Thursday, July 23, 2009

iAMWomaninBusiness: Photgraphy Exhibit

iAMWomaninBusiness: Photgraphy Exhibit

Photgraphy Exhibit

Hello everybody,

I just wanted to send along an invitation to my photography exhibit opening at the Historic Northampton Museum. It's one week from today and I couldn't get anymore excited. You can visit my website and have included some information below.
Take care and I"ll see you soon...

Historic Northampton
Backyard Beauty title image
Backyard Beauty: Photography by Stephanie Oates

You are invited to the Opening Reception for Historic Northampton's exciting new exhibit, Backyard Beauty: Photography by Stephanie Oates. The reception will be held at Historic Northampton on Thursday, July 30, 2009 from 4 PM - 7 PM.

About the Exhibit
Historic Northampton Current Exhibits
Backyard Beauty:
Photography by Stephanie Oates

Date: July 30 - October 31, 2009
Location: Historic Northampton
Cost: $3 per person, $6 per family
Backyard Beauty:
Photography by Stephanie Oates

Debut Exhibit Features Fresh Perspectives

July 30 - October 31, 2009
Opening Reception, July 30th, 4-7 PM
Museum Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM, Sundays Noon to 5 PM

In her debut exhibit, Stephanie Oates demonstrates an instinct for color and form that lends her photographs an intensity and energy that is scarcely contained by their frames. Oates follows in the tradition of Connecticut Valley art stretching back over two centuries. But her fresh vision of familiar surroundings startles the viewer with images bursting with light and color. Like all art forms, Oates' photography distills experience into primary elements. The natural and built landscapes provide a vivid palette for the formal structure of her compositions. A field of flowers becomes an abstraction of contrasting hues. A steeple, a barn, a garden are compressed into compact planes. Through Stephanie Oates' lens, our way of seeing is enhanced and enlarged. This exhibit marks the beginning of a promising career and, for the first time, brings the work of a very talented observer together for all of us to experience.

Historic Northampton
46 Bridge Street
Northampton, MA 01060
Historic Northampton is a museum of local history in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. Please visit our website

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What can we learn from Bonnie Siefers, eco-designer and entrepreneur?

Bonnie Siefers' success as an eco-designer and entrepreneur is inspiring, especially to us women in business with a purpose. She changed her career as an artist and business owner to a completely different field in textiles. To add to the challenge, her clothes are ecologically friendly, cutting edge, and yet affordable. In less than three years she has become a principal force in the green community and is involved in the introduction of new sustainable fabric collections, such as ecoKashmere and eColorgrown and coming next fall, Begonia Silk and Energy Satin. Her company was recognized at the Sun Dance film festival and MTV Movie awards. How did she accomplish all this?

Here are some take aways from an interview with her:

1) Stay in the moment and do the best that you can:
Bonnie says that her mantra in the morning is, "if I can stay in the moment and do the best that I can, I cannot fail.”

2) Ask a lot of questions and reach out for help:
When Bonnie entered the textile industry she had to learn how this market operates - "I had to learn what trade shows to go to, how to create catalogs and more." She expresses gratitude for the local talent and non-profits who extended their expertise to her. But it is always a good reminder, that if you are sincere in your desire and ask, you will receive. So, don't be afraid to ask.

3) Effective use of technology:

Bonnie speaks to how the internet and other technologies will only continue to evolve in enhancing communication possibilities while reducing the carbon footprint. Bonnie herself is successfully using social media devices like blogging and facebook to communicate with her customers.

4) Innovative solutions to fit your mission
Bonnie is using innovation not only in her apparel collections, which are made of fabrics that are certified organically grown, renewable, biodegradable and sustainable, but also in how she runs her business over all. She emphasizes that "if you look around you can find solutions that fit your mission.”

5) Transparency in business
Authenticity to Bonnie means “transparency.” It means “being who you are and not hiding parts of you...This is also true in business. Communicating in an honest and open way encourages greater trust, support and can lead to a true partnerships and ultimately success.”

6) Mindfulness in business

"In a nutshell I think the best adjective that describes the uniqueness
of the Jonäno brand and lifestyle would be mindful.” Jonano has created a unique positioning in apparel market as a mindful company that cares for the environment, its customers, and its employees. In Bonnie's words, "Just as a drop of water in a pool will show ripples, my choices will have a ripple effect – which is why I choose organic, and sweatshop free both in my business as well as my personal life."

Bonnie was introduced to meditation and mindfulness 15 years ago. But this is more than a sitting practice for her. The concept of "Metta" is important to Bonnie and she tries to weave it into her daily life. “Metta means to me a giving of love for others and a giving of a prayer for others. Its all about the spirit and energy, which I try to give back because I have been given so much.”

For the full interview with her please visit the iAM Business Consulting website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just Starting Out from the Lens of a Fresh Graduate

So here many of us are on the edge of our future. Gone are the days when even if our summer wasn’t going well, we knew we’d be back in school in September, ready to face classes, grades, and fun with our friends. As a fresh alum of UMass, there is no going back in September, no more structure to everyday life. Now is the time for me and my classmates to build our future and create a new structure that involves adult responsibilities. We cannot postpone thinking about our future anymore, which brings the question, What do you want to do with your life?

Since childhood, we have been told that being a doctor, or a lawyer, or a scientist is the way to go. With all the money we’d make in our job, we could have anything we wanted. Several years later, this can be interpreted as, “Even if you don’t like reading books all day or hate doing math, it’s ok because you can use the money you make to do what you really want to do when you’re not at work.” But why not turn the tables and do what makes you happy to begin with? From having several internships throughout college, from sales to customer relations, to advertising, I have come to discover in positive and negative ways that if you can barely get up in the morning to face your job, you will not be happy outside of it either. I’d rather love getting up every morning with a sense of purpose and making less money than dragging myself through the day and making more money. After all, you do spend 8 hours a day at your job, and much more time outside of it thinking about it. If you do not go for what you truly want to do, you will only be feeling a sense of relief when the day and the week are over. This is not happiness. But what happens Sunday night when you now have to face another week of the same old thing that you hate? It’s back to being unhappy. In this type of scenario, if you are just doing it for the money, then you won’t last. You will feel unauthentic, and you will be “found out” by your colleagues, boss, and customers. As a former financial representative intern for a large insurance company, I noticed this phenomenon firsthand. If I didn’t believe in my product, but I tried to sell it to other people because I could make a good commission off of it, it would backfire. Potential customers could tell by the way I spoke and through other non-verbal cues whether I truly believed something or didn’t, and that would be carried out in how I presented the products whether or not I wanted it to.

So back to the question: What do you want to do with your life? Some of my peers have discovered what they want to do with their lives, as I have (more on that later), but that’s only the beginning. In one of my business classes last semester, we had several speakers come in to talk to us about how they started their own businesses. The string that linked each of them together was following what they believed was their calling and not giving up in the face of obstacles. Given the way they became successful, they challenged each of us to do the same – to throw caution to the wind and go after what we really want to do. After all, this is the time to do it. We have no children, no mortgage, and no real responsibilities. Many of my peers pointed out after each speaker that to them, taking a year off or waiting for what they really want to do just isn’t practical. After all, health insurance would expire upon graduation and loans would start to kick in six months later. Not to mention that there were companies out there recruiting that were dangling high salaries and sign on bonuses in front of students, tempting them to take an offer that they weren’t too excited about just because of the money and the slumped economy.

What is the solution? To allow me to better follow my purpose, I have chosen, and am very grateful, to live with my parents for now and work a part time job while I actively seek out what I want to do with my life. But what about my peers? I think the solution to the obstacles we face today in following our purpose is to move back home and start searching for the right opportunity. It all comes down to choice though. If, as a fresh graduate, you value your independence and want to rent an apartment, then that’s fine. That’s a choice you make that will require you to sacrifice in other areas of your life. On a broader scale, each of us has many little choices to make each day that will either bring us closer to fulfilling our purpose or farther away from it. As long as we are making progress each day towards fulfilling our purpose, it is better than feeling trapped in a job that is just a “job.” Remember that we cannot blame the economy, our parents, or the weather for why we aren’t moving towards what we really want to do. The choice is ours; we just have to want it badly enough. What choices are you making to move towards your purpose?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Translating Inner Purpose Into An Authentic Mission Statement

"More men fail through lack of purpose than through lack of talent"
- Billy Sunday

I recently submitted an article to on connecting with inner purpose to write your mission statement. If you are not clear about your purpose or need to reconnect, here are some steps to help you reflect on your past, present, and future to arrive at what is important to you.

Step 1) Make a list of activities you have participated in the past that you felt most inspired to do so at the time.

Step 2) List people who inspire you and what are the qualities in these people that inspire you

Step 3) Think of the challenges in your life that have impacted you profoundly – what did you learn from those challenges?

Step 4) What are you naturally curious about?

Step 5) Make a list of things that you enjoy doing most. These could be related to your work or not.

Step 6) What characteristics or traits do you love most about yourself?

Step 7) What is the one change you would like to see in this world?

Step 8) If money and any other limitations were not a problem, what work would you dedicate yourself to?

Step 9) How do you want to be remembered?

Using the answers to the above questions, identify words and phrases that stand out and see themes emerging across your answers. From the emerging patterns connect with your inner purpose and use that to write your mission statement.

An authentic mission statement has five parts:

1) Your core purpose - the overall mission
2) How you will achieve your purpose - your products and services
3) Who you will benefit - your target market
4) How you will benefit them - specific benefits you provide
5) What is unique about you - your core competencies that make you unique

If you would like further details about each of the points above, you can access my full article at

Providing Innovative Authentic Mindful Content to