What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?
I came to NYC as a sculpting student. When I realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to support my family with a sculptor’s salary, I knew I had to switch gears. At 19 years old, I started working as an assistant in the underwear business and moved into sales. As a salesperson, I needed to really believe in what I was selling, so I insisted on designing everything I pitched. At 21, I got to work on my first business plan. Six years later, with just $15,000, Ariela & Associates was born.
My father was a rabbi, and my mother was embarrassed to tell the congregation what I did. She said, “When will you make real clothing so I can tell people what you do?” I said, “When I master this.” Over 25 years later, I’m still perfecting my craft and continuously looking ahead to how we can aim to be better.
What message do you promote?
I believe the right lingerie has the power to transform the way women look and feel about themselves. The right bra can uplift you physically and emotionally. It is the first thing we put on in the morning and sets the tone for the rest of the day. I believe every woman, no matter her size or age, deserves to feel good about herself in undergarments that are made to support at prices they can afford.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
For every garment sold, we donate to an organization that empowers and supports women. From underprivileged women needing career guidance to female entrepreneurs with budding businesses, we lend our time, expertise, and funding to help turn their dreams into realities. Over the last decade, we’ve partnered with Count Me In numerous times. We recently collaborated on a grant program for women trying to navigate 2020’s challenging business climate, giving out $250,000 in grants.
In business and/or life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to:
I think women, specifically mothers, running businesses face a different set of challenges. As a mother of eight, making time for my family and my business takes constant attention. You are always weighing where to spend your time and how to maximize opportunities. Maximizing opportunities also means, on the night you’re are home, in between business trips, hang out with your kids (don't worry about cleaning the closet). When you have a great team, you can focus on quality time at the office and home so you can make the most of the time you have.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
It’s the people I get to work with every day. I feel privileged to work with people I’m proud to know. From their creativity to their work ethic and moral compasses, I learn so much from my team. I also feel so lucky to work with great business partners like Walmart & Fruit of the Loom. The corporations and the individuals we work with have been great examples of how to treat their employees, their partners and make the world a better place.
How do you SHOW UP?
Showing up for me means continuously looking in-ward, asking questions, and listening so that we can continue to grow as a business. Often being pulled in many directions, I need to stay present. Women love multitasking; no one is good at it. If you are listening to someone and answering a text, are we really listening? We need to put the phone down and have the conversation you are having. I also try and give myself ‘thinking time.’ Some of my most creative thoughts come at off-hours. I try and plan what I’m going to think about to make good use of my downtime when I have it.
If you could give one piece of advice for women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business, what would that be?
Don’t grow too fast. We’re all so anxious to be successful when a great opportunity comes your way; if you can’t perform a service with excellence, then don’t do it. Always be transparent with your business partners; other opportunities will come. Do as much as you can do with excellence; your reputation is the most valuable thing that you have.
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