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16 Women Who Inspire Us Every Day

16 Women Who Inspire Us Every Day

Team Beet Mar 8 , 2021

We never take for granted the incredible network of women we’re lucky enough to learn from, be inspired by, and be cheered on by, day in and day out. These are women who make, farm, cook, run, and lead by example, by choosing to challenge the status quo and trailblazing change, in their methods, their practices, their reasons, and their can-do approaches. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting sixteen of these trailblazers – they’re letting us in on what inspired them to start on their path, and what continues to inspire them, each day. Read on to learn their stories.  

 

Victoria Blamey

Chef-in-Residence, Blue Hill at Stone Barns (April 14 - May 8)

victoria blamey - chef

Tell us about yourself!

I’ve been in New York City for 11 years, but I grew up in Chile. I was always cooking as a kid, but I wanted to be an archeologist growing up. I went to school for two years to study history, before I took a gap year at 18 to study English in Cambridge, England. When I came back to Chile, I tried to decide what to do, and I did briefly consider going to cooking school, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cook in a restaurant. I continued cooking for my mom as a hobby, and around 21, as I found myself cooking more and more. I decided I was going to switch careers. My mom was super supportive, and I promised her that would be my last job switch!

I went to culinary school for three years, and did externships in England. In my last externship, they offered me a job, and things got more real. I stayed in England for two and a half years before moving to Australia, and then to Spain. After living in Mexico for a nine-month gap, I moved to New York City. It’s been 16 years since I left Chile.

New York City was the city that really embraced me the most, and it’s the city I embraced the most. I love the connection I have here and the energy. It’s hard to replicate elsewhere. In New York, I started at Corton, then opened Atera before returning to Corton as Chef de Cuisine. I spent time at Il Buco Alimentari - which was an incredible experience to see another side of cooking with a very different pace and skill -- before moving onto Upland with Justin [Smillie]. I then held my first Executive Chef position at Chumley’s, then at Gotham Bar and Grill. You need to be adaptable, keep turning the page, and keep growing. I’ve had a different array of experiences, and I’m so grateful for all of them.

Lately I’ve been working on the Stone Barns residency [starting on April 14], and I’m so excited for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sometimes the fast pace of the city removes you from the essence of what we, as chefs, do, and it’s great to reconnect with the farm and see how the team works.The concept for my residency is Chilean cuisine, drawing inspiration from the history, the indigenous people, the geography, and the evolution over time. I went to Chile for five weeks to do research, and toward the end of the trip, I really set out to find the origin of both Chilean cuisine and the origin of myself. did a lot of reading, met interesting people, and tried to understand how people cook, the traditions that have evolved, that was lost, and what remains. Trying to communicate all of that through a menu was a challenge. I also wanted to tap into people’s emotions and feelings to understand and talk about climate change, what we can do, what the pioneers are doing, and how we can move forward.

After this residency, I’m switching gears to another residency in Greenpoint -- one of those passion projects -- from the end of May to the end of August. My personal life and work life are so intertwined, but since I’ve been back from Chile, I’m trying to connect with my friends, enjoying the energy of the city, and thinking about my next steps. I love working out and feeling connected to my body, and I can’t wait to be able to travel and enjoy the cinema, museums, and galleries again!

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

Most of my life and to this day, my main inspiration has been my mom. We’re very close,and I have a different understanding of what she was going through when she was 41 now that I’m 41. Looking back, I can’t believe what she did -- she had me young at 21. She’s been a huge source of inspiration and courage for me, and she’s someone that keeps pushing forward with no question. I always think about her tenacity.

I’m also inspired by my friends, especially now during the pandemic as they juggle life, their kids, and work in the middle of the pandemic. I admire how women have so many layers and the energy to just do. I think we’re the most incredible human beings on Earth! 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I wish that sometimes I had the maturity to understand that I didn’t need to compete with men. We do sometimes feel that we have to in work, as we don’t get the same salaries, opportunities, and even criticism. Even though things have changed so much -- women can have bank accounts and vote and be independent -- but it’s only recent! I wish I would’ve had more maturity to understand and not give myself such a hard time.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

There’s so many - I’m a big fan of music! But there’s a song by Madonna, called “Jump”. She says “I can make it on my own,” and it’s an interesting dichotomy, because, yes, you could, but, no, you really couldn’t. Plus, I love the melody!

Lety Garcia

Supervisor, Garcia Organic Farm

lety garcia - garcia organic farm

Tell us about yourself! 

I had always wanted to be a nurse growing up, so I became a Licensed Vocational Nurse -- I still am to this day! I married into the Garcia family 16 years ago, and when I became pregnant with my firstborn, I stopped practicing nursing but started a new adventure -- accompanying my husband to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. About 12 years ago, we went through a particularly rough freeze, so my husband started doing construction, while I took over the market. I grew to love it for the same reasons I love nursing -- it gives me the opportunity to connect with so many different people. Before COVID, I especially loved having visitors and giving tours! I have three daughters -- ages 13, 9, and 7 – who’ve started becoming interested in the farm and going to the market. As the kids get older, I’ve thought about getting back into nursing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

My mom -- she’s the most hard-working woman I know, and she emigrated here from Mexico. She’d always encourage me to say “Yes, I can!,” work hard, and keep looking forward.

I’m also inspired by Jennifer Lopez. She speaks from her heart, and encourages people to follow their heart. I’ve adopted that saying as well. Love is an honest feeling!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Strive to the max and don’t give up until you’re there!

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“Humbled and Kind” by Tim McGraw.

Denny Javier

Inside Sales Manager, Baldor Specialty Foods

denny javier - baldor specialty foods

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Ms. Denny Javier. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and I arrived in the USA at the age of 18 years old. I did not speak English at the time and had to finish High School, including 11th and 12th grades, without a working knowledge of English. You can imagine how difficult it was for me. I cried so many times doing homework and when I could not understand a word the teacher or students said to me. I remember a time when one of my teachers called my name and some students made fun of me because my name in English is a male name. I didn’t give up, continued to do my best, and graduated with honors in 1992. I am grateful for my American education.

I continued my studies at the Bronx Community College, and I started a part-time job at a Supermarket working as a cashier. I used to take orders over the phone, write them down then shop for customers. Today, I can say this is where my career path started.

Some time back in 2000, I was at a family party, and my cousin’s girlfriend spoke about Baldor and explained the business model to me. I started to look into this strange company, became intrigued, and wanted to find work there. A couple months later, because of my persistence, I was sitting at 511 Barry Street being interviewed by Mr. Michael Muzyk, who was the Sales Manager at the time. A month-plus and about ten phone calls later to Michael, I was hired to work as an order taker from 6:00pm-12:00am. I worked that shift for six months while I continued to go to college to complete my degree. It was not easy to keep up with my studies, a 2 years old son, and a 6:00pm-to-midnight job. I knew I had to move to the day shift as soon as possible. After six month of me not giving up, I was transferred to the day team. I worked with Jon Hansburg as his assistant for 11 ½ years. After those 11 years working with Jon, it was clear to me customer service was where I wanted to be. I was then promoted to Office Manager where I continue to give the best I can offer. A few years later I was promoted to Customer Care Manager which led me to now being Inside Sales Manager. I’m still not done. I will continue to give the best of me and welcome the opportunity to continue to grow in my career. I’m always willing to learn, pay it forward and look forward to the next task coming my way.

In my free time, I enjoy planting indoor plants, dancing, and playing chess -- I won a HS championship in 1989!

Who is the woman that inspires you the most?

My mom is my hero! My mom had to leave my two brothers, my sister and I (all under the age of 10) and her home in the Dominican Republic looking for a better future for us. She taught me that I can accomplish anything as long as I work hard for it. Nothing is easy (especially being a Latina), but persistence and hard work always wins.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Never give up, Denny! Look forward and never let anyone tell you that you CAN’T! Keep your head up and follow your dreams.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

Streets of New York from Alicia Keys

Marygrace Sexton

Founder & CEO, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company

marygrace sexton - natalie's orchid island

Tell us about yourself!

From the time I was a young girl, I have always been passionate about investing in people. So when I began to think about a career that would be fulfilling, I knew I would have to work for an organization that improved the lives of others. Little did I know at the time that the organization would turn out to be my own!

My husband Bobby Sexton, a fourth-generation Florida citrus grower, always dreamed of producing fresh-squeezed juice made from Florida’s finest fruit but he was just too busy running the family’s packing business. Surrounded by the bounty of my husband’s groves, I made good on the idea that was first intended only to supply my own family with fresh, clean label juice, but soon blossomed into a family-operated, women-owned business that produces some of the finest juices on the market locally and globally. That was over 30 years ago now.

My mental, physical & spiritual health are very important to me. As a result, over the past few years I have been focusing on becoming a competitive road cyclist. I’ve done century rides (road cycling 100 miles or more) and I am planning to compete in races later this year.  

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

My mother is my biggest source of inspiration. Her work ethic and tenacity is ingrained in me – as is her empathy and willingness to help others. I was fortunate to have a woman like this in my life who guided me through both life’s toughest and most joyous moments.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Like many young people, I was overzealous in my initial approach to my life and career. I was tough-minded, determined and passionate, always wanting to bring out the best in myself and others. As I grew in my career, I Iearned how to navigate and motivate others through a more individualized and strategic approach. There is tremendous value in the passionate and tenacious approach I took to life as it brought me to where I am today. It defines me and it defines our company. So I am not sure I would go back and change a thing actually!

 

Melissa Rodriguez

Executive Chef

melissa rodriguez - executive chef

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Melissa Rodriguez, and I am a chef in NYC, most recently the executive chef at Del Posto. I began my career as a shy picky eater, which is also the reason I started cooking. At some point during my teenage years, cooking for my family became what I did to solve for my likes and dislikes. I had a friend who suggested I try working in a restaurant kitchen, so I did. I found that I really enjoyed the kitchen. In turn, that encouraged me to pursue cooking professionally. I’m not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, a photographer or a writer, definitely something creative. But I liked cooking and all that came with it so that was what I did. 

Cooking was not something I thought I would still be doing -- I thought I would pursue  nutrition and wellness, but I was hooked. I love the energy of restaurant kitchens, I love the many different types of people you are surrounded by and I love having and working on a team. My hobbies and interests are a collection of things. I am very active, I love traveling, hiking, working out, yoga and being outside. I love to read and I adore word games and writing. I love music, and I collect vinyl records and I try to see as much live music as I can. I used to play the piano and I hope to be able to continue that hobby in the future.

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

I have many women in my life that are incredible whether it be women in my family or women that I work with and there are too many things I learn from each of them . I feel like this year has certainly presented itself with many inspirational women, Including Stacy Abrams, whose grassroots organization changed the trajectory of our country. She is an incredible example of hard work, and understanding that small victories soon add up to be great accomplishments.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to care for myself as much as I care for my work and those I work with. I was always a hard working individual and often did not prioritize my health or well being. As I have matured I’ve realized how important it is to set an example not only for those around you but for yourself as well. It took me a while to understand work and life balance.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

Ahhhh that’s like asking to choose your favorite child… There is so much music that I love and makes me feel great that choosing one song is impossible. But I’m pretty sure if I listened to any album from A Tribe Called Quest on a loop, I’d feel pretty good.

 

Jacki Blount

Senior Inside Sales Supervisor, Baldor Specialty Foods

jacki blount - baldor specialty foods

Tell us about yourself!

I started at Baldor in 1999. Prior to that, I had been working with a friend on Wall Street -- we had a program called the “Stock Market Game” where you could learn how the stock market worked. The dressing up every day wasn’t me -- I’m a more casual person -- so I got a job with another food distributor as an order taker. I had heard about Baldor a long time before I applied in 1999, but I just didn’t know how to get there.

As fate would have it, I lived in the same building on the same floor as Grandma [Sales Executive Elizabeth Dickens]. We’d leave for work at the same time and chat as we left for the day, and eventually we realized we both worked for food distributors. When I found out Grandma worked at Baldor, I told her that I had been wanting to work there, and she helped me fill out an application. I applied on June 22, 1999, and came for an interview the same day. I met with Michael Muzyk, and at the time, he said we didn’t have any space -- our building in Queens at the time was too small -- but as soon as something opened up, he’d call me. I got a call in September and started on September 16. It took me three busses and two trains to get to work at the time! And I’ve been at Baldor ever since -- 22 years. (When I started, my sons were 10 and 7 and now they’re 32 and 29!) Who knew that some conversation in an elevator would lead to here?

When I started with Baldor in 1999, we had 7 loading docks and 35 trucks. We’ve had four buildings total -- this is my third -- and our current building has 100 loading docks! When we were at 511 Barry Street, I thought there was no way we’d ever outgrow that building, but we did! I never would have imagined it would’ve taken off the way that it has, and I’m so proud to have been a part of that journey. Over the years, the best part of Baldor was Kevin [Murphy, our founder]. I wish everyone could have gotten the opportunity to meet him. He would’ve given you the shirt off his back -- that’s the kind of man Kevin was.

I come into work with the same attitude every day: when I come in, I want to give 110%, 100% is not good enough for me. I try to learn something new every day, and I want to feel accomplished. But sometimes when I’m not feeling my best, I sit on the bench [near Kevin’s memorial outside our building], and I hear Kevin say “Jacki-Poo, you got this!” He’s probably one of the most influential people in my life, with Michael right behind. I really have the most amazing job in the world -- I wouldn’t have been here 22 years if I didn’t!

I have a grandson that will be three in April with another grandchild on the way, and I love to spend time with him. We’re empty nesters now, and I’ve been loving being grandma!

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

At Baldor, I’d say I’ve learned a lot from Elizabeth. We might not think so today, but this is a male-dominated field, and she’s paved the way for a lot of us. There were only a handful of women when I started, and I’ve learned a lot about the business from her. By shadowing her and learning the business from her, I learned how to have longevity in the business -- and after 22 years, I think I can say I’ve learned a lot!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would’ve advised myself to go further with my schooling, and go to college. I wanted to be a mortician or a medical examiner!

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“Triumph” by Mariah Carey featuring Meek Mill. Every time I feel like I can’t do something, I put that song on and it gives me the strength to tackle it!

Ola Creston

Co-Owner & Operator, Taproot Farm

ola creston - taproot farm 2

Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in NYC in the 80s and 90s.  As a young girl I was surrounded by independent thinkers and artists.  Both men and women who inspired a strong sense of will and adventure. I knew I wanted my life to be interesting and definitely a bit unconventional.

It was early on that I developed a love for travel.  For new foods and beautiful artisans. To learn new languages and the cultures surrounding them. 

In a way that was completely unexpected, these adventures led to my first extraordinary experiences in a rural landscape, connecting me to something that, as a native new yorker, I didn’t even know was part of me. I developed a need to settle someplace and do something that required fresh air and an organic kind of grit.  Something that involved creating with my hands, outdoor markets and vibrant color. Farming filled those needs and allowed me to work from the ground up, for myself and my family.

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

These days I’m often inspired by my 2 daughters, ages 11 and 13.  It’s exciting to see how the next generation of women will forge their own paths.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Being a woman with a drive for independence, as well as an entrepreneur, farmer and mother, can feel like I’m often being pulled in opposite directions. This is my constant learning curve.  I’m inspired by all women who are able to find the balance to pull off this lifestyle. I would tell my younger self that there are many horizons.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

A song that lifts my heart & gives me strength is "Resilient" by Rising Appalachia.

Lynette Kizirian & Amanda Marshall

Owner & Chief Marketing Officer, Mojave Gold

lynette kizirian amanda marshall - mojave gold

Tell us about yourselves!

Lynette:  I’m the owner of Mojave Gold, farmer and producer of a gourmet raisin called Raisins on the Vine. Our unique product is popular among the charcuterie crowd, restaurants, fine dining, wine & cheese lovers, cooking/baking enthusiasts, and anyone that loves high-quality dried fruit!

Growing up in a small agricultural community in the Central Valley, farming has always been a huge part of my life. I started in the raisin industry in 1985 when I went to work at a raisin plant which is where I met my late husband and Mojave Gold’s founder, Don Kizirian.

Following Don’s sudden unexpected death in 2017, I made the decision to step in as Mojave Gold’s owner and continue the dream he began nearly 17 years ago.  

It was definitely a tough road to say the least. The first year, I basically put one foot in front of the other, shut my eyes, and held on for dear life! It was very much (and still is) all about taking it one day at a time which I couldn't have done without such dedicated and loyal employees. Now, 4 years later, I love what I do and I’m focusing on taking Mojave Gold to the next level which is where my daughter comes in...

Amanda: I’m the CMO of Mojave Gold and I currently oversee marketing, design, and communications. I handle everything from running our social media to designing our website. 

I grew up in the Central Valley and moved to San Francisco in 2008 to study graphic design & advertising. After I got my degree, I worked as a designer at Google and later moved into design recruiting for a top creative staffing agency. But throughout, I’ve always helped with Mojave Gold. I actually designed our first logo and website while still in college! 

After my dad passed away, I knew it was time for me to really take an active role. We’re still growing as a brand and our product is relatively unknown to most people so we’re hoping to change that. We’ve built something unique that we’re proud of and we want everyone to have an opportunity to experience it.

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them? 

Amanda: Without a doubt this would be MY MOM! She has been and will always be my greatest source of inspiration. Not only is she the most hardworking, caring, and loving person in the world, she has always been genuine regardless of the circumstances or situation. She's never been someone to tell you want you want to hear or sugarcoat something (even with her daughter) and I’ve found so much value in that. She’s taught me to say and do what I truly believe in even when it’s not the popular opinion or the easy answer.

Lynette: Well that made me cry!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Lynette: Listen more, really engage and listen, if you don’t understand, ask questions. Always be kind, slow down, enjoy and take every moment of life in. Enjoy and celebrate the small things. 

Amanda: Don’t be afraid to do something because you’re embarrassed or scared of what people might think. None of that is real - people are way too preoccupied dealing with their own fears. The only thing you'll end up regretting are the things you didn't do because you might "embarrass" yourself. Be in the moment. Wear more sunscreen. Listen to your mother :)

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

Lynette: "There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back" - Shawn Mendes 

Amanda: "The Dreamer" - Anderson .Paak
 

Grimilda Saldana

Operations Manager, Baldor Specialty Foods

grimilda saldana - baldor specialty foods

Tell us about yourself!

Baldor was my first job in the United States after moving from the Dominican Republic, where I grew up. I started as a Fresh Cuts employee in 2012, then spent time working in the company store. I then worked my way into the Returns Department which led me to work in inventory. Learning all these different positions led me to the position I have today as Operations Manager.

Since I was younger, I’ve enjoyed working with others, both learning from them and teaching them as well. I like working in groups and cooperating with different teams. I like to show by example that with discipline and hard work, you can achieve a lot, especially in a company like Baldor where there are many opportunities. In my personal time, I like to spend time with my family and loved ones.

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from her? 

The woman that most inspired me in life is my mother. She has taught me many valuable life lessons, such as hard work and never giving up. She always taught me and my siblings to work hard in order to reach your goals and make your dreams come true.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The advice I would give my younger self is to study. Study more, learn different things, to never limit myself to certain boundaries.  Invest more time in myself so I can have options in the future for career paths.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

Growing up I would mainly listen to Spanish music, since it is my first language. There is one song in particular that gives me strength and hope at my lowest points and inspires me when I need that push. The name of the song is “Al Final” sung by Lilly Goodman.

 

Sarah Levine

Owner, Luna Cafe

sarah levine - luna cafe

Tell us about yourself!

I'm 32, originally from the Pocono Mountains. I moved to Philly to do my undergrad at Temple University and my masters at Drexel. I’ve wanted to open my own restaurant since I was 14 years old, and worked in restaurants and bars all throughout college. My fiance and I recently bought a small 12 acres farm in South Jersey that will eventually provide fresh produce and eggs for the cafes. I love being outside, traveling, and food.

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

The women that inspire me most are my mom and older sister. Both entrepreneurs themselves, they have taught me to be fearless in any endeavor, personal or professional. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to always listen to my gut, to believe in myself, and that restaurants are hard work! 

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“Truth Hurts” by Lizzo

Megan Strom

Co-Owner, County Line Harvest

megan strom - county line harvest

Tell us about yourself!

 I’m a Midwestern girl. I grew up in a city in Minnesota with no connection to food or farming, but I knew I wanted an unconventional life. I landed in California when I was 20 and did a front-of-house restaurant management program at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. After I graduated, I bounced around for a bit, and an did an internship in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a few years. I eventually ended up at an Ayurvedic restaurant, which was an eye-opening experience for me.

When I was 25, I found myself back in Minnesota for a few months one fall. While looking for a temp job, I remembered it was apple season, so I went on Google and found an apple farm that was hiring. I picked apples that fall and fell in love with the lifestyle. I loved the energy of being in a restaurant, and farming had a similar energy, just during the day and outside.

From there, I moved back to California, and worked for non-profit that runs farmers market, where I met a ton of farmers from Northern California. 13 years ago, in 2008, I met David Retsky [now co-owner of County Line Harvest]. David had open door policy on the farm for anyone who was interested in farming, so I quit my job and started packing boxes in the field. The timing ended up being just right. I was at the Petaluma farm for a year and a half before David got idea to start the Thermal farm. Originally, I packed my bags for two weeks to help get the harvest started, but ended up staying for two years. This turned into a business partnership, and the rest is history.

The farm has been a huge part of my life, but I try to get back to Minnesota a couple times a year (in the non-COVID times). I also like to do yoga, go hiking, and spend time at the beach – I enjoy my unwind time outdoors!

Who is/are the woman/women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

I didn't realize until long after I moved away from home how much I was inspired by my female family members.  Specifically my grandmother and her work ethic and perseverance and my mother's undying optimism and positive attitude.  All of these lessons have been incredibly valuable in my farming career and as I follow their path of motherhood, with a little girl on the way this summer, I am 1. quite baffled by how they did it all and 2. excited to pass along these traits to the next generation!

What advice would you give your younger self?

"You got this!" I have always been very determined, but I would love to pass along the calm and peace that has come with having faith that everything will be alright to my younger self.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

I have two song on my 6am-driving-to-the-farm playlist: “The Sound of Sunshine” by Michael Franti – my first year in Thermal I would pump that every day on the way to the farm! – and Sunday Best” by Surfaces.

Dianne Marques

Director of Merchandising Sales Operations, Baldor Specialty Foods

dianne marques - baldor specialty foods

(Editor’s Note: Yesterday marked Dianne’s 10th Baldor-versary, and from the entire Baldor family, we’d like to wish her a big “Congratulations!” and an even bigger “Thank you!” for her hard work and commitment over the last decade.)
 

Tell us about yourself!

I am Portuguese-American and proud to embrace both cultures. I love to travel, meet new people,  and learn new languages. I enjoy eating different cuisine and food from all over the world, especially when it pairs well with wine! I love wine, from the way it’s grown in the vineyards to tasting the complex aromas of each varietal.

I have always had a passion to lead, empower others and challenge myself. I really enjoyed studying international business with a liberal arts education. My 10 years at Baldor have been very rewarding! It is gratifying to work for a company who is a leader in the food industry and is constantly reinventing themselves and investing in innovation.

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from her?

My mom is my biggest inspiration -- her ability to stay calm when things are crazy, love unconditionally, give her best always and constantly positive is what I admire most about my mother. One of the most beautiful souls in this world!

Pink is one of the most empowering women in the public sector. She’s defiant, promotes self-confidence in women, respects differences, appreciates diversity, tells it like it is, doesn’t accept anything less!

What advice would you give your younger self?

“You don’t need to be better than anyone else, you just need to be better than you used to be”

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“Just like Fire” by Pink 

Rosemary Devlin

Founder, O2living/Living Juice

rosemary devlin - living juice

Tell us about yourself!

It all started at O2living, Yellow Monkey Village, New York. As a mother of five sons, I decided to open a holistic wellness center, complete with yoga studios, spa, cafe and juice bar. My holistic wellness journey began when my eldest son had a near death experience on a transatlantic flight due to a mislabeled snack. Clean, fresh, healthy eating and living became my focus and passion. 

From the O2living Juice Bar, Living Juice was born! The cleanest, most pure organic, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juice in the world.  Free from any added sweeteners, sugars and WATER! Our original juicery is now a veritable healthy-living laboratory where new recipes and new products are created and put to test on-site. In the fall of 2017, Living Juice expanded its manufacturing facility to a state of the art facility in Connecticut increasing production and distribution.  In 2020, O2 Living Sanctuaries were developed, and the first model franchise was purchased. 

O2 Living juice has been consumed by professional sports teams including NFL, NHL, NBA, USTA and featured in Oprah Magazine as Gayle King’s favorite juice! 

In the summer of 2019, O2 Living launched Living Health and Wellness products, complete with carefully chosen, organic hemp extract and Living Health and Wellness products that offer a wide range of benefits. Our hemp products, like our juices, are of the highest quality, made with the highest quality full spectrum hemp extract.

In July 2020, O2 Living sold our first franchise O2 Living Sanctuary in Cross River, Westchester County, NY. The business will continue to be shaped as a high integrity healthy lifestyle brand comprising Spa, Yoga Studios, Retail, Lounge with a focus on continuous and active improvements in a person's health and wellbeing-expanding on our Living products. 

We LOVE working with Baldor and consider it a privilege to be partnering with one of the BEST in the industry. Baldor has always treated us with such respect and even through the tough year we had – we all pulled together and will be better and stronger onward.

I love strolls on the beach, skiing, golfing and being around my family.

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

I love Oprah and Gayle King. Gayle actually featured us as her favorite go to juice! I also love the great political figure in Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald. I love what they represent and the passion they have for civil rights. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I love my life, and I'd live it all over again in the same fashion. My husband and I started a construction company when we were twenty years old. I ran the office and he ran the field - I love entrepreneurship and the challenges i face everyday!

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

I love all music - Bruce Springsteen is probably my favorite - Born in the USA and also Neill Diamond and The Eagles. I’m all about lyrics with a really good story!

Kimarie Santiago

Founder & CEO, SALTOPIA Infused Sea Salts

kimarie santiago - saltopia infused sea salts

Tell us about yourself! 

Growing up, I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer! I certainly never anticipated owning a salt company! Salt was always a part of my life, however. Sea salt is the most essential mineral to the human body and without it, we cannot survive. The ions found in sea salt are what drive the water we consume to our cells to replenish them. So as a professional dancer, athlete, personal trainer – pretty much anyone who uses their physical body for their careers knows about the secrets of sea salt! We used to take a spoonful of naturally harvested sea salt and toss it into our water bottles to ensure our bodies would continue to perform throughout 14 hours of ballet rehearsals.

Many years later, when my ballet career ended and I became an important stay-at-home-mom, I wanted to make all my own organic baby foods for my children. Every single recipe, even when you make ice cream, requires a pinch of salt. I decided to start sourcing pure sea salts since I couldn’t seem to buy them at stores. I also started gifting my salts to friends and family. Soon after, I started selling them to the masses at farmers markets, online, through mail order catalogs and distribution partners. SALTOPIA is now 11 years old! We also offer infused raw sugars as well as organic low-sodium seasonings. And if you were wondering… I still love to dance on the weekends! My life came full circle and I feel extremely blessed overall. The balance of loving what I do and my family’s health as the inspiration, is a true gift.

Who are the women that inspire you the most? What have you learned from them?

I’d love to start with my Grandma. She’s long gone now. She was a sparky Italian from Florence with fiery red hair! She was an amazing cook and I learned all the important foundations of any great recipe from my Grandma. I also admired her for speaking up. She knew how to swiftly put anyone in their place with poise! I just loved it. Strong, yet polite.

There are so many female inspirations beyond my Grandmother. As I start creating a list, I quickly realize there may be well over 50 or so incredible women on my list! The truth is my list can easily be captured in some key qualities that all magnificent women seem to have: 

Bravery: taking risks; standing up for what’s right
Humility: remaining humble; sharing spotlight whilst sharing the workload
Empathy: understanding others
Resilience: strength to bounce back after hardships
Cooperation: working well with others in any environment

What advice would you give your younger self?

Gosh, what a hard question! I wish I went to college and had a backup plan. Although, I happen to own and run a successful company, so perhaps that’s not a great piece of advice. I think the most important thing for me currently is never finding time for myself. I’m either working or taking care of my family. I really don’t have any personal time otherwise. I feel guilty when I even consider taking some “me time.” I would tell myself: “start taking you time now and keep it as a healthy habit.” Perhaps by now, I wouldn’t feel as guilty about taking time for myself.

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. It’s a great song and I hum it regularly! It’s a wonderful reminder that no matter how hard today may be, we always have tomorrow!

Emily Murphy

Director of Specialty Procurement, Baldor Specialty Foods

emily murphy - baldor specialty foods

Tell us about yourself!

I was destined for the food world from a young age -- I can remember watching [90s cooking show] “Two Fat Ladies” and mixing up recipes before I could even reach the counter. After high school, I enrolled in pastry and restaurant school, when I realized my hobby was on track to become a career.

Shortly thereafter, I began working full time at Baldor Specialty Foods, and realized a career in the food world outside the kitchen was both possible and exciting! I do see a small pastry shop in my retirement plans -- when life slows down to the pace of rising dough.

I live in Battery Park City, where I enjoy views of the river and a friendly neighborhood, but my heart is out east in the Hamptons. There, you’ll find me most weekends (after COVID) with a house full of friends and family -- cooking up feasts, of course!

My boyfriend and a majority of friends are in the food industry, so naturally our dinner parties feature heated discussions about the best ingredients, all while planning our next great meal.

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

My grandmother Marilyn has, and will always be, my inspiration, source of wisdom, and guide to living life. She just recently celebrated 95 fabulous years! Her drive for life and quests for knowledge (and a glass of vodka) made her the woman she is today and a little of what I hope to become.

However, it’s not always the wisest who knows most -- I have recently found myself in awe and admiration for my younger cousin, Jennifer. The pace at which Jennifer digests, assesses and devises is too quick for me, but, as a marathon runner, I do love the challenge!

 What advice would you give your younger self?

To my younger self: prepare for the world to get turned upside down, and be sure to stay connected to family and have strong roots.

 What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

Here are my go to tunes: Beyoncé makes me move, and Macy Gray makes me cook, Like all great menus, though, my playlist is seasonal, so I look forward to warm weather and a little bit of reggae!

 

Ellen Barrera

Human Resources Director, Baldor Specialty Foods

 ellen barrera - baldor specialty foods

Tell us about yourself!

I started my career in hospitality in operations at a younger age and worked myself through college. I then transitioned from Operations to Human Resources. I love my career and feel that HR stands for “home run”! I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do when I was younger – being a resource for people and an author. I love playing tennis and hanging out with my hubby and daughter. Oh yes! And I enjoy reality shows!

Who is the woman that inspires you the most? What have you learned from them?

The young lady that inspires me the most is my daughter. She has taught me to be strong and live life to the fullest. My daughter is a childhood cancer survivor.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t take yourself so seriously and you will face challenges but you will overcome them although it may not seem like it at the time. Keep at it!

What song makes you feel like you can take on the world?

“We are the Champions” by Queen. It makes me want to dance like no one is watching!

 
We're lucky to work with so many amazing women everyday -- trailblazers, innovators, and creators who help pave the way for future generations and beyond. The future is bright, and today (and every day) we celebrate the women who came before us and the younger generations who will continue their legacy and change the world.
 
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