The theme of International Women's day this year is balance, specifically a gender-balanced world.
According to the International Women's Day website, “Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage...gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked a few questions of our founder, Mitzi Rivas and our CEO, Amie Garcia.
International Women's Day gives us the chance to focus on the contributions women have made to help make the world a better place. What women have inspired you?
Amie: There are so many strong women in my life who have grit, perseverance and courage. Brene Brown is a well-known psychologist who who inspires many through her writing about such topics. I also am inspired by hearing the struggles of the women I am closest to in my life and seeing how they act courageously in their own lives. When I was growing up, my aunt gifted me a children’s book about Eleanor Roosevelt, who shaped a role for herself and forever changed “First Lady”. I also love learning about women I have never heard of before. I was at a museum last week and learned about Madam CJ Walker who was the first self-made American millionaire. She was an entrepreneur and philanthropist from the turn of the 19th century who became a model for entrepreneurship.
Mitzi: I’ve been guided by the hands and hearts of many formidable women in my family. In the world, civil rights activist and American labor leader, Dolores Huerta, and activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, have been forceful inspirations.
This year's theme is about balance. Why is gender balance important in your opinion?
Mitzi: I am a firm believer in inter-dependence, which I call dovetailing. In my years of leading a business, I have tinkered with different approaches to leadership and hands down have found that the optimal harmony occurs when masculine and feminine energy is blended in leadership, culture and product creation. There is a need for process, metrics and output as well as spaciousness for flow, creativity and nurturing a team. I believe in having a mix of genders, personalities and attributes that are united by vision, goals and culture.
Amie: For the past couple of years I have chosen one word as a theme for the year. My “one word” is also balance. For me, this theme is about honoring each of our needs and individual strengths. I believe gender balance allows us to honor each individual’s strengths and maximize our highest contribution to society.
You founded a very successful company, with two strong women at the helm. Have you faced gender-related challenges and if so how did you overcome them?
Amie: I probably have faced gender-related challenges, some I may not even be aware of because they are so ingrained. But I choose not to let that stop me and have always preferred to go against the grain, to pursue and stand for what I believe in.
Mitzi: Over the years I have chosen to honor my own voice instead of bowing down to the more dominant and imposing voices in society. Being a Salvadoran woman, it is sometimes hard to depict the source of the challenge. It has taken much of my life to find the courage to step forward with my perspective, passion and talents amongst the undercurrent of unspoken messages designed to keep me in place. The struggle is real, but so is freedom and opportunity to infuse my truth and purpose into my daily life and work.
How do you want to inspire future generations? What do you hope for your children?
Mitzi: Let me inspire by sharing a few truths I’ve gathered along the way. 1. Know yourself: If the path that is presented to you doesn’t feel true to you, step off of the well-manicured path and into the unpaved terrain where the wild flowers grow and the thickets are untamed. 2. Realize that we are interdependent: don’t undermine your talent but don’t believe your achievements stemmed from you alone. We stand on the shoulders of so many- acknowledging this truth is critical to achieving great heights . 3. Practice self-compassion. I learned this skill in my 40’s and it makes the delicate balance of giving and receiving an act of ease.
My hope for my beloved children, Luca and Maya is that they proudly stand on their father, Carlos’ shoulder and mine. May they deeply appreciate the blend of the masculine and feminine and realize the harmonious impact for good that arises when both are given expression.
Amie: I hope to be a model for my children. I strive to be mindful, to live by my values, be true to myself and be courageous, to always be learning and becoming a better person and to make a difference in this world through the work that we do at Livie & Luca.
Livie & Luca is a children's shoe brand, founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Emeryville, California. The company focuses on using the force of joy to create impact in the world. Gifting over half a million pairs of shoes, providing thousands of surprising and delighting experiences for children and their families, and supporting social movements such as “Changing the Face of Beauty” are part of what fans love about the brand.