This weeks Q & A is with Denise Restauri, CEO of Girlquake and author of Their Roaring Thirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Women Who Beat The Youth Trap
1. What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?
14 years ago I had one of those “WOW” moments as I was holding my 7- year old daughter’s hand, staring at the window at Barney’s.
Yes, I’ve had many WOW moments staring at those windows, but this was different—it wasn’t about a dress or a pair of shoes. I said to my daughter, Ally, you can be anything you want to be – you can be a fashion designer or you can design a window display like this one here. As Ally looked at me with that “what are you talking about look?” on her face (a look that she has only continued to perfect over the years) — I realized I wasn’t really talking to Ally, I was talking to my younger self.
I came from a tiny little town outside of Pittsburgh. I had wonderful parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Problem was we hardly ever left our “back yard”, we didn’t have the Internet way back then — I couldn’t SEE what I could be.
I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I couldn’t draw. I didn’t know there was a place like Barneys where I could be a different kind of designer.
And it was that day – as I stared at the windows at Barneys — that I decided to design and create my platform that would help young women from around the world SEE what they could be. Because if you can see it, you can be it. That platform grew to be GirlQuake…
2. Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?
I never had a mentor or sponsor, in the formal sense. But I worked with some of the most supportive women in the universe when I was at USA TODAY – both were my bosses, Carolyn Bivens and Janet Costello. We didn’t always agree, but we always had each other’s backs. And we all learned from each other.
3. What is your biggest goal right now?
In my book, Their Roaring Thirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Women Who Beat The Youth Trap, I take a brief moment to reflect on my 30s and how I had “lost my groove” in that decade of change. One of the wonderful things I have experienced about aging is that I found my groove (thank God!). And now I want to enjoy the freedom that brings and to keep dreaming bigger.
4. How did you feel on your 30th birthday? What were you doing at that time?
I’m laughing because that was 30 years ago and I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night! I was working at USA Today, married, no children, living in DC, and totally clueless about what a decade of change the 30s would be.
5. How do you unplug? How often do you unplug?
I am guilty of falling into the “almost never” camp. But on a recent trip to Rome, Paris and London, I did put up an away message for 10 days and that step gave me a wonderful sense of freedom.
6. What cause do you most want to advance?
Empowerment for women and girls (education, no violence)
7. What song can’t you get out of your head?
You’ve Got Time, the theme song from Orange Is The New Black. Is that sick? Maybe I need to update my playlist! Or maybe it’s because I just finished binge watching Season 2. I don’t think it’s because I’m planning on going to prison!
8. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
My best piece of advice was to be true to myself, be authentic, transparent and genuine. Followed by, “Nothing matters if you don’t have a story.” Followed by, when you have writer’s block, start with “I.”
9. What is your secret indulgence?
Gluten free chocolate brownies from Haven’s Kitchen in Chelsea, NY
10. Who on the list of 2013 Honorees would you like to meet?