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#BoldBossTribe :: Phuong Mai of P.MAI

Bold & Pop #BoldBossTribe Feature with Founder Phuong Mai of P.MAI
Bold & Pop #BoldBossTribe Feature with Founder Phuong Mai of P.MAI

Tell us your bold boss story!: 

Handbags are a pain—literally. But they don’t have to be. Here’s my story on how I decided to change that.

I started my career in management consulting. While it was an incredible learning experience, the job took a toll on me physically. Client visits meant I was living out of suitcase and racking up points like nobody’s business. I still remember the routine. On Mondays, I would head to the airport at an ungodly hour with several bags carrying everything I needed for the week. I’d lug my laptop and purse everywhere on one shoulder, working from the client site to my hotel room. Wash, rinse, and repeat. By Thursday night, I’d returned home with enough energy to lie comatose in my bed.

Needless to say, the physical stress on my body eventually caught up to me. The slight discomfort in my right shoulder I noticed early on grew into an excruciating pain. Exasperated, I visited my doctor who detected the uneven weight from my bags had misaligned my collarbone. She ordered me to switch to a backpack immediately for better weight distribution and to reduce the risk of pinch nerves on my one shoulder.

That doctor’s visit served as a wake-up call. No woman should ever have to sacrifice her health for fashion. I went straight to a department store to trade in my clunky laptop bag and purse for an accessory I thought I had resigned to my school days: a backpack. I was less than pleased with the options available. All the backpacks large enough to fit my laptop and personal items were extremely utilitarian and masculine, and all the fashionable backpacks were too small to fit my laptop. In the end, I could not find a single backpack that combined fashion with function, and had to settle for a sporty black unisex backpack.

Bold & Pop #BoldBossTribe Feature with Founder Phuong Mai of P.MAI

While I had to compromise (temporarily at least) my choice of accessory, I decided I could no longer compromise my health for my profession. I left my management consulting job and began working at a boutique strategy and design consulting firm. This experience taught me the power of design thinking and encouraged me to take the first steps towards designing the bag I wanted to buy: a fashionable, functional laptop bag for women. As I talked to more and more women about what they wanted in a bag, I realized that most shared my frustration. They realized their overweight handbags were causing strain on their bodies, but didn’t feel as though they had any other choice. This was when I knew there was a significant market need for the bag I wanted to design.

I eventually left my job and decided to take the leap to create my own brand with a simple philosophy: combine luxury and utility into products that inspire women to look and feel their best. I believe women should not have to sacrifice comfort for style. With the launch of P.MAI, we’re now giving women around the world the new option to carry a backpack worthy of the boardroom and runway. Nothing gives me more pleasure than hearing from customers, who have told me that they can’t imagine going back to a handbag now. To think that none of this would’ve been possible without my misaligned collarbone and the courage to lean in to create a bag that allows women to prioritize their own health is truly humbling.

We're all about bold boss moments, tell us about one of yours!: 

In terms of a bold boss moment, I do have a funny story. Being an entrepreneur means constantly putting yourself out there—even in the face of naysayers. Once, I saw Tyra Banks walking down the streets of San Francisco, down the block from where I used to lived. She was popping in and out of some shops and so I nervously followed her, waiting for the right moment to talk to her. As she was coming out of the store, I said, "Excuse me, Tyra?" and she immediately waved me off, not in a mean way, more like in a "half-sorry, I don't want to be bothered-way". While I felt shut down at first, I decided to persevere and confidently said "I designed this backpack and just want to know what you think!". She turned around, smiles, checked out the bag, and gave me two thumbs ups. It was a small moment that took a total of a few minutes—but it was a reminder to me that you have nothing to lose when you ask.

Starting my own business and getting recognized by media like TechCrunch has been one of my proudest achievements. 

What advice or words of encouragement do you have for the Bold Boss Tribe?: 

The hardest part won’t be quitting your day job to make the entrepreneurial leap, but actually working hard to see your idea through—every day, hour by hour, through the doubts and setbacks. Learn to be ok with ambiguity. Lean into your strengths and ask for help in areas where you have gaps. Yes, it will probably take 3x as long and 3x as much as you expected. But if you’re solving a problem that you truly believe in, it will be worth it!

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Have an awesome bold boss story of your own? We want to hear from you! Check out the dets and submit your story for consideration.

P.S. Exciting news! We launched a free #BoldBossTribe Facebook Group and would love for you to join us! Come on over!

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#BoldBossTribe :: Joanne Wetzel of The Girl Inspired Project

Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe :: Joanne Wetzel of The Girl Inspired Project
Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe :: Joanne Wetzel of The Girl Inspired Project

Tell us your bold boss story!: 

I am a firm believer in cultivating a life you love. Over the years, I’ve struggled to stick with one business, idea, or career path--always feeling like they didn’t encompass the whole of who I am. It was as if I was being forced to fit into a box, but I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

Like many people, I have a plethora of interests and passions. I am an avid yogi, a passionate reader, a world traveler, dog advocate, encourager, commercial model, and more.

The Girl Inspired Project is the shared experiences of my daily life while infusing the world with more kindness, joy, and inspiration. Via The Girl Inspired Project Podcast as well as our YouTube Channel, you can experience weekly inspirational conversations with me via YouTube Live, listen to insightful, encouraging conversations with other extraordinary women who share their struggles in life and business, and gain access to our monthly GIP 'Zine overflowing with fulfilling content you can't find anywhere else, and learn how to give back in your business while creating a life worth living (among a lot of other inspiring things along the way!).

It is my hope that together we can change the world, lead joyful lives, and build an amazing, strong community of women from all walks of life.

We're all about bold boss moments, tell us about one of yours!: 

I feel very fortunate in my life to have owned already two successful businesses; though, the achievement I am most proud of is that I didn't settle. I chose not to stay in a business or career that I no longer loved. At the time, it was the scariest decision of my life. There was so much uncertainty, concerns about being irrelevant, and anxiety about what to do next. I lingered in that state for fifteen months while my peers and friends forged ahead in there businesses, lives, and successes. 

But, as it turns out, it was the biggest bold boss moment I could've made and it has completely changed my life for the better.

Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe :: Joanne Wetzel of The Girl Inspired Project

What advice or words of encouragement do you have for the Bold Boss Tribe?: 

There is a lot I can say about business having owned more than one business myself, but one of the ideals that has been a game changer for me is this: keep going. Your business is not going to transform overnight and many days you are going to doubt yourself, why you are doing what you are doing, and what the point is. 

But do you know what the best way to win at business is? Take it one step, one day, and one bite at a time. Even if you spend only an hour a day on your business, that's okay. You'll look back a year or two from now and see all the effort you've put in has continued to snowball and flourish into a beautiful, successful business that is yours! 

You are going to be tired. You are going to feel like you are not enough. Life is assuredly going to get in the way. It's not going to be easy, but keep going. Rest when you need to rest, work when you can work, and most importantly, carve in time to take care of yourself.

That's the way to win in business.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | TwitterPinterest | Youtube

Have an awesome bold boss story of your own? We want to hear from you! Check out the dets and submit your story for consideration.

P.S. Exciting news! We launched a free #BoldBossTribe Facebook Group and would love for you to join us! Come on over!

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#BoldBossTribe :: June Cruz of ENAMOUR

Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe Feature with June Cruz of ENAMOUR
Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe Feature with June Cruz of ENAMOUR
Bold & Pop :: #BoldBossTribe Feature with June Cruz of ENAMOUR

Tell us your bold boss story!: 

I am an Artist and Designer. I create ethical fashion and jewelry for ENAMOUR Design House. A brand I created 8 years ago after showing my first capsule collection at Boston Fashion Week. After high school I attended Art school and received a BFA, but later, while teaching Art to middle school children, I attained my Fashion Design Certificate. For 2 years, I traveled almost 2 hours after work 3 nights a week to attend classes. During those two years I didn't mind the travel because those classes, both academic and studio were so inspiring. They solidified the inkling that I always had that fashion (and later wearable art) was my passion and calling. When I design its a time I feel the most confident. 

My now husband- then boyfriend was the inspiration behind me starting ENAMOUR Design House. He saw my runway creations and things I was making outside of my teaching job- he even saw I had created a Wearable Art after school program for the students to learn textile manipulation, and he asked why I wasn't devoting 100 percent of my time to what I was passionate about. It was true, I figured I couldn't tell my students to move forward with what inspired them and I wasn't doing the same. About a year after I left my teaching job, I showed my first capsule collection at Boston Fashion Week.

We're all about bold boss moments, tell us about one of yours!: 

When I first began designing I had broad expectations but no detailed idea of what would happen with my designs. I wasn't sure how they would be received and if they would be purchased, so there are so many things I'm proud of and more importantly grateful for in the form of experiences. I'm proud of the consistency in which I've kept up with my blog and how it has allowed opportunities to come my way in the form of affiliate marketing and collaborations. I'm proud of my earrings being worn and sold all over the world. I'm proud of my clothing being sold in boutiques nationally and my earring designs being worn on celebrities and seen on national TV and in publications because of the great relationships I've had with stylists over the years. But I think most of all I'm proud of being able to have my family moments without missing out on a creative career that brings me fulfillment. The balance of both has made me happiest, and in such a busy work filled world that, to me, is a huge achievement.

What advice or words of encouragement do you have for the Bold Boss Tribe?: 

There are so many things I've learned on this journey. But one of the most important is that your journey is YOUR journey. Definitely learn from others - I actually listen to the podcast "How I Made This" on a regular basis. It's one of my favorites because it illustrates my advice so perfectly. Everyone interviewed gets to their point of success at their own pace and in their own time, all of them are seen as success no matter how long or short the journey to get there was. Don't' rush through great moments on your journey because you are trying to achieve someone else's version of success.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | TwitterPinterest

Have an awesome bold boss story of your own? We want to hear from you! Check out the dets and submit your story for consideration.

P.S. Exciting news! We launched a free #BoldBossTribe Facebook Group and would love for you to join us! Come on over!

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