Kathy Ireland is much more than the supermodel many people know. She's a businesswoman who is building a worldwide brand, finding solutions for busy moms and raising three kids ages 16, 12 and 7.
She's also a control freak, or at least she's been accused of it, she tells me. However, she says she is just extremely passionate about her business, Kathy Ireland Worldwide. She's also passionate about charity. What makes Ireland a bit different than the rest of us is that she has name recognition that allows her to build her business on a bigger platform and to do a little more to help others.
The super mogul says she struggles every day with balancing her responsibilities of leading a $1.4 billion brand, while wearing many hats as a wife, mom and philanthropist. Her business sells more than 45,000 products including bedding, jewelry and socks. Kathy shared some of her daily work life challenges and solutions with me.
Cindy: How hands on are you with your business?
Kathy: Very. There's nothing wrong with celebrity endorsements but our customer is way too savvy. She doesn't want an autograph, she wants solutions and she wants them now. I'm involved in everything from design to marketing to shipping and distribution to meeting and talking with people and listening to our customer.
Cindy: You have a huge Twitter following. How do you have time for social media?
Kathy: I actually was late to Twitter. My CEO was on me to get on board. I felt like I was over communicating already and I didn't want another thing to do. But he was right. It's been powerful. I have made some true friendships. I can get feedback on what people are thinking.
Cindy: Most of us are trying to build our personal brand. What has been key for you?
Kathy: Having a passion for what you do. When I was a child, I changed my mind constantly but I knew I wanted to be a mom and to provide a service to moms. My company mission is finding solutions for families, especially busy moms. When I'm partnering with a manufacturer or retailer, I take time for us to get to know one another. We will have differences but when comes to core values I make sure we are on the same page.
Cindy: Do you struggle with delegating?
Kathy: I try to do it all. Most women are sacred to ask for help. My husband delegates really well. I was 40 before I learned that no is a complete sentence. No thank you is even better. Now, I love the idea of working with a team and respecting one another's area of expertise. That’s helped me to focus on what I need to do. Without my team, it would be impossible to be the mom I want to be.
Cindy: How do you find time for volunteer work and giving back?
Kathy: Right now, I'm supporting a branded campaign, LATISSE® Wishes Challenge! Campaign that benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When I saw Corporate America stepping up, that inspired me. Getting involved and giving back doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There is always something you can do. It can be giving of time, resources or just prayers.
Cindy: As a mom and businesswoman, what mistakes have you learned from?
Kathy: There are so many. Learning is a lifelong journey. I leanred you have to be passionate about your work, otherwise it becomes a chore. I learned that the hard way. I also learned to turn down the noise of rejection so you can move forward with a plan or dream.
Cindy: Do you feel like you have achieved balance with work and family?
Kathy: Some days. My goal is to keep my priorities in order. The minute my priorities are out of order, it becomes an obvious disaster. The stress is unmanageable. Boundaries need to be in place. My priorities are family and community service through work and business opportunities. Sometimes, I say no to friends birthday parties. Sometimes I have to say no to good things to say yes to great things.
Cindy: What's your best organization trick?
Kathy: Before having kids, I never wrote anything down. After kids, ugh, now I'm responsible for another life now so I write things down. I'm grateful for technology because I put things in my phone and my iPad. I write things on Post Its. I have them all over the place in my car. It helps.
Cindy: How do you keep technology from intruding on your personal life?
Kathy: Sometimes, in the car, my kids will start texting or talking on the phone and I say "No. Everything off. This is my time with you." They hold me accountable, too. If my phone rings, I can't answer it.