Today is International Women's Day, and I could not be more honored to be writing this post celebrating the strong, amazing women who I have the opportunity of working with (and for) here at Sizzix. It's so rare to find such an inspirational group of women all in the same company, working hard to achieve not only their personal goals, but one singular common goal as well. From my first few weeks here at Sizzix back in August of last year, I was in awe of these women who are passionate about their jobs, goal driven, and help bring to fruition a vision of not only an awesome place to work, but a place that people enjoy buying from and working with as well. In celebration of International Women's Day, I want to share with you all an interview I got to have with the main woman here at Sizzix, who is the epitome of hard work, dedication, inspiration, passion and so much more; our amazingly awesome CEO, Kristin Highberg.
It's hard to imagine someone you've never known as anyone other than who they are now, as a child, but when Kristin started talking to me about her childhood aspirations to be a teacher when she grew up, I saw a spark in her eyes that I can only imagine existed in a huge way when she was a kid. "I used to play school with my brother and neighborhood friends. I had everything; a chalkboard and felt board that I used Ellison shapes on...they had recess and they got detention when they did something wrong. I wanted to be a teacher- my Grandmother was a teacher, and I went to college to study literature and film." After graduating college, Kristin started working to get her Master's Degree and had the opportunity to work for her family's business. "That was the best choice I've made. But I did want to be a teacher."
"Because my grandmother was a teacher and an artist, every time we went over to her house, we would have some kind of activity that was art related- we would draw, we would paint, she would teach us all of the things that she learned when she was younger." Kristin started laughing as she recalled a very vivid memory from when she was a child: "I remember this one time she had all of us take a pencil and a piece of paper and instructed us to draw a face, but we couldn't lift the pencil up off the paper. I still have that picture today- it was terrible because I had to of been about 8 years old, but it was so much fun, we would always do craft activities at my grandmother's house."
"That would have to be my grandmother and my mother!" The love Kristin has for her mom and grandma was obvious as she shared her thoughts on having such amazing influences like them in her life. "My grandmother starting a business at the age of 50 when she was a teacher, just deciding to start this business, that was a HUGE inspiration for me. My mom came into the business and worked here for many years, and getting to see her work, and see how strong she was- they were both inspirations for me in my position now."
"I have to say: work hard and do your best because the results of working hard and doing your best in life and in your career can be very empowering. You develop confidence, strength, respect, friendships, loyalty, love and humor. Work hard and do your best- definitely words to live by."
5.) What Advice Would You Give To A Young, Professional, Aspiring Woman Who Wanted To Be What You Are Now?
"You have to go with your passion, and what you REALLY want to do. It can be really tough at times, but if you believe in something and you work hard, you know you can aspire to be whoever you want to be and whatever you want to do." This advice was almost like a reaffirmation to me- that this passion that I see myself surrounded by here at Sizzix was not an accident- the people who work here were chosen to be here because of their passion, because of their drive, because- in short- they embodied this piece of advice that Kristin herself embodies and holds so dear.
"FUN!" The look on Kristin's face was one of pure joy when she said this- and for me, it was absolutely awesome to be sitting in front of the CEO of the company I work for, grinning ear to ear about her job and how fun it was.
"There are SO many memories!" Kristin's face once again lit up, and she got that spark in her eye once again. "I have to say that since Ellison is such a fun and creative place to work, the funniest things that have happened to me as CEO are all due to my dedicated, passionate, silly and crazy Ellison team!" Kristin then told me about how one of our Sizzix team members hid her chair from her, as well as several team members deciding to scare her with a life size Cary Grant poster. When she told me about her office filled with balloons, I too started laughing. I remembered how some of our team members had come in super early that morning to fill her office with balloons and then having to quickly try and shut her door so the balloons wouldn't escape and Kristin wouldn't know they were in there. "Even when I work late and I think that no one is here, someone will make creepy noises outside of my office door. All of it makes me smile and laugh!"
I am so grateful to Kristin for her time talking with me last week, and even more grateful for the opportunity to work here at Sizzix among all of these amazing women (and men, but it is International Women's Day.) It was so empowering to spend time with our CEO, and getting to find out about her passions, her inspirations, her favorite color (blue) and her favorite food that she likes to cook (Thai, however that may have changed since it is a new week and I'm under the impression that her love of cooking new things changes on a week to week basis.) But I also need to give a shout out to a few other females who have made a huge impact on my life here at Sizzix:
Our Digital Marketing Manager, Liz Spornick, who besides being one of the most fantastic managers I've ever had to work for, has truly given me the wings to fly with this amazing job I have here at Sizzix. The motivation and inspiration that our team receives from her on a daily basis can't even compare to anything else I've experienced.
Our Creative Director, Jen Long, who constantly brings new ideas and enthusiasm to both our Art Department and our Product Designers, not only guiding them to make amazing new crafts and products, but also continuing her own amazing lines of dies. These groups of women that Jen leads are all some of the most amazing females that I have ever had the opportunity to know and work beside.
There are so women who deserve to be celebrated today- each and every one of us. Who is your biggest female influence? How did they guide you to where you are today?