I was introduced to Ivanka Trump via Pete Nordstrom in late February. I was thrilled with the prospect of featuring Ivanka as a Bosslady because not only is she an outstanding role model for young women in the work place, but she also recently launched an amazing website that celebrates #WomenWhoWork. The site paints a colorful and multidimensional picture of what it means to be a working woman in today's society. But what really makes Ivanka a Bosslady is that she uses her success as a platform to elevate other hard working women.
Molly: I love that your office essentially is your site ivankatrump.com in real life.
Ivanka: Our creative director, Marissa Kraxberger, designed our office. It turned out so beautiful. I think part of being an authentic brand is really embodying your brand as much as possible. Every person in this office is a diverse and fresh representation of the women we’re speaking to everyday.
M: Your website is fantastic. Why were you inspired to launch the Women Who Work campaign?
I: The Women Who Work campaign launched in conjunction with our site launch last November. Our brand is inspired by the next generation of women who are approaching work and life with a unique perspective. There is this notion of the elusive work-life balance and it is such a travesty. Women today live a less siloed existence. I was dissatisfied with the way the media represented the working woman as such a caricature, and I wanted to change that. So I invited thirteen of my friends to join the dialogue. They’re all very accomplished young entrepreneurs – they run businesses, have families, they’re studying for graduate degrees, or training for marathons. The ‘Women Who Works’ campaign aims to shows the other side of a woman’s personality and perspective that is often demoted in the media. We’re giving women the tools and freedom to architect the lives they want to lead, and that architechture varies from person to person.
M: What message are you trying to communicate to women with your brand?
I: I created the site because I felt there was no singular digital brand that was exclusively speaking to the career oriented millennial woman honestly, and effectively. Our brand says, “We are feminine, we are not girly.” That’s really just one element of our brand, but when we speak to our audience we think about embracing femininity. We’ve progressed far from 20 years ago when a woman’s style in the workplace was very much assimilated from a male dominated environment. That’s just not the reality anymore. Today we celebrate the strength of femininity without playing into a contextually inappropriate stereotype.
M: As a young woman, it is a challenge to decide what direction to take in terms of a career path. Do you have any advice for choosing the right path?
I: People feel comfortable with certainty, but certainty can be incredibly boring. It’s the uncertainty that keeps us on our toes and makes us a bit uncomfortable. However being uncomfortable can be incredibly stimulating. It inspires creativity. Youth is the time to be completely uncertain and try as many different things as possible. My younger sister is about to graduate college. I’m always giving her the advice that the best thing she can do now is figure out what she doesn’t want to do. I had a lot of internships that I’m glad I took simply because I realized that I checked the box on something that I will never want to spend my life doing. It might feel like a failure at the time, but being able to look back without regret and say you tried it is extremely valuable. It’s a really exciting time to be young. The world is being disrupted by technology and never has a youthful and fresh perspective been so important to the dialogue as major industries are being developed, innovated, and envisioned.
M: Does your younger sister know what she’s looking to do when she graduates?
I: She has no idea. She’s having that same internal dialogue that everyone should be having right when they’re coming out of college. It’s an important time to explore and not be afraid to fail.
M: That’s really the genesis of this blog. I was struggling with that inner dialogue as I was about to graduate. I started going on informational interviews and decided to publish them in a blog in the hopes that others could benefit from them.
I: That’s incredible! I have friends still to this day who are my age with jobs that…are fine. They make a salary, but they’re not particularly motivated or inspired. They’re not unhappy, but they’re certainly not happy. It’s more of a rogue existence of going through the motions. To me that is crazy because you can never be great at something if you don’t love it. My father told me first and foremost, the number one prerequisite to success is passion. But you have to match that passion with work ethic. A little bit of luck is important, but as a fundamental truth, if you’re not passionate you’re just not going to be good.
M: I kind of think you create your own luck. You have to prepare to be lucky.
I: Totally. One of my favorite quotes is from a famous golfer, Gary Player, who said, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”
M: You’ve built an amazing team for your fashion and lifestyle brand. What do you look for when hiring?
I: I look for people who are passionate self-starters and aren’t afraid to take informed, calculated risks. I like to surround myself with people who have an entrepreneurial nature, and feel comfortable with uncertainty and revel in it. I also love problem solvers. I’ve never responded well to people who constantly articulate the issues. I love people who view problems as an opportunity for growth and are thoughtful about solutions.
M: Was there ever a time when you didn't feel confident in the workplace?
I: When I first started at The Trump Organization, I worried that there might be a misconception among the team that I hadn't earned my position, but that it had been given to me purely due to my last name. Fortunately, my father has always made it very clear that he wouldn't have hired me if I hadn't been the best person for the job. Hard work and preparation are crucial to confidence. I feel my most confident when I know I'm fully prepared and have done my homework. There's no such thing as over-prepared in my book! A well-tailored dress and a great pair of heels never hurts, either.
M: When you profile women on your site you ask about their life hacks. What’s your life hack?
I: My life hack is to surround yourself with the right people at home, at work, and in all aspects of life. The biggest single thing that has positively influenced my life is my choice in my partner. My husband is incredibly supportive and nurturing. He’s confident and capable. Being with the right person is so important. Now that doesn’t mean that you need someone, but you certaintly don’t want to be with the wrong person. If you’re with the wrong person, they will hold you back. If you’re not happy personally you’re not happy professionally. I surround myself with a team that inspires me. I have that at Trump with our real estate team. I have that with my own company with my brand team. I’m surrounded by great people with a can-do energy that bring a lot of excitement to my life.
M: In closing, what is one thing that most people don't know about you?
I: Given the choice between a salad or mozzarella sticks, I'd choose the mozzarella sticks!
Check out Ivanka's website www.ivankatrump.com for more profiles of impressive and accomplished women.