by sarah coppinger
When I started working at The Handle Bar, it became my third job in a row working for a female business leader. At this point, I felt a tad spoiled by the amount of strength, wisdom, savvy and fearless drive I was surrounded by every day.
Generalizing isn’t my favorite, but it seemed more than coincidental that I had found an unparalleled motivation to work hard under the leadership of three different women, more than I ever had before. Somewhere along the way, I realized a similarity between Jess and the women I worked for before her. She treated me as an equal. She asked me thoughtful questions and listened intently to my response. She looked forward to collaborating and brainstorming with me. She wanted to work with me. She recognized the strengths in me and provided the tools to help them shine.
That is the power of a woman. Today, we celebrate all women and recognize their incredible power to leave something better than they found it.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we ask our fearless leader, Jess Fracalossi, a few questions on the topic.
What do you love about being a woman?
I love the makeup, all the hair-dos, I love being emotionally intelligent.
When do you feel your strongest?
I feel my strongest after a good workout, shower and blow-dry, coffee in hand and a huge to-do list in front of me.
Can you remember a specific time since you started The Handle Bar where you felt particularly powerful?
I was asked to be the keynote speaker at Her Campus’ National Pre-collegiate conference to a room full of 16- and 17-year-old girls considering their next steps toward college admission. The honor alone was so humbling and empowering. My family came to watch me speak, and the conference took place at my Alma Mater, Northeastern. Reflecting on my journey from high school to college to entrepreneurship brought me a feeling of pride and self-awareness. The audience of teenagers, though more than 10 years my junior, felt oddly like peers. I had this tremendous sense of inspiration and excitement about the future as I looked out and connected with these young girls whose lives seemed just a few moments behind mine.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Stay the course! My husband tells me these words whenever I need them, and it always hits home. You are on this path for a reason, keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay true to your journey.
What advice would you give to a young woman with an idea?
Give the idea the time and attention it deserves, leave no stone unturned in considering how the future might pan out once you begin pursuing this idea. Once you consider all of the possible outcomes, you’ll know what outcome scares you most, which one excites you most. If you do not succeed, how will you handle the failure? Being ready to fail helps alleviate fear. And being fearless is an important characteristic of a strong female entrepreneur!
Who is your role model?
My mother. She is steadfast and strong, honest and genuine. She never lies, she is hardly ever rattled. When she is scared, she shares it. When she is proud of herself, she owns it. I grew up watching her live with optimism and resilience and I continue learning from her every day.
What advice would you give to a woman or girl who feels disadvantaged in school, work, etc., because of their gender?
Feeling disadvantaged is a negative emotion, albeit a very real emotion. I am a firm believer that negativity does not beat negativity, only positivity will prevail in the end. So my advice is to take feeling and use it as your fuel for real, viable change. Next time you do something you’re proud of, share it. Tell a friend, tell a colleague, put it on social media. You are not bragging. You are adding evidence to our case, on behalf of all women.
Can you remember a time where you felt marginalized, stereotyped or otherwise judged, and if so, what was your best tactic to overcome those negative feelings?
Many times in social settings, I’ve experienced harassment. Men making lewd comments about my appearance, or inappropriately striking up conversation when I’m clearly not trying to connect with them. In these same situations, I have felt further marginalized when I strike back with words rooted in strength and intelligence. In some instances I can actually see the interest melt off of a man’s face when I prove myself a worthy adversary. So I can be sexy, but if I’m smart or confident, I’m no longer sexy? I am lucky enough to have a husband who was drawn to me for my strength.
To other powerful women who have not yet found their match, but face circumstances like this: Love the perspective you have, own the altitude. Your ability to see the assholes after their first sentence is a tool. And if you’re afraid they’re all like this, trust me they are not.
Today is International Women’s Day. What are the first words that come to mind when you think of celebrating women?
Radiate confidence, radiate warmth. Men can’t glow like we can.