Women’s History Month encourages us all to take a moment to reflect on how much women have contributed and continue to contribute to society. Though women’s stories are not often given the recognition they deserve, during Women’s History Month we appreciate the opportunity to shine a spotlight on women who are blazing trails, breaking down barriers, and succeeding often in the face of insurmountable odds.
Last year for WHM, we profiled some female CEOs who are changing the game in their respective industries. This year we’re launching two new special pieces that promote feminine power and the fight for freedom, and we’re looking in-house at female Awe employees spanning different generations who are overcoming obstacles and fighting for women’s rights in different ways. We hope their stories will inspire you.
We sat down with four members of the Awe team to talk about their journeys, their human experience and their feelings on being women in today’s world. Meet Jill, Co-founder of Awe Inspired, Farrah Louviere Cerf, CFO/COO, Shelby Walker, Sr Director of Ecommerce and Krystal Robles, Graphic Designer.
Jill Johnson, Co-Founder
What challenges have you faced as a woman?
Farrah: My biggest challenge is the balancing act of existing in patriarchy. The expectations and constructs of what it means to be a good wife, a good mom, a good daughter, a good friend, a good worker. That list feels so BIG and endless sometimes. How do you do all of those things well? And, then add race on top of that and it's a recipe for disaster. Shaving. Bras. Waxing. Make-up. Be pretty. Not too pretty. Be smart. Not that smart. Fast, but not too fast. Sexy, but not slutty. Cook. Make it look like a pinterest board. Volunteer. School. Church. Give back. Write thank you notes. Say thank you. Work out. Be thin. Meditate. Be woke. Not too woke. Strong, but not aggressive. Say what you feel, but deliver it so that it's received. Speak up. Too much. Not that much. Dress cute, but don't court attention. Uhm....I feel like I have faced all of the challenges.
Jill: The biggest challenges I've faced as a woman were dominating and aggressive men in some of the places I worked. The jewelry industry was dominated by men, so I had to push hard to move up - demand raises, respect, support when I needed it. But I really had a knack for asking for what I needed; framing it in a way that didn't make them feel defensive or annoyed, more like it was their idea. My secret motto was - I had nothing to prove and nothing to lose. I learned quickly that to get my male bosses to advocate for me I had to make them look good. I always was a very hard worker, going in early, staying late - I gained their respect, and trust. NO man I ever knew had to navigate that nonsense.
Shelby: I feel like most women face challenges associated with being a woman nearly everyday. From our boundaries being crossed, to having to constantly worry about our perception, to not being taken seriously at work, or just the ever-looming societal pressures of what’s expected in how we look and act. Growing up, I struggled with what being a woman in a conservative religion in Texas meant. I was finding my own way and my own beliefs that weren’t quite in line with the culture I grew up in and the role women played in that culture. Women are so often taught to fit themselves into boxes, make themselves small and quiet, and not cause trouble— especially in the south. It took such a long time to break out of that “good girl” mentality and become myself— I think I still am. It’s a lifelong journey to rewrite that programming.
Krystal: What I do should be completely up to me. Having someone (who has no idea the physical/mental strain women go through) tell me what to do is infuriating! The day that women feel comfortable speaking up to men, can walk down the street alone, and are able to have rights over their own bodies will mean women’s freedom is closer to our grasp!
When do you feel most powerful?
Krystal: I feel most powerful as a woman when I get my period and still manage to get through my day! Even when my insides are ripping me apart I can still move forward and be a boss!
Farrah: When I don't give a single f...when I am my full, embodied, authentic self.
Shelby: I feel particularly powerful when I only compare myself to past me instead of others around me. It’s easy to feel small when you compare yourself to others, but when you remember where you came from and how far you’ve come, that’s where the strength and power live.
Jill: I've never considered this question but I believe I found my power because my paternal grandmother immigrated to the US when she was seventeen, she was alone and did not speak a word of English - she instilled in me confidence and to be bold and to advocate for myself. My first bout with cancer was when I was eleven years old. A few months earlier my parents got divorced, and my siblings and I lived with our father, divorce was very unusual in those days, but not having a mother at home was unheard of. So when the doctors would make their rounds I'd have to ask the questions, and deal with things most adults didn't know how to navigate, because my father was working. I had to be brave and strong - no time for insecurity, and I had to believe in myself, dig deep and find my power. I think that's why I've always felt confident, strong and independent.
Shelby Walker, Sr Director of Ecommerce
What does, “divine feminine energy” mean to you?
Jill: Divine feminine energy gives us space for self-love, confidence, and inner peace, allowing us to radiate compassion and love without sacrificing healthy boundaries.
Shelby: I heard a phrase once that really stuck with me. “You have infinity inside you.” As a woman, I have an infinite amount of creativity, strength, kindness, courage, wisdom, beauty, curiosity, and tenacity all within me. I have infinite combinations of ideas. There are infinite ways my journey can go and my story can end. All women have infinity within them. That freedom and beauty of everything that we have within us, to me that’s diving feminine energy.
Farrah: I have really been into shadow play lately. So, I think before I would have thought of it as soft, compassionate, mother energy. I feel it is bad ass warrior energy. Like...bad ass.
Krystal: Rising above all the wrong doings that have been done and snapping back with even more power and grace.
How do you contribute to the greater fight for women’s freedom (big or small)?
Shelby: The way I contribute to the greater fight ebbs and flows. Sometimes that means taking to the streets or writing to my local congresswoman about women’s issues. Other times that means making a donation to an organization fighting for our rights or signing a petition. And sometimes, that can mean talking to people within our sphere of influence— our friends, family, and coworkers— and having honest and open conversations about what feminism, freedom, and equality looks like.
Farrah: By speaking my truth and showing up authentically.
Krystal: I’ve donated money to many organizations for reproductive rights, women’s shelters and have myself walked in protests to stand for justice.
Jill: I definitely do not do enough; I'm on the board at RAINN and a member of the Presidents Circle at Planned Parenthood - I would like to volunteer my time helping young women.
Krystal Robles, Graphic Designer
What do you hope for the future generations of women?
Jill: I hope I live long enough to see the first (Democrat) woman President elected in the United States of America - and that NO one questions her fashion sense, her body type - just her brains, her policy, her beliefs, her education.............
Krystal: I hope the future generations of women are able to have true freedom and power in every aspect of life. Freedom on their body, freedom in the workplace, and freedom to do whatever they need to. I hope that young girls learn that they are worthy of all things BECAUSE they are a women - remembering that we are powerful beings who quite literally shine
Shelby: I hope that all women in all countries have the same autonomy and opportunities as men have had for centuries. I hope that they have the freedom to be themselves without fear. I hope that they are able to openly own their power, and their strength, and their beauty in the ways that feel authentic to them. I hope that they don’t have to live in fear or put constant thought into how they are perceived in order to get the respect that they deserve.
Farrah: Equality. Freedom. Truth. Matriarchy.
What leaves you in Awe?
Farrah: Joy. Pleasure. Pain. Angst. Grief. Sorry. The insignificance of life. How important we make things that are truly just a blip. Just a moment. People who are aligned with their purpose...who know...being in their presence leaves me in total awe.
Jill: That ANYthing is possible.
Shelby: I’m left in Awe by the resilience of so many women, both ones that I know personally or read about on social media. The women that fight and keep fighting for equality and autonomy. The women that work hard to get back up after being put down so many times. The women that against all odds succeed and live beautiful lives. I feel so connected to the joined experience we have. We face different struggles and deal with different challenges, but we persist.
Krystal: Seeing the women in my life rise above into positions of power, making their way in a male dominated society. Seeing my women friends succeed and use their talents!
To honor our inner Goddess and to celebrate the divine force that drives us to be the best versions of ourselves, connecting us with nature and each other, The Moonstone Goddess is a representation of feminine power and divinity. She is a life-giving, maternal force of nature who inspires creativity and encourages renewal.