We are driving right into the month that celebrates women at full speed with trailblazers, adventurers and girl bosses alike! It's Women's History Month and we're not only honoring the many strong and powerful women that came before us but it is our duty to empower, encourage and highlight the many inspirational women of today's society. We are so excited to kick off this month with the #RealWomenReport. A series that embraces woman of all backgrounds and their talents in every genre of the workplace.
To jump start this series, we recently caught up with Philadelphia Photographer, Sarah Kunst and California Makeup Artist, Dominique Lerma on the way to Joshua Tree while en route for Timberland's Spring Launch Photoshoot at our very own venue and desert oasis, Stargazing Desert Retreat. These two power houses inspired us with their creativity and drive throughout the shoot, but we were desperate to get personal and chat a little bit more about their life in the creative industry. As many know, the creative route can be competitive and while it may come across as a competition to some, these two have a different perspective and shared with us in detail why that is. Don't worry, we caught every moment on film with GoPro.
How do you encourage and empower other women?
Sarah: Although my industry may be competitive, I love connecting with like-minded women (both inside and outside of my industries) and supporting them. It's so important to collaborate - share your talents, skills, and knowledge and encourage others to do the same. I love bouncing ideas off my creative friends, peers, and colleagues. We feed off of each other's creativity and all have something different to bring to the table. We're constantly playing off of each other's strengths, passions, and goals, while simultaneously working towards our own. I always encourage other women to stand up for themselves, take risks, get outside of their comfort zone, connect with other people, be themselves, and do what they love. I also love helping people and am a strong believer in karma, and "elevating your vibe". It's best to drop any cattiness, jealousy, judgement, insecurities, and come together. We're stronger when we unite! Keep your "tribe" ever-growing and inclusive.
Dominique: I would like to think that I am heading in the right direction by leading by example. It is a beautiful thing to be a woman and stem off of our intuition. When giving advice to any of my makeup artist peers I often recommend to follow their intuition because energy cannot be fabricated. I am certain it is one of the mere reasons why woman have continued to excel across the board, when passion and the workforce collide failure appears to cease. In Hollywood talent is everywhere it can be saturated. Being born and bred in this city, at a very young age I concluded that because the talent is endless, people want to be surrounded by a group of likeminded individuals that genuinely enjoy each others company, who are kind, passionate and unapologetic for who they are. This industry can be so cut throat but I continue to believe that "there is enough Tinsel in this town to go around for all of us."
How have other women helped you in the workplace environment and in your personal life?
Sarah: HOW HAVEN'T THEY?!
I've always been pushed, encouraged, inspired to keep growing and take it to the next level in the workplace environment. I've been lucky to work in a handful of environments where other women / superiors trust me, which is a total game-changer. Some of my most meaningful and amazing relationships + friendships have been forged with my female co-workers and clients, past and present! It's so awesome to watch your network, relationships and friendships grow even if you're not current "co-workers". They constantly inspire and help me in professional and personal endeavors!
Acknowledging hard work, success and growth between women is essential and often forgotten / held back, so I really appreciate the times that has happened. As much as I want this to be 100% positive, it's worth noting that there are a handful of women that have helped me discover and learn what NOT to do, and who NOT to be. I consider this just as valuable.
On another note, these questions wouldn't be complete without mentioning my mom - my role model, mentor, bad-ass best friend. She is wise beyond her years and has always believed in me, supported me and inspired me. She has the biggest heart and always thinks of others before herself. My mom is a Director at a Women's Center, which has also enhanced my desire to empower women (and why women's/LGBTQ/immigrant rights, health, safety, equality, and empowerment is near and dear to me). She has helped me in my work and personal life more than anyone else. Okay, rant over - LOVE YOU MOM!
Dominique: I have been lucky enough to have been surrounded by ambitious and working women my entire life. My Grandmother immigrated to Los Angeles from Costa Rica in the 60's when my mother was 2 years old and worked ever since. She embedded an independent, ambitious and hardworking nature in me and my siblings for as long as I can remember. I am the middle sister and both of my sisters are working mothers, I continuously applaud them. They often times make it look so effortless even though they may be exhausted. They are constant reminders that you really can have it all. The woman who birthed me, my right hand, she’s my go-to and often times my personal driver. Thank you, Momma! She’s the most resilient woman I have ever encountered, who has taught me to do all things with love and influences me to remain grateful and aim higher. In the 80’s she set aside her own aspirations to run a household and raise 4 fiery Latin children. After 10 years of being a non-working woman she was courageous enough to hit the books and pursue her real dreams. She is now a bilingual Substance Abuse Counselor for Behavior Health Services. I cannot express how grateful I am for the years I was spoken loud to (what some might consider yelling) in Spanish.
Entering womanhood can be scary and is life altering and I owe one of my most profound experiences to The Sisterhood. I was fortunate enough to embrace it all amongst a sea of aspirational girls trying to figure it out at St. Joseph High School, in Lakewood, CA- Go Mickey class of ’04! The friendships I created and the chosen sisters who I continue to share life’s dearest moments with, are who ultimately assisted in propelling me into the woman who I am set out to be.
In my creative endeavors I get a rush when I work with an all female team. I am reminded to be unequivocally me. Women's passion is magnetic, we manifest our lives and are the queens of multi-tasking. I believe in choosing your team carefully and they are a reflection of who you are. I thinking it’s so important to seek those who want to be apart of your journey and those who “fan your flames.” Lately, the universe keeps returning the favor and I know it has been a successful day on set when I leave having made a new friend or three. I hope you can relate when I say that I have been GIRL POWER my entire life and this everlasting appreciate and adoration for women continues to flourish.
P.s. Most recently when I was on set it dawned on me that, "Hey we can carry your child for 9 months and also create artwork to fill the walls of our homes."
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Sarah: Ooooh, this is a tough one. Probably something my mom said, but I'll switch it up!
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received was from one of my favorite yoga teachers, who I was fortunate enough to train with. At a pivotal moment in my career and personal life, she asked me, "Is it worth it to suffer, just to continue suffering and working towards someone else's dream? Or is it better to suffer for a little, while you work towards something better? Something that propels you to achieve YOUR OWN dreams, goals, and happiness."
It strongly resonated with me and (among a compilation of tons of other factors) led me to making a life + career-changing decision. I'm constantly refer to these questions. I repeat them to myself and other women / friends / students who are experiencing their own "pivotal moment". It puts things into perspective and pushes you to be honest and realistic with yourself. I came to terms with the fact that things won't be always be easy breezy, and I wouldn't start out having all my ducks in a row, knowing all the answers, or having financial stability. But in the long run, that period of struggling, uncertainty, doubt, confusion, and pulling all-nighters is without-a-doubt worth it in the end. In most cases, your happiness, values, talents, and passions are more valuable than what you might be giving up or walking away from. For the first time, I felt absolute ease and peace with a difficult, non-traditional (whatever that means, ha) decision. Her advice helped me gain clarity around the dilemma by confirming that my family, goals, aspirations and well-being took precedence over my then-current reality. She gave me this advice not long after having been in a very similar position to the one I was in. She endured the high highs and low lows, but was and is in a better place, doing what she loves (and is phenomenal at doing). I connected with her vulnerability, honesty, and persistence, and would soon(-er than I imagined) would be living in a similar experience. I wouldn't change a damn thing about it!
I am forever grateful and appreciative of this advice and want to pass it on to others. I want other women who hope to make a bold decision, to be able to do it with the help, support, empowerment, and love from other women. We should all be able to do so without resistance, judgement, or fear. Don't let your talents, passions, skills and dreams go to waste. Make your dream your reality. There is a strong, growing community of women out there / here to help make that happe. GIRL POWER!
Dominique: I am the Account Executive of Artists and Events for Royal and Langnickel Brush and I am graced by the presence of Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist Kevin James Bennett a few times a year and his wise words were " Do something different everyday." and thats just what I aim for.