As I sat down to write our usual Friday “What’s Hot This Weekend” blog post, something struck me. I didn’t just want to set the tone for the weekend, I wanted to set the tone for the new year, or better yet, for years to come. This blog post is as personal as a diary entry. But I wanted to express what drives the passion behind Stiletto Escape….the midnight work nights…the bigger picture.
I never thought I’d start a business. I never had any plan to. But I’ve always had an interest in the untapped power of millions of women worldwide. The last law school paper I wrote was titled: “Female-Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North African Region: A Catalyst for Change.” I was fascinated with female entrepreneurs around the world and how they changed the communities that embraced them. I was deeply disappointed at the lack of female entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North African region and wanted to delve into the barriers holding women back. That was the moment I knew one day I had to do something to bring women to the forefront, to highlight the power of their influence.
As I reflect on what I want for myself and Stiletto Escape in 2013 I keep thinking, simply: “I want to bring women together.” While my co-founder and I want you to enjoy all the fabulous and glamorous things in life, there’s something deeper we want every woman our brand touches to feel: we want you to feel connected. Connected to each other; to your best friend, sister, mother, the female population as a whole. We set out to create a company that celebrates women.
Some days I feel a heavy sadness when I think of the women suffering around the world. When I hear stories such as Malala Yousafzai being shot in the head on the school bus home just because she was a women’s rights activist. Or the rape victim in India, who simply wanted to see a movie with her boyfriend, but ended up gang-raped, lying in a ditch, and later dead. I feel as if these women are my sisters. And I know I am not alone in feeling that way. There is a deep sense of sisterhood that unites all of us women around the globe. That golden thread that ties us all together. Whether we are fighting for the right to get an education in one corner of the world, or fighting to get the corner office in another, we are all connected through our fight. Because each fight may seem individual on the surface, yet there is a collective fight linking us all together. We fight to be heard, to be respected, to be valued….we fight to be leaders, ground-breakers, and innovators.
I truly believe, the core of my faith in this business, if we can harness the power of sisterhood we can tackle problems bigger than ourselves.
That feeling of sisterhood lies all around us. When you go to lunch with a group of female co-workers, you can feel it. When you sit down to dinner with your best friends, you can feel it. When you call you mother and she knows exactly what to say, you can feel it. When you see protests on the streets for women’s rights worldwide, the feeling of sisterhood is palpable. Few things can break the bonds of true sisterhood. Not distance, nor families, nor children, nor responsibilities, nor jobs…. Once that thread is intertwined between a group of women all it takes is a good dinner, bottle of wine, and a few hours, for the time, distance, and differences to fade away.
My dream for Stiletto Escape? To become a community of women who love traveling, but who more importantly, love each other. As one large community of women bonded through mutual experiences and a deep love and respect for one another, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. I want to create a force so immense that companies are clamoring to appeal to Stiletto Escape clients, the women behind it all. I want companies to stand up and take notice that women are a buying force to be reckoned with. And no, we won’t buy something just because you throw some pink on it. We are intelligent, savvy women who let’s face it often hold the buying power and the veto power. More importantly, I want Stiletto Escape to give back and support organizations that empower women.
My message to all the companies out there: earn our money. Trust me, we love to spend, but make it worth it to us. Don’t tell me I’ll be skinny or popular or richer if I buy your product or use your service; show me how it will enhance my life on a deeper level. If you can do that, then you have earned the buying power of the 3.2 billion women around the world.
Today, I urge you to pick up the phone and call an important woman in your life. Call the friend you meant to call back three months ago but never got around to. Call you mother. Call your sister. Call your best friend. Tell them you love them and that they are important to you. Because in the end, what’s important is the love we have cultivated between one another. Nothing else.
Love & Travel,
Shivani Ballesteros, Co-founder, Stiletto EscapeTweet