Being a mom is so rewarding. Being a working mom is double rewarding. I have the opportunity to flex my mental muscles when I'm among my colleagues and when I return home, I spend one-on-one time with my daughter. I teach her the importance of a balanced life and normalize the behavior of a successful working mom. Though, I couldn't do it with my tribe, the women and men who support me and my little nugget as I navigate this unknown territory. The top five relationships I lean on are:
1) The relationship with myself. Sounds obvious, but sometimes as working #momboss we forget that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else. This includes our children, our spouse and our professional team. So, I carve out time to meditate every morning. I center myself through an active devotion to bring clarity to my mind and heart. I also believe that my strength, creativity and ability come from a higher-being. My spiritual belief is the cornerstone of my life and guides me every day.
2) The relationship with my daughter.
She's my inspiration and my motivation. Before I was a mom, I was equally focused on my career but I operated from a very selfish place. I wanted to acquire more knowledge, more influence, more responsibility and yes, more money. Now, I work smarter - not harder; more efficient - not longer. Because of that, I'm more productive. I am inspired by the opportunity to serve as a great example to my daughter.
3) The relationship with my partner.
We are a team that has to lean on each other, support each other and we really are the truest form of "ride-or-die." This relationship is so important as you need that person who is interested in your day, your wellbeing and your happiness. They will be honest with you, be your mirror when you're facing challenging times of difficult decisions; they will be your advocate when you need protection; and they will cuddle with you and tell you how beautiful your mind, body and spirit are when you feel defeated. This is such an important relationship, only 3rd on paper, but equally as important as the others.
4) My other #MomBosses.
It is so important to have mothers around you who live a similar life. When I was pregnant, I was the only one within my friend-group that was a new mother. Being originally from Tennessee, most of my friends had children in their 20's and my NYC squad were like me, in their late-30's, resolved that children were not in their future. I was an anomaly. I didn't fit in anywhere. That was until I found my mommy blog and made connections from my infant-CPR class or prenatal yoga class. And, as our children have gotten older, these relationships have sustained me during the meltdowns, growth stages and milestones. It has been an enormous support to have first-time mothers to lean on when I find myself examining a (typical) rash on my daughter's leg or trying to find the most obscure hypo-allergenic sunscreen to prevent said rash.
5) My tribe.
From other mothers, to my mother and non-parenting friends, I have created a pretty wacky support team. This is my tribe. Being an only child, I was so concerned that my daughter wouldn't have a rounded-out life since she wouldn't have any cousins. Well, you pick your friends, who become your family. Isn't that a nice thought? I have a rich life full of laughter and disagreements, and play-dates and double-date nights.
It is a life...
full of diversity - from family structures to cultures to ages;
full of love,
full of insight,
full of support,
and, full of opportunity.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.