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For the fourth year in a row, we are highlighting Boss Women

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Paige Barton

“A Boss Woman is Someone Who is Unapologetically Confident in Herself”

PAIGE BARTON Chief of Staff, Toyota Motor North America

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

paige's story

Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Paige Barton, Chief of Staff of Toyota Motor North America graduated from Crenshaw High School and attended Wylie College where she majored in Criminal Justice. “I began my career as a legal secretary in 2006 with Toyota,” Paige said. “I worked there for several years, and then transitioned into supply chain management.” Paige spent roughly eight years of her career in operations, distributions and logistics and from there went to work in Toyota’s Social Innovation division with a focus in Multicultural Business and Strategy.

From Mentee to Mentor

Encouragement has carried Paige along her journey of climbing the corporate ladder. She tells me about a woman she met upon graduating high school who became her mentor way before mentorship was even a thing. There were times when she would lean on her mentor whenever she had a setbacks or frustrations. “She said I needed to stop focusing on the ‘why’ and focus on the ‘what’—what can/are you learning from this,” Paige said. Later on in life, this same mentorship led and inspired Paige to mentor young children. Paige is currently a part of a program where she volunteers in helping inspire and prepare young leaders to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.  

 

Setbacks and failures are inevitable, but falling forward is always the better route. Paige says any setback she faces, she simply sees it as a time of falling forward, and instead of sitting in her failures, she keeps moving and tries to see what she can control regardless of the situation. “When I fall and have a setback, I try to focus on what I can control and how I can move forward in solving that problem,” Paige said. 

 

Always at the Top of Her Game

 

When asked what does being a Boss Woman mean to her, Paige says “a boss woman is someone who is unapologetically confident in herself and her abilities. She’s fearless, powerful, inspires and motivates others and is someone who’s at the top of her game.”

 

Written by MiKenna Williams,  Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Kimberly Cummings

Kimberly Cummings Knows What it Means to Manifest Yourself

FOUNDER OF MANIFEST YOURSELF

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

KIMBERLY's story

“When you change someone’s career, you can ultimately change their life.” That was the opening to the conversation I had with Kimberly Cummings as she enlightened me about her journey through career and leadership development. With over 10 years in the game, one of Kimberly’s main goals is to help women, especially women of color manifest their life and how they want to live it.

Kimberly’s work with her clients has helped her get to where she is today. “When I’m working with my clients individually or group settings, I love helping someone finally get into their dream role,” Kimberly said. One of the best things about dream roles, is the fact that you can have multiple. Your dream role can change after months, years or even weeks for some. Placing limitations on your capabilities is what eliminates you from being able to reach your fullest potential. 

Resiliency has Kept Me on a Steadfast Path

In between her time of helping others develop within their careers, Kimberly is also an advocate of manifesting yourself and the life you want to live. Her brand Manifest Yourself features articles that highlight concerns of the everyday professional who is striving for more. The goal of manifest yourself is to provide tactical advice, resources and inspiration to readers who are passionate about personal and professional development. “One of the things about me is, I try my best to be resilient. As I am thinking about my business, I’m realizing I’m working on believing in myself,” Kimberly said. “I realize my clients can do anything in this entire world, but I realize I’ve had some severe limiting beliefs.” Taking the time to realize you are in fact your backup plan, Cummings reminds me that she isn’t someone who sits in her failures. “I will fail and revamp, be resilient and figure out the next plan.”

Kimberly says something that has stuck with her from one of her mentors was the fact that not all feedback is about you. While being in the workplace, people are constantly giving you feedback about yourself and it’s natural for you to become attached to this feedback. Without you realizing it, sometimes people can push feedback onto you based upon where they are in life. “You have to realize you have to step into who you are and the power that you have,” Kimberly said. “Stop worrying about the people that are putting their feelings into you and into your feedback.”   

Manifesting Who You Are and What You Want is a Creation

Being a Boss Woman means you’re resilient. Kimberly says that at times, being a boss can be a bit misconstrued. “Being a boss is truly about resilience and having the ability to believe in yourself. Pivot and navigate in a way that supports you and your vision,” Kimberly said. Many times, when we think of what it means to manifest the life you want, we don’t take into consideration the work that is required. Kimberly tells me that her book Manifest Yourself was written years ago for many people, but she’s now realizing she actually wrote it for herself. “Manifestation is a creation, step-by-step by putting this life together for yourself,” Cummings said. “ Believe in yourself that you can do all things.”  

For more information about Manifest Yourself by Kimberly Cummings, visit: https://www.manifestyourself.com/

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Nicole Fortune

“I Thrive in Helping Others Learn and Grow”

Nicole Fortune, National Manager of Customer Relations, Toyota Financial Services

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Nicole's story

Wife. Mother. Leader. Author. Motivational Speaker—these are just a few of the many hats Nicole Fortune wears. Nicole began her start in high school and it was there that she learned the importance of networking. “At Drake University, I was always involved in a local community,” Nicole said. “I wanted to always see what I could do to help and uplift the Black community.” Nicole says it was at this time that she’d met her mentor, and he’d placed her in positions that she’d never thought were possible. “He saw something in me and trusted me with so much at such a young age—although I truly had no clue what I was doing.” 

What Does it Mean to Support People of Color

In light of everything that’s going on, Nicole shared with me that one of the accomplishments she’s most proud of this year is being able to lead a team to design a board of equity and employee experience. Being that several organizations are trying to reflect on what they’ve done to help sponsor people of color, she was glad that she was able to make her imprint too. “I was able to start a team within our organization, and that’s what we’re looking to align, help, support and provide resources to those of color,” Nicole said.  

 

Although 2020 hasn’t been the most ideal year for some of us, Nicole says it’s all about what you learn from your failures and setbacks, and how you overcome them. “There’s times where you just can’t win every time—in fact, in life, we lose more than we win.”  She suggests to instead evaluate the situation, figure out what you learned from it, and then figure out what you can do differently next time. “Get down to the ground floor of understanding your root cause in order to create counter measures that better reflect it,” Nicole said.       

 

Having Good Character is Essential

Many of us have heard the saying do good even when no one is watching. Nicole shares with me that her mentor Barbara Williams taught her to be intentional with her character. “Having good character is essential in being and inspiring good leaders,” Nicole said. Those are just a few of the things that are demonstrative of what it means to have good character. Nicole reminds us that being intentional means you cannot do everything, say everything or go everywhere as someone else, but instead being mindful of how you are always presenting yourself to others. “When you’re leading others, people must know they can trust you,” Nicole said. 

 

Nicole describes that being a Boss Woman to her is a privilege and a responsibility that she does not take lightly. “You must be able to provide direction, be honest and truthful,” Nicole said. “I thrive in helping others learn and grow—it is my great privilege to see people succeed.” As a woman of many hats, Nicole makes sure she gives thanks when it’s due as she reminds us all that she didn’t get to where she is today, alone. “You never know what rooms you’re in where you’ll meet the people that will change your life.”  

 

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Meena harris

“Embracing Challenges and Setbacks is What it’s All About”

meena harris, founder & ceo of the Phenomenal Woman Action CAMpaign

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

MEENA's story

Mom, CEO, Lawyer and a New York Times bestselling author. After the 2016 election, Meena Harris launched Phenomenal, which began as a very small initiative to raise money for women’s organizations. “I’d made a handful of Maya Angelou-inspired “Phenomenal Woman” t-shirts for the first Women’s March in 2017, and I decided to sell them on International Women’s Day through Women’s History Month,” Meena said. What Meena originally thought would be a small thing, ended up selling over 2,500 shirts in one day. With the great success of Phenomenal, Meena and her team launched Phenomenal Media to continue to bring even greater awareness to issues affecting underrepresented communities.

Learning How to Embrace Challenges, Setbacks and Failures

 

When it comes to overcoming failures and setbacks, Meena says it’s simply about learning how to embrace those challenges. “Part of that is understanding that we don’t necessarily overcome every failure, and that we can’t be afraid of failure,” Meena said. “I have recently experienced setbacks this year, but the thing about 2020 is that we’re all experiencing tremendous loss together. The best we can do in this moment is be kind to ourselves and others, and take it one day at a time.” Sometimes learning how to be kind to yourself can be easier said than done, but when you learn how to be kind and truly appreciate your being, you will undoubtedly do the same to and for others.      

 

No One Can do Everything, but Everyone Can do Something

 

In June of this year, Meena published her very first book, Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea. The book is based on a true story of her mom and aunt from her childhood. “It was a culmination of two years of hard work, and I’m so proud of how it has resonated with readers all over the world, especially in this moment,” Meena said. Meena’s book features her favorite mantra from her grandmother, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,” and that saying couldn’t be more relevant than right now.

 

Throughout our interview, Meena continuously pays great ode to her grandmother who she says has encouraged and helped her get to where she is today. “If there was something that made me upset or that felt unjust, my grandmother would say—‘Well, what are you gonna do about it?’ In times like this, it’s not always obvious what you can do, as an ordinary person to try and make a difference especially in activism and politics—the barriers to entry can seem awfully high. “Not everybody has to make a big leap, and of course none of us can do everything, but we all have to do something—and the wonderful thing is, you never know where a discrete act of civic engagement will take you.” As for Meena, what started as a pantsuit drive after the 2016 election and then creating a single t-shirt, evolved into running a full-on digital startup, organizing social justice campaigns and writing children’s books.    

 

Being a Boss Woman

 

When asked what does being a boss woman mean to her, Meena says “it means taking risks to pursue your ideas, leading with empathy and compassion and keeping the door open for those who come after you.”

 

“Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd, make sure you and everyone you know who is eligible has a plan to vote! Visit www.vote.org for more info,” Meena said.

 

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Mattie James

“I’m A Woman That Just Decided to Go For It”

Lifestyle Influencer and Entrepreneur Mattie James

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Mattie's story

Mattie James began her start in blogging nearly ten years ago. She knew blogging would be bigger than herself one day, so she consistently kept at it. “It’s still one of the hardest, yet best decisions I’ve ever made for myself,” Mattie said. Starting out in retail management for over four years, Mattie says the retail industry became extremely tough and overwhelming. After letting her husband know she no longer wanted to work in the retail space, she began to intern for a few companies, including a sports radio internship which led her to an internship opportunity with Jack Daniels. Although she says she had absolutely no idea what she was doing, this moment allowed her to find herself and in 2010, Mattie bought the domain to her website.   

9 to 5 to Full-time Influencer and Entrepreneur

Being a digital content creator and full-time entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it looks—or sounds. Mattie says, “Just because it’s the internet does not mean it’s any less work.” Having gotten experience from her 9-5, it allowed her to become a complete influencer. “I stayed the course because I always believed this would turn into something bigger than myself.”

Mattie says her family is also what has kept her afloat and encouraged in her industry. “The success of my business is always a direct reflection of the success of my marriage and family,” Mattie said. With the current climate of the world, Mattie says her impact as a mom and wife have catapulted to places she didn’t think she could even reach this year. She’s become more confident in her roles, especially with having to juggle everything at home which in turn has been completely eye-opening to how much she can truly handle and trust herself. “It has to go in order—always my family and home first, and then everything else,” Mattie said.            

Maintain Your Sanity and Give Yourself Breaks

Many of us are trying to find ways to balance it all—being a mother, wife, sister, friend, working woman, and everything else under the sun. It can become extremely overwhelming, difficult and even discouraging at times, but it’s important that you’re remembering to take those self-care breaks and indulge in spending some quality time alone. Mattie shares that this year really taught her how to learn how to ask for help. “This year I really did have to ask for help. I had to learn how to maintain my sanity and give myself boundaries,” Mattie said. Your self-care is what essentially pours into your cup, “and what’s in my cup is for me—it’s the overflow that’s for everybody else,” Mattie said.      

Being a boss is more than just wearing the title. It’s the work you put in behind the scenes, it’s what you’re doing when no one is watching, it’s showing up even when you don’t feel like it. Learning how to truly own who you are is what being a boss woman means. Mattie says, “whether you’re a student, mother, or stay-at-home mom, owning who you are and being unapologetically confident in that is what makes you a boss woman.” As a boss woman, it’s so important to own the many great things you contribute to your industry—a boss owns that and understands they didn’t do it all on their own. “When you try your best, have good intentions and want to pour into others—that’s worth acknowledging in every person,” Mattie said. Faith without works is dead—“Don’t wish the results if you don’t want to wish the process also,” Mattie said.       

For more information about Mattie James and her brand, visit https://mattiejames.com/.

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Taryn Newton

“Allow Yourself to Feel the Moment When There’s a Setback”

Digital Influencer and HR Leader Taryn Newton

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Taryn's story

Born and raised in Western Michigan, Taryn and her family migrated to Dallas where she began her career as an entry level HR professional. It was during this time period that Taryn decided to launch a blog where she used it as an outlet as she continued to climb the corporate ladder as an HR professional. Her blog continuously began to grow, and it moved from a hobby and side-hustle to her full-time business.

Born and raised in Western Michigan, Taryn and her family migrated to Dallas where she began her career as an entry level HR professional. It was during this time period that Taryn decided to launch a blog where she used it as an outlet as she continued to climb the corporate ladder as an HR professional. Her blog continuously began to grow, and it moved from a hobby and side-hustle to her full-time business.

 

Learning to Remain Resilient During Tough Times

Taryn shares with me that one of her greatest impacts this year has been learning how to be resilient in tough times. Recently, Taryn and her family lost what they thought was their dream home due to COVID-19 complications where their loan program on their home was no longer offered. However, she quickly realized it was a blessing in disguise as her family is nearing the building process on their brand new home. “I’m all about being transparent in times of struggles,” Taryn said. For the full story on what took place with Taryn’s previous home, visit her family’s YouTube channel. Taryn says this event allowed her to feel the moment, strategize and learn how to pick herself and her family back up.        

 

Take as Many Women to the Top with You

When asked about someone valuable that has encouraged and helped Taryn along her journey, she says her mother. “My mother always told me to take as many women with me to the top,” Taryn said. “Empowered women, empower women.” Taryn says being a boss woman is “knowing that you are capable to do everything, but knowing not to do everything.” As a boss woman, you must know what lane to stay in and knowing how much power you have—but knowing that you don’t always need to use that power all the time.     

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Mandy Price

“Not Conforming to Systems, but Defining Your Own Life”

Kanarys CEO and Co-Founder Mandy Price

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Mandy's story

Raising over $1.6 million in first round fundingKanarys CEO and Co-Founder Mandy Price is no stranger to being one of the 50 Black women business owners who have raised over $1 million in Venture Capital funding within the U.S. Mandy first began her career in law and ventured along the entrepreneurship path unexpectedly. Spending much of her career in law, she was heavily involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives, but she never thought it would lead her to entrepreneurship. “Seeing the state of the way most organization addressed diversity and inclusion led me to start Kanarys,” Price said.   

Why We Need Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Mandy begins to recall a time where she looked back on her life and realized that everything she’d previously did led her to this exact point in her life. There was a particular time where Mandy says she was working at her firm, she’d been an employee for over three years, a colleague approached her during a meeting and asked her if she’d got into Harvard legitimately. This was a complete turning point for Mandy as she felt Kanarys could help her make that change in reporting discrimination in the workplace. With nearly 57% of Black professionals reporting discrimination in the workplace on things such as pay equity—constantly having to prove your competency over and over continues to exist for Black professionals.

Kanarys is built off the idea of not only providing companies with the metrics needed to optimize diversity and inclusion strategies, but their technology and software allows employees to provide their feedback anonymously. Many large corporations and organizations are so use  to having monthly celebrations for Black history month and citing that as diversity and inclusion, however—diversity and inclusion is so much more than that. “There was no real rigor or interception on what companies are doing within their own workplace to ensure it’s fair,” Mandy said. “Kanarys ensures that workplaces are fair and equitable.”       

Keep Going, Even When Things Don’t Go as Planned

Although this year hasn’t gone as planned for some of us, Mandy enlightens me about some of her latest accomplishments despite the current state of the world around us. She’s recently been accepted into the Google for Startups Accelerator Black Founders Class, partnered with several major organizations like National Urban League and Prospanica, was named Dallas’ Startup Week’s 2020 Rising Entrepreneur, and has grown her Kanarys team to a total of 20.

Mandy tells me that so many things in the workplace (and outside of it), “are about fixing Black women, and there’s nothing wrong with Black women. Be yourself and don’t think you need to conform to certain structures when we know those systems and structures are flawed.” After quitting her career in law, Mandy says a friend of hers walked up to her and told her, “You look free,” and that’s when she’d felt as if she’d finally found her purpose. “Being free, being yourself, and not conforming to systems—but defining your own life,” Mandy said.

To learn more about Kanarys, visit Kanarys.

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Brittani Rettig Wold

GRIT and Grind is What Keeps Brittani Rettig Wold Going

Founder and CEO of grit Fitness

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Brittani's story

It was in 2015 when Brittani Rettig Wold developed the concept for a boutique fitness studio—GRIT fitness. The idea originally began as a blog where she would create inspirational content to help inspire women to simply stay connected and in shape. Over time, her platform began to grow and she quickly fell in love with the world of fitness. A study conducted by Statista.com  reported that nearly 42% of women were interested in topics surrounding wellness, health and fitness—so of course it only made sense for Brittani to not only write about all things fitness, but to physically show these women that they too could do everything they were reading about and more! 

Impacting Others Amidst a Global Pandemic

Upon chatting with Brittani, she tells me that one of her greatest impacts she’s made this year has been being able to thrive during a global pandemic. From having to pivot her entire brand to a digital platform, she and her team were still able to offer fitness services to not only help women meet their goals, but to empower them to keep going. “We’re growing and thriving despite the adversity,” Brittani said. “Staying true to our mission is what GRITT Fitness is all about.”  

This new normal has definitely taken a lot of getting used to, especially for small business owners. Trying to find ways to maintain a steady business flow all while making sure you are constantly meeting the demands of your consumers is key. Brittani says that one of the biggest things she’s learned how to do during this time is to simply reach out to other women and ask for help. In the past, she’s had somewhat of a hard time instilling her trust into others and learning how to ask for help, but she says this global pandemic has allowed her to overcome that feeling. “This year has been the first year I’ve solidified my women business mentors,” Brittani said.

Having the Right Mindset is Your Superpower

Reminding yourself to be encouraged by the things around you is what keeps you going. It takes lots of time to get to a place where you feel as though you’ve mastered your craft, and then even after all of that time—there’s still more work that needs to be done. Brittani says one of the things that keeps her grounded and motivated is the fact that “the only person that can keep me from achieving my dreams is me, and having the right mindset is your superpower.” Your mindset is what steers you and takes you far in this lifetime, making sure you nurture it so that it is always at its best is vital.   

Brittani says being highlighted at this year’s Boss Women of the Year Summit is extremely empowering and uplifting. “For me, being a boss woman means being empowered to live the life you want to live—not the life people expect you to live.” Many times, women spend their entire lives doing things for others, but as a boss woman, it means “taking ownership of your life and spending the needed time figuring out who you are and what you want, so you can make it happen.”    

Visit https://www.dallasgritfitness.com/  to check out the newly launched comprehensive virtual platform that features over 400+ fitness classes.

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Jessica Taylor

“When You Shift Your Thinking, You Shift How You Respond to Your Setbacks and Failures”

Jessica Taylor, External Engagement Diversity and Inclusion/Multicultural Business Alignment of Toyota North America

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Jessica's story

“Equity, opportunity and access are my true passions,” Jessica Taylor, External Engagement Diversity and Inclusion/Multicultural Business Alignment of Toyota North America said. Jessica begins our interview by expressing her deep passion for diversifying the talent pipelines. With a 13 year career in diversity and inclusion, Jessica found her passion for helping others. “My ability to support underserving communities, particularly our HBCU’s through their journey when it comes to funding is something I am beyond passionate about,” Jessica said. Jessica’s main goal in the realm of funding is to reallocate initial dollars and work with these students to develop new scholarship programs in order to amplify the voice of what it means to be talented and scale, expand and grow their business opportunities.

My Failures Don’t Define Me

When asked how has she overcome her failures and setbacks for this year, Jessica shares with me that she doesn’t see failures and setbacks as such because she operates from the standpoint of “God what is it that you’re trying to show me in this season.” Many times we allow our failures and setbacks to keep us from progressing and during this time, we miss out on such valuable life experiences and teaching moments. Allow yourself to accept your failures, but don’t get stuck in them. “When you shift your thinking, you shift how you respond to your setbacks and failures,” Jessica said. “You can always learn something in anything.”   

 

Here at Boss Women Media, we know just what it means to stay in your lane and walk in your purpose. Jessica shares with our audience that one of the most encouraging and life changing things she heard from Ava DuVernay was the idea that, “when you stay in your lane, there is no traffic.” Simply stated—when you focus on you, you don’t get lost. Whatever God has for you, is for you. It’s designed for you and it’s your thing, so make sure you’re always doing right, because wrong will follow you just like right will.  

 

We Miss the Opportunity to Sometimes Celebrate Ourselves

 

Jessica’s strong passion for helping others and giving back regardless of your social class led her to creating her own brand—Fairtrade Organic and Ezra Coffee Co. Her coffee brand is Black centered and focus and is her greatest accomplishment to date. Jessica explains to me how excited she is to be a Boss Women of the Year nominee. “A lot of times we focus so much on doing the work, we don’t want to be celebrated. We should accept the responsibility of both of those,” Jessica said. “We miss the opportunities to sometimes celebrate ourselves, but Boss Women Media does a great job of celebrating women at all levels regardless of where you are in your career.” Jessica reminds all of our followers to amplify their voices in rooms where people may not have the opportunity to do so!   

 

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Denise Vasi

Denise Vasi Says Receiving A “No” Isn’t the End All Be All

founder of maed.co

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Denise's story

Before the start of our interview, Denise tells me that if I happen to hear a little baby in the background—it was her son Dries. Many of us may recognize Denise from the hit show “Single Ladies” where she played the main character, Raquel, however Denise says her greatest title and success is being a mother. “I’ve always been so focused on work,” Denise said. “My daughter (Lennox Mae) was the shift that made me walk away from my lifetime career and completely shift my focus to my babies.” Denise says she is a mother before anything else, and that is by far her #1 success. 

Being Healthy Became My Bigger Reason

Having spent 20+ years in the entertainment industry—Denise says after she got married and pregnant during the filming of Single Ladies, she didn’t think she wanted to get back into acting, and began to realize there was an even bigger reason to being healthy. Denise got her start in the digital space by sharing gems of fitness and health information with her audience based on her own experiences. From there, her community began to encourage her to create a platform for all of the valuable information she was sharing—thus was the start of her second baby (as she likes to call it) Maed. Maed (a compilation of her daughter’s middle name and her nickname “D”) became an online resource to help other women make healthy changes  in their lives.         

“I’m definitely someone that goes after what I want,” Denise said. “Once I know what the plan and strategy is, I move.” Denise says upon the hit of the pandemic, she and her team began to shift all of Maed’s content to fit the needs of her audience. “Everything about Maed.co is about inclusivity—when I looked around in wellness, it was very white-washed,” Denise said. “Health is not a white or money thing—taking care of yourself is your own version of healthcare.” Upon the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor era, this yet again shifted the content of Maed. “Sometimes you have to just throw the strategy out the window, and you have to be in the moment,” Denise said. “In order to be here for our readers and community, we had to forget what we planned.”       

Never Take “No” for an Answer

The journey of entrepreneurship can be an extremely lonely one—especially when you have no one encouraging and motivating you to keep going. When asked who’s inspired Denise along her journey of entrepreneurship, she says her mother. “My mom told me to never take no for an answer,” Denise said. “I’ve used it in just knowing that no isn’t the end all, be all.” Denise’s entrepreneurial journey has brought about setbacks and failures, but she hasn’t allowed those moments to define her place in life. “I don’t look at things as failures because I’ve had so many in the past. At this age, there’s no such thing as failures—they’re lessons,” Denise said. For someone that constantly sits in their failures, they will always wonder and think back on them. Always try to find the positives in any situation and figure out how to spin it.       

Among being a mother, an entrepreneur, and CEO—Denise’s plate is constantly full, but she’s fueled by knowing that she isn’t letting fear win. “My biggest success in all of it, from a business perspective is making the pivot, facing the fear, and not giving into it.”

 

For more information on Maed visit, https://maed.co/

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Erin Waller

“Women are Powerful Beings and we have to Nurture Ourselves”

Spiritual Wellness Expert Erin Waller

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

Erin's story

Beautiful, Wild, Free, Woman—those are the words Erin Waller uttered when she decided to take the leap of faith and find her true, authentic self. With a 12 year marriage that ended abruptly, Waller felt as if she’d lost herself simply because she didn’t know where’d she gone wrong in her marriage. As she navigated through a period of lost hope, she began to find ways to self-heal. Through her self-healing journey, she discovered Christian meditation which allowed her to sit in stillness, learn how to listen, and learn that her life was not the result of unrelated experiences. This realization allowed Erin Waller to organize her brand, Beautiful, Wild, Free Woman (BWFW) where she curates spiritual experiences for women who want more out of life.  

There’s Something Powerful About a Woman That Steps into Her Calling

Waller says stepping out of victimhood and simply stepping into her power has been one of her greatest and biggest successes thus far. “I am in awe of how God moves. I’m in awe of how a woman can literally change her life, without doing anything more,” Erin said. “You just need to get up about 15 minutes earlier!” Erin places great emphasis on the fact that what she’s done so far in 2020 has been no different than what she’s done in 2012 (the year of her divorce).

When it comes to overcoming her failures and setbacks, not only does she pray, but she also listens to her life. “We tend to talk so much, we forget to listen,” Erin said. “This year for me was about having a lot of clutter removed. This allowed me to listen even closely to what God and my life was saying to me.” Erin says one of the most lifechanging and encouraging things she was told in her life was from her mentor who was initially her friend for 10 years and became her mentor once her divorce took place. “The most impactful thing she said to me is you need to step out of your girl and into your woman.” Being a woman is not about wearing a fancy dress or being outspoken—it’s simply about stepping outside of yourself and accepting all of your gifts.  

Being a Boss Woman is More than Just Showing Up

When asked what does being a Boss Woman mean to her, Erin says it means being responsible. “I think people look at being a boss and elevate that—but it’s work, it does not stop!” Being a boss is realizing that it’s bigger than just you, you have to be willing to push through even when you don’t feel like it and operate in your gift for the greater good. “It truly is my belief that we as women are powerful beings and we have to nurture ourselves,” says Waller. “You control what you choose to do and what you choose to think—what you think and what you do always leads to what you have.”

 

Check out Erin Waller’s “I am Beautiful Wild Free” Podcast on iTunes and Spotify where she encourages her followers to shift their thoughts, because when you shift your thoughts, you can shift your life.  

 

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Mikaila Ulmer

“Be the Person in the Room with a Solution, Rather than just a Problem”

Me & the Bee’s Lemonade CEO Mikaila Ulmer

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

MIKAILA's story

Sixteen-year-old “Bee Ambassador” Mikaila Ulmer is a student, author, founder, and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade. The story of Me & the Bees started when Mikaila was 4 ½ years old and was stung by two bees in one week. “Even though I had a fear of bees, my parents encouraged me to do some research on them,” Mikaila said. “After research, I quickly learned how important they are as pollinators.” Shortly after Mikaila received those life-changing stings, her family received her Great Grandmother Helen’s cookbook which had an interesting recipe for flaxseed lemonade.

During this same time, several opportunities were presented to join local children’s business fairs, so Mikaila decided to create a honey-sweetened flaxseed lemonade and donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations that specialized in helping save the bees. What started out as a single lemonade stand turned into a successful bottled ready-to-drink beverage business that inevitably helped make a difference in the world. “My mission is to make a measurable impact on the world by saving the bees and by encouraging others to engage in pursuits of social entrepreneurship,” Mikaila said.

 

Still Finding a Way to Make an Impact Despite the Events of 2020

 

Mikaila shares with me that her greatest impact this year has been the launch of her new book, “Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid.” Her book is part memoir, which highlights her entrepreneurship journey and how she grew her business, Me & the Bees, while the second part of her book is a “Buzzines (business) Guide” that both seasoned entrepreneurs and those who are just starting out can learn from. “Writing Bee Fearless has made a huge impact on me, and it has pushed my drive and my need to inspire Gen Z’ers and the next generation of changemakers,” Mikaila said. This book isn’t just for children—everyone from adults who would like to bring an unhindered kid mentality to their business and anyone looking for motivation in 2020 to simply go for it.

 

Every great entrepreneur knows that along with impact and success comes a few failures and setbacks. Mikaila says her greatest setback in 2020 has been her lack of personal interactions, both personally and business. “Before quarantine, meeting face-to-face with other entrepreneurs, potential customers and the press was one of my favorite parts of running my company,” Mikaila said. “However, in this season of COVID-19, both I and many others have had to adapt by finding new ways through technology to keep those real interactions thriving in business.”

 

Amidst everything that is going on, Mikaila says she is proud of the fact she’s able to adapt well to this new way of life and how business is done due to the pandemic. “The pandemic drastically changed our business model because many of the restaurants, hotels or cafeterias that were carrying my product were now closed,” Mikaila said. “We quickly incorporated and bolstered the e-commerce model for the lemonades and due to my team’s decisive efforts, online sales are now doing really well.”

 

Mikaila Ulmer: Boss Women of the Year Honoree

Boss women are powerful. They’re strong-minded and strong-willed and they go after what they want without letting anything or anyone get in their way. Mikaila says being honored as a Boss Woman of the Year is “awesome and totally an honor to be listed among such an amazing list of corporate queens, entrepreneurs and innovators.” One thing that has guided Mikaila along her journey of entrepreneurship has been the idea that it’s important to be the person in the room with a solution, rather than just a problem. “It reminded me to always think outside of the box, be a problem solver, and speak up if you have a good idea,” Mikaila said.

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.

2020 Boss WomAN Of The Year Honoree

Marjorie Williams

Marjorie Williams Emphasizes the Importance of being Collaborative Across Boundaries

Toyota Purchasing Analyst Marjorie Williams

For the last three years we’ve honored and highlighted women that are CEO’s, Corporate Queens, Entrepreneurs, Boss Moms and Legends in their industries. This year is no different as we highlight women that are breaking glass ceilings and paving new roads for all women to succeed.

marjorie's story

Originally born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Marjorie Williams’ climb up the corporate ladder coincidentally led her back to her hometown. Upon interning with Toyota in their purchasing department, she then moved through their rotation and engineering program and from there landed her role as a purchasing analyst in body design seats at Toyota Motor North America. Marjorie shares that one thing that’s helped her remain consistent throughout her work has been learning how to be collaborative across boundaries. “A lot people are always focused on what they’re doing instead of being collaborative,” Marjorie said. “My goal is to always make a conscious effort to reach out and talk to people, which in turn will make them more productive.

Always Extend a Helping Hand

Having the mindset to always extend a helping hand led Marjorie to her next venture of creating her own business. Her brand features vintage home décor, as well as contemporary and global art pieces where she showcases Black culture at its finest. With the start of the new year and everything that’s currently going on, Marjorie wanted to create a space where African-Americans were seen as the majority and not the minority. “When you make the effort to show others what’s important to you, they embrace that, “ Marjorie said. “Bringing other people together and helping them understand each other better is something I’m proud of doing.”       

 

As you can see, being diverse and inclusive in the workplace is something that truly strikes Marjorie’s passions. Marjorie shares with me how she became the chair of the R&D chapter of The African American Collaborative in her department at Toyota Motor North America, where she sent a message to her chapter expressing her feelings and in turn that sparked a conversation into diversity and inclusion within the workplace. As we know, in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, race and diversity has been at the forefront of many large brands, organizations and corporations.

 

Marjorie knew something needed to be done, so she took that leap of faith and brought it directly to her department. “I want to be able to give them a space to vocalize what they need and to advocate for them,” Marjorie said. “Using the power you have even if it’s not power at a certain level, to make things better for other people because one of us can’t advance without the other.”  

 

Learn How to be the Owner of Your Life

When it comes to being a Boss Woman, Marjorie says “it means being the owner of your life. A boss woman can be a number of things, but you’re simply taking care of what needs to be taken care of.” Marjorie is such an advocate for women of color as she helps not only those she works with, but all women understand their value and then being able to completely own it. “Women being able to share their stories is really going to help transpire us all.” 

MiKenna Williams is the Lead Writer for Boss Women Media.