Being a good leader means being a good listener. Sometimes the best ideas can come from conversations with your family, friends, customers, employees or colleagues. It’s so important to listen with intention for an insight because that’s how the best ideas are born!
For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Regine Basha. Regine is CEO of Aaron Basha, a family-owned New York City-based jewelry company that’s been in business since the early 1900s. Regine has supported the family business since she was only seven years old, but formally began her career with the brand by handling their retail and wholesale operations and attending trade shows, then spearheading the marketing and public relations departments, designing jewelry and finally moving into the CEO position in August. She also designs jewelry for the brand, including the new Love is My Religion and Destination Stacks collections. She graduated from Tulane University with a degree in international relations, an education supported by her fluency in English, French, Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I would have to say that my career found me. I grew up surrounded by the business since I was really young and it’s definitely in my blood.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
A woman came into our store specifically to express to us how special and meaningful the baby shoes are in her family. She told us her mother’s last wish before she passed was to be buried wearing her charm bracelet filled with all the baby shoe charms that represented her kids and grandkids. This was her mother’s way of taking her family with her. These kinds of tear-jerking stories really made me realize that this is not just about a piece of shaped metal that looks good on your wrist. The symbolism and personal meaning behind the baby shoe charms goes way deeper than a traditional charm for many of our customers.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Most recently a customer located in Connecticut really wanted to try on several necklaces styles. Usually, I would mail the styles to her so she could get a feel for the one she likes best and choose, but I realized she lived in an area of Connecticut I would be heading to anyway. We arranged to meet in a parking lot behind a department store so she could try everything on. Both of us were wearing masks and trying on jewelry in a parking lot. We both laughed at the ridiculousness of this situation! It was a literal drive-through shopping experience and she was so grateful that we accommodated her, albeit in the most unusual way. This just proves that when there’s a will, there’s always a way.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The emotional appeal is unique. Our baby shoe charm really caused an uproar when it was first released and continues to be the go-to push present and symbolic charm of choice for mothers and grandmothers. I remember multiple occasions where new fathers, with the hospital bracelets still on their wrists, raced to our boutique on Madison Avenue to purchase a baby shoe for their wives to celebrate their new baby.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Every project we work on is intended to invoke an emotion or spread love. When love is felt and transferred it sends ripple effects into the world and gently raises the positive vibration of the planet. For example, we just released our Destination Stacks bracelets that embody the charms of the world’s greatest travel destinations. The Beirut stack takes inspiration from the city’s beautiful culture, architecture and Mediterannean landscapes and benefits the city in their time of crisis. A percentage of proceeds being donated to the Lebanese Red Cross to provide around-the-clock first aid to those in need. We aim to help people on an individual and a universal level.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Lead with love. When you show up as the best version of yourself, you are able to inspire others to do the same. So it’s very important to work on your own vibrations so you can set the tone for the company and craft well-meaning messages to put out to your employees and to the world.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Listen and keep yourself honest. Tell on yourself when you fall short or make a mistake. It’s important to stay honest and act as an example of cleaning it up when you mess up. It’s okay to be human and at the same time demand the very best of your team, but only if you lead with that example.
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 dad and founder of the brand, Aaron Basha. Our retail store was always a central part of my life growing up. I’d go there after school to meet my parents and then we’d go home together. I was always surrounded by the business of jewelry and saw my dad in action for my whole life. I learned everything I know by watching him and listening to every negotiation and sale, like the way he communicated with customers, vendors, advertising executives, and diplomats. I learned what could never be taught in any business school and absorbed everything it all!
When I was 6, I had my own little showcase in our store at the Four Seasons Hotel in Montreal. I sold seashells that I had collected on vacations. I would sit on a stool in front of this case waiting for a customer to come in. I remember my dad was finishing up a sale with the ambassador to the Ivory Coast and he led him to my showcase encouraging him to look at my collection. I remember the excitement when he purchased a shell for $7….I’ve been hooked on sales ever since!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
This is the best part of success, using your platform as an opportunity to spread messages of positivity and love. For Aaron Basha, we do this through messages in our jewelry and also by being actively tied-in with various charities. Most recently, we’ve been donating to Lebanese Red Cross, but this year we’ve also worked with Robin Hood NYC’s Covid-19 Relief Initiative. When our customers make purchases that benefit these causes, we donate to the charity in their name and share the confirmation receipt with them so they don’t just feel like their money is getting lost in the shuffle. Success isn’t meaningful unless it’s shared.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I think it’s really important to empower the people you work with and boost their self esteem and not be critical. I prefer to always point out what’s going well and spotlight the best assets in people you work with.
- Being a good leader means being a good listener. Sometimes the best ideas can come from conversations with your family, friends, customers, employees or colleagues. It’s so important to listen with intention for an insight because that’s how the best ideas are born!
- Know what it’s like to hold every position in your company. When you have that experience yourself, you know what goes into that job. When you really know what goes into it, then you can appreciate the person doing the job and also provide feedback on what more can be done.
- Make time for your family, friends and for your own self care. Balance is part of being successful and having it all is the goal!
- Share your success with others. This could look like charitable contributions, volunteering or giving back in whatever ways make you happy. Giving is also receiving and in many ways is the secret weapon to success. I recently read a book called “The Go-Giver” and that concept very much resonated with my style, both in business and personal life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement would be called “Love is My Religion,” just like the collection I designed this year meant to represent love’s triumph above all. The pendant in this collection features the icons representing many of the world’s religions circling a heart cut-out, symbolizing tolerance, love and respect. I think this is an important message on an individual human and global scale. If you worship the heart, listen to it, and make decisions in life from that source of love, you can’t lose.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“We are like a radio. We vibrate at whatever frequency we are on. Tune in to love.” Your life and the quality of it is a direct reflection of your inner thoughts and vibration. Life is magical when you tune into love, which they say is measured as the highest frequency there is!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Meghan Markle. Her courage inspires me and she’s down to roll up her sleeves and make a difference in the world. She not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk!
How can our readers follow you online:
Our website — http://www.aaronbasha.com
On Instagram @aaronbasha