We caught up last week with the very energetic CEO of Trendy Treat, Stephanie McLean, a talented fashion entrepreneur who is changing the way women approach fashion. Stephanie was born in Jamaica and graduated with a law degree and also a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development. Her background might seem a bit removed from what she eventually ended up doing – launching her own fashion and lifestyle website that allows women to customize pieces online, but her diverse background actually paved the way towards helping her become a successful entrepreneur.
Q.What is your current position and can you please describe what your role entails?
I am the CEO of Trendy Treat, a lifestyle start-up for women offering global fashion edits and travel experiences for the globally glamorous modern woman. As a sole founder, I wear many hats, but my primary responsibility is crafting the vision of the company and ensuring that it is executed effectively. I design the site’s clothing label, so playing fashion designer is also in the mix.
Q. As a kid, what was your dream job?
Luckily, I’ve ended up doing exactly what I thought I would have done. I always wanted to be a lawyer with a business. I’ve been a loyal viewer of all things legal television – Matlock, Law & Order, Dateline. I am also a natural advocate, so law suited my personality. I’ve always been fascinated by the business behind things and knew I wanted to develop my own business when I grew up and create something from nothing, which I’ve done with Trendy Treat.
Q. What do you think is the best and worst thing about being a woman?
There is incredible power in womanhood, and not sure if this will sound sexist because it’s a bit of a stereotype, but our heightened connections with our emotions. Lots of things in life are pragmatic but the emotional element, the heart of things, makes all the difference.The worst thing is the view that women shouldn’t be too ambitious and that having a family is a mutually exclusive event from having a thriving career.
Q. What woman do you consider as your role model/inspiration and how has she impacted your career?
My mother (when counting my blessings I count her twice) – she’s the biggest critic and the biggest cheerleader. She’s always instilled [in me the belief] that anything worth doing is worth doing well and saw to it that I got the best education possible and wasn’t afraid to have a point of view, to be comfortable being a leader.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman?
Being underestimated! Especially as a young woman of color, I often feel as though my abilities are underestimated and numerous people have projected their perceived limitations onto me at various points. Especially since women are so underrepresented in the start-up space, I’ve had experiences where I’ve felt that people just assume I won’t be able to execute without even giving me a shot. The funny thing is that I find being told that I can’t do something or being underestimated to be an incredible source of motivation and it makes me go at it that much harder.
Q. Do you think having a family is a barrier to being successful in your career? Why or why not?
This is such a hot button issue. I don’t have a family, so I couldn’t fairly speak on it. It does seem like it’s difficult to try to balance the ‘having it all’ sort of Hollywood Fantasy that women have been fed, of this high-powered career and picture-perfect home life.
Q. What role should men play in empowering women?
Anything they can do, by any means necessary! The empowerment of women is the empowerment of society, it’s a win for everybody.
Q. What is the challenge for the next generation of women leaders?
There has been a tremendous paradigm shift in the societal role of women, we now have more education, resources, and power than ever before. The greatest challenge for the next generation of women leaders may be properly managing the equality generations have fought to attain.
Q. How can women play a bigger role as change makers in society?
Lifting as we climb. I think every woman should make it her duty to support another woman in her journey.
Q. What is your advice for women who are just starting out their careers?
Find a sponsor and get involved in groups with like-minded driven women to support and encourage your growth.
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