Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight real life insight on how women have been able to turn weakness into strength. Each interview is the naked truth about breakdowns that inspired breakthroughs. These women have experienced internal changes, which make them quintessential Paradigm Shifters.
Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because "what we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence why Seven Bar Foundation and Empowered By You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction, and makes it a tool of empowerment.
I hope after reading these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens and, at the very least, be better equipped to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day, we are our own Alchemists turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.
CHARLOTTE RONSON - American Fashion Designer
You come from an artistic family; did you feel pressure to do something artistic when pursuing your career?
Growing up in a creative family, it exposed me to lots of different areas from music to art and fashion. I always felt a sense of freedom in fashion. My mother always pushed us to find a passion for a career we would love so it felt less like work. I always loved drawing and sketching. If I was ever in trouble, I would have to go and do a specified number of 'cultural' excursions, ie:. Visiting a museum or taking drawing classes at the Art Students' League. This helped me explore my love for the arts and push my creative side. I went to New York University as a Studio Art major. In high school I was lucky enough to intern at Harper's Bazaar so I was I able to discover which area of fashion most inspired me. In my last year at NYU I began to design custom vintage t's and tanks.
How was the process of the business side of what you do?
I started small and I was beyond careful. Doing it on my own, perhaps allowed me to take my time and to maintain control, so I was in a position to actually learn from my mistakes. As I went on, I was lucky enough to find generous mentors to guide my journey. Stefani Greenfield at Scoop was really helpful when I first started. She really took the time to help me and teach me the process of building my business and taking it to the next level.
How do you find inspiration?
It really depends as it is forever changing. Each season I come up with the inspiration and mood, colour story, fabric and print boards. Referencing sales to make sure we always include our best sellers and avoid the doozies. It's so important to have a brand identity. You get so entrenched in what's selling and so many mixed messages, that you must take a step back and remember to ask yourself, "What do I want? What do I see? Who's my girl?" and that's always the struggle to stay true to you. Travel is a great way to get inspired and refresh. Most of the time the Internet will have to transform me to another place & never underestimate the library!! There are also some great vintage libraries such as Albright and Southpaw. I try to go after I have a handle on the inspiration.I could spend days there browsing the many rooms filled with clothing, accessories and printed fabrics from every decade. It's beyond inspirational.
You encourage women to be their own role models. How do you carry this message and what advice do you have?
I like to think of myself as a positive influence. I always try my best to practice what I preach to set an example. I've been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by so many wonderfully encouraging, creative and talented family members, friends and piers. Anytime I can help or offer my guidance I try my best to do so. I'm a firm believer of paying it forward. It's not as glamorous as it seems. Hard work is the key to success. It's all about setting the right example of the woman that you want to be and how you want to portray yourself.
How was working with Urban Outfitters and JC Penney?
They both have an amazing customer base that crosses over. Urban Outfitters, was a great introduction into designing playful, fashionable product at a great price. Partnering with JC Penney has been such an incredible opportunity and experience to provide quality and style at a smart price. I feel so grateful to have the pleasure of working with JC Penney, a brand that dresses half of America. I am learning everyday about my customer. We are all on some kind of a budget, and everyone should be able to shop and feel great without spending a fortune. I have always been a fan of mixing high and low, and making it look and feel like your own.
What is a paradigm shift you've experienced in your life?
It is all about changing your mindset. Living in gratitude. In work & life balance is very important. I'm a lot more cognizant of where my thoughts wander and I try my best to bring them back to a place of positivity. I am basically retraining my brain to stay open, light and grateful. I was introduced to an amazing book called the Four Agreements. It's a must read. In case you don't have time ill tell you the 4 agreements: Be impeccable with your word, Don't take things personally, Don't make assumptions, and Always do your best. Words to live by!! Learning TM was life changing and really has helped me stay centered. TM pushed me to take some time for myself each day to quiet my mind. It's astonishing how beneficial this can be.
When have you experienced a breakdown that was really a breakthrough?
When I first started my company, my sister and I moved back in with my mother as our new apartment wasn't ready yet. I had just graduated from Nyu, so this was not ideal. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as I was able to save all of my rent money and put that into growing my business. I took over that whole house! I was tie dying in the bathtub, Getting my lil siblings to help stir and keep me company: I believe I've learned an awful lot in the many years I've been in business. It has always been easy I have learned a lot of it the hard way but I am grateful to still be in business, working hard, creating a brand and staying true to myself. Never give up. It is an extremely tough industry. Tenacity is everything. Struggle is what earns us our value and success.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stay focused on your vision and who you are as a designer. Create a signature identity which sets you apart from others. Believe in yourself. Always be open to listening and hearing other's ideas but trust your gut. It's usually right. Follow your dreams and stay true to yourself.
What legacy do you wish to leave behind?
I wish to be inspiring to young women and encourage them to find their inner voice, passion and love for what they do. To create and not be scared.
There are those people you meet in life that you instantly know are meant for greatness. This is what you feel when you meet Charlotte. Her unwavering determination will bring even more happiness to a lot of us in the very near future.