Meet Rebecca Eli, School Teacher, School Counsellor/Wellbeing Coordinator, and Founder of Girl Empowered. Rebecca is based in a remote mining town in South Australia, Australia. She is a school teacher, qualified personal trainer, yoga instructor, School Counsellor/Wellbeing Coordinator and has worked in schools across the state of South Australia for 16 years. She launched Girl Empowered to create a social enterprise that promotes the sustained empowerment of Girls physically, socially, economically, and psychologically. Along with founding Girl Empowered, Rebecca still works three days a week as a school teacher while she continues to build Girl Empowered and launch her flagship program Powerful Me.
Tell us a little about Girl Empowered. What called you to launch Girl Empowered?
The concept of Girl Empowered had really been circling in my head (and heart) for a year or so but I didn’t really have an idea of what it would look like. Empowering girls and inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves has always been something that inspires me in return, and is one of the most enjoyable parts of my career as a teacher and school counsellor. So the concept of Girl Empowered was really a culmination of my years of working in schools combined with the recent yoga studies I have completed. It really is a blend of sensible school and self awareness for tweens and teens.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in launching Girl Empowered?
Feel the fear and do it anyway. I held off on launching Girl Empowered for a while because really the self doubt and fear was overwhelming. It felt too big and the doubts were too strong. But I got to a point where I couldn’t ignore the pull at my heart any longer and I launched it. It was a low tech, low budget launch in the shape of a FB page and video which I shared on my personal page also. The video went crazy with over 11,000 views and messages from friends but also people I didn’t know who also felt so strongly about the message. This is a lesson I use when I create something new or launch a new offering, I still feel fear and doubts, but I do it anyway!
What are some of your biggest successes you have experienced since launching Girl Empowered?
Girl Empowered is still in it’s infancy but already I’ve had some great success. Hearing from parents the positive impact Girl Empowered has had not only for their daughter but also their relationship with their daughter has been positive.
Given too that I launched Powerful Me, the Flagship course from Girl Empowered only three months after I announced Girl Empowered was also a huge success. Topped off by reaching my target for course sign ups was also a success.
I am also in the early stages of writing a similar course aimed more at teens, so that too is a success because I didn’t have that planned when I initially launched Girl Empowered.
You recently launched your course Powerful Me, the flagship offering of Girl Empowered. What are some of the goals of the course and what would you like others to take away from it?
Powerful Me is a self awareness and self development program for tweens. The course content is designed to be delivered over six weeks to the parent with content relevant and aimed at the daughter but gives lifetime access. Each week contains videos for the daughter, information for the parents along with links to other resources. The course covers topics such as understanding strengths, emotional intelligence, understanding courage and communication skills. It is really designed to support tweens transition into the turbulent teen years with skills and understanding to help them navigate the dynamics of friendships which teens (and parents of teens) find are everchanging and challenging.
Along with running Girl Empowered, you’re a school teacher, School Counsellor/Wellbeing coordinator and a mother of three! How do you find a healthy balance with a busy schedule?
I am a school teacher presently and previously worked officially as a school wellbeing coordinator. Last year when Girl Empowered wasn’t yet conceived, I felt the pull to make some changes in my working life to free up more space for my own children but also to allow what is now Girl Empowered to emerge. So at the beginning of 2017 I reduced from full time teaching to three days per week. This has allowed the space to create Girl Empowered but also to find that very delicate work life balance for four of the most important people in my life, my three beautiful kids aged 8, 7 and 4, plus my husband.
What advice would you give to other women who are pursuing their passions?
Do it! You’ll feel fear, you’ll have doubts and others will tell you it’s not possible. Surround yourself with honest supporters and invest in yourself, whether that is time or training. Your message is important and to deliver it you need to be in your best shape, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
What is your personal or professional motto and how do you apply it to your life?
“You have everything inside of you that you need.”
Whenever I doubt my experience, knowledge, expertise or am unsure about my next professional move, I go within, asking others is not my first option, I meditate, journal or pay particularly close attention to subtle signs and synchronicities I notice in my daily life. It sounds a little woo-woo but I totally believe that we have and are, all that we need.
My yoga practice has really strengthened my ability to meditate and stay centered but I work at it daily. I also work constantly with my mindset which was a huge challenge during the launch of Girl Empowered, but I really found keeping myself grounded and centered supported me during this time.
Keeping this self-focus balanced with positive, supportive friends and colleagues and working on maintaining my connection to my children and husband is also important. Without those connections, I am out of balance so fostering these relationships is important in keeping a real connection to myself.
How can our readers connect with you?
I first met Tetanya at a local t.v. studio. She had been invited, by a local influencer, to participate in a panel that included interesting, impactful women, doing meaningful things in our city.
I was immediately struck by her overall joy, obvious gratitude and personable, engaging nature. She was welcoming, friendly and totally unpretentious. Uncommon; yes.
I learned that she was a local fashion designer and that her craft was born out of love and passion for beauty and creativity. Her creations were made out of repurposed fabric, like old Cavalli gowns. Eco-fashion. Green. I thought it was clever and on trend. I admired the way that she pursued something that she loved doing; something that brought her joy. That quality is uncommon too.
After my initial introduction to her that day, I met her again, a few weeks later, at that same t.v. studio. She was being interviewed and shared her story, which was more amazing than any of her accomplishments.
One of my initial thoughts about Tetanya, was that she lived like no one was watching. No one was judging. People rarely live with that type of abandon and sharp focus on what really matters to them, personally. She just took pleasure in every moment; every interaction with every person, every creation she had sewn. She was utterly humble. She seemed to be motivated by joy and love for what she was doing. There was an absence of detectable ulterior motives. She was very authentic.
As I listened to her interview that day, and in our own subsequent conversation, my observations about Tetanya were proven totally correct, and an incredible explanation of why she lives and thinks the way that she does was given.
An educated, life long career woman, life suddenly changed, when a cough and nasal problems revealed the presence of a brain tumor, just a day before her fortieth birthday. Within a year, the tumor, had doubled in size and while it was not cancerous, it was threatening her overall health and raised the spectre of death. She lost her peripheral vision. With daily changes to her vision, impeding it, and memory loss due to the tumor, she lost her job.
Through the battery of tests that she was subjected to, arthritis was discovered and diagnosed, as was fibromyalgia. These were new and additional burdens, unrelated to the tumor. Related to the tumor, was the possibility of being confined to a wheelchair.
Tetanya, was depressed and living in chronic pain.
Eventually, surgery, to remove the tumor, became inevitable. It was a risk though. The surgery could kill her, but, if she opted not to have the surgery, she would certainly die due to a complication brought about by the growing brain tumor.
On the day of her surgery, scared, Tetanya had her epiphany about how she wanted to live, if she did. She told me that her life flashed before her mind’s eye like a movie. If she didn’t die in the surgery, she would live a life that she loved, simplified, based on love for herself and others, and pure gratitude for life. She would not fear what others thought. She would take risks. She wouldn’t focus on social conformity but on the things that she really wanted and needed to be happy. She would do whatever she wanted to, without worry of what it may look like to others. She would delight herself in life, entirely, unfettered by fear.
Tetanya lived and has adhered to her promises to herself. Functioning on the basic belief that she has been gifted with a second chance at life, she has committed to living like no one is watching, doing the things that bring her true joy. Here is the thing: people are watching. Long before I ever noticed her, others have. As she has said, “yes”, to living a life that she truly loves, incredible opportunities have been given to her!
She has participated Vancouver Fashion Week as a model; the event’s oldest. Her work in eco-fashion has gotten her noticed by Vogue. She has been invited to participate in New York Fashion Week, as a designer. She has participated in numerous pageants representing women over 40; truly an underrepresented segment of the female population. She has entered and won, the Mrs. B.C. Pageant. She has been a featured speaker for, “She Talks”, which got an honorable mention from CNN as an International Women’s Day event not to be missed. In truth, this is only a brief list of her accomplishments and awards.
I think that we all love a success story, especially one that we can identify with because the scope of it is not beyond our own reach. Tetanya’s story is not beyond our own reach. We all can, just like she did, decide to live life on our own terms and no one else’s, focusing on the fact that it is, a gift. Life is a gift, a very personal gift, to each one of us.
Using that understanding as a starting point, there is a lot that we can do for ourselves and others, just like she is, and the result is fulfillment.
Anastasia Anthony Zervos. Anastasia is a realtor and freelance writer, living in Vancouver, Canada. Her latest project contribution, “Remember The Gospel: How to Move Forward in The Christian Life”, is available on, amazon.ca
Meet Brittany Alphonso, the designer behind Banana Bread Baby and founder of St. Augustine Fashion Week. Brittany’s passion for fashion and design began as a child and later grew when she had children of her own. Being home with her girls inspired her to pursue her passion for design and start sewing again, but on a more professional level than ever before! Brittany has shown her line of children’s clothing across the United States, but when it came to her hometown, St. Augustine, she saw a need for a runway event or fashion show to give designers like herself a platform to showcase their work. She dreamt of launching St. Augustine Fashion Week, and after attending the first, She Is Fierce! Women’s Wednesday series Brittany turned her dream into a plan. She took a leap and launched the St. Augustine Fashion Week which offers designers from around the nation a chance to showcase their designs in the nation’s oldest city!
When did you first discover your passion for fashion?
I was 5, in a Toys R US store holding a Dress Up Kit that was clearly too much to buy on a non-birthday trip to Toys R US…. well the dress up kit included feather boa, plastic glitter pumps and loads of shining plastic jewelry…. and all I wanted was “Fashion and Design” ” I want this Fashion and Design” ….. My Mom likes to tell that story in comparison to how I live my life these days:)
How did you actually go from a love of fashion to becoming a designer?
Well I had this love of Fashion, it was really just interest for a long time. I would create my own costumes and doll clothes as a kid and began sketching as a teen. When I actually had to start planning for a future career towards the end of High School I honestly had “0” idea that I could actually pursue a career in Fashion. Growing up in St. Augustine, not exactly the place you think of in reference of High Fashion let alone Designer / Manufacturer, left me with very little inspiration and outlets to learn my options. Well, I finished High School and went on to our local Community College with absolutely no direction what so ever…. well that didn’t last long. My creative brain was completely under-stimulated and I decided to take on the world at my own pace.
I married early and began a family right away. I was a new mom, a young new mom, and thankfully able to be home with my babies at this very special time in our lives. Home with my girls inspired me to create and pursue my passion that I thought was long gone. I began sewing again but on a more professional level than ever before. I started with simple girls dresses, for my girls of course, and soon advanced to working with intricate laces and trims and creating my own patterns. I launched Banana Bread Baby in the Spring of 2009 and have since seen my brand grow.
What called you to creating a fashion week event in St. Augustine, Florida? You had the idea a long time before you took the leap… what was it that made you finally decide to go for it?
I have traveled the US showing my line of children’s clothing in Runway events and Fashion Weeks but when it came to my own home town …… there was nothing. I had met many local designers that are in the same boat, wanting so badly to share their products for our local market. Not many locals know that there are actually REAL DESIGNERS living in our little town creating real lines of wearable clothing. I finally went for my dreams after being absolutely inspired by the first She is Fierce! series presented at the Treasury on the Plaza in St. Augustine. I had this dream of launching a St. Augustine Fashion Week, but I didn’t have enough courage to really go for it and take that LEAP of Fierce. Meeting Kelly and attending the incredible talk series was so inspiring to me. I truly thank the She is Fierce community for encouraging me to make my dreams come true.
What are some lessons you learned in launching a new event series?
Well lesson #1 Not everything starts off perfect! It takes a lot of hard work and even a few mistakes to grow and get better each show.
I could go on and on as I seriously learn something new everyday, and for that I am thankful.
What are some of your biggest successes you have experienced since joining the She Is Fierce! community?
I feel that I am more confident in my abilities. I feel that with this confidence in myself others are more likely to take me seriously.
What does being a member of She Is Fierce! mean to you?
Well She is Fierce is not just a group of woman trying to prove something, we are proving something. Proving that empowering other women to take their dreams and making them reality is possible. The support I see from day to day is nothing in comparison to the true lift HER up and HELP her succeed that I feel from She is Fierce members!
How can our audience get involved with St. Augustine Fashion Week?
Well each Season of St. Augustine Fashion Week we offer a platform to new designers from around the Nation. These small brand designers are presenting their latest collections in line with Fashion Weeks around the globe. Our audience can get involved by following our designers, coming to their presentation and supporting the many business that have come together to make this show possible.
We have seen people from our audience return to following shows as Sponsors, Volunteers and even Designers. This is so incredible to me as we have not only presented an awe inspiring show but we have inspired them to join our team and even make their dream of being a designer or model come true.
St. Augustine Fashion Week is a non-profit organization that works closely with our community and the areas in need. Each show, portion of proceeds make a direct impact to those organizations in need of help. This year Season 3 will be donating proceeds to St. Augustine Youth Services, The Lightner Museum Hurricane Relief Fund and PACE. With your ticket purchase and even sponsorship of the event you can help us reach our goals in funds to provide that much needed help to these incredible organizations. Learn more by contacting email@example.com or stafashionweek.com
Meet Kate Taylor… Stylist, Image Consultant and She Is Fierce! Mentor!
Scroll down to watch Kate’s full talk from our Women’s Wednesdays events!
Kate is passionate about partnering with women to help them achieve their dreams and reach their potential.
Kate’s image consulting career is the culmination of a journey through numerous related fields, and is a dream come true. She worked in the fashion industry as VP of Sales & Marketing for a clothing company and as a fashion designer. She learned the ins-and-outs of behind the scenes fashion… from styling to design to trade shows and fashion weeks. She has also worked as a professional makeup artist.
Through all of her career changes and opportunities, she realized that what she loves the most is helping people truly discover their image. Her passion is helping to fill others with the confidence to change their lives and follow their own dreams.
Kate has a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Psychology and a Master of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication. The opportunities to work across a range of careers and work with wonderful clients have given her the tools and experience needed to ensure success at the end of her client’s journeys.
You went through a few career iterations before you landed where you are – have you always known that helping people and inspiring women was what you wanted to do professionally?
I have always known that I wanted to help and inspire others. I thought that meant I was going to be a doctor, but after working towards that dream for 23 years, I had my “AHA” moment where I realized that medicine wasn’t the way that I was going to do it. I tried to see if beauty was the way to do it, or designing fashion, and then finally determined that the way I am meant to inspire and build others up, was in a way that hadn’t exactly been created yet… so I started my own business!
What is the biggest thing you feel a young woman needs to have to become a force in the professional world?
The biggest thing that a woman needs to have is confidence in herself, streaming directly from a true understanding of her identity… who she is and why she’s here, what makes her the unique beauty she is.
How did you identify your passion for helping others develop their own personal sense of style?
Well I was always the friend that did others’ makeup or put them in fun outfits, I would take them shopping to pick out clothes that they would never pick on their own – and then I realized, ” wait a second… this isn’t natural to everyone, yet it gives them such an extreme sense of themselves and instant confidence. They hold their heads higher and walk with their shoulders back” They accomplished more and believed in themselves. I wanted that for everyone!
Do you think being so involved in the fashion world has given you more incentive to help women find confidence in their image?
Yes, I definitely think that seeing every facet of the fashion world has given me a clear view of how style can empower others. I have seen the power that one outfit worn the correct way can give one woman. I believe that every woman can experience it and I want that beauty for everyone. True confidence can change the course of one’s life.
To you, what are the most important tips to remember for any woman trying to define her style and hone her image?
The most important tips that every woman needs to remember when trying to define their style and hone their image is that they must be true to themselves, and they need to be true to their goals – how they want to be seen.
Look in your closet, and see where there are trends. You bought the things you bought for a reason, and maybe you don’t see how to put them together – but understand that those pieces lit you up, most likely, when you purchased them. So, decide what still lights you up.
When you pick up a top or a skirt that you own, do you still love it? Do you want to find a way to rock it? Or is it just so-so? If it doesn’t light you up, then it’s time for it to go. If it does, find 3 different ways to wear it. If it’s a great top, then pair it with jeans, with a dress pant, and maybe a great pair of shorts.
Also, ask yourself – is this outfit in line with the image that I want to be projecting? If your goal is to be seen as polished, put together, and smart – does that top say those things to you? If it does, then great! Let’s use it! If it doesn’t – then don’t keep it just to take up space.
When you keep items that you don’t need or that aren’t in line with who you are, you are creating confusion around your wardrobe. You open your closet and have to decide, who am I? Get rid of those pieces that are creating that confusion, and create clarity in your closet!
You will then be able to stop wearing only 20% of your wardrobe. You will maximize the 100% that is true to you and the image that you want to be projecting.
What is the most important advice you could give to a young woman looking to start her own business?
Buckle your seatbelt, because it is going to be a ride! You must, must, must be 100% clear on who you are, what you are here for, and what you believe your business is meant to accomplish. When times get tough, and they will, as long as you have that clarity (and have it written down), you can go back – read it to yourself – and set your steps to accomplish it. Keep making steps towards that goal and you will achieve it.
What woman do you look up to as a role model in your career or life? What are the characteristics you most admire in those women?
Role models professionally are Katie Couric and Oprah. And while those may seem cliche, those women have built empires and tribes of women that believe in them and support their vision. They have done that because they got really clear on their message and why they are here. They have set their paths to make a difference and be the cause of change towards the better. That is what I want as well – I want to empower women to make a change in their lives and see how empowered and effective they can become.
My role models personally are my mother. That woman told me as a very young child that I could become anything I wanted to – and while most of us have heard that before and even roll our eyes when we hear it, she has shown me the support and strength of truly meaning that. When times get tough, she reminds me of why I’m here and how much she believes in me using my skills to change the world. She tells me that I have tools and gifts that I can’t keep to myself, and I must make a difference. That’s who I want to be to myself, to my friends/family/clients, and the world!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
The best piece of advice I have ever been given is to stop playing a small game. When you play small and have the mindset that there isn’t enough to go around, then you live a life of hoarding the few things and clients you have. But, when you play a big game and realize there is a big world out there, you see that there is more than enough to go around. You live a life with your arms wide and are able to accept all that there is available for you and your life. That’s how I want to live my life, both personally and professionally – as a person of plenty and abundance!
Get to know Kate better here: katetaylorstylist.com…
And benefit from her fabulous advice as a She Is Fierce! Member!
Join the waitlist here: sheisfiercehq.com/waitlist