I am Fire

Jenna Archer // female ceramic artist // holding ceramic mug
Jenna Archer Ceramic Artist

Today is International Women's Day - a day where women all around the world are celebrated for their progress and achievements throughout history. It's a special day.

Leading up to International Women's Day, I find myself reflecting on my journey and how I'm contributing to empowering women to lead their best life. For this blog post, I'm going to share some of my story and the questions I continue to ask.

I love math - there is always a process to discovering the solution and a correct answer. That's part of what led me into Engineering. The other part was the dream of creating lasting objects that stand the test of time. School was hard, really hard. I left numerous tests believing I was a failure and the path I'd chosen wasn't for me. But I was determined that a program, class or test was not going to defeat me. There were only 20 women in a class of 150 students - the inequality was felt but I was proud to be contributing to women in science and hopeful one day I could inspire more women to pursue a degree in engineering. But I was left wondering, why aren't more women choosing science? Is it the way we are raised - nature vs nurture? Is it the school system?

Once I graduated, I started working for a start-up Engineering company. My career progressed as I moved from being a Project Engineer to Project Manager to Corporate Development and finally Business Development. I noticed I was often the only woman around the boardroom table, which made me wonder again why aren't there more women surrounding me. Are they choosing different industries to work in? Different careers? Is it our recruiting strategy? Why am I the only woman at this table?

In 2015, I decided to return to school for a Master in Business Administration. Business school was refreshing (relatively equal women to men ratio). Until I was diagnosed with cancer and felt my entire world crumble. I was fortunate to have the strongest woman I know, my mother, to support me through my fight. I am forever grateful for everything she did for me during that time - sleeping on a blow-up mattress for two one month stays in my condo, making me breakfast, watching silly chick flicks, and baking homemade cookies. My battle through this degree was with the big C - finance and marketing classes felt like a breeze. Again, I was determined that my pursuit wouldn't be affected and I persevered.

"I am fire - if you want something salty and sweet, with no opinion, I am not the woman for you. I spit flames often" - Janne Robinson

Post graduation, I worked for General Electric where I helped to commercialize software. I chose the company because I was inspired by some of the top female leadership. I felt refreshed to see how a company had developed top female talent, and I dreamed of becoming a top female executive where I could make positive impact. However, I soon discovered a lack of authenticity in leadership and ability to empower employees to make decisions. I was left feeling ripped off and angry that I had been fooled to thinking that was my future.

In 2018, I became a mother which is by far the hardest job I've ever done. It's exhausting and demanding but the most rewarding responsibility I've had. I've decided to push pause on my corporate pursuits and focus on being a mom. But I often struggle with this decision - I want my son to see a strong career woman so he knows women can wear suits too and talk big numbers - I want him to know women can also shape and change the world. However, what I've discovered during this time is what I'm truly passionate about - pottery. I escape into my studio during early mornings, short nap times, and late nights. Being in my studio makes me feel strong, peaceful and refreshed. I dream of creating a ceramic brand that helps women eat, live, and connect wholeheartedly. This is now my mission and I think it's more important for my son to see me pursing my passion instead of putting on a suit.

I still don't have all the answers to my questions above but what I have learned is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do as a woman is be authentic and resilient in your life pursuits. By showing up, being you, and relentlessly pursing your biggest boldest dreams, you are inspiring others to lead their best life. When we as women support each other in our pursuits, we make the world a better place.

To all the women out there, how are you celebrating your journey today? I would love to hear from you.

Love + Bubbly