On Monday night, I had one of the most exciting and memorable nights
since I began my business in 2001. I was part of a very special program, 10,000
Small Businesses, sponsored by Goldman Sachs and the Tory Burch Foundation. We
were the first all-female, startup class to go through the 10K Small Business
Among the people there to honor us was senior adviser to the president ,Valerie Jarrett, and hearing her describe me as a entrepreneurial leader and world-changer was truly remarkable. At that moment, I wished that I had worn waterproof mascara!
There were classes on everything from leadership, financial statements and operations. We also had business advisers who helped us through the process of creating a plan for growth. Over the four months of the program, I filled in so many gaps in my business knowledge. Coming from an art background, most of my business education has been self-education, and of course I skipped over the parts that were not fun or exciting to me.
Now that I have graduated, I can say that 2013 is going to be a big year. I can't wait to share the journey with you!
Pictured from left to right are: Kristin Leu, of Leu Design, me, Tory Burch, Sylvia Fredericks of Bazillion Bags, Bren Bauer of Fortunata Living, Sandra Nieto of Sandra Baquero, Nneka Moseley of Nneka Saran Handbags, and Terri McCullough of the Tory Burch Foundation.
Above is a screen shot from the Morning Joe segment about the program that aired the next day. This is a still photo of me onstage receiving my diploma from Mika Brzezinski, Tory Burch, Valerie Jarrett, Arianna Huffington and Gray Cohn of Goldman Sachs. You can see the whole segment here.
There is also a blog post by Tory Burch in the Huffington Post, which can be found here. Can you spot me in the group picture?
Losing my father at a young age, and starting on my path as an artist and jeweler were directly related. It was difficult for me to share such a personal story with the world.
This year, I decided to let everyone see the real me. You can read it on my blog here. Big thanks go to Christina Rasmussen of Second Firsts for encouraging me to share.
Speaking of Christina, she was one of the clients that I worked with using a more intuitive approach to custom design. I looked at her photos, and came up with this design without asking her many questions.
She was very surprised to see the drawings, in which I captures her deep affinity for the ocean. She now wears this ring when appearing as a public speaker, and it helps her connect into the power of her message.
After many years, I returned to Japan to visit my husband's family. We began in Tokyo, stayed in a small town beneath Mt. Fuji, went west to Osaka and his ancestral town. We then took a tour around the Izu Peninsula, famed for hot springs. Somehow, I ended up as the designated driver!
In between all of the visits to family and friends, we took a day to visit one of my favorite cities, Kyoto. Pictured above is the Kiyomizu-dera temple, perched atop the hills that surround the city.
Every time we visit Kyoto, we seriously consider taking an extended sojourn in this elegant city.
When I am not in the studio creating, I like to move.
After recovering from an injury last year, I began studying the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira. Above you can see me training with another member of my group. called Grupo Ginga.
Similar to karate and other martial arts, we have a ranking system in our school of capoeira, which are cords instead of belts. In October, I received my first cord in capoeira.
As any martial artist can tell you, it is a source of great energy and lessons for life outside of training. Here is the website for my group.
If you aren't familiar with a mastermind, it is a group of people that band together for mutual support, exchanging ideas and holding each other accountable.
There are masterminds run by famous business coaches, charging big bucks. This mastermind was self-generated by all of the lovely women in the photo, who have a huge range of skills.
It is my wish for everyone to have their own mastermind, to help them stay on track in life, and have all of the support they need.
The 10,000 Small Businesses Program sponsored by Goldman Sachs has already graduated 7 classes of business owners. All of them businesses that have employees and substantial revenue.
This year, Tory Burch decided to have her Foundation co-sponsor the first class of all-women businesses, many with no employees yet.
It has been a great challenge and an inspiration for me to be part of this class of incredible women. The course is challenging me in many ways about how I can grow my business.
There are some big opportunities ahead of me, and I now know how to lay the proper groundwork for big success.
What were your big moments of 2012? I hope you will take some time to reflect on some of the great things that have happened this last year, because even in the toughest years, we can find something to celebrate, and accomplishments to acknowledge.
Talk to you again in 2013!