#ImAGirlBoss: Erika De La Cruz

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NAME: Erika De La Cruz
AGE: 24
CITY: San Diego + Los Angeles
HOMETOWN: Los Banos, CA
INDUSTRY: Entertainment + Broadcast Media
SIGN: Taurus
TWITTER: @_ErikaDeLaCruz
INSTAGRAM: @Erikadelacrz
WEBSITE: Erikadelacruz.com/blog

Tell us what you do!

I’m a radio personality. I serve as Promotions Director and Video Entertainment Host for Easy 98.1 FM. I also just wrapped hosting the Fashion Week San Diego Spring Showcase. What’s sleep?

Did you go to college? If so, where?

San Diego State University — #GoAztecs!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Peter Pan’s girlfriend! Aside from those aspirations, I wanted to “put on shows for people,” and often subjected my family to theatrical narrations, dances, and rap routines.

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I grew up in a really small town — Los Banos, CA! When it came time for college, I attended SDSU. After a ton of “different ideas for majors,” I got my degree in Communication & Media, with an emphasis in public speaking & interview. Along the way, I picked up as many internship/volunteer opportunities, and went to as many office hours, as possible to integrate myself into a community of people I wanted to learn from, in industries I wanted to learn more about. I started working in LA doing some red carpet correspondence on the weekends and fell in love. Then started working on a Morning Show in radio in San Diego, which I also loved, and eventually found that — in this industry — fashion, pop-culture and all the other stuff I love are often part of the deal! I love this multi-media world. 

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Any obstacles along the way?

I definitely experienced some set backs, like the economy circa 2009. That lovely economy threw a few huge hurdles my way — financial aid, foreclosure, loosing a few loved ones. But from that, I think I developed skills that, to this day, are the reason I’m pursuing what I love. I feel like sometimes there’s an expected “surrendering” reaction when drastic, unexpected things happen (the easy route), but instead I reacted with, “Nope, I’m going to maintain every last detail of my life, thank you very much.” I think the obstacles can push you to really fight to stay in what I call the “Winners Circle,” (optimism/drive/accomplishment.) Sure, you have to fail at things sometimes, but I think aiming to stay in that circle gives you a consistent target!

Who is your idol?

Keltie Knight really inspires me! Her positive energy and instinct to lift and encourage other women is contagious. Ellen De Generous, Ivanka Trump, and Will Smith are pretty amazing, too.

What are three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are?

-Belief meeting Behavior (Praxis)
-Gratitude
-JU JU ☺

Where would you like to be in five years? On your television.

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Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

She pursues her passion, and puts her strengths into killing it every day. She inspires, and lifts others, and has genuine desire to “tag team it” with like-minded individuals. She trusts her dream and aspirations, and that’s what makes her tick. I’ll credit Marie Claire for the term “Passionista,” which I’ve taken to heart. I literally have it taped to my wall; it embodies the #girlboss for me.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

Classic. I gravitate toward pieces that are flirty, but still elevated. I really enjoy bright solids, and have an unexplained weakness for jumpsuits.

Favorite brand right now?

BCBG Maxamara.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

Topshop basics. All of them.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Buxom mascara

Go-to nail color?

French Tips. Like to keep it classy!

Coffee order?

Café au lait (fancy for: coffee with frothed milk). 

What makes you feel beautiful?

Getting dressed up is fantastic, but I’m a sucker for a cute pair of PJs while your hair is still done! Slipping into a pair of “matchies” or a “nighty” after a show makes me feel super cozy, cute and HAPPY!

What makes you feel badass?

Nailing a project. There’s no better feeling than doing the prep work for a segment or event — and killing it. I feel like I’m great with the “idea” portion, but the will power comes in the research and leg work for me. After the follow-through, I feel pretty #badass. 

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No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Project Runway. I will sit forever, unproductively lost, in that show.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

Can Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran just form a band? I feel like it’s possible.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

“Blank Space” by T-Swift.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

There are so many! Here are a few I really like:  “Belief does not sit on the couch and wait for success to show up.” –Bob Proctor “You can fail at doing something you don’t want to do, so you may as well go for your dream.” – Jim Carrey “You can never be over dressed or over educated.” -Oscar Wild

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

When I started working in-studio for the very first time, I had an amazing morning show host guiding me — “Lenny B” of More Music Mornings. I stepped into my first “big conference room” meeting with the rest of the company department reps, and I was a little bit intimidated, not wanting to stand out for having a bright PINK laptop cover and a glittery violet phone case. I was already the youngest and one of the only females in the room, so I took off both before the meeting so I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. But afterward, Lenny asked where the heck my “Erika” stuff went? And reminded me that I had gotten there because of being me, and to never be afraid of that. *Maintain Authenticity. That’s what I learned. It applies to so many situations and decisions that have come along since. You can’t really connect with people until you’re comfortable in your own skin. And for interviewing, that’s especially important.

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Advice to future girl bosses:

Don’t let challenges scare you! See them as opportunities. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and are on your team, because you eventually develop the same mindset and habits as them. Get as many internships as you can. And be nice to everyone — it will come full circle!

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#ImAGirlBoss: Bethany Watson

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NAME: Bethany Watson             
CITY:
 New York, New York
HOMETOWN: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
INDUSTRY: Radio
SIGN: Sagittarius
NOMINATED BY: Allegra Cohen
TWITTER: @RadioBethany
INSTAGRAM: @MsBethanyWatson

Tell us what you do!

I’m co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.” My role on the show is to give brief news updates every hour, as well as provide the “single girl in New York” perspective. As a recent transplant to NYC — and as the only single woman on the show — my goal is to connect to those listeners who are in a similar place in their lives. I’m also a self-described nerd, so I’m always trying to use this huge platform to help others realize that being different isn’t just okay, it’s an asset! 

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I spent two years at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota as a Spanish major. I was spending all of my time in the theatre department, though, so I decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota for their incredible theatre program. I graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Growing up, I always loved acting, and knew I wanted to do that forever. I also wanted to be a veterinarian, a special effects artist, a marine biologist, and a puppeteer (I was obsessed with the old Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal. Have you seen that movie? It’s awesome. You should see it.)

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How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story! 

After I graduated from college, I sustained a repetitive stress back injury from working as a barista. (I’m a winner!) As a result, I couldn’t stand for long periods of time anymore. I had to quit my coffeehouse job and start temping at various office jobs instead. I was placed in a bank’s corporate office and they eventually hired me (which is hilarious if you’ve ever seen me attempt math). As my time in the office went on, I became more and more frustrated and depressed. I wasn’t passionate about banking, I wasn’t using my brain or any creativity, and I felt trapped. Finally, after about two years, I broke down. I had been classically trained in Shakespeare, yet I was spending my days mindlessly hitting “send” on corporate wires. I knew I needed to get out of my cubicle, but I didn’t see any way out.

Around the same time, the morning radio show that I had been listening to for years announced that their female co-host was leaving. Because I was such a fan of the show, I knew that I could do this job. I understood the show’s tone, I got their humor, and I knew their rhythm. Plus, I had training in improv comedy, which I felt was more important to a morning show than actual radio training. So I fired off an email to the radio station with my acting headshot and resume attached. I explained that even though I wasn’t a radio person, I had extensive training in other areas. I made a bullet-pointed list of everything that I would bring to the show including communication skills, improvisational comedy training, a sarcastic sense of humor, and the ability to learn quickly. I signed off by saying that they just needed to give me one shot and I would prove myself.

A few weeks later, I was in the studio for an off-air audition. That audition went so well that they brought me in three more times for live on-air auditions where I co-hosted all four hours of the show. After those auditions, I got the job! I was at that first job for four years, and learned a TON. During that time, I caught the attention of one of Elvis Duran’s executive producers, David Brody. He approached me when there was an opening on Elvis’s show and encouraged me to apply, so I interviewed and here I am!

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Any obstacles along the way?

The hardest thing was jumping straight into an established radio show without any radio training! I felt comfortable merging into the flow of the show’s banter, because that’s where a lot of my training was. But it was a steep learning curve in terms of learning the mechanics of radio like how breaks are timed, proper mic technique, recording commercials, etc. One of the first lessons I ever learned was not to drop my headphones on the table when we finished talking and went into commercials. I didn’t realize that our mics were still on, so listeners were hearing us sign off and then a large *thunk!* All of those little things that radio students learn on Day One? I was learning them live, in front of tens of thousands of listeners.

Who is your idol? 


I can’t say that there’s one person I idolize. Rather, I look up to women in specific areas. I look up to my mom for manifesting the life she dreamed for herself and never letting herself get jaded. I look up to my sister, Nicole, for her incredible intelligence. I look up to my sister Kristyn for her quiet wisdom. I’m always in awe of my friend, Allegra Cohen, who’s an insanely gifted actor and film producer (and fellow #girlboss!), because she’s a ball of positive energy who truly loves helping other people build their dreams. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor who has the best sense of humor about life, and I hold her up for her ability to just go for things she wants to do, and make them happen. I have mad respect for Lena Dunham’s unapologetic sense of who she is, and for J.K. Rowling’s self-made rise from welfare to international success. Somehow Olivia Palermo always styles the perfect outfit, so she’s on the list. I could go on for pages.

What are three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are?

My suffocating fear of regret is what propels me. If I wasn’t so terrified of being disappointed in myself, I would probably still be at that bank. I think I’m also good at projecting confidence when I need to (insert laughter from people who know me well). I wear my heart on my sleeve, and you can always tell when I’m upset, but I can still turn on that “Hey, I’m cool, I’ve got this” swagger if I really need to. And I don’t think I ever quite realize how high the stakes are until after the fact, so it never occurred to me that I had no business applying for that radio job until after I’d been hired. A friend of mine calls it “Ignorance on Fire!”

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Where would you like to be in five years?

The great thing about this job is that we get to create. We can write bits, create web content, play hip hop songs on our clarinet, etc. In five years, I want to have kept up that creative momentum in other areas as well. I know I have a novel and a children’s book in me. I’m also surrounded by unbelievably talented writers, actors, producers, and circus performers. Not joking — I know a disproportionate number of circus performers. I want to collaborate with these people on creative projects as well, and help those around me gain attention for their talents.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

A Girl Boss is a woman who has taken her future into her own hands. She respects and values the opinions of the people she trusts, but she ultimately decides her own fate. She’s strong, intelligent, classy, and kind. And she has zero time for haters. She understands that haters lash out due to envy. In contrast, she re-channels her own envy into motivation. Lastly, a Girl Boss doesn’t feel the need to take down other women. She believes that there’s plenty of success to go around, and women are more likely to reach their full potential when other supportive women surround them.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

I prefer outfits that have a hint of menswear to them. I much prefer the idea of alluding to the female body instead of shoving it in your face. I’ll often pair skinny jeans with a man’s loose-fitting button-down shirt, leaving one extra button open to show a hint of a lacy camisole underneath. I also love paper bag waists, wide leg pants, and bohemian, off-the-shoulder tops. The more my clothes can flap in the breeze, the happier I am. And I love showing off my shoulders.

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Favorite brand right now?

I love Gypsy Warrior. I was a Goth in high school and I still have a bit of a Goth streak in me, but as I said above, I also love bohemian-style clothing. Gypsy Warrior combines all of these aesthetics. Their clothing makes me feel feminine and powerful!

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

I was shopping in the West Village when I stumbled upon a Marc Jacobs lock-and-key necklace that says “Don’t Fuck With My Shit.” I bought one for every woman on the morning show, and I wear mine at least three times a week. The lock is gold and the keys and chain are silver, so it goes with everything. Plus, it’s a good reminder that I’m allowed to be in total control of my life.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

My eyelash curler! My eyelashes grow straight and cover my eyes a little bit, so curling my eyelashes is the key to opening my eyes up. Also, because I wake up at 3am, I completely rely on tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Concealer for my undereyes because they’re a hot mess.

Go-to nail color?

Pale pink. Nothing makes me feel more put-together than when my nails are buffed and painted in a light color. I love how subtle and feminine a single coat of pale pink polish looks. If nail polish was flirting, pale pink would be a coy, sexy smile from across the bar. A great option is e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Nude #1503.

Coffee order?

I’m trying to cut down on sugar, so right now, it’s all about black coffee (or iced coffee in the summer). But my favorite drink of all time is a Starbucks iced venti soy chai. Or an iced venti soy extra-caramel caramel macchiato. Or an iced venti soy mocha. Or an iced venti soy white mocha. Oh god, I miss sugar…

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What makes you feel beautiful?

It’s amazing how beautiful false eyelashes make me feel. I’ll even put those suckers on during the weekend. I also adore a suuuuuuuuper long, scarfy dress à la Rachel Zoe. I’m tall, so those dresses make me feel like a goddess.

What makes you feel badass?

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody says something snarky to you, and you come up with the perfect, clever response right in the moment and it rolls off your tongue and you don’t stumble over your words and you still walk away calm and collected? That’s happened to me once. I felt super badass. (Stomping down the streets of Manhattan in heels while rocking out to music also makes me feel incredibly badass, but I don’t do that often because, ouch.)

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Sheet cake. The kind served in Lutheran church basements after weddings, with tons of gaudy flowers in the corners. I always go for the corner piece because then you get frosting on TWO sides and all of those extra frosting flowers, and if someone next to you doesn’t like frosting, then you get THEIR frosting too, and oh god I really miss sugar…

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

I’m so embarrassed to say that I just learned about The Civil Wars, and they broke up in 2014! My friend played me their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and I was hooked. Joy Williams and John Paul White have voices that blend perfectly together. Well, blended. Cuz they broke up awhile ago and no one asked me.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

I talked about this on the air the other day! If I’ve made it through a long, rough day, I’ll blast G.R.L.’s “Ugly Heart.” That song is the perfect tempo for “runway strutting” down the street, and it’s a great “I deserve better” kind of anthem.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” I first heard that quote from Tamara Mellon (co-founder of Jimmy Choo), and I’ve since heard it elsewhere, but it’s my mantra. Everything terrifies me at first, and my initial response to every opportunity is “No.” I always need a few days (or years) to process a new idea or opportunity and warm up to it. It’s always fear that makes me say No. The key to moving forward is understanding that fear is a bully: it’s weaker than you think and backs down immediately when you stand up to it.

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Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

“Keep the flashlight at your feet.” My mom grew up in West Africa where snakes lived in the grass. Whenever she had to walk at night, she’d have to carry a flashlight and train it at the ground right in front of her to make sure she didn’t step on a snake (which sounds horrifying, but my mom’s a badass). As soon as she started shining the flashlight further down the path, she’d trip on whatever was in front of her. So whenever I’m starting to worry too much about the future and “what if’s,” Mom reminds me to keep the flashlight at my feet and focus only on what’s in front of me now.

Advice to future girl bosses:

It’s never too early to gather your team. Find people who fill in the gaps in your skill set, who think you’re amazing, and who believe in your dreams. When you’re surrounded by trusted people who support you, you’ll find it much easier to bust through those roadblocks that will inevitably come your way.

STYLE: I Dress For Me

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“Did you see how she was dressed?”
“Why would she wear that if she didn’t want the attention?”
“She was asking for it.” 

We’ve all heard one of these asinine pseudo-excuses when someone is trying to justify or pardon some form of inappropriate, unwanted, unsolicited sexual advance (or worse). I’ve heard both men and [sadly] women state the above comments with great conviction.

Having lived in both Manhattan and Hollywood, I am no stranger to street harassment. I’m also very experienced when it comes to assumptions being made about my character based on what I’m wearing. For instance, in the club scene (an admittedly depraved culture), I switched from wearing dresses and heels to sporting tougher, “safer” apparel (black jeans, leather jacket, combat booties, etc.) to escape all the unwanted attention. Not only did I receive less advances and inappropriate physical contact (get your hand off my ass) — I got more respect from men.

But that’s a problem. Because I should get respect regardless of the fabric draped over my body. Whether it’s a crop top and fitted skinny jeans that show off my a$$ets or baggy sweatpants and a T-shirt, I’m the same person with the same morals (and sex drive). So let’s get one thing clear — I am never “asking” for anything. I dress for me. 

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That’s where Jessica DeFino comes in. As the Founder of IDressForMe.com — and the associated hashtag movement, #IDressForMe — DeFino has made it her mission to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault as they pertain to fashion choices. In the exactly two months since she launched the instagram account for the movement, she’s gained 600 followers (and counting), featured a handful of fashion-forward supporters, and frequently posts simple–yet poignant–messages like “Not asking for it,” “Clothes are not consent,” and “My outfit is not an invitation.”

She’s a total boss. And I had to get to know her better.

1) First, tell us a bit about the woman behind I Dress For Me. Who is Jessica DeFino? 

I’m a 25-year-old Jersey girl living in LA, where I work as a wardrobe stylist and fashion editor. I started out styling within the music industry, helping bands match their sound with a look. I was lucky enough to work with Daughtry, The Fray, Jason Mraz, and Atlas Genius early on in my career. What I loved about my job was helping individuals take who they were on the inside and express it on the outside, so I moved towards personal shopping in order to foster that personal connection with my clients. Somewhere along the way, I started my blog, Hell or High Fashion, which transitioned into writing about fashion for web and print. My work has been published in Harper’s Bazaar China, L’OFFICIEL Singapore, Marie Claire China, Conde Nast Traveler, and ELLE Mexico, all of which have helped expand my knowledge and involvement in the industry of high-fashion.

2) You’re at the helm of a super kickass movement. What inspired you to launch I Dress For Me? Why is this initiative so important to you?

It sounds hippie-dippy, but the idea for I Dress For Me came to me while I was meditating. My mom had given me a book called Awaken The Spirit Within by Rebecca Rosen, which is a guide to discovering your life’s purpose. While following one of the book’s meditations, I Dress For Me popped into my head, and I couldn’t shake it. I immediately bought the domain name, and reserved the Instagram handle, because I knew right away that this was going to be a big part of my life!

I’ve experienced sexual assault and harassment countless times — haven’t we all? — and I always resented the idea that I “asked for it” or “brought it on myself” just because I like to dress up and put effort into my appearance. After the Isla Vista shootings [where Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree to exact revenge on women who dressed provocatively and then denied him sex] and the #YesAllWomen movement, I knew I wanted to be involved in solving these issues in a bigger capacity.

Fashion plays a role in so many women’s stories of sexual assault and harassment, and we’re constantly being asked, “Well, what was she wearing?” It seemed to me that there was a big opportunity to marry my love of fashion and my passion for this cause.

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3) Much like the #ImAGirlBoss series we do here on RN, you use hashtag culture — #IDressForMe — to get the word out, and encourage engagement on social media. How has the reception been? Do you find a steady increase in followers/participants?

Using the hashtag #idressforme seemed like a natural first step for our movement. One of the biggest hurdles in ending sexual assault and harassment is that the topic is taboo, and no one wants to speak up about it. The hashtag is a low-stakes way for people to stand up for a cause and have their voice be heard. Hopefully, #idressforme can play a small part in opening up the conversation about sexual assault and harassment, and take some of the shame out of speaking about our experiences.

The reception has been great so far! I definitely see our numbers increasing day by day, and there are nearly 1,000 people who have used the hashtag on Instagram already! Eventually, I’d like to have our hashtag become a resource for funding — as in, for every person that uses #idressforme, so-and-so organization will donate $1 towards education and prevention programs. I’m really excited about the potential of #idressforme!

4) On your website, you state the statistic: 57% of the population agrees with the idea that a woman’s character can be interpreted through her clothing. Have you personally ever been mistaken for someone you’re not based on what you’re wearing on any given day/night out?

This happens all the time — sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in ways that lead to larger issues. The instance that stands out in my mind the most happened while I was on a first date with a new guy in college I was wearing a 50s-inspired outfit: a halter top with a sweetheart neckline and high-waisted shorts. I thought I looked super cute, and can still remember that outfit completely, down to every last accessory. We were walking through the park when my date started to get handsy. I politely asked him to stop. He persisted, groping me and chasing me when I tried to walk away. Finally, he pushed me to the ground and said, “What’d you wear that low cut shirt for then, just to tease me? To show me what I can’t have?” I was extremely lucky that he walked away, but unfortunately, most women who end up in that situation are not as lucky.

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5) In your own words, what is a fashion feminist?

To me, a “fashion feminist” is someone who recognizes that fashion and feminism are not mutually exclusive. It’s OK to ask for equality and be excited about the latest Saint Laurent collection. It’s cool to demand equal pay for equal work and spend that pay on an insanely expensive pair of Louboutins. You’re allowed to fight for equal rights in a miniskirt.

6) Who are your fashion forward feminist idols?

Emma Watson, who has done an amazing job of being a voice for feminism in an industry obsessed with sexualizing women. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller — I think that one is pretty self-explanatory. Beyonce! Jennifer Lawrence, who handled her nude photos being leaked with grace and power, and has been a vocal advocate for change in that area. Madonna, who recently opened up about her experiences with rape. Karl Lagerfeld, who turned his Chanel SS15 runway show into a very fashionable feminist protest. There are some that argue that his show trivialized feminist issues, but I think anything that makes feminism such a hot topic is amazing!

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7) Describe IDFM in three words.

Strength, style, empowerment.

8) If IDFM could do a campaign with any women’s fashion or beauty brand, which would it be?

My DREAM campaign would be with Nasty Gal! Nasty Gal has been a pioneer in the women’s empowerment movement within the fashion industry, and I think they would be a perfect fit for our message.

9) If IDFM could have ANY female celebrity as the face of the movement, who would best represent the mission?

Personally, I’m obsessed with Solange Knowles’ style, and would love to have her on board as an I Dress For Me ambassador.

10) What are your goals for IDFM? Where would you like to see the website, guest blog, and instagram one year from today?

One year from today, I see I Dress For Me having tens of thousands of followers. I see our hashtag becoming one of the “standard” fashion hashtags, like #ootd or #whatiwore. I see our guest blog section growing and partnering with prominent bloggers, designers, and brands to reach as many people as possible. I’d like to see a line of #idressforme clothing and accessories — tee shirts, canvas bags, mugs, wall decor. I see I Dress For Me taking on a large role in sexual assault counseling centers, and setting up branches on college campuses to promote education and prevention. Pretty lofty goals, but I really think the time is right for the I Dress For Me movement to flourish!

#ImAGirlBoss: Allegra Cohen

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NAME: ALLEGRA COHEN 
CITY: NEW YORK
HOMETOWN: CHERRY HILL, NJ
INDUSTRY: FILM
SIGN: LIBRA
NOMINATED BY: RACHEL DOYLE 
TWITTER: @allegracohen
INSTAGRAM: @allegracohen
TSU: tsu.co/AllegraCohen
WEBSITE: imdb.me/allegracohen

Tell us what you do!

I am a film producer with a focus in brand integration, and also work as an actor in television, film, commercials, and voiceovers.

I am a Curly Connoisseur, empowering women and girls to embrace their naturally curly hair.

I am an all-around connections specialist! 

Did you go to college? If so, where?

Montclair State University with a double major in Theatre and Sorority – go Delta Phi Epsilon, Alpha Eta chapter!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

My mom used to let me watch all her soap operas with her instead of taking a nap, and as I got older, she and I would record them on the VCR, and watch the episodes after school. I became completely engrossed in the romantic and outlandish storylines. So pretty much since the age of three, I wanted to be Barbara Ryan on As the World Turns or Lois Cerullo on General Hospital.

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How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, and my original claim to fame was appearing on the Al Alberts Television Showcase singing and dancing to the “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. I went off to college to study Theatre, and in my last year, as we were preparing for our acting showcase in Manhattan, a very talented and successful voiceover artist, Chip Bolcik, came to speak to our class about his work in voiceovers. I had never understood what a voiceover was, and in that moment, I made a decision to explore every facet of the entertainment industry when I graduated.

In order to support myself, I sold entertainment for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and have danced at over 1,000 of these parties in the tri-state area. I went to voiceover bootcamp, got my demo reel, and landed my first voiceover agent. As I was sitting at one of my first voiceover audtions, a gentleman sitting next to me passed me his laptop, and asked me to read a couple pages of a script he had just written, and told me to tell him what I thought of it. I instantly told Joe Narciso that it would win the New York Television Festival, and I wanted to help him make it. The show was called Split the Difference, and it was the first project I co-produced.

Not only did it win the NYTVF, but NBC bought the show. Narciso and his wife, Charlene, convinced me that producing was my calling. It was challenging for me to embrace the producing idea, as I was so set on pursuing my acting career. But I soon realized, I didn’t need to choose one or the other.

I went on to produce several web series projects, short films, and then I was invited to a table read of a script to fill in for an actress who wasn’t able to make it. I met Jason Chaet and Rick Moore, the director and writer of Putzel, which I ended up acting in and producing. I learned to enjoy the process of filmmaking even more and rising to the pressure of challenges that come up on set – everything from finding a last minute lox slicer stunt double to acquiring a key location at low or no cost. After almost five years of my coming on board, Putzel played at over 50 film festivals around the world, and was released internationally by Filmbuff. You can now see it on iTunes and stream it via Hulu.

I was hired this summer to join the producing team of I Am Michael, starring James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, and Charlie Carver. My producer role spanned brand integration, product placement, clearance, deal negotiations, music licensing, wrap party brand sponsors, and post-production follow up.

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I leverage people’s strengths so everybody can work at their greatest potential. Usually, what holds people back is money. Producers want to make a great film. I want them to make a great film. For example — taking the wardrobe department as an angle — great wardrobe is an essential part of the creative process, but smaller indie films don’t have the budget to kick that visual up a notch. On the other side, I have a designer with gorgeous clothes but not enough capital to finance a large marketing campaign. My magic is pulling the two factions together — James Franco will look hot in that jacket, the film has a visual upgrade, and the coat gets eyeballs the designer needs. I pull those two relationships together and now everyone’s working—everybody wins. I love it when everyone walks away a winner. It’s so much fun! And isn’t that what being a “girl boss” is all about? We bring fun, energy, and universal abundance to the table.

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After huge success working with the I Am Michael producers and director, Justin Kelly, I recently returned from our film premiere at Sundance, a highlight of my career. I am currently in post-production for my latest feature, Manhattan Nocturne, starring Adrien Brody in this niche producer role I’ve created and in development for several other projects.

Any obstacles along the way?

Plenty of them — which is par for the course and so brilliant when you can overcome them.

In the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was rushed to the hospital, and after emergency surgery, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which is an inflammation of the bowel. It has been a long road, in and out of hospitals, but I am happy to say that for the last five years, I have been in remission. But I first had to face my Gastroenterologist prescribing me to go on IV drugs or other strong medications I would’ve had to be on the rest of my life. I respect my doctors, but I just knew that wasn’t the story for my life I wanted to tell. I chose to say I’m healed. I decided to go against the doctors, and risk the chance that they could have been right, but I had to work with them in a way that felt authentic to me. I was able to collaborate with them on minimal meds, diet (including an anti-inflammatory way of life called THE PLAN, by Lyn-Genet Recitas) and exercise, and now, my reward is that I am a Healing Ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis, and I am leading the crusade on Women’s Health helping people change the way they are looking at their situations and advising them on health and nutrition.

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Who is your idol?

My family — my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Especially my brother, Dov. I think of him, and am instantly inspired to be the best version of me. He genuinely looks at life in the most selfless way and how his contribution in words and action will best serve the world.

Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:

I have been told my greatest strengths are being proactive, a great listener, and having a tenacious spirit.

Where would you like to be in five years?

Happy in wherever life takes me; surrounded by loving friends and family; making an impact on the world by providing service to others; more time, freedom and flexibility; 100% fearless!

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

Girl Boss is redefining the meaning of a creature who is immature, worthless, and past her prime. Rather, she is a woman who is fully grown, conscious and workin’ it! And when it comes to boss, no dominators here (except in the bedroom), but a new take — being open, listening, leading, making powerful decisions, and having creative vision.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

I am a versatile fashionista! I love experimenting with the latest trends, and glamming up my professional looks. I agree with many that true beauty comes from within, however, it’s important to me to live up to my appearance’s full potential. You can’t underestimate the importance of a first impression, and how making the extra effort in our look strengthens positivity and confidence in ourselves, and invokes that energy in those around us.

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Favorite brand right now?

My go-to brand is BCBG. The mission behind their brand — good style, good attitude — resonates with me. And my favorite stylist, Diana Gilbert, at their Flatiron location works with me to add pieces to my wardrobe that are professional-chic, and easily function day-to-night.

I have a healthy obsession with Ariana Rabbani. Her line makes me feel feminine, elegant, romantic and NOW. I adore her butterfly necklaces and can’t get enough of my ear jackets – they’re diamonds attached to gold that go behind your ear so that it looks like there are sprinkles of diamonds on your earlobes!

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

My Hawke & Co Packer Coat! Super warm for the winter on its own, and also fits under my big winter coats. The coolest part about it is you can roll it up to fit into its own jacket pocket.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

I have fallen in love with all things Arbonne. It sits with my values, it’s vegan, cruelty free, Ultra-Swiss Premium formulation, and the products do what they say they’re gonna do. A true girl boss leads from the front, and I believe there should be no toxic footprint in the name of beauty!

Some of my faves include: RE9 Anti-Aging line, Genius, Mascara, Tinted Moisturizer, Pomegranate Fizz Sticks

Go-to nail color?

I’m really into ZOYA which eliminates toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP from its polishes – as for colors: Myrta and Haven!

Coffee order?

Jet Fuel + Coffee Mate Coconut Creamer.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Dancing – any time any place to Top 40, in my favorite dance cardio class, Body Conceptions, at Beautique in midtown, and Xbox Dance Central competitions.

Attending a Glamour Gals makeover, and spending time with our amazing volunteers.

What makes you feel badass?

Hearing YES after no, no, no!

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Allegra-Cohen-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-2[Photo via: www.b-freed.com]

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?

Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus.

It’s actually considered a children’s book, about 2 caterpillars on the search for meaning. The major lesson I took from the book is that we are all here on Earth to become our full selves, and in doing so, many times in our lives we’re gonna have to let go of the past, embrace it, and hope there’s a beautiful butterfly experience on the other side. We don’t need to compete with each other, we can all be free to fly and help others fly along the way.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Marshmallows.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

One of my musical idols growing up was Tori Amos, and this summer when I was working on I Am Michael, the director and I wanted to get her permission to have James play a few notes of “Silent All these Years” on the piano, and to use “Crucify” for the end credits. Tori and her manager, John Witherspoon, invited me to meet her in her dressing room after her to concert at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. I hugged her and realized her music and lyrics never left me. She once said, “Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyze themselves too much, but you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.” As I’ve been listening to her music again the last few months, I’m listening with different ears than when I was in high school. And her honesty and edginess are empowering.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

If I’m feeling a little feisty, “You Oughta Know” by Alannis Morrissete or “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” by Deborah Cox. If I’m feeling super uplifted, “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. And if I need a little boost in not caring what anyone thinks, “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. 

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.” –Khalil Gibran

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

1. “Being shy is a waste of time.” – Marcia R. Hinden, Best MOM ever

2. “Focus on what you can control.” – Dr. Suzanne Trauth, Montclair State University professor

3. My friend and mentor, Jordan Baker-Kilner, gave me a book of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson called Self-Reliance. She encouraged me through this gift to trust my inner voice rather than conform to what society expects of me; to retain the outspokenness of a child who freely speaks her mind; to take pride in my individuality; to live up to my own ideals, even if I’m criticized in the process.

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Advice to future girl bosses:

1. Have the courage to be imperfect
2. Be present, focus on the moment each step of the way, have a deep, passionate vision, don’t worry about the future, and then let go of the outcome.
3. Turn complaints into requests, ask specifically for what you want – how can you fix that, where do you start, who else can help you, how can I help you?
4. Not everyone is gonna like you, you can’t please everyone.
5. Embrace confusion.
6. Dream bigger, think better, NEVER GIVE UP!
7. Don’t judge, yourself or anyone else.
8. Possess an attitude of gratitude.
9. Don’t burn a bridge.
10. Surround yourself with your own special team of experts.

#ImAGirlBoss: Numa Perrier

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NAME: NUMA PERRIER aka MISS NUMA
City: LOS ANGELES
INDUSTRY: ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT 
SIGN: SAGITTARIUS
NOMINATED BY: TAYE HANSBERRY
TWITTER: @missnuma
INSTAGRAM: @missnuma
WEBSITE: numaperrier.com

Tell us what you do!

I’m an artist and actress. As an actress, I’m known for my role as Chick on The Couple, which is now in development at HBO. As an artist, I work in photography, film/video art, and large scale installation where I often recreate my memories and dream life. I’m also Co-Founder and Creative Executive at Black&Sexy TV.

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I did not attend college. I studied under Milton Katselas for acting.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I wanted to be an actress, though I was writing from a very young age (7 or 8), and always had an interest in the arts.

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How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

My entire life has been unorthodox. I lived a complex childhood, was raised partially on a farm, and traveled to some obscure places. I’ve always been a person on the fringe. I’ve always been ambitious and competitive. Along the way I attracted like-minded people, and we built things together, or they supported my work as mentors, benefactors, or fans. Those alliances helped me tremendously. I’m tenacious and use my creativity–not just to create–but to solve problems, and this has helped me to get where I am as well.

Any obstacles along the way?

Of course. It’s no fun without a little tension. However, my biggest obstacle is always myself. When things aren’t going well, it’s because I’ve messed up on communication with someone, or not trusted myself, or simply had the wrong attitude or perspective on the situation.

Who is your idol?

I try not to idolize anyone, but I really love and respect Jill Soloway. Our work, The Couple and Transparent, screened together at Sundance 2014 panel, and we got to know each other after that. We had lunch, and I felt so refreshed afterwards that here is a woman who has put her life on display with such finesse and love – I’m very impressed by her.

Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:

Tenacity, Humor, Foresight. 

Where would you like to be in five years?

In 2020? I’d like to be a woman you come to if you need real financing for a film or art project, and that I’m in the position of abundance to give it to you. I’d like Black&Sexy TV to be a household name that the entire community can be proud of and benefit from. I’d like to be seen and heard on a world scale in my artwork, and play meaningful roles in films and series which excite me. My daughter will be eight years old — I’ve already made promises to her about what her life will be like when she turns five. We’re on our way.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

We’re in a time where women of all ages are trying to reconcile what it means to be a feminist, or have agency over our lives. The term Girl Boss illustrates this juxtaposition to me. We’re girls – we’re feminine – but we are bosses making our own decisions, starting our own businesses.

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Describe your style/fashion sense:

I’ve always been drawn to well-made classic and understated pieces. I love comfort and casual chic. At the same time, I also love a strong statement piece — vintage or modern. I’m very minimal with accessories, and would rather focus on my hair, great shoes, and a bold lip. For me, it’s always a balance of playfulness, sensuality, and clean feminine lines. I absolutely love the fun and creativity of coming up with red carpet looks — it’s one of the great perks of working in this industry.

Favorite brand right now?

Apple.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

Topshop has a great high waist stretch denim that puts everything in its right place. My waist is slim and hips are thick, so my girls with this body type — go over there and get you some. They are under 100 bucks I believe.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Mascara. I abhor false eyelashes, but a little mascara is a must for me even if I wear no other makeup — which is often the case when I’m not on set.

Go-to nail color?

I always try something new with nail colors. Really depends on my mood. Right now I have a grey scale on. Before that, I had a bright blue. All depends.

Coffee order?

Lots of cream. No sugar.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Wearing well-made clothes. Dim lights. Good hair days. Creating.

What makes you feel badass?

Bikram Yoga and training with the relentless Boba Andric! Making impossible deadlines happen.

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice? (i.e. Chocolate, tequila, Justin Bieber, etc.)

Sleeping in and eating everything on the Do-Not-Eat list.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

I love indie artists Fritzwa, Alex Isley, Gwen Bunn, B. Jamelle – all artists that have been featured on Black&Sexy TV. 

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

Gonna have to take it back — the Lil Kim verse on Mobb Deep Quiet Storm.

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What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

Don’t explain. Don’t complain. A dear elder friend told me this. When I take this advice, it’s always in my best interest.

Advice to future girl bosses:

Take a voice class. Then use your voice well — the one people can hear and the one people can feel.

#ImAGirlBoss: Colleen Curlin

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NAME: COLLEEN CURLIN
AGE: 29
CITY: LOS ANGELES
HOMETOWN: EL PASO, TEXAS
INDUSTRY: MUSIC + TELEVISON
SIGN: SCORPIO
NOMINATED BY: MARGOT STEPHENSON
TWITTER: @lamvf
INSTAGRAM: @robofem
WEBSITE: lamvf.com

Tell us what you do!

I’m a music supervisor at Bunim-Murray Productions, currently working on Real World for MTV. Most other hours of the day, I’m the co-director of the LAVMF (Los Angeles Music Video Festival), a film-festival dedicated to music videos.

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I graduated from University of Southern California with a B.S. in Communication.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

For the longest time, I wanted to be an astronomer – I am so intrigued by space, the moon and stars, and the thought that we are just one part of a very massive universe.

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I came to Los Angeles wanting to be in PR, just like Samantha Jones in Sex & the City. Once I realized there was an industry where I could work and enjoy music at the same time, I was sold. Through college, I was lucky to have internships in multiple fields of the music business, but ultimately ended up at Interscope Records focusing on digital marketing after graduation. After three years there, I had the opportunity to make the leap to music supervision, and I’ve been at Bunim-Murray since 2012. The LA Music Video Festival came into being in 2009, with Sami Kriegstein, and we’ve been building it from the ground up over the past six years.

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Any obstacles along the way?

Of course, most of my internships were unpaid, so there were lots of late nights waiting tables/odd jobs to help pay the bills. Plus, when I made the switch from the label to licensing, there was a lot to learn, but I’ve been so lucky to have amazing managers and mentors.

Who is your idol?

Amy Poehler. I love her sense of humor while still being such a boss. Plus, I love her passion/projects that empower young girls — check out her web series, Smart Girls at the Party.

Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:

Collaborative – I love working with other people. Everyone has unique strengths, and it’s almost always impossible to get “it” all done on our own.

Positivity – Things will not always work out or look the way I expected them to, so I try to keep a positive outlook, and hopefully that shines through the work.

Determination – I’m very goal-oriented. When I set my mind to something, I try to see it through. Whether it happens exactly how I pictured doesn’t always matter.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I’d love to be creating content — film, television, or online — with my friends. I feel so lucky to have some very talented friends. I’ve always thought it would be such a gift to create and collaborate together.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

A “Girl Boss” is anyone who is unafraid to take risks that bring them closer to what they want, and knows that working together and empowering other Girl Bosses helps everyone.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

I definitely wear a lot of black, sequins for special occasions, and a leather jacket almost always.

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Favorite brand right now?

I’m pretty hooked on Dolce Vita boots right now. I just bought myself two pairs of black booties, which I definitely didn’t need.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

I love my necklace from Bound.la. Emma hand makes each piece. She’s crazy talented. I get more compliments on it than anything else I wear.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Am I revealing too much if I say Psst Dry Shampoo? That stuff is the best.

Go-to nail color?

I’ve recently rediscovered “Tickle My France-y” by OPI.

Coffee order?

Iced green tea. 

What makes you feel beautiful?

My friends – I’m so lucky to have a really close group of girlfriends. Having that kind of support system from a group of women is really special.

What makes you feel badass?

Waking up knowing that I’m living in this city with my dream job and really amazing people in my life.

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – I love her work on vulnerability and living whole-heartedly.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice? (i.e. Chocolate, tequila, Justin Bieber, etc.)

Television, specifically Pretty Little Liars.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

I really love all the women coming up or coming back in the new music scene – I’ve been obsessing over FKA Twigs, Elliphant, Azealia Banks, Ryn Weaver, and Conway to name a few.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

Really anything from Beyonce. 

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

There is this really great quote on “wholeness” versus “happiness” from Hugh Mackay – it reminds me that in addition to being happy there are so many other feelings, like frustration and disappointment that contribute to our wholeness.

“Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for, and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things, which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Ask yourself, ‘Is this contributing to my wholeness?’ and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” – Hugh Mackay

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

Someone recently told me, “If it doesn’t make you a little nervous, it’s probably not worth it.” I like that. It reminds me that we should pursue the things that might make us a little uncomfortable in order to grow.

Advice to future girl bosses:

Be kind to everyone that you meet. You will mostly likely meet them again.

#ImAGirlBoss: Kavita Mehra

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NAME: KAVITA MEHRA
CITY: JERSEY CITY, NJ
HOMETOWN: CARTERET, NJ
INDUSTRY: NONPROFIT 
SIGN: GEMINI
NOMINATED BY: JOYA DASS
TWITTER: @kavitamehra
INSTAGRAM: @kavmehra
WEBSITE: www.KavitaMehra.com

Tell us what you do!

I’ve spent nearly 15 years in the nonprofit sector, and I’m currently the Chief Transformation Officer for Boys & Girls Club of Newark (BGCN) — the first in the organization’s 78-year history, and one amongst the few across the 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation. My role requires me to work directly with the Chief Executive Officer to grow and manage all aspects of the organization.

Did you go to college? If so, where?

Indeed. New York University followed by Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? (i.e. movie star, doctor, unicorn, etc…)

My sister had a t-shirt that I absolutely loved—it had Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech inscribed on the back. When I was very young, I was inspired by Dr. King’s profound contributions, and I knew I wanted to work in a space that addressed a greater social issue.

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I am far from being “there.” But someone once told me that failure teaches more than success. I hold that to be true, and have tried to learn from each failed experience. I’ve also observed and listened closely to those I admire, and I’ve tried to emulate their pursuit of success.

Any obstacles along the way?

Each of us has faced obstacles. During my formative years, I encountered a considerable amount of racism, which, at times turned into violent experiences. My family came from humble means. I started working when I was 14, and by 16, I had already worked a 100+ hour week. However, I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I have experienced defines my life, and reaffirms my commitment to the nonprofit sector.

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Who is your idol?

That’s a tough question, as I am not sure I have an idol. There are people in my life that I view with a sense of veneration, and it is those individuals I choose to keep close. I do, however, have my fair share of girl crushes, and that list is long and distinguished. Individuals who have influenced my life include my mom and my better half—they are my inspiration in all that I do.

Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:

Grit, hustle, and staying humble (and hungry).

Where would you like to be in five years?

Success is a moving target. I am not sure if I will ever be able to answer that question.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

A smart, hard-working, dedicated leader who empowers those around her.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

A dear friend recently described my style as “proper, with an edge.” I’d have to agree.

Favorite brand right now?

Reiss, Karen Millen, and All Saints.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

Selleria Anna bag by FENDI in Asphalt Gray.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler.

Go-to nail color?

Phenix by Chanel.

Coffee order?

Soy latte.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Doing something for others — even if it’s a small act of kindness.

KavitaandAlexis

What makes you feel badass?

Winning.

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is a recent source of inspiration.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice? (i.e. Chocolate, tequila, Justin Bieber, etc.)

Vegan cookies—a box in the house is quite dangerous. And, of course, handbags.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

Goldspot, specifically Evergreen Cassette, which has been playing on a loop at home and at work for the last few weeks.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

Without a doubt, it is “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” by Tupac Amaru Shakur.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“When you are no longer needed, you will be flicked away like a fly in milk.”—Karni Mehra. Stay humble and stay hungry, because anyone is replaceable.

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

A former, highly demanding boss once shared, “Leadership is not a title. It is about inspiring those around you, no matter your position.”

Advice to future girl bosses:

Cut out the noise, and focus on working harder and smarter than those around you.