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Hey Sarah! So what's your origin story?
Growing up in a 300 person town, one of very few minorities and possibly the only resident who both worked on a farm and had a subscription to Vogue, I knew I would eventually leave and go somewhere, anywhere, that didn't have snow mobile and tractor parking on Main Street. That place turned out to be NYC, where I ended up after attending Michigan State University for college. I landed jobs at Red Bull, Apple and Chanel. By 24, I was a startup executive and writer in the city that never sleeps. I wanted to learn more about technology so I went to Silicon Valley to be a venture capital investor and picked up accolades from Forbes 30 under 30, Business insider and Cool Hunting along the way while also being a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine. Last summer, I stopped after 7 years in tech to take stock - I was over calendered and over weight and while I was helping founders build their dreams, I wasn't living mine. I decided to make a change and build something for me, by me. That something is Proday.co, a personal training fitness app that allows anyone to workout alongside professional athletes anytime, anywhere. I raised venture capital money, signed professional athletes up to share their workouts and am launching this winter. In 4 months, I've gone from an idea to a company, pretty super human if you ask me.
Was there ever a moment when you were discouraged to do something but followed your convictions, went ahead to do it anyway and found success?
A friend once told me some strangely liberating advice. "You know what's hard? Everything." It may sound depressing but in actuality knowing that it's ok for things to be hard is really freeing. It lets you focus on the doing and not on being upset that it's so difficult to do many things. I use this advice a lot in my career, working in technology can be overwhelmingly discouraging. It's an industry where women and minorities are a rounding error of the population and being both is not an advantage. I've managed to climb up in the industry despite the inhospitable climate and it's largely been due to self-efficacy and having a supportive squad of women who send encouragement and champagne.
So beyond support and the sparkling stuff, if you could send your squad of women any superpower what would it be and why?
I'd give women money to invest in other women. While women make up almost half of the millionaires in America, they do only a small portion of the investing. Capital is power and the more we help women build businesses the more power we will have.
And what’s something you’d like to remind yourself?
"Become so rich and strong and tall that you’re a giant made out of gold and nobody can hurt you and everything you do is perfect and you can use your laser diamond eyes to melt the lungs of your enemies." Mallory Ortman wrote that satirically but from her lips to my ears, it's stuck. I remind myself that the difficulties I face won't last forever but the good I can do with my success can change the world for the better. Plus, I'd look great with laser diamond eyes.
On this day in 1955, a 42-year-old woman named Rosa Parks made history for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white man. This woman is now an American legend, and her courageous act of defiance has been documented as one of the most memorable acts in American history. Her story is the subject of songs and poetry, and she is revered as one of the most popular and important figures in the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Her small act of rebellion was just the tip of the iceberg, however. Rosa Parks was a fierce freedom fighter, and a known collaborator of the NAACP Montgomery chapter president Edgar Nixon, as well as of a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. Aside from her day job as a seamstress, she was secretary of the local Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and upon leaving Montgomery for Detroit, served as secretary to John Conyers, a U.S. Representative who was an active Civil Rights Movement supporter. In her later years, she organized for the freedom of political prisoners in the U.S., and co-founded the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college bound seniors.
Her honorary title as the "first lady of civil rights," is further reinforced with the opening of Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress. Rosa Parks is an inspiration to all women, for having the courage to stand up for her beliefs, and proving that well-behaved women rarely make history.
A renowned 19th-century writer and editor, Sarah Josepha Hale pushed for girls’ education reform and the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She was inspired at a very early age to “promote the reputation of my own sex, and do something for my own country.” Throughout her life she advocated education, exercise, property rights and sensible fashion for women.
Born in Newport, New Hampshire in 1788, she went on to work in publishing after the death of her husband in 1822. Best known for writing the classic children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” she was a prominent novelist and a magazine editor. Sarah helmed the first American magazine for women, Godey’s Lady’s Book, accepting only original material and soliciting work from female contributors. She was also an ardent supporter of girls receiving an education.
Sarah became known as the Mother of Thanksgiving thanks to her push to make the celebration a national holiday. During the Civil War, Hale wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward in 1863, calling upon the leaders to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. The president conceded, starting the tradition of Thanksgiving Day, as we know it.
Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin) is a London-based, Lebanese-born attorney. She became an instant media darling due to her high profile legal cases, and her impressive fashion choices. Despite being the type of woman who knows how to dress for any occasion, Amal’s lengthy resume is by far the most impressive thing she has accomplished in her lifetime. She graduated from NYU Law School and went on to work at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City, before relocating to London. She is currently engaged as a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specializing in international law; and is also a prominent activist and author, having published several articles with Oxford University Press and coauthored a book, The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice.
This extraordinary heroine is sharp, compassionate, and multicultural. Amal has worked to free Al Jazeera journalists from prisons in Egypt, and spoken out against human rights suppressors in Armenia. She has represented the former prime minister of Ukraine, and the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. Amal has also been appointed to a number of United Nations commissions, including as an advisor to Kofi Annan. She is an inspiration to working girls everywhere for her impressive list of accomplishments, and of course, her well-documented and unique sense of style. Amal really does have it all.
The current SVP of retail and online stores at Apple, Angela Ahrendts has a golden touch for business. Known as one of the highest-paid female executives on both sides of the Atlantic, she is the first woman on CEO Tim Cook’s executive team at Apple, where she is tasked with the Herculean responsibility of overseeing 400+ brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online retail efforts. Cook has said of her: "I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela."
Her career began when she moved to New York City from Indiana, to work in the fashion industry. After a series of leadership positions at Liz Claiborne, Donna Karan International, and Henri Bendel, she moved to the UK to join Burberry. As CEO of Burberry, she is credited with tripling revenues to more than $3 billion during her 8-year tenure at the fashion label. Ahrendts says she does not model her business approach after any other fashion house, but looks to world class design as an influence. She hopped back across the pond in May 2014 to join Apple. We are sure to hear more about this groundbreaking executive over the next few years.
Angela lives in Cupertino, CA with her husband and her three children. She has recently been honored as one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, and Financial Times Women of 2013.
Raised in Hawaii and based in Los Angeles, Tasya van Ree is an artist and photographer who shares the same relaxed style and attitude as her past and current homes. She exudes a quiet confidence that is reflected in her art and photography. Her photos are equal parts romantic and dark, intimate and distant. She has exhibited solo and in group shows, along side David Lynch, Jessica Lange, Gus van Sant, and Amy Arbus.
Most notable for her black and white celebrity portraiture, she captured media attention when her main muse, actress Amber Heard, became her lover. The two made a notable statement at the GLAAD Foundation’s 25th Anniversary dinner when they arrived together. Although no longer together, they created a space (in Hollywood and beyond), for a new type of female power couple – one that would be traditionally reserved for a male artist and muse. The two have collaborated on many short film projects, including several for gay rights and marriage equality. They were both active participants in the Vote No on Prop 8 rallies in California, and remain friends to this day.
You can see more of Tasya and her photography on Instagram @TasyavanRee.
The “Queen of Montparnasse” was the nickname given to the inimitable force of nature born as Alice Ernestine Prin. Growing up in Châtillon-sur-Seine, Alice, or as she later came to be known – Kiki of Montparnasse – was a poor girl who believed in the prospects that life in the big city could afford her. Arriving in Paris at the tender age of 13, she became an art model, posing for dozens of artists including Chaim Soutine, Julian Mandel, Tsuguharu Foujita, Constant Detré, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Arno Breker, Alexander Calder, Per Krohg, Hermine David, Pablo Gargallo, Mayo, and Tono Salazar. She eventually became the companion of Man Ray, who made hundreds of portraits of her, immortalizing her in his famous work “Violon d’Ingres”, in which she lends her naked back to two cello curls.
Kiki was one of the most charismatic figures of the avant-garde years between the wars. She would crumble a petal from geraniums to give color to her cheeks and was fired from a job at a bakery because she darkened her eyebrows with burnt matchsticks. She sang bawdy songs in nightclubs, showed her own paintings, acted in experimental films, and wrote her memoirs before she turned 30. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the 1920s. Kiki was the ultimate muse of a generation that sought to escape the Great War, but she is above all one of the first emancipated women of the 20th century. Today, her memoirs are kept in a special reserve section of the New York Public Library.
Monica Bellucci, model and actress, was born in Città di Castello, Italy and began her modeling career at age sixteen. As a young girl, you could sense the woman who would become a world famous star. Her one-of-a-kind beauty captured the eyes of the greatest fashion photographers – including Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber and Richard Avedon – and they turned her into an international icon.
Soon the world of cinema came calling, and she became a new symbol of Italian cinema. She speaks four languages, and has appeared in over 60 films, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Malena, Irreversible, and The Matrix series. Never missing a beat, at the glamorous age of fifty she will become the oldest Bond girl in the franchise’s history, proving that women don’t just get older, they get better with age.
Monica lives in Paris. She has two daughters, Deva and Leonie. She is living proof that glamour and beauty don’t age, and that women can be as cheeky and effervescent as girls, having recently been quoted as saying “Don’t call me a Bond girl, I’m a Bond lady. I’m proud to be a Bond lady, because actually, Bond is the most amazing man. You know why? Because he doesn't exist.”