Fearless Women ReLaunching and ReInventing Careers

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Have you ever considered redefining yourself and pursuing a specific business idea or career that you never had time for? Perhaps you have talked yourself out of fulfilling such dreams because others needed you to focus on them instead of your personal desires. While women are caught in a balancing act between what is good for their families versus what is good for them, it is growing more common for women to "re-launch" or "re-invent" themselves. Starting a new career or returning to former professions is increasing among women who have retired from full-time domestic life.

Have you ever considered redefining yourself and pursuing a specific business idea or career that you never had time for? Perhaps you have talked yourself out of fulfilling such dreams because others needed you to focus on them instead of your personal desires. While women are caught in a balancing act between what is good for their families versus what is good for them, it is growing more common for women to "re-launch" or "re-invent" themselves. Starting a new career or returning to former professions is increasing among women who have retired from full-time domestic life.

Always eager to support and promote women who are celebrating "The Better Half" of their lives (as Ceslie Armstrong has coined women age 40+), I spoke with three women who have re-launched their professional careers incorporating their innate drive, passion, previous years of experience, combined with the willingness to persevere and understanding that in every industry there are social implications and challenges for women who re-enter the work force later in life. These three women all used their artistic and creative expertise as a foundation to re-launch their careers and form successful businesses that are bringing products and services to our world with the underlying message of beauty and strength. Here, you’ll hear their tips, advice, and get a glimpse into their personal stories about how they re-launched and are living The Better Half.

As soon as her youngest of three daughters entered kindergarten, Rozi Ennekavi felt comfortable launching her career as a fashion and jewelry designer. She wanted to pursue her passion since she fell in love with fashion at her high school in France and later majored in the field in her native Turkey, but she had to put work aspirations on hold when she married and had children in New York City. Now a single mother and full fledged career woman, Ennekavi is a frequent guest on Home Shopping Network (HSN) where she sells her Secrets of Mine by Rozi clothing and jewelry line. With her bright smile and endearing warmth, she vows to help all women feel good about themselves by empowering them through her clothing line. Because Ennekavi believes that "the key to looking good is feeling comfortable in what you are wearing," she specializes in sweaters and leggings that accent the best physical assets of every body type and instills confidence in the women who wear her clothes.

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Rozi Ennekavi

 ROZI ENNEKAVI  DESIGNS  "SECRETS OF MINE BY ROZI"

Now juggling a work schedule that even a childless woman would find daunting, Ennekavi has made tough decisions regarding her private life. Although her family and friends have been extremely supportive, she struggles with spending less time with her children. She admits that it is difficult, but it is a sacrifice she makes so that she can turn Secrets of Mine by Rozi into a global brand that will one day include organic products like shampoos and soaps, to improve women’s lives throughout the world.

Rozi Necklace SECRETS OF MINE BY ROZI AVAILABLE ON HSN.com

When asked to give advice to women who want to successfully re-launch themselves. Ennekavi says, “They have to believe in themselves and just make it happen. Whatever you want happens at the end of the day as long as you really believe it. Whatever I wanted in my life happened for me because I truly believed that it would.” According to Ennekavi, when you visualize success, you will watch your dreams become a reality.

 

Fran Heller faced different challenges after she broke through the glass ceiling in the 1970s to climb the corporate ladder, only to realize that she did not want to be a cog in someone else’s machine. Despite the universal attitude during the era that “we would work for awhile after college, get married, quit our jobs, have kids and become our mothers,” Heller tackled the cut throat advertising world on Madison Avenue and quickly maneuvered her way from a floater secretary to a coveted assistant director of public relations position at Ogilvy & Mather. In 1987, divorced and unfulfilled working in a large agency, Heller left her comfort zone and decided to become a "dining room executive." She bought a computer, put it on her dining room table and started her own agency. Her first client was Nabisco and after other job stints, she eventually evolved her business into "Insights & Ideas" which she currently manages with other consultants in the marketing industry.

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Fran Heller headshot Fran Heller and Ron Gartner

FRAN HELLER (L) FRAN WITH HER HUSBAND, ENTERTAINER RON GARTNER (R)

Heller’s greatest source of inspiration has been her husband, Ron Gartner. She helped him reinvent himself from a garment career into a national performer. She encouraged him to turn his hobby of singing to senior citizens into a career, that she successfully helped market, which has taken him on the road throughout the U.S. performing for packed audiences while enabling him to create his own talent agency. Heller felt that if he could do it, so could she. As a certified fitness trainer and champion Ballroom dancer, Heller used her talent to venture into a business in the fitness world. She uses each business step as a learning experience, and now offers the new skills she acquired such as writing business plans to her clients through Insights & Ideas. While "re-inventing" herself, her husband advises, "to stay in motion, keep going and follow her dreams and see where it helps her." She recently became the CMO of CESLIE-The Women’s Network where she hopes to parlay her "reputation as an extremely creative producer of branded integration marketing campaigns and communicating the benefits of products and services to the Network’s audience of millions of women age 40+." She feels so much more fulfilled now than during her corporate days and she encourages women to "be fearless! Go for what you are going for, be confident and don’t let the bad days get you down."

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Fran Heller 1987 Fran Heller ballroom dancer

(L) "DINING ROOM EXECUTIVE" FRAN HELLER IN 1987 (R) FRAN HELLER BALLROOM DANCER

Karen Schmidt took a much different approach to her career. Although her true passion was always art, in the 1970s there were not many opportunities for women in that field. Hence, she earned a teaching credential in addition a BA in Art so that she could teach elementary school for a few years before quitting to focus all her energy on her family. She married her current husband, Tim, when she was 22 years old, raised three children and waited until her youngest daughter entered Junior High before engaging in artwork. Until that time, Schmidt says, "I convinced myself that I couldn’t just dabble in art. To really pursue it, I’d have to throw my whole self into it but didn’t want to compromise my position as a mother." She took a class and then responded to an ad from Russian artist Simon Kogan for private lessons. Upon seeing Schmidt’s first sculpture titled "Sorrow," Kogan pushed his chair back and exclaimed, "You are a sculptor!" Feeling motivate that she has true talent, Schmidt then decided to put 100% of her energy into sculpting.

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Karen Schmidt

SCULPTOR KAREN SCHMIDT AT WORK

Although creating beautiful sculptures comes naturally for Schmidt, transitioning into a career woman was full of challenges as her free time grew scarce. She is no longer as available to friends and family, thus she is forced to create "healthy boundaries" which includes narrowing her circle of friends. Additionally, while her husband was extremely supportive, she needed to convince him that she was capable of making certain business decisions on her own. Instead of solely bearing the household duties, she now relies on her husband to put in equal time. With the help of her supportive family, Schmidt stayed focused and has gracefully created numerous beautiful sculptures based on her experiences, faith, and commission requests.

 

Despite the new adjustments, Schmidt enthusiastically tells women who want to "re-launch" their careers to "Go for it!" But she also cautions to "expect it to be costly personally and probably financially and know that it is going to take a whole lot longer than you expected. Give yourself a lot of grace to grow and make mistakes and keep growing. It is easy for us to be hard on ourselves because we’re not at the same pace as a woman who has been working for 20 or 30 years. Personally, it is hard for me not to criticize my progress when compared to artists who have been doing this for many years. However, because of the breadth and depth of my life experience in the years between college and starting my career, I am bringing all of who I am into my new endeavor. Those years weren’t wasted. I can’t discount myself and compare myself to others."

Schmidt’s points are reinforced by Ennekavi and Heller. They also had to make sacrifices in their personal lives to focus on their careers. Time with family and friends becomes much more scarce when running your own business. Regardless, they do not regret their decisions and find that being entrepreneurial has major benefits. Heller explains, "I get to pick and chose what I do, when I do it, and who I do it with. I am master of my own fate. I get to call the shots, there is nothing better than that." For Ennekavi, every business achievement leaves her with an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Ennekavi, Heller and Schmidt are role models for women in the 21st century who want the most out of life. These women have a genuine passion for what they do. When caught in the juggling act between "duty" and career aspirations, it is possible to fulfill your aspirations. These three artistic business-minded and courageous women prove that there are options and it is never too late to "re-launch" or "re-invent" you.

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