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10 Amazing Enterprising Women: International Women’s Day Special

Women Fitness has been committed to recognizing the coolest, most confident, and most empowering women in and around the world for their contribution to society. In honor of International Women’s Day (8 March), we bring you 10 stories of amazing enterprising women on, how the pandemic affected them, their contribution to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level & message for upcoming International Women’s day on achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.

10 Amazing Enterprising Women

Lisa Curtis

Kuli Kuli’s founder. While working with women farmers in Niger, Lisa was introduced to the energizing and healing powers of moringa. Out of that experience, Lisa dreamed of a business that would help Americans experience the power of superfoods like moringa while empowering female farmers around the world. Out of that dream, Kuli Kuli was born.

How has the pandemic affected you?
I had a baby in September of 2020 and for me, it was a self-realization that we need to change our mentality from having people work 9-5, and instead, empowering employees to work when they are most productive!

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
I immediately changed my company culture to offer a permanently flexible policy and never require those who work for me to come in Monday to Friday from 9-5, making it possible for them to balance work and life.

Her message for upcoming International Women’s day on achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world:
My goal is to encourage other CEOs to do the same and realize that ultimately, this will lead to more productive workplaces.

Virginia Klausmeier

CEO of Sylvatex, a climate tech company utilizing sustainable chemistry & materials science to accelerate the shift to the electrification of transportation. As a result of the company’s, there is a massive reduction in the carbon footprint of batteries!

How has the pandemic affected you?
I am a mother of two young children and know that flexibility is necessary for working parents. I adjusted my company policies to allow for more human connection, transparency and flexibility. When the lockdown began, I moved back to my hometown to be closer to the family for support in order to better lead my growing company and retain employees.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
I used to never really speak about family or motherhood with employees, partners, and investors because I didn’t want people to think it would impact my performance. I realized that we are humans first, and then employees and that empathy are necessary if we want to work as efficiently as possible, retain our teams, and most importantly, reduce burnout.

Virginia’s message for upcoming International Women’s day: I intend to be part of the movement that helps women evolve and shape what the ‘Working Woman 3.0’ will look like by empowering other employers to create workplace change for mothers.

Emily Stone

Co-Founder/CEO of Uncommon Cacao Group. The company believes farmer prosperity is a key ingredient in good chocolate. They boldly embrace transparent trade to build authentic, long-term relationships across the chocolate supply chain.

How has the pandemic affected you?
I travel globally to meet with and educate cacao farmers, so that had to come to a pause, and also became a new mother in 2021.

Management during Pandemic at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level:
While it is difficult for my business to cover additional employee benefits, I choose to offer paid family leave and am an activist for this directly with Congress members so that more CEOs will offer paid family leave and flexibility. My team and I produced a video to share my personal “Pandemic SuperMom Story” and discuss how I immediately adopted the new company value of “balance.”

Message for International Women’s day: Play and rest counterbalance grit and courage, and it’s crucial to prioritize what’s most important in both work and life and establish boundaries for these priorities. For my company, flexibility and remote work win, and I’ve noticed happier and less burnt-out employees, from women and families in the cacao supply chain. I want to invite other employers to take a look at what works best for THEIR employees.

Charlene Bazarian

Founder of FBJFit to help inspire and encourage others. She lost 96 pounds. She is an attorney, but fitness has become her true passion.

How has the pandemic affected you?

Like many women, and working mothers, in particular, the pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of my life. As an attorney and a writer, I have a home office, and early on in the pandemic, I went from having my office to myself to suddenly sharing it with my husband and having my three sons scattered around the house doing Zoom classes for school. While the court systems were basically shut down for the type of civil legal work I do, I did find I had more time to devote to my writing. This created a shift for me, and like many women are experiencing, a pivot in my career goals moving forward. The time away from friends has made me also realize, as a self-proclaimed extrovert, how very much I value social connections and shared experiences.

Management during Pandemic at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level:

I think the biggest challenge of the pandemic for me has been trying to maintain a positive spirit, not only for myself but for my family. I care for my elderly mother, who lives with us, and as she was at the greatest risk, as a family we did everything we could to minimize our exposure risks. As a mother, it was so hard to see my sons miss out on big life moments like proms, graduations, and true college experiences. I describe the last two years as just being emotionally exhausting and found it important to do everything I could to promote mental health and well-being in my own family and in my work. Whether it was taking bike rides with my sons or using my writing and social media platform @FBJFit to highlight self-care and the importance of fitness, I tried to combat the universal feeling of isolation, loss, and despair that the pandemic had created.

Message for International Women’s day
My message to other women, particularly, those just starting out, would be to not play small, or as I like to say, “dull your sparkle,” to make other people feel comfortable. Find what excites you and brings you joy, and pursue it with relentless determination. Not everyone on your boat is rowing and it is up to you to be captain of your own ship.

Nzingah Oniwosan

She is a Haitian-American entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and holistic health and wellness coach who helps people as a passionate teacher. As an award-winning visual artist, classically trained pianist Nzingah’s creativity is expressed through custom-made jewelry, writing, and dance. She has merged her art with healing holistically. Her autoimmune disorder led Nzingah to create a Health & Wellness App 365zing for women of color.

How has the pandemic affected you?
The pandemic affected me positively and negatively. Personally, I lost quite a few family and friends. There were points I felt a bit overwhelmed by it all. Because of it, my self-care got a makeover, and I am super intentional about taking care of myself physically but more so spiritually. Professionally I lost a few contracts, but I also expanded in ways that I never imagined. So despite the loss, I had tremendous growth, which included finally launching my app 365zing.

Fitness & diet routine you followed.
My fitness routine involves yoga 5-7 days a week and weight training or HIIT workout 3-5 times a week. I meditate every day. With respect to food, I am a plant-based vegan. I make sure I have a green smoothie and salad every day while staying on track with my water intake.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I paused to make sure I was grounded and didn’t freak out. As a space holder, I knew it was vital that I was intentional with my self-care because if I were not where I was supposed to be, it would spill into the work that I did. I accessed the situation and started holding my classes, workshops, and courses online. I knew that people needed support when it came to their mental wellness. I led more restorative yoga classes because I felt that we needed under such a stressful time. As I was hosting these sessions, I also remembered my dream of having an app that made wellness more accessible. That did the sifting so that individuals could focus on being well instead of losing time on “How.”

I took a pause and deep-dived and built my app 365zing. Its focus is specifically on women of color who have an interesting dynamic that often does not allow them to put wellness at the forefront. I wanted to create a space where their otherness was not a factor, and what they were experiencing as a person of color would not be negated but instead addressed and unpacked. Building the app was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Imposter syndrome showed up and ways I had never experienced and I had to push through. I had to own the work I was doing differently. I built out a team of teachers that would lead the courses and classes and me. I launched, women signed up, and the magic happened. The women had breakthroughs and found a place where they could speak through authentic truth, heal and grow.

Nzingah’s message for IWD:
You are worthy. You are beautiful. Take time for love, joy, play, and healing. You deserve it.

Elisa Gaudet

Founder of Women’s Golf Day. She brings more than 20 years of experience in the golf industry to Women’s Golf Day (WGD), which she founded in 2016. This annual global event, held on the first Tuesday in June each year across the globe, engages thousands of women through the game of golf. WGD has become a global movement in which over 1,000 locations in 80 countries have participated, thus engaging new and existing golfers and creating a global community based on empowering and supporting women. In a historically male-dominated sport, WGD transcends language, culture, geography, religion, politics, gender, and age.

How has the pandemic affected you?
Professionally, the pandemic caused us to pivot quickly and develop some online assets and content to keep our consumers, lady golfers, and sponsors involved and engaged while we waited to get back to live events. It was stressful but we are the better for it. As a company it caused us to evaluate our business and diversify our assets and offerings.

Personally, for myself and many others, I believe it brought the importance of mental health to the forefront. Self-care (not just a facial, but mental and physical care and wellbeing) is a really important aspect of every person’s life. As the old saying goes if you are not good to yourself it is difficult to be good to everyone else including family, friends, coworkers, and employees. I had to be compassionate in other people’s situations. We are all in a unique uncharted situation – working from home, homeschooling, partners working in the same space, or being alone. As a global company with ambassadors in 15 of the 68 participating countries, I learned that many had the same issues and were struggling to keep the balance and their sanity and find joy in new ways.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?

Professionally, I practiced patience and understanding for those working for and with me and encouraged them to place importance on self-care. Women as caretakers many times put other things and people before themselves and now, with the pandemic and all the challenges it brought, physical and mental health is really important.

At a personal level, I had to find new ways to get out and exercise and make it a priority to be consistent. I needed to do something daily that would stimulate endorphins. I tried not to beat myself up about weight or work and just do what I was able to do. I got involved in riding and polo lessons, making trips to a farm a few days a week where I could ride a take a lesson. Being in nature among horses and learning a new skill was a lifesaver. I am blessed to live in Florida where there is good weather most of the year. Mentally I tried to limit my computer and mobile phone use and disconnect at the end of the day. I also began working with a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) specialist. This has been fascinating and so helpful mentally

Message for International Women’s Day
I am so encouraged by this movement, recognition, and solidarity. “We have 68 countries that participate in Women’s Golf Day from all different races, nationalities, languages, religions and the power of that unity for one cause is amazing. Anything that brings women to the forefront of the conversation and inspires unity and development is worth 100% of your energy and interest. I’m happy to see more companies and individuals embracing women and equality. The future looks bright and with all that has gone on the past few years, we all need more light.” Gaudet adds.

Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew

Founder & CEO, Soulstice Consultancy Specializing as a Partnership Broker and Leadership Expert for companies and organizations to thrive with measurable and meaningful impact. She also is the VP of Community Affairs and Strategic Alliances for the State Fair of Texas. She is well-regarded by national and international audiences and served as a workshop presenter at the United Nations on Access to Power.

How has the pandemic affected you?
When the pandemic started, I was initially panicked. Since so much of my work involves community engagement, I was not sure how that was possible. Within a week, I found myself connecting many of the nonprofits I work with to resources. I started convening them virtually to coordinate and share resources.

Professionally, the pandemic opened the opportunity for innovation. Even in my business, opportunities to speak virtually increased.

On a personal level, it was challenging. I am a people person and despite the increase of Zoom meetings that kept me connected, I also missed being in the presence of people. I think that was something I took for granted until it was no longer an option. When 2020 began, I was excited about celebrating my 50th birthday with all my friends. Instead of a big party on a rooftop as I planned, it was a wonderful Zoom party. I had breakout rooms so that my friends could meet one another along with games and music. The pandemic was also challenging with family. My mother is a senior citizen who lives in Louisiana. She spent a lot of time alone and as I noticed the loneliness she was experiencing, I had to bring her to Texas because I could not afford to witness her decline.

Dealing with my college-aged daughter was also interesting. Whereas many college students came home to their parent’s house, my daughter was living in an off-campus apartment with a friend. Several of her friends were irresponsible and I was always worried about her health, especially in the early days of the virus. There were so many mixed messages that only the elderly were sick. Many college students, thrived on social interaction and did not stop hanging out with friends. Several of her friends had COVID and she tried so hard to make sure she was being safe to protect us which limited her visits. So despite some of the professional and personal highs, there was a lot of apprehension and fear. One of my dear friends lost her son and walking with her through Chris’ hospitalization until his death at 22 was heartbreaking. So many people died from COVID in my childhood city and even at my church in Dallas. It was a lot to absorb in trying to deal with your own fear and the many losses experienced.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
I started writing more. What started off as a weekly note to encourage friends turned into a weekly column in three local papers? Several of my articles have been picked up by other papers around the country. During this time, I finished my fourth book, and Baylor University Press is publishing it! I also started a podcast in August 2020 that is now on hundreds of platforms and heard in over 100+ countries. I used this time to create and make some dreams a reality.

Message for IWD
The message is that women have dealt with obstacles since the beginning of time and for women of color, those issues are compounded. As much as we are aware of those obstacles, I think this is a time that many women are examining what they want both personally and professionally. We spend so much time talking about getting access to tables to which we are not invited. I think in this season if we do not receive access to the table, we can use our talent and creativity to create not only new tables but even decide which rooms we want to be in. One of the things that I tell my daughter is to ask for what she wants because a man in a suit and tie just did.
Achieving an equal future for women is about using our voices and recognizing that with our gifts and talents, we can create spaces that are inclusive and affirming of who we are. We do not have to wait on others to open the door to living out our purpose.

Samm Stangeland

Samm Stangeland, CEO of Rock & Roll Candle Co. started her business a few years back. Her work has been seen in Well+Good, Apartment Therapy, Bella Magazine, and As she succeeded within her career as Road Manager and Production Coordinator for Live Nation LA and for Lady Gaga and also wearing the hat of Logistics for Nona Entertainment, she grew her own candle company. When all three jobs halted as a result of the pandemic, her focus was then redirected to growing the Rock & Roll Candle Co company.

How has the pandemic affected you (personally & at a professional level)?

In a lot of ways, at Rock & Roll Candle Co. we feel it has been an incredible time to take a pause and reevaluate our business and lifestyle. We have made huge changes and have brought in new team members to help me throughout the pandemic because I just couldn’t do it all by myself! It’s been such a whirlwind but it has helped me reflect a lot on what is honestly important for me, and one of those things is SELF-CARE. If the life I was leading was actually the life I wanted I would have stayed in old habits and career. But thankfully, I was able to prioritize what’s important, including my health, and now I have a much healthier lifestyle.

Pre Covid-19, I had 3 different jobs in the music industry; Live Nation LA concert production, production coordinator and crew road manager for Lady Gaga, and logistics for booking DJs for corporate events and after-parties – think Globes, SAG, and Grammys. As a result of Covid, they all halted simultaneously. So I had to hustle! I was left without an income and a ton of anxiety. Thankfully this led me to focus on putting health first and I took some time for myself, saw some much-needed faces of good friends, road-tripped a bit, and then I really started to refocus my energy on my candle company Rock & Roll Candle Co. which can now be found on Faire, Dirty Livin’, and our website (as seen on Well+ Good, Apartment Therapy and Bella Magazine). I feel we are just barely scratching the surface and are ready to launch our high-end line (coming soon)!

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
Walking has helped me tremendously! I try to walk at least 5 miles a day, 4-5 days a week and it’s a perfect time to get my calls, texts, emails, podcasts all in, plus it’s my form of exercise. I’ll say it’s completely helped alleviate the anxious tendencies during the past few years, and as a result of taking the time for myself, my mindset is a lot clearer. I can honestly say that it’s been meditative. Plus, it’s a perfect time to digest all the amazing empowerment-focused podcasts that are out there.
In addition, I’ve recalibrated my life and focused a lot of my time and energy on my own business. This time has really allowed me to do that and made me realize that I don’t want to work for other people forever and the time is now.

Message for International Women’s day
Covid-19 has really turned a lot of institutional ways of thinking upside down. With the great crisis, comes great opportunity and there’s no better time than now to forge ahead and create the future you want for yourself. I believe as women, we have many achievements throughout our daily lives at home and also in our careers. I challenge the status quo by empowering myself and other women friends around me to go for their dreams and to take good care of them in the process. Owning your own business during

Covid-19 has been my biggest triumph and it continues to teach me that women are meant to be high-earners and that taking care of ourselves is what’s truly important for us at Rock & Roll Candle Co.!

Laura Dawn

“Host of The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast and founder of Grow Medicine Laura Dawn is a microdosing mentor and plant medicine integration guide for change-makers, thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators.

How has the pandemic affected you?
Right when the pandemic hit, I got very sick and struggled with long-Covid-19 symptoms for over 3 months. This led me to discover and develop new layers of my personal and professional life, which have centered on psychedelics and mindfulness coaching for the past 20 years.

First, my belief in the benefits of microdosing (a practice of taking small, sub-perceptive doses of psychedelics) was reinforced when it helped me overcome the Covid brain fog symptoms.
Second, I started coming across this term VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Experts were starting to herald creative thinking as the #1 most important skill set for the 21st century.

This inspired questions like: do I think creatively? And what does that even mean? How do I develop creative thinking? I started connecting the dots between creativity research and psychedelic research and decided to pursue a Masters in Science in a program called Creativity Studies and Change Leadership.
Essentially, I’m at the forefront of exploring the intersection between psychedelics, leadership, and creative problem-solving.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
I’ve continued to expand my work with private clients (entrepreneurs, leaders, executives, creatives, pro athletes, etc) who are looking to tap into optimal or peak performance for leadership and creativity. A big piece of my work is also helping people leverage psychedelics to develop emotional resilience, which is more important than ever in uncertain and unprecedented times.

“In 2021, I hosted a 3-month microdosing mastermind for more than 32 entrepreneurs, creatives, and wellness professionals. It ended up being a huge opportunity for everyone to uplevel their own daily practices, clarify their values, and reorient their lives in a direction that is in deeper alignment with what truly matters to them,” adds Laura. Overall, it was really valuable for people to come together, share how they’ve been navigating times of transition and deepen their daily practice.

Message for International Women’s day
When we expand the boundaries of what we believe is possible, we sometimes need to allow things to fall apart in our lives in order for them to come back together in a new, more cohesive way that’s in support of an upleveled vision. Crisis can be the catalyst for transformation. We can use these times of radical change to stay stuck in old patterns or to uplevel and expand. I inspire others to choose the latter.

I’d also encourage women to ignore the impulse to subscribe to hustle culture. This is a time for us to deepen into our personal truth. When we have the courage to align with our own authenticity, there’s enormous power behind what we create and produce in the world – and creating it won’t burn us out or affect our health along the way. This is no longer a time of striving; this is a time of aligning.

Amy Javier

A Latina publicist based in New York City ready to inspire other women and Latinas alike to reach their highest potential. Her mission is to create a well-rounded wellness-inspired communication strategy within her small firm wellness, beauty, lifestyle, and fashion-focused public relations firm called Pink Suit PR.

How has the pandemic affected you?

As a wellness enthusiast and public relations professional, many things have changed in my life during Covid-19. From a new move to opening my brand new business Pink Suit, which is a small public relations firm based in NYC. Covid-19 has challenged me in many ways to focus professionally and personally- I have had to wear many hats as a Founder, Advisor, and Entrepreneur. Taking care of myself has been a top priority, with a whopping 50lbs of weight loss within 5 months! I encourage everyone to go for it at this time! I think it is a great time to focus on oneself while we are all working from home.

How have you contributed to Covid-19 management at the personal, professional, mental, emotional, or physical level?
We are Pink Suit, a women’s wellness, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle-centered PR agency and we really love what we do!
I have contributed to my own self-care by losing 50lbs during the worldwide pandemic. I have looked to keep it off by helping myself by using meditation, breathing exercises, and watching my blood sugar levels & overall health. I take daily supplements like berberine, mulberry leaf extract, and 5HTP to keep stress at bay + keep the weight off! I have come to find myself getting closer to God by attending our Holy Catholic Church mass at this time too, which has helped me in my business also. I feel like getting closer to God has brought many things into perspective for me!

Message on IWD.
International Women’s Day is a day to focus on all very note-worthy women within our society. As an entrepreneur, I have the message to all our female-owned businesses to be selfless with your giving to your clients, partnerships, and colleagues. Keeping important notes on how we have all increased financially should be at the forefront of the minds of all business entrepreneurs.

Women today should really focus on breaking the glass ceiling, not through thoughtless behavior but through mutual beneficial financial and business relationships and that will create ultimate success.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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