The Feminine Leader Series helps aspiring women leaders understand the power of their platform. As a feminine leader in the 21st century you need to influence and impact hundreds, thousands and millions and when you can impact millions, “Your Platform Is Your Power”. My guest experts share their own experiences on how their creativity, passion and purpose evolved into a personal brand, especially a feminine empowerment brand that has positioned them as a visionary voice and celebrated leader in their industry. Our Feminine Leaders also share their journey of vulnerability, bringing their voice into the world and challenges of visibility. I hope you get inspiration and tips from these brave souls and rising stars!
Today, we have a very special guest with an incredible story to share, Rachael Pontillo. Rachael is the bestselling author of the book Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, and co-author of The Sauce Code. She’s an AADP and IAHC Board Certified International Health Coach, licensed aesthetician; and natural skincare formulator and educator. She’s the president and co-founder of the Nutritional Aesthetics™ Alliance, the creator of the popular skincare and healthy lifestyle blog, Holistically Haute™, as well as the 6-week online course, Create Your Skincare. Rachael received her health coaching education from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®, where she was the recipient of the school’s prestigious Health Leadership Award, and her aesthetics education from the Vision Academy Paul Mitchell School. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree from Philadelphia University and Masters of Metaphysical Science from the University of Metaphysics. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Holistic Life Counseling. Rachael also holds additional certifications in metaphysical science, detoxification, acupressure, Reiki, Chinese Facial Diagnosis, and Ayurveda. She’s an avid herbalist, self-professed skincare ingredient junkie, and lifelong learner.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life experience has made me the leader I am today in so many ways. I went through a great deal of my younger years–as a child, teen, and young adult–feeling like I needed to seek everyone’s approval to be good enough. I wanted to be the best behaved kid to my divorced parents, the best older sister to my siblings, the best student, the best friend…later the best girlfriend, employee, etc…and I never paid attention to what I wanted–except I knew I wanted to be pretty. Don’t get me wrong, everyone told me I was pretty–but that I would be so much prettier if only I had clear skin.
So no matter how hard I tried to be the “best” to everyone and everything, every time I looked in the mirror, I felt flawed and ugly. I felt wrong. If someone disapproved of me, or didn’t give me the attention I wanted, I automatically thought it was because of my skin. I became obsessed with trying to scrub or pick off blemishes, cover it with makeup, and not meet my own eyes in my reflection. I also gained serious body image issues with post pregnancy weight, which is what finally pushed me to realize that I needed to feel at home in my own body. I was now a mother of two little girls and did not want them to ever feel the way I felt about myself, and I realized I had to be the one to model self-love, self-acceptance, and self-confidence to them.
So I took it upon myself to change everything–how I ate, how I moved, how I approached life, how I spoke to myself in my mind. I changed my touch from punishing to loving, and I learned to prioritize self-care and allow myself to be seen and heard (even when I wanted to hide), so that my girls could have a strong feminine role model at home.
This calling to be a role model continued as I built my coaching practice and online course, and continues as I write more and speak more. Though holistic skincare is my business, my mission is to support women to know the Goddess within themselves, and step up as the leaders they too are meant to be.
How did writing and broadcasting present a challenge to you while you were building your platform?
I faced many challenges when I began writing my blog, presenting webinars, doing YouTube videos and my podcast because I was the last generation to grow up without the Internet. I had to learn all these skills–blogging, video, social media, podcasting, writing my books, email marketing, PR, etc–on my own either through books or online education. I also found I needed more formal education if I was going to write from an informed position, so I went back to school not once but three times. I felt that I had no option though, because I felt charged with a message that needs to get out. And while finding the right resources and teachers presented other challenges–those of time and money–I knew I had no choice and that if I ignored this calling, I’d let myself down, and also ignore my dharma–which I was not about to do. I’m still learning how all this works, and I’m still growing my skill set, though I’m grateful now to have amazing team members–though giving up control and asking for help was another challenge still! I love a challenge though, because in my life, I’ve learned that the very best things come after a challenge. Pregnancy and childbirth were no easy feat, yet I got two amazing daughters. Marriage also isn’t always easy, yet I’m about to celebrate 17 years with my husband. Writing books is certainly hard, but I have a 5-star-rated Amazon bestseller. And the list goes on.
The challenges will continue to come, and I will continue to meet them, and overcome them. And I love that.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Always listen to the Goddess within you–your inner voice, your higher self.
Most often, you don’t need anyone’s advice because you already have the answers if you ask and then create the inner headspace and heartspace to listen and hear. If you are going to ask for advice, ask only the advice of those who you truly respect and who have viable advice to offer.
This means, that as much as you love your mom or best friend, if they’re not in online business, chances are their advice will frustrate you more than it can help. It’s great to work with coaches to provide unbiased feedback, or bounce ideas around with–I’ve worked with several amazing coaches over the years and continue to–but don’t let someone else’s experience dilute your own process of self-discovery. You have to learn who you are personally and professionally–and what your core values are. You have to be firm on your negotiable and non-negotiables with things like boundary setting and time management.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for modern women aspiring to lead and spread their message?
Self-doubt. Patriarchal society has taught for millennia that women’s opinions are not valid on their own. We’ve had to ask permission, have our facts checked (often by men with lesser qualifications), and work twice as hard to play on an even field both at work and at home. Double that for women of color. We’ve been taught that allowing ourselves to experience emotions means we are weak, and that we should learn more to compromise and avoid conflict. We’ve been taught from day 1 to put all others’ needs and opinions above and before our own. We’ve been taught that we cannot own or acknowledge our own beauty or pleasure, because that is reserved only for men. We’ve been taught that if we speak up too loud, then we’ll get called a bitch, nasty woman, whore, or worse. Enough already.
My message to modern women looking to lead and spread their wisdom is this: you are perfect as you are. Nothing about you is wrong or less than, and you don’t have to be anything for anyone except your higher self. You will feel intimidated. You will feel fear. You will feel self-doubt, inadequate, and afraid. And that’s OK. But now is not the time to turn back. Now is the time to acknowledge those feelings–allow yourself to feel them–and then choose to let them go as you move forward, one empowered and embodied step at a time.
How has mentorship made an impact in your professional life?
I’ve been fortunate to have incredible and strong female mentors in my life both personally and professionally–some of which I know personally, others I’ve learned from through books, events, or online. I’ve experienced the humility that comes from being around wise women who have traveled the world, lived among indigenous cultures, and learned ancient wisdom from medicine women, priestesses, and shamans, who now pass that down.
I’ve experienced feeling at awe of female political figures for what they’ve had to go through to even run for office, often with families at home. I’ve come to respect my own mother in a whole new way as a single working parent with three children turned entrepreneur who has never let anyone’s lack of faith in her distract her from working towards her dreams. It’s my honor now to mentor women in my coaching practice and online course, as well as through private organizations in which I volunteer my time. I had ideas and I had dreams, but without the inspiration and support of mentors, I likely would have let them go.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I’ve already mentioned my mother, but other than her, I have to honor my grandmothers who came from different cultures, yet took incredible risks and worked extremely hard to give their children better lives than they had–often while sacrificing their own personal wants and needs. Women today have more choices than what my grandmothers had, in terms of whether or not they wanted to marry, become mothers, or work. My grandmothers did not have a choice. Other female leaders I admire are Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Marie Forleo, Regena Thomashauer, Michelle Obama, Athena Perrakis, and Kaia Ra. These women shared and continue to share their truths, and raise their voices for female empowerment–some of which overcame extreme challenges themselves and despite that, answered the call to do their work, speak their truth, and support other women.
Finally, Hillary Clinton. I will be the first to admit that it took me a long time to make the effort to learn about all Hillary has accomplished and overcome despite extreme criticism to her as a wife, mother, and politician. I listened to the criticism by her male opponents, and by other women who felt triggered by Hillary’s drive who lashed out against her. But then I took time to read her story and see what she accomplished. And how she handled herself with grace and class every step of the way. She has paved the way for women in politics like none other, and it is my hope and expectation that whichever woman runs for president next, will have an easier time of it because of Hillary. I extend a deep bow of gratitude to her.
What’s your vision for women leaders? What legacy do you want to leave?
My vision for women leaders is that they look into their hearts, and ask their higher self for guidance on how they’re meant to lead and serve. My vision is that once they make that deep connection with the Goddess within, that they will too realize that leadership is not an option for women today–it is an absolute necessity. Once that realization is made, I encourage women to look to their natural talents, their passions, and their joy–that is what a successful leadership platform must be built from. The legacy I want to leave to young women today, and to my daughters and all little girls is that no matter who you are, where you come from, what color your skin is, you are a Goddess–you have a voice that will not be silenced, we are all one, and you ARE the future.
What inspired you to create your platform/ personal brand?
Though my platform and brand represents a global message of sacred feminism and female empowerment, it all started from my own challenges with skin, weight, and self-love. The brand started when I was first starting to make a shift in my own diet, lifestyle, mindset and consciousness, and it’s evolved to reflect that, though skincare is still the starting point for most women when they first encounter my brand. And skincare is important, because your skin is the container that holds, carries, and represents everything inside you in this life. It’s often the first thing you see in the morning, and the last thing you see at night. It’s how you present yourself to the world. So many women have skin conditions that interfere with their ability to see themselves for who they really are, and my brand strives to help them move past skin, and step into their true selves so they can be the leaders they’re meant to be.
Connect with Rachael on social media
Rachael’s Books: Love Your Skin, Love Yourself and The Sauce Code
Rachael’s Blog: Rachael’s Holistically Haute Blog
Rachael’s Podcast: The Rachael Pontillo Show
Rachael’s YouTube channel: Rachael Pontillo