Five reasons to be hopeful are the highly increased conscience in matters of caring for our health and others’, consuming locally and helping the circular economy, environmental detox, time for reflection and gratitude, and inward growth and collective union.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clarissa Egaña.
Clarissa is a creative mind, a visionary, and a driven professional with a natural entrepreneurial spirit. Before graduating law school in Caracas Venezuela, she had already founded and sold her first company of customized luxury swimwear; she went on to explore the corporate PR world working for companies like Cartier and The History Channel before she gave life to Port de Bras. Clarissa is a wife and mother of two, who loves being at home with her family, setting tables, and doing puzzles while in the meantime she is traveling the world, conquering the fashion industry, and helping as many charitable causes as possible.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
The brand is a reflection of my life, values, and style. We have evolved together, when I first started Port de Bras, I had just had a baby, worked from home and my main social event of the day was attending barre class. That’s why activewear became my main need. Little by little, my older kid started growing up, I had school meetings (not an event suited for leggings), I had to travel constantly for work, attend multiple fashion events as a speaker, as a special guest, and none of these situations were activewear friendly. That is why we started evolving our athleisure line. This brand has my soul, and I like to wear my soul everywhere I go.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting lesson I’ve learned is to trust my intuition — my best tool. On many occasions, I have made decisions that I began to doubt along the way based on some negative feedback, and whenever I change the course I always end up where I started. For example, I was trying to move our production from Venezuela to Portugal. We spent a couple of years spending time and money on this project because some of the retailers gave us feedback that may have been negative towards the artisanal way we work in our country. We ended up archiving all this work because, in the end, we understood that we are not here to be shaped by the industry but that we are here to shape the industry ourselves!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently building an exciting network of Latin women who have the power to positively communicate the value and work of Latin American brands like ours. We face so many challenges working from our countries that COVID-19 is not the worst thing that has happened in a year’s frame. These women have come together as one to create awareness and shed some light on these issues, creating even more job opportunities, more value to our people’s work, and more pride to their dignity.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband deserves most of my gratitude, as he takes little credit along the way for all the hard work he does for me, our family, and our company. We have had many moments of uncertainty, anxiety, and extreme doubts. I have gone through many times where I felt hopeless and tired, and he is always there to support me and bringing me back to myself. When I travel alone, I know our kids are safe at home with their dad, and for that, I am truly grateful. Also, to the rest of my family who supported us so much!
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
I have two small children and I have worked from home for a long time, so we have adapted rather easily to the new normal. Homeschooling has been the biggest challenge, the reason why I have actually cried and felt hopeless (imagine tutoring a 1st grader who still doesn’t read or write easily).
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
This may sound dramatic, but reading books and novels about war puts things in perspective, my latest read, “A long Petal of the Sea” by Isabel Allende, illustrates the life of a mother in the Spanish Civil War, the horrors of the WWII and the Chilean Revolution. When you understand that above all, you are blessed to live in “peace”, most challenging situation begin to look easier to overcome and less unfortunate. I’ll try anything that will make me feel in a positive mindset to tackle all that we are facing.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
More than being a woman, being a mother has been the most challenging. I have felt guilt, for not being better teacher, or entertainer, I have felt sad for them not being able to play with other kids, I have felt times of stress in taking care of them and not being able to rest more or take more time for work or for myself, which, when I do, takes me back to feeling guilty.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
To release a little bit of the guilt and tension that I’m feeling, I like to talk to other friends who are moms over a glass of wine…hearing them go through so many of the same challenges, reminds each other that we are truly doing the best we can. Supporting each other is key — talking about how it feels and relating to someone you like and respect helps lessen the guilt.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Asking for help in a hypersensitive time like this may save your sanity and others. In this situation people are either lonely or overwhelmed, not many people found balance during this time. So, asking a friend who perhaps doesn’t have children or an aunt whose kids left the nest, may bring a sense of worth to that person and a sense of relief for you.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Gratitude is one of the main things that helped us through this whole situation. Perhaps it sounds cliché, but this pandemic had that effect on us. We are so grateful to be together, to have a home, a job, and for our good health. We focus on the positive things that give our family joy-we play board games, do puzzles and watch movies, and set beautiful tables to dine-in. During quarantine, we created lots of artwork that covers a large wall in our home. We also made origami, tried baking, and thought outside of the box with creative crafts while staying indoors. As a family, we are staying positive and forever grateful.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
I like to think of this stage in life as a time for reflection and reinvention, which honestly, I think it was a much-needed break from the very fast life we were living. If more people could see this as an opportunity for a sort of rebirth, I think the collective energy levels would be higher. Five reasons to be hopeful are the highly increased conscience in matters of caring for our health and others’, consuming locally and helping the circular economy, environmental detox, time for reflection and gratitude, and inward growth and collective union.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Sending little gifts and sharing uplifting messages to your loved ones is an excellent way to show some love and deliver joy to their doorstep. It may be a delicious box of chocolates or a card deck, but make sure you include a loving and hopeful note that will make your friends’ day a great one!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is, “either you run the day or the day runs you,” by Jim Rohn. There are many things in this world that we can’t control, but the one thing we can control is our attitude towards life. Even if there are many challenges to overcome, being able to recognize the situation and having the attitude to make it better for yourself and others, gives you the most powerful tool in life. It is all about the understanding that being here and being alive is a miracle — and we must enjoy this miracle as much as possible!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!