CHEERS TO STRONG WOMEN: WEEK 1

CHEERS TO STRONG WOMEN

This February, instead of pushing Valentine's Day promotions, we are giving back all month long. We did this last year on a smaller scale and had an amazing response! A portion of the proceeds will go to organizations that support and encourage strong women. To support the organization of your choice, leave us a note in checkout and tell us where you want us to send your donation! 

To support our campaign, we will have weekly interviews with mega-babes who are making a difference and rallying for more strong women through wellness, finance, fashion, healthcare, and more.  


Hayley Besheer Santell

Hayley Besheer Santell.JPG

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Hayley Besheer Santell and I'm the Designer, Founder, and CEO of MADI Apparel (which stands for, Make A Difference Intimates.) MADI donates a pair of underwear to a women in needs for every intimate item sold. We do this because underwear is the most under-donated item of clothing. We also employ women to produce our intimates locally in Kansas City. We work with only long-lasting, super soft, "feel good" fabrics. I founded this business because I care about creating something that matters and will make a lasting positive impact on society, on women, and on the earth. I wouldn't say my identity lies in my job, though, as much as I genuinely love it, I'm also obsessed with my new role as a wifey. :) I really work hard to make my friends feel special, and I'm a loyal daughter and sister. 

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

A strong woman sticks by what she truly believes in and doesn't settle for accepting anything less. A strong woman knows her worth and empowers others to feel self worthy too. I've been lucky to have a lot of strong women as leading role models in my life. Every intimate in my brand's collection in named after a strong woman in my life. Also, my brand's name- MADI, like the name of a woman- was intended to get our customers to picture their sister, their mom, their friends, etc. receiving a pair of donated underwear that their purchase initiates. Strong women every day find themselves in situations that they didn't choose, and they're just waiting to break free. Their circumstances do not make or break them or stand as their identity. We encourage our customers, our contracted seamstresses and our donation recipients to stand tall as strong women- to remember that their life, their happiness, and their confidence sit fully in their own hands.

Capture.JPG

3. What advice would you share with the teenage version of yourself? 

I grew up in a family that showered me with love and confidence. I never walked on eggshells at home, and I was always told, "You can do it!" But, I never felt truly confident in school, sports, social settings, etc. I always felt like that kid that had to work really hard at everything. Even after graduating college with two degrees, I felt a pit in my stomach thinking about having to then apply for jobs in the corporate world. IT wasn't until I started my business that everything started to feel like a breeze. I truly feel confident and happy and like I'm making a difference every single day. That changed wouldn't have happened if I didn't hold my ground and continue to soul search until things felt right in my gut. I would tell the young version of myself to never settle, to keep moving until feeling peace and never to underestimate and listen to the still quiet voice of God in my head. 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today? 

My mom definitely. She is a true badass! She worked hard over the years to gain traction as a women in a predominately "males at the top" work place. She is very emotional and wears her heart on her sleeve, which has shown me that that's okay. Two of the things that drive me most in my work and personal life are empathy and creativity. I share these traits with her, and she taught me how to accept them as gifts. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do. 

I often get these feelings to pay special attention to certain persons (strangers I run into). Sometimes, I just strike up a conversation. But occasionally, I even drive people with a long walk to their bus stop. I try and warn a friend or family for safety reasons. :) Vulnerability really sticks with me, and I feel a sense of duty to lay a hand in taking care of certain people- even if just a few moments and then I never see them again. 

6.What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry?

The 14K Gold Side Kick Earrings. I prefer really minimalist jewelry!

Side Kick Earrings // 14K Yellow Gold // $199

7. What is one of your favorite organizations that helps support and encourage strong women? 

Well, my top would probably be MADI :). Our non-profit just developed a new program called, MADI Makes to train at-risk women to cut and sew our undergarments. Our for-profit would then employ them. Its my favorite because I get excited thinking about a program that's encouraging already strong women to take their life, their finance, their happiness into their own hands by capitalizing on a simple opportunity. Another one of my favorites is, Hope Faith Ministries. This is a 40,000 square foot gem of a non-profit serving the homeless population in  Kansas City. They stand out because they provide  not just basic needs, but also opportunities for those looking to rise out of current struggles fighting cycles of poverty. They house a sewing center where women and men can learn a career skill in sewing. This is where our MADI Makes program is run. Hope Faith offers various other vocational training opportunities for women in need. These opportunities encourage dignity, empowerment, and HOPE. They truly focus on providing solutions to end poverty and encourage women to heighten their own potential. Its pretty cool. 

MADI.jpg

Latoyia Mays

Latoyia Mays.jpg

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is LaToyia Mays and I am an Herbalist, Healer, and Owner of The Laya Center. I am a Wellness Artist of interiors, incorporating living art into residential and commercial spaces.

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

Being a strong woman means being fearless. She is totally confident in the person she is, yet not afraid to constantly learn and adapt. A strong woman can see the vision and seizes every opportunity to attaining it. 

3. What advice would you share with the teenage version of yourself? 

I would tell the teenage version of myself to be comfortable with who I am and to never waste time being afraid. 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today? 

Growing up in the slums of Chicago, though my mother couldn't afford much more, she always held herself to a higher standard. She displayed confidence, strength, and a nurturing spirit. She was a rock through trying times and I've always admired that. It sticks with me today. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do. 

Hmmm... Well, I do a lot that and I can be considered quite weird sometimes (smile). I grew up in the #1 most dangerous housing project in Chicago. My first cousin is Dwyane Wade. I studied Fashion Merchandising at CSU and made clothes for 10 years. I am sensitive to paranormal activity and all my life I've just known things and I can't explain how or where it came from. 

6. What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry?

The Kaw Earrings!

Kaw Earrings // Sterling Silver // $189

7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women? 

I am falling in love with Uzazi Village. It is a Kansas City non-profit that supports mothers and works to educate people on childbirth in an effort to decrease infant mortality rate. This is very impactful to the community. The education piece alone is huge! Somewhere along the way, we have lost the natural way to care for our health. Empowering these women through informative community is a large piece to the future of wellness. 


Jennifer Lapka

Jennifer Lapka.JPG

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Jennifer Lapka and I am the Founder and President of Rightfully Sewn, a service organization that creates jobs and opportunities through the business of fashion. As the organizations leader, I am responsible for fundraising, developing key partnerships, recruiting altruistic employees and interns, and creating programs that create positive impact in our community. 

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

To be a strong woman is to know thyself and be thyself. In other words, being aware and respectful of your past, your relationships, your capabilities and your limitations. 

3. What advice would you share with the teenage version of yourself? 

Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Say no to people and things that do not feel right to you. Voice your ideas. Forget the notion of, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today? 

My late, beloved, maternal Grandmother, Jean Richardson. She was my constant champion. She and I always made projects for ourselves- drawing, digging a reflecting pool in her garden, woodworking, crafting- those projects helped me understand that I could do anything I put my mind to. I called her every Sunday evening in my adult life. I had set my phone alarm to go off to remind me to do so and, almost two years after her passing, I've left the alarm on because I like the constant reminder of her. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do.

I love my strength training class, which I've done for over four years. We do squats, push-ups, burpies, and other things I would have never thought I'd be doing in a million years. 

6. What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry? 

I love the Felina Earrings

Felina Earrings // Sterling Silver // $149

7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women? 

Rightfully Sewn! I am excited about our team, the impact we've had in just two years time, and our capacity for growth. 

051A7365.jpg

Dr. Morgan Potter

 Legally, Dr. Potter is not allowed to use a picture of a patient's baby... so this is a substitute. 

Legally, Dr. Potter is not allowed to use a picture of a patient's baby... so this is a substitute. 

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Morgan Potter and I am a 30 year old woman born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas but currently living in Southern California. I am an Obstetrics and Gynecology resident physician. I specialize in delivering babies and women's heath, helping women take care of themselves and their families. 

2. What does being a strong woman mean to you? 

A strong woman puts others before herself, advocates for other vulnerable women, yet never settles when it comes to herself and those she loves. All women have a voice and deserve to be heard. A strong woman recognizes the value inside her, the good and the bad, and uses it all to boost the intelligence, beauty, and love in everyone around her. 

3. What Advice would you share with the teenage version of yourself? 

Surround yourself with people that love and support you. You deserve nothing but the best. You are the only one in your life that gets to decide who you are and what you think about the person you're becoming. Never stop pushing for the things you want in life and never accept no for an answer, especially if it's a man standing in your way. 

4. Name a woman in your life that has inspired you to be the woman you are today. 

My Mother. She is the strongest woman in my life. She is a rock star of a mother, working a full time career but still always putting her family first. I believe in keeping role models close to the hear, a constant reminder of the kind of woman I want to be and how to gracefully accomplish it all. 

5. Tell me a fact, secret, or something weird you do. (Morgan is one of my best friends and I know all her secrets and weird things she does.) 

My ideal meal is pasta, sangria, and red velvet cake. My favorite Halloween costume is my Indiana Jones outfit. 

6.What is your favorite piece from Sierra Winter Jewelry? 

The Astra Necklace. It reminds me home. 

Astra Necklace // Sterling Silver // $189

7. What is one of your favorite organizations that supports and encourages strong women? 

My favorite organization that I'm involved in is P.E.O, a philanthropic organization for women. It connects a local community of women to a larger network world wide, specializing in the personal and societal growth of all women. 

 


Check back next week with more interviews and comment below with your favorite organizations! 

Peace and Love, 

-Sierra