hospital during the day and then go and help him until midnight only to repeat the process the next day. Just hearing where they started from versus where they are now, it hits me right in the heart every time I think about it. I grew up hearing her tell me how proud she was of me but truthfully I'm so proud of her. She is my muse.
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
I know it sounds so cliché but it's so important to take time for yourself or else you will drive yourself crazy. When starting a business you'll find yourself working all the time, not just 9-5. You'll work whenever an idea comes to mind, which often times is always. This is especially true when you are just starting out. Your mind is everywhere and you're excited to get everything out on the table. Sometimes you won't even know where to start. This can be exhausting at times so it is super important to keep your thoughts, work space, and time organized to avoid mental clutter. Definitely keep an agenda or daily checklist of what needs to get done. I was never an agenda kind of girl until I realized that I was wasting so much time constantly going back to see what I had done versus what still needed to get done. This frees up time for you.
What is your own personal mantra?
"Hustle wins every time." I saw it written somewhere once and it never left me. I repeat it to myself every single day not only when I am overwhelmed, but at the times that I feel accomplished. I always remind myself that there is always someone else out there that is working harder than me under more difficult circumstances, so there's no room for excuses.
What would be your advice for women who are building careers?
Never, ever lose focus and don't let anything get in your way. It sounds so redundant, but it's so true. Once you realize that what you put in will determine what you get out, you will fully understand what you need in order to build the future you want. Once you have that clear vision and understanding of where you want to take your career or business, it becomes an involuntary movement.