MEET MICHELE SANTIAGO
TDR Brands International spotlights Power Moms who show inner strength and courage, while simultaneously loving and nurturing family, during the pursuit of their dreams.
Meet Power Mom Michele Santiago
There are many unknowns when deciding to pursue your purpose and the fear of the unknown paralyzes many and they never fulfill their God given purpose due to "what ifs". I say focus your "what ifs" on the possibilities.
Tierra Destiny Reid: Please give us a brief recap of your career.
Michele Santiago: I began my career in sales in 1989. Married in 1992 and became a stay at home mom until 1999. During those years, I became a licensed nail tech to earn money and began to volunteer at my children's schools, sit on various community boards, and volunteer for political campaigns. I went back into sales by becoming the first African-American woman in the Midwest region to sell luxury vehicles for a local dealer. From that position I returned to retail as a manager for a national men's suit store until the company closed half of their stores. I worked as an independent contractor utilizing my skill set to work for organizations contractually until returning to luxury retail management. I became a certified life coach in 2013 and began working for myself. My clients range from women who have experienced chronic homelessness to individuals and businesses who need image/wardrobe coaching. I am blessed to be able to marry my love for helping people with my custom clothing business and I don't feel like I work a day in my life. In 2012, I also partnered with my best friend to launch a reality show pitch company.
TDR: Tell us about your children.
MS: I have three children. My eldest son who is 28, works for an industrial company and has a passion for writing rap lyrics. My daughter, my middle child, is a new mom. She's 22 and a great mom. I am so proud that she is nursing her daughter just like I nursed her and her younger brother. I was too ill to nurse my oldest. The baby is 3 months old. She is pursuing her license to become a clinical esthetician and then back to college to study dermatology. My youngest is 19 and an aspiring producer, writer, and director. In kindergarten he said that he was going to move to L.A. and work for Pixar, he is pursuing that by attending film school and interning with a local organization that works with youth who desire to have careers in the film and television industry.
TDR: How are you juggling your passion with the responsibilities of parenthood?
MS: It took a moment for me to learn how to organize my life. I would become overwhelmed because I didn't know how to manage my time efficiently. Through trial and error, I finally learned to manage my time. I schedule every aspect of my personal life, family life, and career. I made sure that I set time aside to pursue what I was passionate about daily because it gave me life. I was determined to make use of the gifts and talents God gave me and made it a priority and shared this priority with my family. As a tool, I use a calendar and EVERYTHING has to go on that calendar. Now that the children are all young adults, everyone has somewhere to be and I had to train them to write every interview, outing, and appointment on that calendar.
TDR: What are some of your struggles and how do you work to overcome them?
MS: My biggest struggle was being disorganized. This became a detriment to our livelihood. When you get tired of paying additional fees and higher percentages due to late payments you learn very quickly how to begin organizing your life to reflect the outcomes you desire.
TDR: What are 2 resources you use to help you stay motivated
MS: My vision board is my most valuable resource. Goals from every area of my life are on there. I use post-its around my home to help me remain focused. One of my weaknesses is that I can become easily distracted. My post-its remind me to stay the course. The next step to this process is my accountability partner. It can be my husband, my best friend, or an individual who has accomplished something I desire to accomplish. They know my goal, action plan, and when I set to complete it. This works well for me because I hate having to tell someone I didn't complete something, lol.
TDR: What is your favorite way to pause?
MS: I love dancing and being in the company of great friends. I love the human connection and I value the relationships in my life. With modern technology we have moved so far away from quality time spent with friends and family so we make a conscious effort to plan time to spend with one another. Preferably on vacation!
TDR: What has been the scariest moment or crossroad in your journey?
MS: My scariest moment was when my husband was 41 years old and he suffered a major stroke. It left him disabled and it forever changed all of our lives. It was the first time my faith was challenged and I had to become a caregiver to him, as well as his cheerleader, his source of strength, and courage for my children who were school age at the time.
TDR: What would be your greatest advice to other "Power Moms" wanting to pursue their dreams?
MS: Do it afraid. There are many unknowns when deciding to pursue your purpose and the fear of the unknown paralyzes many and they never fulfill their God given purpose due to "what ifs". I say focus your "what ifs" on the possibilities. How will your life change? How will your family's lives change for the better? Connect with that feeling you're having at that exact moment and make a vision board with images that represent the outcomes that invoked that feeling of success and place it where it's visible all the time. Now create an action plan with deadlines to reach your goals.
TDR: What word best describes the legacy you want to leave for your children and why?
MS: Generational Wealth. Sorry, I know that's two words, but this is what pushes me daily. I am now a grandmother (I prefer GiGi, lol) and all I can think about is that my husband and I didn't have anyone to gives us money or rich relatives. We struggled often because although we were hard workers we were financially illiterate. This will NOT be my children's or my children's children legacy.
TDR: How can others collaborate and support your mission?
MS: My personal mission is to be empowered to empower others. I love speaking to groups (especially people form disenfranchised areas) to let them know that as long as they have breath, there is hope. My personal goals is to empower moms to be advocates for their children and how to reinvent themselves. Others can collaborate and support my mission by liking and sharing my social media pages and by having me come speak about my journey.
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