Boss Ladies: Freda Salvador | Cristina Palomo Nelson and Megan Papay

June 23, 2016


Photos C/O Emily Scott

Growing up I really wanted to be
Cristina: An art teacher.
Megan: a mom

One thing people don’t know about me is
CPN: My first language is Spanish. I lived in El Salvador until I was 15.
MP: I played ice hockey with a bunch of Navy boys when I lived in Hawaii.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
CPN: My son, Luca. He is the funniest little soul and brings my husband and me so much happiness!

If I had a neon sign, it would read
MP: Check for poo on your shoes.  (We have chickens and dogs!)

The hardest thing about my work is
CPN: Learning to shut off. When you own a business it’s difficult to draw the line between personal life and work. I am often split between trying to be a present mom and a successful business owner. There is a place for both, but it’s hard to maintain a healthy balance.

My real life heroes are 
MP: My parents gave me the best childhood imaginable…I felt loved and supported, but also free to be the person I am.  They fostered curiosity, independence, and wanderlust.


I wish I could tell my younger self
CPN: Slow down! Be easier on yourself. Done is better than perfect!

Tell us about a mentor who set you down this path?
MP: My college advisor Kathryn Rohe is an amazing costume designer.  She knew I wanted to work in fashion, and gave me books on designers and fashion movements.  She taught inspiring classes that sparked creativity in design. She also taught me about the psychology of dress, and it’s interesting to design shoes with that in mind…the story they tell, and what they say about the person.

How I got started with my current career
CPN: My father is a shoemaker and my grandfather before him. Once I became interested in fashion, I knew footwear was my calling! I went to business school, got into personal styling after graduation, and went back for an MFA degree. I met Megan while working for a Bay Area footwear designer.

MP: I studied Costume Design at the University of Virginia and moved to New York after graduation.  My first job was in celebrity styling at Calvin Klein.   I liked styling, but wanted to get into design.  In 2001 I started an accessories line, Megan James, and when my husband, Michael, and I moved to San Francisco in 2005 I looked for other design-related jobs.  I ended up in footwear and have been obsessed with it ever since.

The dumbest thing we did when starting out
MP: We spent a lot of money on a website because we wanted it to look legitimate. We quickly learned there are  tools like Shopify, where you can build a site and have full control of the look and messaging.
CPN: Thinking this would be easy and I’d be designing all day, every day. Just kidding. But really…

Freda.Salvador.Boss.Ladies.2 My typical day looks like
CPN: I wake up around 6:15am and check my email – our factory is 9 hours ahead so to catch them prior to the end of their day is crucial. We all have breakfast together before we get out for the day. I get to the office at 9am and dive straight in.  I get home at 5pm and throw dinner together for Luca. We play for a while before his bath and bed time at 7! Then I cook dinner for my husband and me. We catch up on each other’s day, relax and watch tv (if we are lucky) or catch up on a bit more work (if we are crazed)! I am not a night person so I am typically out by 9pm!

MP: I wake up at 7:00, feed the animals, get ready, drop my daughter Piper at school and head into our Sausalito design studio.   At 4:00 I picked her up and bring her back to the office.  Once she is settled with art supplies I am back at my desk until 6:00.  Then we head home for dinner, and Piper is in bed by 8:30.  Then Michael and I have some wine, conversation, (at times cheesy tv shows) and go back to work on the sofa.  He has a start-up as well, so we are in the same boat…could use about 48 hours in every day!

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
CPN: I catch myself on my phone reading emails while my son is playing solo next to me. I quickly silence my phone, put it away and give him my undivided attention.

An example of when I had to push through my fear was when
MP: I had insecurities before we started FREDA and wondered how it would change my life.  Once we decided it was a ‘go’, we haven’t looked back.  There is no time for fear…we work hard and charge forward every day.  The daily wins and losses barely hit our radar because we are focused on making FREDA the best it can be.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
MP: When we launched our first Capsule Collection, featuring our favorite styles in Metallic leather. It was gorgeous and sold out almost immediately!  I am excited to continue to design these special interim Capsules.  They give us a chance to test the boundaries with our creativity and offer our customers unique shoes that we love!
CPN: I am so proud of what we have created with FREDA SALVADOR. Megan and I have an incredible team. We are constantly blown away by the support of our loyal customers! Every day is better than the last and as we grow and tap into new markets, our eyes get wider and wider with endless possibilities!

My current definition of success is
MP: Getting emails from customers who love their shoes. It means the world to us and gives us so much energy to keep going!

The legacy I hope to leave is
CPN: Never stop learning. I am a true believer in absorbing as much information as possible. I don’t see a limit to what can be self-taught. I tend to think, “If you can do it, I can do it,” so why not try?

Kat’s Not-So-Summer-Capsule Wardrobe

June 21, 2016


Photos c/o Sara Kerens + Tutti del Monte

My Not-So-Summer-Capsule

You know those girls who glisten rather than sweatI happen to do the opposite of glisten:  Buckets of water run from my pores once it gets over 70 degrees outside. One of my best friends glistens.  It’s magical.  We’ll do an hour workout in a hundred degree yoga classroom, and when we leave I am tempted to throw away my sloshy wet workout clothes, while my friend is merely flushed in the cheeks with an amazing glow.

Summer in New York City is special. I don’t mind the heat — after six months of freezing weather I welcome it with open arms.  But it is hot, humid, and sticky.

My sole goal in the summertime is to feel cool and comfortable.  While I have a few pieces I’d consider to be Capsule-worthy, most of my summer clothes last one to two seasons because I ruin them with all the aforementioned sweat.  (Is this TMI?  Am I the only one?)

Each summer I purchase a few inexpensive, breezy dresses that I will live in for the next few months.  I feel ok with them only lasting a few months if I haven’t spent too much on them.  I cannot tell you how many expensive silk blouses and dresses I have ruined due to the summer heat.

My goal for this summer capsule series is to be as honest as I can about what I am actually wearing, and what my day-to-day life really looks like.  I feel excited about these posts, because they feel like me.  We shot all the posts in my neighborhood, in my subway stop, on the streets I walk every single day.  I smile just thinking about it because I feel they really reflect me.  And I think that’s one of the most important lessons I’m learning through this experiment:  getting to know and embrace who I am more.

So bear with me as I venture into my ‘not-so-summer’ capsule.

This Summer’s Add-ons

  • 2 pairs of comfy wedges from Target:  one in black + one in camel.  I buy a pair of cheap and comfortable sandals every summer.  These were $30 each, and so far I’ve worn them both multiple times a week.
  • White Cotton Tank.
  • Black Cotton loose shorts
  • White Flowy Bohemian Dress.
  • A Sassy Summer dress that I can do twirls in.

My Summer Staples

  • White + Blue denim cut-off shorts
  • My faithful year-round skinny jeans
  • Light weight romper
  • Beach Cover-up
  • White Silk Tank
  • Blue Denim Gauchos
  • White V-Neck T
  • Black Maxi Dress
  • One Piece Bathing Suit + Black Bikini



Real Talk, Real Moms : Education

June 17, 2016


Motherhood is comprised a thousand decisions every day. Some are easier than others: peanut butter and jelly or a cheese stick both seem to be perfectly fine meal choices in my opinion.

Over the past two years I’ve learned many lessons about being a mom, and the most important one is this : you do you. You have to do what’s right for you, your child and your family.

The transition to being a mom has been (and is) fairly difficult. My daughter though, she’s amazingly resilient. She rolls with it all like a champ.

So I have come to the conclusion that if a decision presents itself to me easily, I am going to roll with it. I can’t let myself go down a rabbit hole on every decision. There may always be a better choice I could make, but most of the time, the one that seems easier is probably just as well.

We live in an amazing neighborhood, and it has a lot of options when it comes to childcare. There happens to be a place nearby which feeds into a 2-4 year old program which then feeds into a preschool and a kindergarten. When I hear my friends talk about camping out overnight to get their name in a random drawing for a prestigious preschool program — and having to do that year after year — my head spins. I can’t imagine going through that.

So when I started looking for a daycare for Charlie and heard about the one near us, I felt like we hit the jackpot. I’m not saying I went into it blindly. I visited and it looked clean, and the kids looked happy and they seemed to play freely. I was sold.

Sometimes I get this sense that if you don’t tour a hundred preschools it means you don’t care about your child’s chances of getting into college. I think my own schooling has informed my decisions as a parent.

I went to good elementary, middle and high schools, a fantastic college, and then went into business for myself with no formal training in my field. School was wonderful, but I could have done just as well regardless of where I went, because my family encouraged my education. We read together. I was given freedom to explore and play and use my imagination. To me, those are the elements of a great education. It’s not necessarily just the school or the curriculum, it’s what is happening at home too.

I know that I’m in a privileged position. All the preschools in my neighborhood are pretty good, and Charlie is flourishing. I’m extremely grateful for that. If she had special learning needs or we lived in an area that didn’t have the right school for her, I would do everything I could to find the right place for her.

This is why motherhood is so hard — because everything changes. We might be in a different position in a year, so right now I try to just focus on today. You do your best, and pray you’ll have the strength for the next transition.

I’m grateful for the community of moms around me, who help me get through this crazy process. I’m looking forward to reading the posts from the other moms in our series, because their experiences are my teachers right now, and their honesty is everything.

See the other Real Moms thoughts on Education below:

Erin / Alex / Jen / Bethany / Sarah



Vacay Style : Charleston

June 14, 2016


Last month Aaron and I took a 4 day trip to Charleston (sans-toddler! thanks grandma and grandpa!!) and it was a beautiful little getaway. My good friend Caitlin told me I would love it, and man, was she right!

charleston vacay / the refined woman

charleston vacay / the refined woman

charleston / the refined woman

Zero George was an ideal romantic hideaway. Nestled in the heart of Charleston, this historic property has an incredible restaurant, a charming sitting room, porches galore, and bikes to take out on the town. My favorite memory was riding bikes through the historic streets with the wind in our hair and dreaming of which house we’d choose to live in.

charleston vacay / the refined woman charleston vacay / the refined woman zero george / the refined woman

I’ve compiled a few things not to be missed if you’re headed to Charleston.



1. Raw 167 – The Ahi Poke and homemade chips are tops.

2. The Ordinary – Sit at the bar at happy hour, get the seafood tower and let the bartender school you in delicious Rhum cocktails.

3. Zero Cafe + Bar – Get the tasting menu! One of the most inventive and delicious meals I’ve ever had.

4. Hominy Grill – Fried Chicken and grits. Worth the wait.

5. Two Boroughs Larder – Get all the starters they have.

6. Xiao Bao Biscuit – I love the atmosphere of this converted gas station, great for lunch. Get the okonomiyaki.

7. Poogan’s Porch – Try the shrimp + grits. There’s a reason it’s the first photo on their website!

8. Cannon Green – The atmosphere is amazing. I loved the delightfully light and delicious crab cakes.

charleston / photos by emily scott


1. Middleton Plantation  – try one of their Mint Juleps. You won’t regret it.
middleton plantation
charleston / the refined woman
middleton plantation / emily scott photography
2. Legare St, Tradd St. Church St… Just walk up and down these streets and be amazed at the houses and porches!
charleston city guide
3. Billy Reid on King St. Beautiful investment pieces for both men and women.
4. Candlefish. The coolest candle store. They have a library of scents.
5. Proud Mary. I love this adorable little shop for their imported sandals and world goods.
6. Black Tap Coffee. We went there every day because my standards for caffeine are impossibly high. I wouldn’t mind bringing a book and sitting here every day.
charleston / black tap coffee


Shout outs to:

Elisa Bricker for snapping a few photos of my outfit at Zero George! It was awesome to spend some porch time with you, you talented woman.


 photo by Elisa Bricker

Emily Scott by Elisa Bricker

Caroline for all the Charleston recommendations! You are the most lovely virtual tour guide – we would have been lost without you!

I’m already dreaming about the next time we can go back.



Em’s Capsule Review : Winter/Spring

June 7, 2016

capsule review / the refined woman

What I love about the capsule experiment is that it’s making our style so personal. Inspiration is everywhere, but sometimes it doesn’t translate into something I actually feel good wearing.

As I continue to struggle with my opposing desires for what’s on trend versus what I actually wear, Kat will text me images saying “THIS IS YOU!”  and she’s always right. It’s usually something flowy, like wide linen pants.
(As much as I love this outfit below, I only wore it once … )

capsule review

capsule review / the refined woman

Purging my closet has become a new favorite activity. Things I have kept around through multiple purges finally seem to be working their way out of my system. I recently texted my best friend Anna (the most ruthless of closet purgers who always gives me the hard truth) a photo of a dress I haven’t worn in  2 years. Her immediate response: – “Donate. I am just betting there are other summer dresses you’d choose first.”  It was like a light bulb went off.
I’m figuring out my specific problem is choice, or more specifically, too much choice. I am an emotional dresser, and if I’m feeling tired or faced with a full day of editing photos at home, I’m going to stay in my sweatpants.
If I have a day that I’m excited about, I’ll bust out an actual outfit that I want to be seen. But even with an edited seasonal capsule, I’m including too many tops, too many jean styles, too many different silhouettes. It can make my head spin.

capsule review / the refined woman

capsule review / the refined woman

capsule review / the refined woman

capsule review / the refined woman

capsule review / the refined woman

So as I head into summer, here’s what I am going to attempt:
Even less in my capsule. 40 things is still too many!
More casual tops … Silk is pretty but I can’t wear it if I’m gonna be near my toddler for more than 5 minutes. So more cotton and linen and things that can go in the old washing machine.
More comfortable bottoms (sorry, high waisted things that look so cute!). Boyfriend jeans are basically my new uniform.
Maybe I’ll try to document what I’m wearing on a daily basis just for reference, so I know how many days a week I need to dress for, and what I am actually wearing. It’s crazy to me that after doing this for almost a year I’m still figuring it out. But that’s why we are doing this. And maybe you’re like me, thinking, I could never do this capsule wardrobe thing! But I’m doing it, and every time I “fail” – I find out why, and I’m getting closer every time to a better, more personal style.

Kat’s Capsule Review

May 31, 2016


Photo c/o Sara Kerens

We’re calling this the Capsule Experiment because that is exactly what it is:  a series of trials and errors making discoveries of what’s working and not.  Before I’d just do an outfit post because it was what was on the calendar and I thought it was a pretty outfit.

Now that I’ve gotten rid of so many clothes the mindfulness behind what pieces actually translate into my everyday life is great.  We’re now planning outfit months in advance which gives us time to consider whether or not each outfit feels authentic and if we’ll wear it in our every day lives.  More than once we’ve told the other that doesn’t really look like you, or how often are you really going to wear that?  

Now that we’ve let go of the pressure to keep up, we’re able to work on establishing our own personal style.

Reflecting on my spring posts I ask myself questions like:

  • What worked and why?
  • What didn’t work and why?
  • What are the unexpected pieces that I didn’t think I’d wear all the time, but actually do?
  • What are the pieces I invested into that turned out to not work at all?  Why?
  • What is why behind why I’m getting dressed in the morning?  [For me it’s to be comfortably chic as much as possible if I’m not in my yoga pants].

I rarely shop anymore.  I’m thinking more about what I already have in my wardorbe, and what outfits I can create.  What are the things I truly need as opposed to the things I just want and will only wear for a minute?

Looking back on the spring and heading into summer here is what I’ve noticed:

  • The only time in my life that my day-to-day wardrobe has been more casual than it is now is when I was a college athlete and lived in my athletic sweats.  It’s weird because New York is a more dressy city, but for whatever reason I’m more casual than ever.  A large chunk of time I’m in workout clothes.  If I put on regular clothes it’s mostly something I can wear sneakers with so I can be comfortable walking through the streets.
  • I live in these jeans.  When I got them from AYR the designer told me they designed them in hopes of women doing just that.  Next to my prized yoga pants these babies are my best friends.  I want to buy 10 more pairs and savor them for the rest of my life.
  • Surprisingly to me this turtleneck I got on clearance a few years ago from JCrew is the other thing I lived in.  I felt chic and it was comfortable.  A winning combination for me.
  • I need to find ways to have more balance in my wardrobe.  My closet feels like stilettos I wear once a month, or Uggs.  I need to figure out what is more realistic for my daily life other than yoga pants.
  • I want to be more mindful of my purchases.  For example, will I actually wear this, and is this flattering on me?  For instance, I wore this cardigan once.  As cute as it was on the hanger, on me it’s lumpy.  The pockets stick out, and I don’t feel great in it.  I feel obligated to wear it because I bought it.  And I love the look of off the shoulder.  But unless I stand perfectly still and keep my hands by my side this dress flies up to my neck.  It is a disaster waiting to happen.  Disappointed, I returned it after wearing twice.

Much of what I posted the past few months didn’t translate into my every day life.  But I learned a few key things that really did work, and it’s an opportunity to grow and learn.  Sometimes the best way to learn what works is by finding out what doesn’t work.  If you’re like me, you won’t know what those things are until you try them out for yourself.

Here’s to what I’ll consider a successful capsule season!  I’m excited to see what I’ll learn in the next few months as our summer capsule unfolds.



Beauty is… Wholeness |Danika Brysha Part 2

May 27, 2016


Photos C/O:  Abbi Cooley H+MU: Melina Ruiz

When the modeling jobs stopped coming in, I quickly found myself in a pretty rough financial situation.

A few times a week I rented my apartment on AirBNB to make some money. I borrowed from my family and sent desperate emails to the accounting department at my agency to rush my last few paychecks.

I was so stressed, and felt isolated because I couldn’t even spend $3 to get coffee with a friend. I was two months late on rent and too depressed to reach out for help.

Something had to change.

I decided to inventory my day to see how I spent my time and figure out how to make money doing what I was already doing. The personal inventory showed I spent a lot of time sharing recipes and cooking for friends.

I shared my health journey on social media, and had built a great following. I also spent time answering emails from people who said that clean eating was a challenge: they didn’t know how to cook, they didn’t have time, they thought it was too expensive, they were overwhelmed with where to start.

I knew if they could feel the same high that I felt after transforming my diet, that they’d be more motivated to create it for themselves. But they needed a head start.

So I began cooking out of my tiny apartment kitchen – with no dishwasher, no dining table, no culinary training, and no business experience.

My clientele grew naturally and the next thing I knew I had a legitimate business. I couldn’t afford a taxi so I’d walk to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and lug 100 lbs of groceries home on the subway. I’d cook Whole30 compliant meals, photograph them, print a menu with all the ingredients, pack a cooler bag, and deliver them by foot and train all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. My landlord helped me install a second refrigerator in my studio apartment. Model Meals was born.

I started making videos and posting them to YouTube. I covered everything from “My Trader Joe’s Shopping List” to “5 Ways I Practice Self-Care Daily”. After all, the word “model” in Model Meals is about being a role model of how to live and eat cleaner.

But there was an issue: cooking out of my apartment was not only illegal, it was also limiting, in terms of how many people I could reach with this message.

Whole30 had been the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change: I’d developed a regular practice of meditation, fitness, getting great sleep, avoiding alcohol, journaling, and so much more. If I could help more people experience this lifestyle, it could completely change the world.

But I couldn’t reach the world by cooking for 10 people, and my apartment kitchen was at capacity. If I wanted to really do this I would have to get out of the desperate financial situation I’d fallen into.

I decided to move back to California and live with my parents. I packed my 200 pound dog into a rental car and drove cross country. Once I got settled, I teamed up with two amazing women to take Model Meals to the next level. In August of 2015, with no investment or business plan, we started cooking out of a shared kitchen space in Orange County, California and the rest is history.

Through sharing content online, I was discovered by one of the top talent agents in the world. I signed with William Morris Endeavor, and we are in the process of producing a show that will allow me to take my message of wellness to the mainstream.

I am rebuilding my modeling career with a focus on finding success at whatever size my body chooses to settle in. I’m working hard and remaining optimistic, but most importantly, I am putting my energy and soul into something I deeply believe in.

To me, being whole means being cohesive. Being one. And that starts with being whole within myself so that I can be a part of the greater “whole” in this world. I have created my dream life — and it started with food. After all, “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”


Danika Brysha

To learn more about Danika + her amazing journey with Model Meals check out her stuff.  We think she’s LEGIT!

Beauty is… Wholeness | Danika Brysha Part 1

May 26, 2016


Photos C/O:  Abbi Cooley H+MU: Melina Ruiz

I never knew how much the word “whole” would define my life. Frankly I didn’t even know what it meant to be whole. I lived my life being disconnected from myself. My body and the image I had of it had been a source of pain for me for so long that I got really good at not living in it.

I spent 15 years of my life trying to lose weight.  I wanted to be a model, but what I really wanted was to be beautiful, to be enough, to look like the women I saw in the magazines and on television.

There was just one problem. I didn’t look like them.

So I started dieting. I started with Weight Watchers, moved on to Atkins, and made many diet pitstops in between. The diets were successful, but the weight would come back so I’d try something new.

When I was in high school a friend taught me to throw up my meals and I felt I’d found the easy way out.  I didn’t have the wisdom to know that the easy way is never really easy.

I clearly remember the day I was crowned Homecoming Queen.   I came home from school and threw up all the “bad” foods I’d eaten. Then I washed my face, wiped my eyes, and zipped up my white satin dress. I went to the homecoming game, rode in a convertible in front of thousands, and my name went up in fireworks.

People often asked me how I stayed so happy.  The truth was, I simply became whoever would make them happy. I felt like such a fraud.


In college I started doing illegal drugs that were appetite suppressants, and I used alcohol to numb my feelings. It was an endless cycle. Pain… eat… guilt… more pain… eat…  I was convinced I’d die from it. I never thought that food could also be the key to my happiness.

After graduation, I realized that nothing had changed. I’d been fighting my weight, chasing the fashion model dream for 10 years, and I looked more or less the same. I was exhausted and I decided I’d never diet again.  Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a model.

In 2011, after relaxing into my “bigger” body, I was approached by modeling agent who represented a wide range of sizes.  I signed with them and my career took off.

For the very first time, I felt like it was okay to be a size 14. The next thing I knew, my face was plastered on the Forever 21 website, in the aisles of Target, and opportunities began popping up everywhere. I was living my dream — and it happened because I stopped trying to be something I wasn’t.

I signed with Wilhelmina Models and moved to NYC to find more work and make a fresh start.  I didn’t want to be the party girl anymore. I didn’t want to be the chubby, funny friend or the people pleaser.  I was living on my own and I could be anyone I wanted to be.

I had been experimenting with changing my diet to deal with digestive issues and brain fog, and the results were phenomenal.  Then I stumbled upon Whole30 – a month-long challenge to eliminate processed foods, grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol — anything that could potentially be wreaking havoc in the body. There was no calorie counting or hunger involved, and I liked that.

The program has a strong focus on breaking habits and encouraging mindfulness. I was deathly afraid of falling back into the diet-binge cycle, but this felt different. I committed to the challenge for the first month of 2014.

I’d just moved into my new apartment in the West Village and life was good. By the end of the month I’d lost 15 pounds and was in disbelief at how good I felt. My mind was clear, my energy was high, my skin was glowing, and my stomach was flat.  I wanted to keep feeling that way, so I kept at it.

But by April I faced a scenario I couldn’t have predicted. I’d lost 30 lbs… and all of my plus size modeling jobs. I went from a size 14 to a size 8/10 and the phone stopped ringing.

I had an expensive NYC apartment and no paycheck. I could rebuild my career at my new size, but it could take years to build a new portfolio and consistent clients.I had to act quickly.

My new lifestyle was too good to let go of, and I knew I had to share what I’d learned with others. But I also had to make money. And so I decided I’d find a way to make my passion into my living….

More to come on tomorrow’s Part II Post.


Danika Brysha

To learn more about Danika + her amazing journey with Model Meals check out her stuff.  We think she’s LEGIT!


May 24, 2016

You know that feeling when it’s still kinda cold outside but if you sit really still in the sunshine and there’s no breeze you can *almost* pretend it’s summer?

Here’s the perfect solution: a fresh pair of cropped jeans that will take you through the last of those chilly spring days and well beyond those lazy summer ones.

We have been big fans of AYR for ages and today we are excited to partner with them to give away a pair of Vibes Jeans to one lucky reader!

All you have to do is comment on this post and tell us where you’ll wear them this summer!

See how we styled our Summer Vibes :

AYR Vibes IMG_3102 IMG_3020 IMG_3085
IMG_3113 AYR.VibeJeans.KatHarris7 AYR.VibeJeans.KatHarris1 AYR.VibeJeans.KatHarris2 AYR.VibeJeans.KatHarris3 AYR.VibeJeans.KatHarris5

Photos of Kat c/o Sara Keren



May the odds be ever in your favor


Kat + Em


**this post is in partnership with AYR … thank you for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

Boss Ladies | Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez

May 19, 2016


She may be one of the most colorful, free-spirited, soulful, grounded women I know.  These images will give you a peek at how spirit-filled her life is, but wait until you thumb through her magazine, DisFunkshion.  It has a message of purpose, hope and adventure to women.  Connected through mutual friends, we’ve been pen pals and phone buddies for the last 7 years.  Hugette has a deep soul, and she dives right in on your first meeting.  I cannot wait for you to get to know her.

Hugette, you inspire us to dream more vivid dreams, and boldly step into them!



Growing up I really wanted to be
A marine biologist

My most-used emojis are
Kiss face, flamenco dancer, pineapple

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Iced vanilla Chai with soy milk

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Pandora radio

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m full Hispanic. (half Venezuelan, half Cuban)

My real life hero is
My mother! She has always been the best example of a strong woman who conquers all, yet she maintains an unceasing tenderness toward life and humanity. She is one of the kindest, most loving people I know! She’s a full-time volunteer at numerous cancer organizations, where she collects goods and resources for patients and speaks life into patients’ lives.


What I love about my work is
Merging my creative spirit with a purposeful mission to restore women!

The hardest thing about my work is
Wearing so many hats. Particularly the administrative part – which is not my favorite!

How I got started with my current career
I’ve always been an avid reader. One day while I was a bookstore I prayed I’d have the privilege of creating something like the magazines I held in my hand — but with a message that could exhort women toward a higher standard of living. I also wanted to encourage women by highlighting just how special each and every one of us are!

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I thought I would figure things out more quickly than I actually did. Every single day is a lesson, a discovery, and a building block for what’s next.

My typical day looks like
I go to Starbucks every single morning and spend about an hour reading and journaling as my spiritual devotional time. After that I work on the day’s tasks, which may include emails, graphic design, editing articles, producing shoots, going to photo shoots, traveling, conference calls, interviews, etc. I like to cook dinner for my husband and I every day. About 3-4 times a week I do something active, like going to Zumba or surfing with my hubby.

I used to think success meant
Making a living doing what I love!


My current definition of success is
Finding joy in every part of the journey!

An example of when I had to push through my fear was when
We were asked to go national and at the time we were only printing a few copies as a local Hawaiian publication. We didn’t have the funds and I didn’t know how I was going to provide enough magazines to distribute nationally, but I walked forward in faith!

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I don’t get my morning devotional time or time with my family. This doesn’t happen often because I’m very particular about time management!

The last time I created something I was proud of was
Today! A blog post!

I wish I could tell my younger self
Chill out girl! Everything has it’s timing!

The legacy I hope to leave is
She made the world a better place and offered a space of belonging to all women.