Fashion was and is her passion. She started her own company and established herself as a force to be reckoned with. Then, life changed Adrienne Stewart-Gordon’s course dramatically.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Fashion was and is her passion. She started her own company and established herself as a force to be reckoned with. Then, life changed Adrienne Stewart-Gordon’s course dramatically.

Julie Holton:

The climb to the top feels so good when you get there.

Audrea Fink:

Is it just us, or can it feel lonely sometimes, even when you’re successful?

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And who defines success anyway? What about life’s twists and turns?

Julie Holton:

We’ve learned a few things along the way, and we’re ditching the culture of competitiveness.

Audrea Fink:

Bringing together women from different backgrounds to share their stories.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Let’s do this together, welcome to Think Tank of 3 podcast.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Hi, this is Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris, here with Audrea Fink and Julie Holton. We are your Think Tank of 3.

Julie Holton:

No longer about Gucci and Prada, Adrienne moved to a different field all together and then another redirection.

Audrea Fink:

How she managed to reinvent herself over time and on the fly, especially in the era of COVID. We are delving into the story of Adrienne Stewart-Gordon.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Thank you so much, Adrienne, for taking the time to join us today.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Thank you for having me. I’m really honored and blessed to be here.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Aw, we’re blessed to have you love, we’re blessed to have you. So just tell us right now, tell us about your current company.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

My current company. I own a company with my business partner, [00:01:26], it’s called, Pound Cake Society. Most people think that means we make cake. We do not. We named it Pound Cake Society because we thought no one would ever know the name and we liked cake. We like cake and champagne. So here’s the first little tidbit, be serious when you’re naming your company.

Julie Holton:

I don’t know, you had me at Poundcake.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

It’s called Pound Cake Society and we make women’s apparel. We specialize in sleepwear and lounge wear, luxury sleepwear and lounge wear I’m a woman of a certain age. And when my business partner and I, and we’re old time friends, got together when I moved back to Los Angeles, she said, “what do you want to do?” I said, “Well, sleep wear right now is my jam because every time I go shopping, I can’t find cotton.” I’m a woman of a certain age, I get warm more often than I’d like to admit, especially at night. And I can’t find cotton pajamas that are pretty. So I went on the hunt for pj’s, couldn’t find any. And so we decided to make our own.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

So we make luxury sleep and lounge wear for women. And when COVID happened, we pivoted to make face masks and we make pretty darn good ones, I have to say myself. We’ve done the due diligence to get them tested and verified with Nelson Labs, which is the world’s leading lab to test medical equipment. So while we’re not medical grade, we know where we fall on the spectrum and we can make certain claims that I don’t know that everybody can make. So we know where our mask stands. So that is what we are doing. Currently available in Nordstrom. Very happy that they did not cancel their orders. And with COVID, there’s a little bit of like everybody’s at home. So sleep and lounge wear are actually doing pretty well.

Julie Holton:

Yeah. [inaudible 00:03:08] Working from home, sleep and lounge wear.

Audrea Fink:

I’m into it.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Put a caftan on, you can sleep in it or you can take your zoom in it because it looks so to speak regular.

Audrea Fink:

I am here for that. I am here…. for…. that.

Julie Holton:

Okay, I want to hear more about these masks, to before we move on, because it makes sense that designers would transition into helping with masks. There was such a shortage early on and now such a continuing ongoing need for them. But you have yours tested. So tell, tell us about that. How did that evolve for you to go that extra several miles really with this idea?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Right when the shutdown happened here in Los Angeles, which was around March 17th, we were like everybody else, reeling, trying to figure out what we’re going to do. I have a child, he’s now 11, he was 10 then. And I’m like, “They’re closing schools?” My business partner’s like, “We’re getting shut down.” We we’re so new. We were less than two years old. She said, “Look, we’ve been getting requests for masks.” And we had been but it wasn’t the request. It was still February, we had just come back from the super bowl. We were like, “Oh, we know.” We just didn’t know it was this immediate. And she says, “Well, let’s see what we can do to help the healthcare workers and let’s try and make some masks.” She was like, “I’ll figure it out.”

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

She’s got a geophysics background and I’ve got a chemistry background and marketing. And I said, “Well, I’ll start a go fund me. You figure out how to make the mask.” Because, she’s more on the design side of things. So she came up with a great washable, reusable, cotton mask. Three layers before they ever said we needed three layers and we put in there a polypropylene filter which is medical grade. We couldn’t say medical grade because we hadn’t gotten tested. People started asking to buy them then they became mandatory. As we started getting some popularity, larger corporations came calling and they were testing our masks and letting us know what their test results were saying. So I said, “Well, we can’t publish any of that. We need to get them tested ourselves.” And yeah, they’re good.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

They’re wonderful. We have them in our house. So I’ve been taking my son to hockey. I kid you not, every time I go out someone comments on my mask. “That is so pretty.” I love that they have so many options. And I told a woman at one of my son’s hockey clinics where to go. She went immediately. And then when we were leaving an hour later, she said, “I just ordered three.” I said, “Oh. Well, okay then” I said, “You’re going to love them.”

Audrea Fink:

I just went to the website, shopeverydayritual.com. I’ve got a couple of things in my cart.

Julie Holton:

And who knew six months ago that we would be commenting on pretty masks and looking to find masks that match our outfits. Adrienne, fashion has not always been constant but it’s obviously a passion. What took you away from fashion?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Like so many of us that get married and start families, that’s what happened. I got married, I was in fashion for a long time, had a big life change. I’m on marriage number two and this time started a family. And I tried to stay in fashion. I moved to the East coast from California then I moved to Connecticut. I was back and forth to New York. That is not a small commute for those that make it, especially from Hartford. I’d leave in the dark, I’d get home in the dark. I was praying for them to put a gym on Amtrak so I could just jog my way home while the train moved along. I was like, “I got to get something else in.” And then I had my son Blake and he was born with some genetic differences and that changed everything.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Even the first two years of his life, I tried to travel with him and continue to do fashion, him, me and the nanny flying to Los Angeles. It just is too much. It was too much for him was too much for me. So that took me away from fashion and that came with some challenges. That’s my first pivot, my first re-invention.

Audrea Fink:

How did leaving fashion and those changes in your life affect your self reflection and your self identity?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Reischea and I have had many conversations about this. It was devastating. I was at the top of my game in fashion, I had my own company, I had three offices, Los Angeles, Dallas and New York. I had several employees and when I left it… Well, when I sold it, I wasn’t leaving it for good. I took another job in fashion. I needed a break from owning a company and I was well-regarded in the industry, I think. I had a good reputation and then to go from all of that, which is more mental and the money too. The money, making my own way, having my own discretion. I was you can’t tell me anything, I can do what I want, that kind of thing. And then to go from that to being totally in a new place with none of that holding me up, so to speak, I wasn’t standing on any of that.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

It was standing on new ground. Add to that, it was a new place so nobody knew me. They didn’t know my background. I hadn’t worked for somebody else in a million years and now I have this new label of Mom. What does that mean? And I have a child that is going to be challenged. And he my first, he’s our only child. So I really had a hard time with leaving because I think my identity was wrapped up in what I did. So much of who I thought I was and that was wrong but it took years of therapy to figure that out. They tell you when you’re a little girl, you can be anything you want and you can. I mean, I think you can. I believed it and I rose to the highest heights of what I wanted to do.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And then all of a sudden, I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. Everything that I grew to depend on, my skillset and what I was good at and the respect. The respect alone, now you’ve got your spouse and they respect you but you’re around them all day. They’re the ones you have to stretch with the most.

Audrea Fink:

Your spouses is so frequently the person you are the best and the worst with.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Exactly and I say that it’s true. And then you have your child who knows nothing of who you are. You’re just mom. I tell Reisch, the funny moment, Blake was, my son was telling me where I should be going. I guess I was irritating him. And he said, “Mom, you go to the kitchen and Dad’s going to go to work.” And I was like, “Oh, I work. I did work. I am a worker and this is work up in the house. If you don’t think…” And one of my girlfriends, I noticed that she always ended her emails with CEO of Hill House. I didn’t know her well enough to know that Hill House wasn’t some nonprofit then.

Audrea Fink:

Amazing. Yes.

Julie Holton:

I love that [crosstalk 00:10:25]

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I caught on as we got to know each other, Like, ” Oh. CEO of Hill House. That is a thing. I am now the CEO of the Gordon House.” Because, it takes a lot to run a household. It takes a lot to plan and do all these things and I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I really had a serious mind work for figuring out who I was and what I was doing.

Julie Holton:

It makes so much sense, I think, because you mentioned the word vain and I don’t think… I understand why you said that. I think that really, especially as women, when we’re so passionate about our careers and about when we’re so driven to succeed, you built your way all the way up. You rose to the top of where you wanted to be and it’s hard not to have that become our identity. Because, one, it’s something we’re passionate about, right? You’re so passionate about fashion that it makes sense that that becomes what you live and breathe and eat and sleep and everything. And then when you step away or even turn slightly away from that towards anything new, we have to figure out, okay, what are we without that? Because it’s not just a career, it’s what we’re passionate about. And there’s a lot of pride in that.

Julie Holton:

I think we work so hard to achieve our goals that when it’s time to refocus or to take the next step towards something else, it’s really hard to let go of that. And it makes sense that your identity would be tied to that.

Audrea Fink:

I think we also are taught in our culture here in America that you are what you do so frequently. So, you are a teacher, when you get introduced to someone new and you introduce someone, you don’t start with, “This is my friend Sue and she is into running and gardening.” You start with, “Oh. And she runs her own fashion company or she is the CEO of Hill house.” We start with that. We put so much emphasis in this culture on production. What do you produce? What is your job? And so it makes so much sense to have so much of your ego and your self identity and who you feel you are wrapped up in that because it’s an expectation that you build it. And there’s definitely undertones sometimes subversive, sometimes not, about what it means when your job isn’t what we consider valuable. So if we say women who work at home aren’t working or women who stay at home aren’t working, which is just bull. Then you now suddenly have to say, “Oh, I now stay at home. I don’t produce, I don’t create value.” And it’s not true but it is frequently how our society and our culture today look at who a person is.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And Adrienne and I discussed this quite a bit. She has lifted me out of my doldrums quite often because the other side of that is a dependence factor. Like she was saying, she had it going on. You’ve got this career. I had it. I had this amazing career that I loved. I was making my own money. I remember before I met my husband, I literally wouldn’t, when I was praying about my future, my future relationship. I remember the only thing that I asked specifically for God to do with the faith was just, I don’t need someone to take care of me. I just need someone who can work with me. I can take care of myself.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Yes.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And then that rug got pulled out from under me based on that monetary level of things because now, I wasn’t bringing in that salary anymore. Now, when the tax filings were filed, I was no longer contributing. And when you have spent so much time on that career and growing up, thinking about what you’re going to do and how you do it and that goes away, now what? It’s a lot. I love my husband and I love my children but I loved me too and I felt like I really lost a chunk of me. And that was hard to contend with and it’s not so much that you lost you. There’s a new layer of you to get through.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I’m going to add to that. You’re peeling back a layer, you’re exposing a layer. It is not a comfortable layer and there are so many things to unpack with that based on our individual histories. But to your point about the financial freedom versus the dependency for me, there was a sense of… Because, I’d gotten divorced and I was good with it. I was like, “Yeah, I got this.” Now, not that that was going to be an option but it’s, what would I do? I don’t earn anything. There’s a sense of… what is the right word? Panic is not it. You just feel-

Audrea Fink:

Like helpless?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Helpless, a little insecure, a lot insecure. Not in yourself but just in your circumstance.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

What happens if and you had the answer for what happens if, before.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Before, yeah. And it’s not even what happens if my marriage doesn’t workout. It’s what happens if something happens with this person?

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Yes, exactly.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

What then?

Julie Holton:

I can relate to that too as someone who’s single, there was a time in my career where I knew I wanted to leave my identity. The career that… I was a TV news producer, had been for 12 years and knew that I was losing my passion for it. I was losing that… I still loved it but I wanted something else. I knew that there was something else for me out there. I just didn’t know what that thing was yet. And I was in transition leaving one contract and looking to what was coming next to my life and I had a few months to figure that out. A few months of pay and things to figure out. But the pressure was mounting because there’s only so much time to figure out what that next step is going to be.

Julie Holton:

And ultimately at that time, I couldn’t make that transition yet. I ended up taking another job in TV news because that was what I knew and where my comfort zone was. And I finally realized, okay, I can do this temporarily. This is not my forever yes job. This is my yes, for right now, while I figure out what comes next. But it was all because of that mindset of who am I without this title, without this career? What am I going to do next and as someone who was single, I felt that pressure as well because if I’m not supporting myself financially, I’m not supporting myself financially. And so sometimes we have to make those, in transition, decisions. We often talk a lot on this podcast about moving from one great thing to the next. And I think it’s important for women to recognize that it doesn’t always happen that way and it’s okay.

Julie Holton:

It’s okay to take that next little step, those next little stepping stones to lead to whatever that next big yes is going to be. And it sounds like Adrienne, you navigated that for a few years before coming back to where you are now in this career. That now despite COVID or because of COVID it’s going so well for you.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

It’s picking up. It sounds weird to say, “Oh. COVID, thank God.” No, I can’t say that. I want it to end. I really, really do. I want us to get to a place where we don’t need face masks anymore. What I want to take away from COVID, One of the things, is the family time. I am so grateful that we’ve had this time. I hope my son will remember it, the time we were all together, all the time and had to come up with creative ways to spend our time. And it’s a little bit of my childhood because I grew up with my family. So I thought, “He’ll never have that.” He got it. He’s getting it, he’s not getting the extended family but he’s definitely getting board games and family TV time and barbecues and stuff like that.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

But then there’s that balance side of things, once again. And as I think about that word that we, for the most part, heap onto women. Women working outside the home, women working inside the home, women who aren’t necessarily earning a salary but are CEOs of those homes, period, point blank. But then when you add to it, the challenges within that balance, how did all of that… The situation with Blake, career choices, how did that all affect your decision-making and how you were going to proceed?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Like everything else in all of our lives, everything seems to be happening at one time. I wish it could just be today it’s this and I’ll work on that. Everything happens at once so while you’re dealing with a newborn, with challenges, you don’t know why you have eight doctor’s appointments in a week. Is it supposed to be eight doctor’s appointments in a week? Do I need to see a neuro specialist and an ortho specialist for my four week year old? Why are we going to genetics again? You’re dealing with all that and breastfeeding because that’s what you’re supposed to do. And your body’s getting back to normal. There’s so many things happening at once. We’re going through all that, I wasn’t thinking of working at that moment. I just was thinking about being a mom to this little person.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

As the years progressed after his first year, his first birthday, we were able to get a correct diagnosis for him. We’ve been going round and round with genetics and nobody quite knew the challenges he had were going to be. When we finally get a diagnosed, it turned out it was super rare. He was one of 70 on the planet at the time with this particular genetic difference. And I choose my words carefully. And I’ll say this for anybody that’s listening, that has differently abled children. It’s not a disorder, it’s not a misnomer. It’s just a difference and he’s differently abled.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Once we figured out what was going on with him and we had a bit of a roadmap set up by our lead geneticists and I called her our, Lead Pediatrician in Boston. We just started on the roadmap. It’s just one foot in front of the other, that’s all you can do some days is put one foot in front of the other as you get out of bed, that’s all you can do. And that’s okay, that’s enough. You’re still moving in some direction even if it’s just toward laundry, it’s a direction.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

It is.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And something is happening even if you haven’t brushed your teeth or taken a shower, there will be clean underwear at the end of the day. So we got him going and then over time, while that’s happening, I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I’m frustrated, I have to ask my husband for everything, which is fine. He was also volunteering things, I didn’t have to ask him. You just feel like you’re always, I need help with this, right? I need, I need, I need. The financial freedom was gone plus everything we just talked about. So dare I say, I was a bit depressed, I know I was and I was trying to figure it all out. But too often times we’re so busy as women with our lives, I don’t have time to be depressed. I don’t have time to look after myself.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I don’t have the time, too much else is going on in time was of the essence with our child. I found myself in therapy. I’m a big believer in therapy. I found a therapist, very helpful, and I was able to unload on her everything. And I went through, again, more than one therapist. Look, if you don’t like them and there’s something that [crosstalk 00:22:09], switch. That’s not the therapist for you. Find the one that works for you and that could be challenging you or making you think differently. I’ve had three good therapists in my life and they’ve all been for different things in different times in my life and they’re all very different because I needed something different at the time. But this particular therapist, just let me talk through it all. I didn’t have anybody to dump on.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

You can’t always dump on your spouse. Typically, men are trying or your spouse or your significant other might be a helper, that might be their gift. They’re trying to always fix something, they’re typically fixers. I didn’t need to be fixed, I needed to figure it out myself. Only I could bring myself out of this and I was circling in the drain. I mean, as much as I had going on, as much as my philanthropic… I volunteered. When I wasn’t working, I was deep in the philanthropic things and raising money for this or donating time there and immerse myself wherever I could. Kept going in life and people were like “Oh, she’s so great.” And I’m like, “I am dying slowly inside.” None of this is working, I haven’t figured it out and it wasn’t until I started realizing that…

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Well, two things happened and I’ll make it quick. With every step of my son’s life, I never just went to the doctor. I always researched what they were saying, dug into what it was. Googled why is the right side of his face bigger than the left side of his face? “Oh, that’s called plagiocephaly.” My next call was to the doctor, “Do you think my son has plagiocephaly?” To which the doctor said, “How do you know that word?” I’m like, “Let’s stay on point. Let’s just stay on point here.”

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Back to the question I asked….

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Right. And turns out, yes, he has Plagiocephaly. Okay. Now, what do we need to do to address this? So there were lots of those moments because he was medically challenged in a lot of ways. He’s had several surgeries and with every one of those, I got to know everything I could about him. What this was and all the off shoots of what it brought with it or what it could bring with it. And it reignited, much to my surprise, the passion that I had in college, which I was a chemistry major first. I wanted to go into medicine. My dad helped me out of that because I was failing terribly by my junior year in math. And my dad’s like Adrienne, you’ve always really been good at business and you’ve always been selling something. Girl scout cookies, lemonade, whatever it is. He’s like, have you ever considered business? I’m like, Oh, that’s so boring. Who would want to do that?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And then I took a marketing class and like, “This is like breathing.” I could do this without thinking about it. So business was my new passion and I left chemistry behind but not far, I’ve always loved helping people. I always had a passion for people at their worst, people suffering. I come from a medical family and a family of teachers and educators. And so, I don’t know, all that came together to form me and with all of this with Blake and then everything the therapist was saying, it all congealed into one moment of, what could you do, which was the question my father asked me in college, for the rest of your life and enjoy and not have to make any money with it but it would fill you up personally?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And I thought, I’d be a doctor but I’m too old for that, I can’t go into that right now. What happened was I took a biology class at a community college to understand more my son while I was still trying to parse all this out in my head. And I did really well with biology class, I’m like, “Oh my God, I have a child, I’m full-time at home. I have a thousand things to do and I’m going to school where I’m the oldest person now in the front row, I’m that student. Looking up close, taking all the notes, listening intently while all of these kids are behind me. And I made an A and I was sitting at 03:00 o’clock in the morning at the hospital because the hospital has a cafeteria that’s open 24 hours a day so I could just sit and eat and study. Those are the goals.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I took the biology class and I took a genetics class and by the time I was through the genetics class, me and the therapist were like, you really do like medicine. And I’m like, I do but it’s too late to become a doctor. What about becoming a PA? I could become a physician’s assistant. Started looking at those programs and it was a short jump. To be a PA, you had to have so much patient experience. So what’s the shortest line for me to patient experience, assistant nurse. I took an assistant nurses class and it lasted six weeks and I took that class and started and got a job as an assistant nurse at a hospital.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And it was so disgusting and I loved every minute of it. So I took a job doing that and I really started to come out of everything. Plus during that time and it was brief, but my therapist went ahead and had me diagnosed. I was a little depressed, I thought about medicating and tried something for a minute that was prescribed. God bless, I lost weight and moved a million miles a minute for about three weeks and then I thought these are not the pills for me but the weight loss was fantastic and then I came out of it. It took maybe three, four months of coming out of something that lasted a while. And I had to change my thinking a lot and I still struggle with it, there’s still new things.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Because, coming back here, starting this, I’m like, “You’ll see. I’m going to show you but I took the job and I started down the path to become a PA.” And I was taking classes at night or in the morning through out the day and I’d worked 12 hour shifts from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM and then go home, get my son, take him to school and wait because he went to a special school, which was about 20 mile drive. And I’d sleep in the car sometimes just waiting for him to get out of school. And I’d go home, rest, do the thing, laundry, all that and then get up and go back to work three days a week.

Audrea Fink:

It’s stories like that where… I mean, everyone who works in the home has a different story but it’s stories where I’m like, “Where did we get this idea that women who stay at home don’t do work?” Just the sheer volume of carting kids back and forth, hearing about that makes me tired. I don’t understand how we look at men who go… So in my household, my husband was a student so he stayed home took care of the house and then studied and he just graduated. And I went to work in the same house currently because of COVID but I worked all day. So I would get done with work and mentally my brain is done, it is mush. So I get how that’s viewed as work but he had to use his brain in school and pick up cat vomit or take the dog for a walk or remind me, Audrea, you have to eat. Also, it’s time for you to shower and do laundry because it’s getting a little stinky in here.

Audrea Fink:

It was such a huge lift for him and I could recognize that because, especially, in this pandemic where I was working from home, I could see what he was doing. And he is a total [effin 00:29:48] slacker compared to like what women with children do or women who actually actively participate in the home because they want to. For the life of me, I will never understand how we look at a woman who stays at home and think, slacker, easy.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Bon-bons and television all day.

Audrea Fink:

Right? I mean, that is what I would do if I stayed at home.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

It’s the picture that society painted, reality or not.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Some things always got it. I told my husband, “Look, if you want me to work at this level and I’m going to ascend back to the level or close to the level where I was, Michelle Obama said it best, you’re not going back, You’re moving forward.” I’m becoming something else, I don’t want to be who I was. I’ve got to be all these things and then the next. Something’s going to give, it’s going to be our relationship, Blake’s something or this house. And it turned out to be, I’m not cleaning the house anymore. I’m also not really cooking. Those two things, I will help with laundry but something’s going to have to give. And as women, we have to give ourselves the okay to let it go.

Julie Holton:

Adrienne, you are a force in every area of your life. If you haven’t heard that in a while, I just need to say that to you. Let’s just connect for a moment because to recap for our listeners, you created this incredible business in fashion and then you had a child and you dedicated your time to your family, to your child. And not just to taking care of your child, but learning and it sounds like at some points, teaching the doctors or pointing things out to the doctors which is so important to advocate for our health, for our children’s health. And then you kept going, you created a job out of that. You were helping others, you were working in a hospital three nights a week, three days a week while also taking care of your family and all of these other things. So you’re on this path, you feel good about your path. You’re remaking your way on this path. And then here comes change again all the way back to where you started in California. So help us connect the dots here, how did you go back into fashion?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I call it a plot twist. What is happening is a plot twist.

Julie Holton:

This is a major plot twist. And by the way, I said go back to fashion but in Michelle Obama’s words, you moved forward into fashion.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Again, in a different way. You nailed it, I was so settled. I was so comfortable he was in school, the special school I fought to get him into. I was working finally in a field that I felt great about and I could see the next step. I could see where it was going and I knew I’d be able to earn in dermatology because that’s the field I chose. Work a regular schedule, make six figures and be able to contribute to my household and my future no matter what. That was it, this is where I’m going. And then the major breadwinner of the family got a job offer in Los Angeles. And I was like… but you can’t say anything. I mean, you can but you don’t want to like Juju it with the wrong Juju on it. So I was that is fantastic, we’re okay.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

One or two trips to LA and as we explore these things and I’m like, “I need to start looking for schools out here.” I’ve been with him long enough to read between the lines. Like he’s really considering this. And I’m like, “Okay God.” And so like anything else, I started looking into schools out here, which ones have good PA programs? Does the hospital I work for have affiliates in California? Can I transition? I had to sell my house because when my lovely other half got said job and took said job in December, he started the job three or four weeks later in Los Angeles alone. So we moved into corporate housing, shipped his car. It’s so easy for some people to move on.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And as Blake continued to go to school and I then left my job with the hospital shortly when he started his job out here because then I had no one to help. And I know there are a lot of single parents out there who work at… I just wasn’t in that place, I had a really good network of friends in Connecticut that helped me more than I can thank them for. There are no words but I couldn’t do that and sell a house and pack. So all of this is happening and then in February, I get a fun diagnosis for my [Tatas 00:34:23]. That I was pre stage something or another and I was like, “What is happening to me?” But again, I couldn’t focus on it because so much was happening. And I thought this, I have to focus on because this could be something life threatening.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

And so, along with all those other plans, I’m like, “Do I see an oncologist here Or do I see an oncologist there? Where will that continued line go?” I ended up Googling Angelina Jolie’s people and well, I didn’t know anybody. She’s the only person I know that’s publicly, just in my mind, that popped up that had gone through it so I got her doctor on the phone and he was fantastic and helped me continue that line here in California after I saw doctors in Connecticut and determined, I really didn’t want a female doctor from a female parts. Yeah, once we got through the health thing and I’m fine, that’s when I had to make a decision about what I was going to do next. And I determined that all of the things that kept me from continuing with my passion were gone now because I was back in a place that supported it as far as resources and my old friends and those kinds of things which there weren’t many left.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

The world had changed with the recession through 2007 or 2008, whatever. Or I could try and continue down the medical path. And again, not knowing, I went for both. I had a conversation with a friend, my now business partner. We decided to try something with very little money upfront and mostly elbow grease in sweat, sweat equity. And I went about the business of transferring my nursing license from one state to the other. But most of my time again was spent looking for schools, getting us situated, unpacking a house, finding the grocery store. Where’s the post office? Just finding the things and getting back some semblance… because as women, especially if you have other people in your immediate life, whether it’s your parents or significant others or a niece that you’re raising or whatever, you are the balance, you balance the scales. Typically it’s you, it doesn’t always have to be you but typically you’re the one balancing the scales.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

So it was my responsibility as my spouse tried to settle into his new gigs that he had his little pressure on him as possible. My son felt comfortable and that he didn’t feel uprooted. I did both and even right up until the pandemic was doing both, I was running the company, we were getting it going. I was seeing Nordstrom and trying to get the line out there. And I was nursing two days a week privately so I did both right up until COVID.

Audrea Fink:

And then that brings us to Everyday Rituals. So now we are here in the pandemic, you stopped nursing, it sounds like. Tell us about that switch into… How did you get from that to where you are today?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Everybody stopped working and my client was like look, “They’re telling everybody, stay home and keep your masks on.” A lot of people, no more housekeeper, no more in home nurse, no more of these. And I was like “Okay.” Because I really was doing it to keep my nursing license active. Everything stopped and so then it was full time, let’s work on this and how do I save our Nordstrom orders that we just got because we were launching at Nordstrom for spring. That was when the collection was doing its debut in April and May. And then that wasn’t happening So you’re scrambling and the mask donations, making them, just kept our lights on. Because we weren’t making any money, We were donating. And then it was like, “Oh my God.” It got real busy, real quick because we had a couple of television appearances that helped local and national and we didn’t know what happened. And within two days, we’d sold something like 30,000 masks.

Audrea Fink:

So you’ve gone through 12 years of change, pretty consistent change to those 12 years. You’ve had to readjust how you see yourself, what you see as your job, what you see as your responsibilities and how you present yourself to the world. So as you’re reflecting on that and you’re going through that process, you’re also dealing with depression, which is a very real difficult unseen issue to be dealing with. How did you turn away negative reflections? How did you stay positive? How did you keep that momentum of one foot in front of the other? Because while it’s true, like one foot in front of the other is really the only way to get through it. Sometimes taking that one step, right? Sometimes doing laundry is so big when you have so much weight on your shoulders. How did you stay moving?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

I mean, some days I totally broke down, I cried a lot. I tried to keep a diary for awhile and I had a diary of only the good so I’ll only write down good things in it. And then I had the crap diary. The one where I was like yelling at people on paper because I’m so nice that I can’t say it but I will say it somehow because it has to come out of you. But only the good is great because it just lets you reflect on whatever good, no matter how great or small it is. And it was not overnight, I had to learn that I was enough. My view of myself was enough. I had to have a good view of myself. I knew who I was, I’m a good person. I don’t have to second guess that. I know what I’m capable of and if I really step up and think about it, I’d be like, “Oh my God. What?” With my child alone, whether your child has special needs or not, every one of them has a different personality.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

You have to be Houdini to deal with all the people in your lives. Aging parents, parents living and passing away. All of these things are happening in the same 12 years. You have to tell yourself you are enough and what you’re doing is enough. I can’t get it all done in a day and like Oprah says, you can have it all, you just can’t all have it at the same time. And it’s very true.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

It’s a very huge distinction that people, I think, miss all of the time. And I think what you just said leads us perfectly into our rapid fire. I actually think you just said it. So this would be probably re-emphasis but as we collect advice from successful women such as yourself, is there a lesson that you learned recently or over this entire time that you wish you had learned earlier?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

That I’m enough and I have something to offer. My light is my own light, it doesn’t have to shine as brightly as the person next to me. Just make sure you surround your self with people that allow you to shine and be yourself.

Julie Holton:

From all of these lessons that you’ve shared with us throughout this podcast because there’ve been so many along the way as you’ve made all of these changes, these career transitions, life transitions. What advice would you offer to any career woman?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Think about your longterm goals, what your ultimate goal is. Why are you working? The hierarchy of need, where are you on that hierarchy of need? Why are you working? It’s not just because you want to, there’s a goal. And then whatever you’re doing always make sure you have some semblance of several plans so that you can be fluid and pivot. I think a lot of times we get stuck. I know I got stuck not knowing how to transition my skills but were so skillful. You just have to learn how to redirect your skillset and hopefully you’ll find passion along the way. We don’t always get to do what we’re passionate about. I’ve been lucky, I was able to figure those things out but just make sure you’re happy when you do it if you can be.

Audrea Fink:

In today’s professional setting, what do you think the most important skill for a woman is?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Flexibility. I heard a minister once say that in the Bible, Adam needed help so he asked God for a helper and he made Eve. And then when Eve came along, she didn’t get a helper. Because apparently Eve could do it all, she didn’t need the help. And while we appreciate it as women, I don’t know that we feel like we can do it all, ask for help but be flexible because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to be as evident with today on COVID.

Julie Holton:

All right, Adrienne, I have your website open on my screen right now because there are a few masks that I need. But can you share with our audience, what is the best way to connect with you and your website if they want to get in touch with you?

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

Absolutely. Our website is shopeverydayritual.com. And if you want to email us through the website, you can. It goes to info@shopeverydayritual.com and you can always call the company, the phone numbers on the website and we have Facebook and then we have @shopeverydayritual on Instagram.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Adrienne, It has been an absolute honor and pleasure. I thank you so much for sharing your story, your knowledge, your strength, your power. You’re just a better person for having spent this time with Adrienne Stewart-Gordon, period, point blank.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

You’re very kind.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Thank you for that.

Adrienne Stewart-Gordon:

You’re very welcome.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

For all of us, we all say thank you. And that’s it for this episode of Think Tank of 3.

Audrea Fink:

If you have topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear from, send us a message at thinktankofthree@gmail.com. Subscribe to the Think Tank of 3, wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with us online. We Vlog weekly at thinktankthree.com.

Julie Holton:

Follow us on social media. You can find us individually on LinkedIn and as Think Tank of 3 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Women, click to join our private group on Facebook where we can all share advice and articles.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And if you liked what you heard in the podcast, share it. You can find Think Tank of 3 on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google play, Amazon music and SoundCloud.

 

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Photo of Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris

As with all things that are of true destiny, Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris believes, you don’t find your career, sometimes your career finds you.

Armed with the gift of gab and a natural feel for writing, broadcasting found it’s way into Reischea’s world after she…

As with all things that are of true destiny, Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris believes, you don’t find your career, sometimes your career finds you.

Armed with the gift of gab and a natural feel for writing, broadcasting found it’s way into Reischea’s world after she graduated from the University of Southern California.

Reischea’s television career began in her hometown of Fresno, California, at then KJEO, channel 47. Her experience at the CBS affiliate was
invaluable; as she worked her way up from a sports intern, to sports producer/reporter, to full-time weekend sports anchor/reporter. That
experience propelled her to San Diego as the weekend sports anchor/reporter for KSWB, where she got her first opportunity to cover
professional sports teams on a regular basis in the Chargers and Padres.

In 2002 she was hired as the weekend sports anchor/reporter for FOX 5 WNYW in New York. There, Reischea was nominated for a New York
Local Emmy for her three-part series on “Diminishing African American’s in Baseball” in 2007. She was also given the opportunity to work on the
station’s community affairs show, Good Day Street talk where topics ranged from post 9/11 stress disorders, healthcare, music and more.
In 2008 opportunity knocked again, this time taking her to Bristol, Connecticut to join ESPN. While with the network, Reischea was able to
interview and interact with some of the biggest athletes and stars on the planet, which made for a pretty awesome experience.

After the birth of her awesome son, Agisi, Reischea focused full-time on the hardest job she’s ever had, being a Mom. But the television love never
went away and so she was able to slide in news anchoring with News12 Connecticut for a short time.

Fast forward to the addition of an amazing daughter, Chrisonia, and that center stone in her life, family, proved to be of necessary focus. As a Mom
of 2 and a wife to a phenomenal husband, Alexandros, Reischea has learned the dynamics of life are ever-changing. Now, focusing on her own
self-empowerment, Reischea is taking her experience in broadcast and bridging it over to a new adventure in the podcast world as a co-host on
Think Tank of Three.