What could be a better way to celebrate Day of the Girl than speaking with women who work to empower and support women and girls on the daily? We have to admit, it’s hard to get much cooler than that. But to sweeten the deal, College Fashionista teamed up with J.Crew and Girls Inc. to bring those powerful women together with our talented community members in the form of a panel.
Moderated by Who What Wear’s Fashion Director Natalie Cantell, we hosted two conversations in both New York City and Washington D.C. Tieler Giles, associate director of marketing and communications at Girls Inc., spoke alongside of Denise Bidot at our DC panel. Back in the Big Apple, Bidot made another appearance at our NYC panel and shared the stage with Indiana Almanzar, the special projects manager at Girls Inc. Both talks covered hard-hitting topics with inspired, motivated lenses, and both speakers urged the audience to go out, take action, and make things happen.
We’re obviously all about #gettingsomewhere here at CF, so we pulled seven amazing tips we learned at our NYC Panel from Almanzar and Bidot about becoming successful and serving as catalysts for other women’s successes, too.
1. There’s a right way to ask for someone to be your mentor
Finding a mentor can propel your career further than you can imagine. It’s basically like having your own cheerleader who happens to be kicking butt in the same industry. It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but there’s a method to the madness. Almanzar basically summarized it into: approach, break the ice, ask career questions, then ask “would you mind if I called you my mentor?” Then work on building a relationship that fits alongside of both your schedules and lifestyles.
“It can be awkward, but if you see something in someone that you appreciate, and you see something that you want to go ahead and emulate, approach that person. Don’t be afraid to ask,” Almanzar said.
2. Owning our power and confidence is everything
“As women, the main thing we have to get good at is admitting how awesome we are. We are trained to deflect compliments,” said Almanzar. Without acknowledging your strengths, it’s going to be a lot harder to push past criticism and obstacles. Everyone including you (yes, you), has a special set of skills that no one else can replicate exactly. Owning your talents is just as important as having them.
3. Brand focus on inclusivity and empowerment is essential
We can’t do it alone out here. So having brands that care about causes as much as we do is vital. Almanzar found that J.Crew’s newest #meetmycrew campaign was a stellar example of a brand taking initiative. “[J.Crew] used two completely different girls and they had their shades of makeup. They respected one girl’s religion and let her keep her turban on…So, I want to shout them out for that…I think that’s very important for branding. When women can see themselves, then they recognize the brand as well.”
4. We need to continue changing the conversation around feminism
The “F” word (feminism) has had a negative connotation for quite some time, but thankfully that’s been changing. “How can you be a woman and not be a feminist? That’s why we have to have these conversations, that’s why it’s so important to be vocal for what you stand for. Stand firm with whatever your beliefs are,” said Bidot. “I can’t imagine someone not wanting all women to rise, all women to have equal pay, all women to be allowed their own choice. I think these are fundamental values.”
5. Everyone has a place in the fight for equality
You don’t have to be an extroverted, A-type ball of energy to get your hands dirty and make a difference. “Not everyone is meant to be a leader or groundbreaker. That is okay. But there is a role for everyone. No leader does it alone. It takes an entire group or community to do anything. Find your role,” said Bidot. Almanzar echoed that sentiment. “There are so many different outlets, even if you are quiet. But you have to go ahead and act. That’s really where the power is,” she said.
6. We don’t have to tear others down to build ourselves up
We all know the sad, unfortunate truth that oftentimes women are pitted against one another. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to happen, as there is space for all of us to be successful. “At the end of the day, it’s really awesome when you get to the top, but what good is it if you’re not turning around and helping someone else?” Bidot said. Find ways to support other women, and most importantly, allow yourself to not only ask for help, but receive it.
7. Sometimes taking a risk is the best thing you can do
Failure, rejection, and mistakes are inevitable as you work on your career. While these are unavoidable, you have the opportunity to take these risks and decide how you view experiences. Bidot said, “[My professor] always used to say, ‘If the outcome potential is greater than the risk, you should always take it’…You taking a leap of faith on yourself and believing in yourself that much to jump, is so, so, so powerful.”
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments!