Woman Wednesday: Courtney R.


Q and A with Courtney R., Vancouver, Washington

“We all need a great circle of empowering strong women to push us on all the hard days but also celebrate our wins.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I’m a mom of three; two boys ages 13 and 11, and a girl age 6. My kids are my whole world. I own a women’s clothing store in Vancouver, Washington, and we specialize in size inclusivity and ethnic fashion. All things girlie is who I am; I love personal shopping and styling my clients and myself (give me all the fun hot tools to play with my hair all day and bright lipstick because it’s a staple) because showing up feeling my best is important. It also empowers other women to do the same.

Personal styling and shopping is what I do because fashion is for everyone and we always feel better when we like our outfit. The store was a dream I had with my best friend from middle school; that’s what bonded us. (Funny story) she didn’t like me but loved my outfit and her mom made her hang out with me [she laughs], we’ve now been best friends for over 17 years! I’m also the girl who loves to get dirty and camp (any outdoor activity hiking and swimming the river is what I do all summer here in the PNW, where I was born and raised). Count me in on long weekends with my girlfriends because we are the tribe we keep! We all need a great circle of empowering strong women to push us on all the hard days but also celebrate our wins. I love to travel. Hawaii is my favorite but Japan, Africa, New York, and Italy are on my long bucket list. I’m also a adrenaline junkie, so skydiving, roller coasters, all those things…count me in. My goal is to have my store in multiple locations where I can shop a little differently for each location. (Depending where its at…weather and all that).


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I have one older brother. My parents are divorced, so childhood was different in each house. At my mom’s, I was an only child. At my dad’s, we had a blended family and I had a step brother and 2 step sisters. I was the oldest. I graduated from high school in 2007 and became a mom shortly after. I stayed home with my kids until I opened my boutique. Coming from a divorced home had its challenges, but it made me the strong, independent mother and friend I am today.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Being a business owner isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you always go back to your core values and stay humble, you can get through any hard day and you always appreciate the wins. (That’s what I’ve learned.) Believe came about because we wanted to inspire women to follow their dreams (that’s what we did), and when you put your whole heart into something, anything is possible.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism, to me, is rejecting stereotypes and expectations put in place centuries ago to keep women in their “place.” And replacing those expectations with love, acceptance, support, and encouragement. There are millions of women in the world and there are millions of ways to embody womanhood. Feminism is cheering for every woman in whatever way she chooses to be a woman.


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Woman Wednesday: Mariam


Q and A with Mariam, Montreal, Canada

I seek out to channel the lessons I’ve learned from Khadija every day.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I love teaching. I’ve always loved teaching because of being able to help people go through breakthrough moments. It has been my passion from a very young age. Writing was always my coping mechanism. My parents were terminally ill since I was a kid, and I wrote poetry to cope with it.

So, I became an English teacher who also wrote copy on the side. Around 2 years ago, Bill 21 came into effect in Quebec, which prompted me to decide to start a business. I started writing copy full time. I realized I was actually developing most of their content strategy as well as doing their copy, and that is when I started studying it even more (I love studying) and ended up doing this full time. Within 3 months, I was able to make more than my 9-to-5 job and quit. Eventually, I started missing teaching. So now, I teach new entrepreneurs how to make a full-time income out of their business.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My upbringing was centered around the fact that my mom had breast cancer and my dad had lymphoma. My mom died when I was 16 from her second cancer and my father from his third when I was 25, so 2 years ago now. 

I’ve always loved writing and have always used that as a coping mechanism. In fact, I have a poetry collection coming out soon entitled, “Eulogy: Our Stories Put to Rest.”


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: That you can do anything you set your mind to! That you are literally the one that decides your faith. Focus on what you have control over and move forward collecting the tools (learn) you need for the outcome of your dreams. 


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Everything. When I was young, my father told me the story of Khadija RDA, a historical figure in Islamic heritage. She was a business owner and considered to be the mother of Islam. I was so fascinated by the fact that she had proposed to her husband, the Prophet in our tradition; she was one of the wealthiest individuals of her time and space and also one of the kindest. She was so ahead of her time! She would always put out a green cloth over her entry way so people would know to come to her if they needed help. I seek out to channel the lessons I’ve learned from Khadija every day.

I am a strong woman that has always taken care of herself. That is the backbone of my story. In fact, my life today on Facebook is about the 3 lessons I’ve learned from amazing women. And, I will be focusing on Audrey Hepburn, Khadija RDA (historical figure in Islamic heritage), and my mom.


Thank you for reading!

MORE ABOUT MARIAM: I drive my company and my everyday life on empathy. It is at the core of my philosophy and my business. I set goals to give back. In fact, I have a mastermind coming up next week. 100% of ticket sales is directly going to fund food baskets for families in need.


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Woman Wednesday: Rumaisa


Q and A with Rumaisa, Quad Cities, IA

“We can truly change the circumstances in our life by shifting the way we think and feel about ourselves.


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: My energy ignites when I am able to learn from my own hurts and setbacks, and share my own learnings and growth to empower others to do the same. The best feeling for me is when I am able to hold space for someone and see their own lightbulb moment click for them. Witnessing a client go from wanting to doing—by using their fears to propel them to do the scary thing they were once wishing to do—it’s so beautiful to see one’s confidence build right before your eyes. It took me 36 years to learn that my outcomes in life would not change unless I created the change that I wanted to see in my life. This is when I took my very first personal development course. This course was supposed to last a weekend. That weekend led me to moving out of my home in LA and moving to Chicago to live closer to my parents. I was doing all of this growth work on myself; I decided to step into my uncomfortable and go to school for social emotional intelligence in leadership and coaching. This work lead me to meeting my husband, having a baby, and moving to Iowa all in the same year! I am a transformational life coach and speaker who empowers women to “Go from Self Doubt to Self Love,” and I have been coach for over 5 years now. I am currently coaching 1:1 clients, teaching my 5 week course: Reboot Your Relationship with Yourself, and hosting my podcast titled “Real Talk with Ru: Going from Someday to Day One.” Available on all of the platforms.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up with a mother with schizophrenia, so unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to have a traditional mother/daughter relationship. As a child, I did not realize how traumatic this experience was. I pushed through life and looked for happiness through others. I was an East Indian American girl growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, trying to figure out her place in the world. Where she fit in. I “followed the yellow brick road” to see where it would take me. It took me to become a social butterfly. Being a queen of networking. Being active in softball, basketball, track, and tennis. My competitive spirit led me to becoming ranked third for tennis in the State of Nebraska landing me a tennis scholarship at an NAIA School. My “fearless” attitude took me to moving from Nebraska to NYC to land an internship with Donna Karan. From working in the fashion industry, I fell into working as a background extra in TV and films, which took me to LA and working at Universal Pictures. I was in NYC during 9/11, I traveled to Pakistan to film a documentary to show the beauty of the country. I was always searching for meaning in my life. Growing up with a mother with mental illness, it wasn’t until my late 30’s that I came to the realization that I was running away from a lot of childhood sadness. I was a “people-pleaser” who was afraid to really say what was on her mind out of fear that people wouldn’t like the real me. I thought that if I picked the most glamorous jobs, lived in the biggest cities, that I would find happiness. The busier I was, the more that I would do for others, I would not have to focus on the deep-rooted stuff. I would not have to focus on my sadness. What I found out was that no matter where I lived, if I did not tend to myself, this sadness would follow me wherever I would go. The way that I felt about myself. The way I felt about my work, money, my relationships. It would never feel like enough. I would never feel satisfied. The real work was getting to know myself. What I wanted and needed to live a meaningful and purposeful life.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: What I have learned and continue to learn is that I am constantly learning about myself everyday. That my life is endlessly evolving. All of that sadness, the pain, those lonely moments, those “no’s”, have empowered me to become the woman that I am today. There were so many moments that I didn’t understand why these “ouches” were happening to me.What I am learning is that these have all been detours to guide me to this very moment to serve others and share my learnings with others in the hopes that they, too, can overcome their blocks. Our past does not have to define who we are today. Our past story does not have to be our current story. We can truly change the circumstances in our life by shifting the way we think and feel about ourselves. The moment that I chose to get into the driver’s seat of my life, create boundaries, and learn that it is not my job to make everyone happy, my life continues to become richer and richer everyday. I shifted from being a victim of the circumstances in my life to continuing to step into my power each day; no matter how scary it may feel on some days. Showing up for yourself is the ultimate gift one can give themselves. Continuing to learn and grow, to be better than you were yesterday.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means celebrating ALL of who you are. Owning your fears, your joys, your sadness, hurt, and anger. Celebrating ALL OF YOU! Showing up, speaking up, and continuing to share your gifts with the world. This is how change happens.


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Woman Wednesday: Kris


Q and A with Kris, Durango, Colorado

“If you don’t fail at some point, you don’t really appreciate how great the great is.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: There are so many things I’m passionate about: family, nature, chocolate, my dog, how colors work together, patterns. The list goes on; I draw on nature for almost all of my inspiration. I’m often out on a bike ride or run and see things—little stories unfold—and that becomes a seed for my next design. Or I may take a photo of a plant, maybe just one little baby leaf because it has chartreuse, hunter, and eggplant with a tiny splash of fuchsia and that completely winds me up. I can see an entire storyline unfold, a complete collection based on that one little leaf. I’ve always been this way. My mother used to tell me how impossible I was to shop for because I would design something in my head and tell her that’s what I wanted! Currently, I’m developing concepts for a boutique in Telluride that has asked for an exclusive line of wool/silk scarves. Then I will be jumping on ideas for our summer line of scarves and linens.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in New Orleans; my mother’s family is all from South Louisiana. So, as you can expect, I was surrounded by amazing culture: food and music and dancing and the smells of New Orleans like jasmine, camellias, magnolias, the swamps, seafood. All of this combined was a tremendous source of where my love for design started.

We moved to Telluride, CO, when I was 11. That’s where I really embraced the outdoors and nature. Then there were the women in my family, strong women. My mother and my grandmother, both a force to be reckoned with. They were and are both the epitome of good taste. My grandmother was of the opinion that a crisp white blouse, a good shade of red lipstick, and perfume was pretty much all you needed to get dressed! It was her collection of scarves that inspired me to design my own. My mother, her eye for color, has always been the most on point. I still discuss all my designs with her. She was the reason I took risks in my life; anything I did that could have been viewed as risky, she was behind it. She encouraged me to go abroad when I was 15 on exchange, and she is still my ski buddy. She gave me my love of travel and not being afraid to put myself out there. She encourages me to push my design further with little suggestions or ideas. 


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Failure is a part of life. If you don’t fail at some point, you don’t really appreciate how great the great is. I know people that feel failure is a bad thing. Yes, it’s scary as hell, but it’s usually something you can handle and learn from. Embrace it and dig in.


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism is being true to your female self. It’s a powerful force. I’ve seen that in my mother and grandmother, and now in myself and in my two daughters. We’re each incredibly strong in our own way, and we’re not alike. But we’re true to our feminine selves because of the strength that entails.


Thank you for reading!


I’d love to connect with you! 🙂

Kris Roufa

https://athomewithray.com/
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Woman Wednesday: Kathy


Q and A with Kathy, Katy, Texas

“The world is literally waiting for you to go out and be all you can.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: We all have an amazing counselor ready and willing 24/7 to direct our steps, just ask! I am most passionate about God. I am passionate about many things, including my family and friends. I truly love learning new things, traveling, writing, trivia, reading, beauty, health, having fun, fine dining, and so much more. I am currently extremely passionate about floral designing. In the last two years, I have taught myself through videos, a mentor, and hands-on trial and error. I am the owner of aellasfloral.com, and my Facebook group is Wooden Roses Texas. I always say success follows your last meltdown because as it turns out, this advice is so true. I became frustrated at wearing “all the hats” and contemplated quitting. Just as my frustration grew, I got a message out of the blue from a TV producer that had viewed one of my designs on the internet and invited me to be featured on TV introducing my floral company! Feel free to view my full 10-minute interview here: https://vimeo.com

I have been an entrepreneur for 25 years and have experienced many ups and downs, but I would not change a thing; I love being my own boss and anyone else’s that will let me [she laughs]. My awesome husband of 25 years and I have successfully owned our construction business for over 20 years. However, not all of my many “mini businesses” have been successful and each one has a common reason! Just a few I have started include bath bombs, sport towels, wooden roses, postcards, gift/spa baskets, eBay selling, Avon, Mary Kay, and there were others. Truthfully, I never thought I had any talent whatsoever until the Lord, through amazing mentors, encouraged me and showed me I do have talent…that actually, I’m very talented and always have been. Fear had sold me short over and over again. Please don’t ever let this happen to you; face it, speak to it, and get rid of it!

When I started the gift/spa basket business, I spent literally 6 months straight doing nothing but teaching myself how to write code and design my own website. I ordered hundreds of products, took photos, and set up an amazing website. I had no skills in finding customers, so after I paid for hosting 3 months and never received 1 order, I quit. As it would turn out, a month after I quit, I got an order from (not family or friends that buy because they love you) but a complete stranger, a grandfather looking for a gift for his granddaughter! It was too late for me to go back; I had completely quit! This business could have been wildly successful if I had not given up.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in East Texas with my grandparents, Dad, and sister. I’m forever grateful my Mammaw had me in church three times a week. It was there I met Jesus and was saved. My sister and I were like most siblings having fights, but we were always close and still are. I was a bit of an entertainer as a child…always seeking attention. I’m told that when I was 5 years old, I brought a water hose in the house and sprayed my grandma’s guest Tupperware so the guests would leave and I would get all of Grandma’s attention back on me! I loved riding motorcycles, horses, and playing in the woods until dark. I moved to the city as a teen to live with my mom and siblings. I got married and pregnant at 16 and remained a stay-at-home mom until my youngest of three left for college. Being an entrepreneur allowed me this choice. One thing I’m very proud of is the fact I was able, with my two girls, to break the teen pregnancy cycle in our family. Both of my girls graduated college. My son, at age 39, has a two-year-old that we adore, and one of my daughters, at 35, has a 6-month-old that we’re proud of.

One of the greatest compliments of my life came when I was giving advice to a friend and she jokingly said, “Okay, Mother Teresa.” And I thought, “Wow…thank you…if only.” I admired her very much and could only hope to be like her! I’ve learned so many valuable lessons in my 56 years; I could write a book and who knows…maybe I will.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I would say to my children, grandchildren, and all of you that the world is literally waiting for you to go out and be all you can. Go to your great Counselor with any and all concerns. He truly loves you. Never let bitterness grow in your heart, forgive quickly. Know your self-worth and please, please always keep your sense of humor.

Wearing all of the hats is not easy, but the good news is that eventually, you will be able to hire help and do what you love most. It is totally okay to quit for a day or two, but after that, go back to it with a new perspective!


Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about ‘ism’ words, but for me personally, feminism means to just do it, feel good about it, and know “it’s my best and it is worthy.” For women around the world, feminism means supporting each other and demanding equal treatment to that of men rather it’s accolades, salary, or anything else. You are a beautiful, smart, talented, and amazing human being. Life is short; enjoy it in increments of pleasurable moments. Go out, smile, and encourage someone today. We are all super stars!


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