Archive | July, 2012

What We’re Reading

31 Jul

What archetypes can do for your business

While you may have heard of “the Hero,” “the Ruler” and “the Lover” in a high school english or cinema class, have you ever associated these symbols with your favorite brand of detergent?

John Purkiss is a consultant in personal brand strategy and has helped launch several businesses throughout the course of his career

John Purkiss, co-author of Brand You, does this every day and encourages other entrepreneurs to do the same!  According to Purkiss, archetypes can play a huge role in building a company’s brand.  Whether we do it consciously or not, consumers associate certain brands with certain feelings (i.e. Marlboro ads evoke a sense of freedom and adventure with the cowboy mascot) and as Purkiss claims, these associations allow us to get a better understanding of the company itself.

Not only do archetypes display the morals and values of a company, but they also enforce customer loyalty.  As Purkiss notes, a strong and uniform brand archetype could attract customers who feel a connection with that certain identity.

So what archetype reflects your business the best? And could building your brand around a certain symbol or archetype really benefit your brand? Follow this link to the Brand You website and decide for yourself!

Josette Sheeran – WFP’s powerhouse fundraiser and our Empowered Woman of the Day!

30 Jul

To kick off the last week of July, we’re highlighting an inspiring woman “working on the frontlines of human vulnerability.”

Josette Sheeran, the current leader of the World Food Programme, did not start out with the dream of ending world hunger. Instead, Sheeran was inspired one evening by a startling image on the news depicting a food shortage in Ethiopia. Looking at her own child and looking at the malnourished infant in the photograph, Josette had an epiphany – not only does something need to be done, but we finally can do something thanks to the modern technology and communications systems we have available to us.

Now that Sheeran has transitioned from the private sector to her position at the WFP, she is working to convince others that a solution to world hunger is feasible.  Fundraising and campaigning for the WFP is no walk in the park, but Josette has been able to successfully channel her economic background into garnering support from the private sector, resulting in an increase of funding for WFP programs from $7 million in 2007 to $150 million in 2010.

Josette’s epiphany and the years of dedicated work reminds us that you never know where your career will go or what cause will reach out and grab you! Stay aware and informed and your own moment of inspiration is sure to follow.

For more information on Josette Sheeran, read her profile on here:

So much for a relaxing weekend….

27 Jul

Saturday is drawing closer and closer and it’s time to make plans for the weekend!  Summer is the season for events and festivals, and EWI has compiled a list of a few of the exciting activities going on near you!

For starters, neighborhood farmers markets are practically everywhere you turn on weekends!  The Rockville Farmers Market, for example, is every Wednesday and Saturday.  While the turnout on Wednesdays is much smaller than on Saturday, the market is popular for it’s “growers-only” rule, meaning that the produce you buy was picked fresh that day by local farmers. The Alexandria Farmers Market (5:30 – 11:00 am every Saturday) tends to draw a much bigger crowd, but keep the dog at home for this one, because pets are not allowed.

Once you’ve browsed your way through the fresh fruits and veggies, the Hill School in Middleburg, VA is hosting an antique festival that you won’t want to miss! After all, you can’t get much greener than recycled antiques.

The Outdoor Movies series in Bethesda is a great way to relax after traipsing around farmers markets and fairs, and admission is free!  This weekend’s films are two of last year’s favorites: Crazy Stupid Love and Hugo.

If you’re looking for events with a more cosmopolitan twist, the Ethiopian Heritage Festival at Georgetown would be a great place to start!  This Friday and Sunday, the Georgetown University campus will be transformed into a maze of Ethiopian food stands, stages and race courses to celebrate Ethiopia and its cultural impact.

After stopping by Ethiopia, take the kids to Wolf Trap’s Theatre-in-the-Woods for a glimpse into German culture!  Puppeteer Matthias Kuchter will be retelling “The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats” with a cast of colorful, fairytale puppets.

So this is our collection of event ideas, what do you have in mind for the weekend? Send us your suggestions and we’ll publish them next Friday!  And don’t forget to submit your questions for our next “Mondays with Marga” post to now!

“Adjusting” or genuinely grieving?

26 Jul

Living in the DC area, it’s impossible to avoid running into expats working for one of the hundreds of international organizations located in the region. What we don’t see as often, however, is their children. Not much is said about the children of the world’s working nomads, and many assume that they must just “get used” to their peculiar living situation.  However, while they may be immersed with other kids their age at a summer camp or at school, it is often very difficult to guage how comfortable they really are in their new surroundings.

In a recent article on the Children’s Mental Health Network website titled “The Trouble with Third Culture Kids,” local author and workshop leader Nina Sichel discusses the serious emotional effects that frequent international relocation can have on children. According to Sichel and mental health expert Ruth Van Reken, the nomadic lifestyle lived by some children can generate a type of hidden grief that may manifest itself later on in life.

To read Nina’s enlightening article, click here:

To learn more about Nina’s work in the field of Third Culture Kids, follow this link to her facebook page!

EWI is on Tumblr!

26 Jul

Despite the fact that the Tumblr craze is associated with artsy photos and, of course, the ever-evolving world of memes, EWI has found a whole new network of like-minded nonprofits and activists on the site with their own lessons and stories to share.

With an online community of organizations that range from the Half the Sky Movement to npr to Vogue, Tumblr is now the place to be to find brief updates and mesmerising photos from your cause of choice.  Being a growing nonprofit, Empowered Women International uses Tumblr to spread the word about our events, blog posts and activities, but we’re not shy with the reblog button and we’re always happy to repost inspirational stories or messages from our followers (or followees)!

So before you dismiss Tumblr as just another online venue for pictures of cats and contagious memes, check out our blog and explore the blogs we follow – you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find!  Happy tumbling!

Felt artist Lisa Jacenich on keeping creativity sustainable

25 Jul

What does is mean to create “sustainable” art? Today, the word appears everywhere from advertising to corporate policies, making it difficult to discern what it means and how we can live in a sustainable way in order to minimize our impact on the environment.  Innovative artists like Lisa Jacenich articulate what the term signifies for them by incorporating certain practices into their creative process, and lucky for us, Lisa was kind enough to take some time from her busy schedule to explain her interpretation of keeping creativity sustainable.

Jim, Geanina, Lisa, Alexandra, Perri – after a visit Lisa did to our office to introduce us to her new sustainable felt art

Sustainability = careful use of resources

Lisa found her niche working with wool thanks to a series of relatively spontaneous events, starting with her impulsive relocation to the mountains of Virginia accompanied by her husband and a dream to become an artist.  After helping shear sheep at a local farm one day, Lisa learned that the wool was destined for the dump and was astonished by the fact that such a versatile material was being wasted.  It was through this resourceful instinct that Jacenich started using the spare wool as a medium for her designs.  And her “waste note, want not” attitude carries on into every aspect of her artistic process.  Not only is her choice of fabric incredibly sustainable (the sheep aren’t harmed and can be used for meat, milk, etc.) but she also takes care to collect the materials left over from the felting process and reuse them later.  Lisa has also expanded her portfolio to include recycled and revamped sweaters.

One of Lisa’s creations …

Sustainability = careful use of energy

And not just any energy, but your own creative energy!  Lisa admits to her own inner struggle in sustaining her artistic energy, saying “it would be much more efficient to use the assembly line method,” however, rapid fire production would cause her to fizzle out much faster as well.  In order to recharge, Lisa varies her activities, sometimes switching from a creative task to a more administrative task if she feels low on inspiration.

In addition to her own sustainability strategy, Lisa has been invited abroad by the Mongolian government to introduce the felting machine she uses to take some of the physical work out of the process to small groups of women in order to develop their wool-making capacities and make their products more accessible to international customers.  While the machines don’t cut down the amount of time it takes to roll the wool, they would allow the women to redirect their energy to other areas of the creation process.

Lisa is now taking her sustainable felting process to Mongolia

Sustainability = careful treatment of others

Not only does Lisa visit her wool suppliers to ensure that they treat their sheep in a humane way, but the continuation of her business itself also depends on mutual respect between her and her husband and business partner, Jim Jacenich.  Fortunately, the two have different skill sets that compliment each other well in a business setting, but they also entered into the partnership already having worked together.  Based on this experience, Lisa advises any budding entrepreneurs to spend enough time with a potential partner to ascertain whether you would both be compatible.  In the end, says Lisa, a partnership is a relationship and “relationships are hard, you must work at them.”

EWI would like to thank Lisa for sharing her story and inspiring us to take better care of our world! More ore about Lisa and Jim Jacenich at

What We’re Reading

24 Jul

Today’s “What We’re Reading” is a trip down memory lane and a wonderful reminder of why we’re never too old for children’s books!

For starters, our Americorps Outreach Coordinator, Perri Weldy, is revisiting her childhood by reading Peter Pan with her little cousin.  Here’s her take on returning to one of her favorite classics: “Peter Pan is one of my all-time favorite books- I love the innocence of Peter and how the book really gets the reader to start thinking as a child. I love the exciting adventures of Peter and Wendy throughout her stay in Neverland, but I can also sympathize with her longing to return home to her nursery and parents. I’ve always loved the idea of staying young forever and never growing up, but we all know, as Wendy learns, that we all must grow up someday. I hope that my cousin realizes that even though we must all grow up, we can still remain adventurous and youthful at heart.”

Meanwhile, our Americorps Development Manager Alexandra Standal is making her way for the first time through the Harry Potter series, proving that you don’t have to be Hogwarts-age to appreciate the series’ lovable characters and exciting plot twists.  Just like Peter Pan, the 7-book series is full of life lessons that practically anyone could benefit from!

So what are you waiting for?  Summer is the perfect time to raid closets, storage boxes and trunks for a favorite children’s book.  Just because you’ve read it one hundred times already, doesn’t mean you won’t find something new the 101st time over!

Empowered “Lady” of the day

23 Jul

EWI is spotlighting Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi today as an inspiration and force for good in the world!

And we’re not the only ones blown away by this mother, lawmaker and activist! Luc Besson’s new film “Lady” documents the life and achievements of Ms. Suu Kyi.

Over the course of her participation as an activist and political candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi has taken the western stereotype of the submissive Asian woman and turned it on its head.  As a leader of the revolts against the dictator of Burma in the 1980s, Ms Suu Kyi rose up against a violent, oppressive regime in the name of freedom and democracy.  As a political prisoner, she exercised self-discipline and patience by enduring long periods of confinement under house arrest and continuing her study of French, Japanese and meditation.

Given the exceptional character she demonstrated in the face of adversity, it’s no surprise that she was able to gain the confidence of the population and succeed in the elections held in Myanmar (Burma) last April.  It’s also no wonder that leaders from all over the globe have welcomed Aung San Suu Kyi into their home countries with open arms during her recent travels around the world – a tour that marks her first time out of the country since 1988.

So what can we take away from the struggles faced by this empowered woman and fellow burmese activists during the past two decades? Not only is our liberty something we should be thankful for every day, but as Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned in a 1997 article in the NY Times, we have the power to use it to promote the liberty of others.

To learn more about Ms. Suu Kyi:

EWI is on Cuteable!

23 Jul

On June 23rd, Empowered Women International’s Etsy shop was featured on, a daily blog that looks for the fun, colorful and cute pieces available on and highlights them on their blog posts. The site’s curator, Lynsey, chose a beautiful silk scarf made by Rabia and included it in their “cute finds” post!

We would like to thank the managers of Cuteable for featuring one of our products on their site and we encourage our readers to check out Rabia’s gorgeous creation at or on our Etsy shop site!  Happy browsing!

Why we LOVE Alexandria!

20 Jul

From the lovely waterfront, historic buildings, and endless boutiques, restaurants, and small businesses- there’s a LOT to love about Old Town Alexandria!

The very first time I ever visited Old Town was a few yearsago with close friends of mine when we visited a small café for brunch onEaster. In February I began interning with EWI and finally came back to OldTown for the first time since my Easter brunch! I was quickly reminded why Ifell in love with everything about it a few years ago.

Everyday I enjoy walking along the brick sidewalks and admiring the colorful and historic townhouses that line the streets. I love the hustle and bustle of King Street as I watch shoppers, tourists, and people on their way to work each day.

Did someone mention ice cream?

More recently I found myself sitting on the pier at the waterfront with some of my very best friends. We dreamt about someday owningour own boats and relaxing on the water on warm summer evenings. I admired the grand building front of the Torpedo Factory as my friends chatted away.

For the past 6 months I’ve been working in Old Town I’ve tried my best to make sure I visit new stores, try new restaurants, and walk onas many new streets as I can find! So far, here are a few of my favorite places and things to do in Old Town:

– Lunch from Sam Phao Thai: Not only is the staff extremely welcoming and kind, the food is AMAZING! Sam Phao has been a generous supporter of EWI (donating to our Spring2Action campaign in May 2012) and we’ve even held meetings here over lunch! My favorite dish to order is the Pad Thai with chicken…yum! (

Bittersweet Café: This is another wonderful supporter of EWI (also contributed to Spring2Action). This was the first restaurant I ate at upon my return to Old Town in February. Shannon and Erin took the new Spring interns here for a wonderful lunch and we were even given some free mini-cupcakes to     celebrate our first day on the job! My favorite menu item: Turkey BLT (no T) with avocado. (

Pretty People: This is absolutely adorable vintage store located off of King Street. I instantly fell in love with this store as soon as I walked through the door. The music, atmosphere, and wide range of vintage clothing, jewelry, and bags was right up my alley! (

Perri and Delilah (friend and EWI supporter) pose by the waterfront

– Waterfront: My favorite place to relax is on the pier at the waterfront. I enjoy sitting and watching the boats pass back and forth in front of the pier and looking out at the river. Not to mention- tons of great ice-cream shops and restaurants are close by! A great place to walk around and enjoy the summer evenings!

I’ve only been here for a short amount of time and there are many more places I have my eyes set on to visit! The huge art scene offers plenty of galleries that are calling my name- not to mention all of the boutiques, vintage, and antique stores I have yet to wander! The excitement, creativity, and good food of Old Town keep me energized and entertained and I couldn’t ask to work in a more wonderful city.

Outreach Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA