Embracing Sisterhood: A Conversation for Women by Women

Embracing Sisterhood: A Conversation for Women by Women

Photos by: Bre Johnson

On March 28th, 2023, JBW hosted "Embracing Sisterhood: A Conversation for Women by Women," a panel discussion that brought together some of the most successful women in their respective industries to share insights on their journeys and how they maneuvered through their careers while supporting other women. In celebration of International Women’s Month, we invited our New York City community to hear their stories and network among successful women.

The panel was moderated by Jessi Jacq, JBW’s first female Creative Director. The panelists included Ariana Johnson, a designer, fashion content creator, and production lead for the Women's Polo division at the global brand Ralph Lauren; Susy Oludele, a Nigerian American hair artist, creative, and entrepreneur; and Jaleesa Jaikaran, a Trinidadian pro-makeup artist and host of The Life of a Makeup Artist podcast.

Jessi Jacq, Creative Director

Left to right: Jessi Jacq, Ariana Johnson, Susy Oludele, Jaleesa Jaikaran

The panel discussion began with Jessi asking each panelist to share their journey and how they overcame the challenges they faced as women in their industries. Ariana talked about her early ages in fashion, knowing that she would always end up in the industry somehow. She began at smaller fashion and jewelry brands which then led her to Ralph Lauren. Picking up content creation was something she did as a hobby that quickly gave her more opportunities into the world of fashion.

Susy shared the journey of becoming a hairstylist besides her parents having dreams of her being a doctor or lawyer. She spoke about becoming homeless in order to pay the bills for her first salon, a sacrifice that she felt was needed to continue this journey. Through perseverance, Susy continued to push towards her dream, and landed a client who changed her career trajectory, Beyoncé. 

Jaleesa explained that her career blossomed out of a hobby, something she loved to do for fun. Beginning her makeup career at MAC Cosmetics, Jaleesa made a sacrifice to move from Trinidad to New York City for more opportunities and experience in the makeup industry. She began her Youtube channel when she moved to NYC, and now hosts The Life of a Makeup Artist podcast. She emphasized the importance of sharing information and building relationships with other women in the industry. 

The conversation then shifted to how women can be misconceptualized by others. The panelists discussed how women are easier to be perceived as having an attitude rather than being assertive when asking for what they want. Ariana stated “It is unfair to have the burden of being stereotyped and feel that [women] have to overcompensate… I had to learn professional confidence in order to present myself in the way that I want to be perceived, and that's just one small step towards battling the misconceptions [of being a woman in the workplace].” 

Jessi posed a question to the panelists that struck a nerve with numerous women in the room: “As a successful woman in the workplace, how do you balance your work and personal lives? What does self-care mean to you?” *Cue the tears*

Ariana discussed prioritizing and scheduling what is important to you and taking care of yourself. “Rediscovering old passions, like dance, has helped me gain a new sense of confidence to show up in the world as a multi-talented person. I can truly say I have a life outside of my 9-5, my work.” Susy identified herself as a workaholic, a term that many women associate with a negative connotation due to the expectation to work harder than men. She has to remind herself that it’s okay to go to the spa, to go get her hair done every once in a while. She states “It's easy to forget [to take care of yourself] once you are working, working, working. I need to discover new passions, so I am still trying to master that [self-care].” Jaleesa admits to having a rough year last year, never taking time to care for herself and her body. She now has a full list of self-care rituals including: acupuncture, cupping, massages. She explains “Sometimes self-care is just rest. [I am] making sure to prioritize those things as much as I can, even if it’s difficult.” Jessi added, “[Self-care means] being gentle with myself, as far as pacing. As women, we are go-getters, but you have to pace yourself. Say no sometimes, and then compromise.”

The panel discussion ended with Jessi asking each panelist to share one piece of advice they would like to leave with the women in the audience. Ariana Johnson emphasized the importance of pursuing your passions immediately. She stated, “Start now, do not wait. Try new things, reach out to people, and go after what you want.” Susy Oludele advised women to always have faith and always believe in themselves: “Even when given trials, or feel like you can’t see it [your dreams within reach], it is still within reach. Don’t give up easily.” Jaleesa Jaikaran stated “Always remember, the tables will always turn. People will try to break your spirit, you cannot let those things dim your light. Keep your head straight, you will surpass all the BS.”

Overall, "Embracing Sisterhood: A Conversation for Women by Women" was a powerful and inspiring event that highlighted the challenges women face in their careers and the importance of supporting each other. The panelists provided valuable insights and advice that will surely help many women navigate their own journeys. Thank you to those who joined us for the night.


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