Inspired and Inspiring: Four Women Making Change

by Beth Wischnia March 03, 2021

It’s International Women’s Day, when we honor the incredible achievements of women—especially those working toward creating a better world and a more engaged community. We spoke to four incredible role models on how they discovered their passions and their words of advice for the next generation.

Sheila Pollak, Chief Marketing Officer of Biossance

Sheila Pollak, Chief Marketing Officer of Biossance
@sheilashekar12

I lead our global marketing and creative team in sharing the unique Biossance brand and product stories in the most powerful way, educating our clients about clean beauty and creating unforgettable experiences for our clients.

What inspires your passion and activism for what you do? 
The ocean means the world to me.  Whether I’m surfing, kiteboarding or stand-up paddling, I’m happiest and feel most powerful in the water.  I love sharing that passion with my daughters so it’s critical to me that we protect what we love.  I have been focused on ocean conservation my whole life and hope I can use business as a force for good so generations of girls after us can gain their confidence, strength and joy from outdoor adventures.

A short tip/ inspirational message to women in honor of IWD: 
Honor and lean into your strengths.  We are all born with our own unique gifts.  Share yours with the world and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Who is a woman you admire, and why? 
I admire my best friend Kirsten, who’s a single mom and Division Three Women’s Basketball coach who’s led her team to win the Women’s Championships multiple years (even through the greatest challenges).  The embodiment of strong female leadership, she inspires with her passion for the game, sets a high bar for her team through her own dedication and helps them persevere while showing them vulnerability and empathy.  She has taught me to dream BIG and has shown me what it feels like to have other women lift you to heights you couldn’t imagine on your own.

I can’t live without: 
My daughters and adventure-buddies, Kai (8) and Coco (7)

What is your favorite Biossance product and why? 
Obsessed with the Vitamin C Rose Oil.  It’s luxurious, smells heavenly and gives me a gorgeous, naturally beautiful glow.

  

Ramya Viswanathan, Director of Product Development at Biossance
Ramya Viswanathan, Director of Product Development at Biossance

In a nutshell, I create recipes for our products.

What inspires your passion and activism for what you do?
I’m inspired by the opportunities for innovation in our space.  There’s a special feeling about being able to blend creativity and science to develop skincare and wellness products that people enjoy.

A short tip/ inspirational message to women in honor of IWD:
Never hesitate at the edge of the diving board 

Who is a woman you admire, and why?
Georgia O’Keefe – for being ahead of her time and amplifying the beauty of a unique perspective 

What is your favorite Biossance product and why?
Omega Repair Cream because it does it all.

 

Diedre Horan, Founder + CEO, Dri
Diedre Horan, Founder + CEO, Dri
@dri_umbrellas

Being the founder of a company is both an empowering and overwhelming experience. No two days are the same. One day I'll be designing umbrellas, the next I'll be on Zoom with a marine biologists discussing ocean plastic. The day after that I'll spend researching eco-friendly shipping options or studying competitors in the market. The only thing consistent about my days are how increasingly exciting they've become.

What inspires your passion and activism for what you do?
When I learned about the ocean plastic crisis, I was horrified. I wanted to help, but it seemed like such an insurmountable problem. How have we let things get that bad? What was the government going to do about this? Then I read a quote from Lily Tomlin that changed my outlook on everything. "I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody." This quote stopped me from looking to others to address this problem. It simply drove me to do it myself.

A short tip/ inspirational message to women in honor of IWD:
When you admire anything about another woman, tell her. The way she runs a company, how she handled a difficult situation, her fantastic shoes, whatever it may be— go out of your way to tell her. Positive reinforcement builds confidence, and confidence shatters ceilings.

Who is a woman you admire, and why?
I have great admiration for Amal Clooney. She's an absolute powerhouse. As a humanitarian rights lawyer, she represents those whose voices would otherwise go unheard. She is a published author who speaks three languages and has absolutely impeccable style. She may be married to a high-profile man, but she shines in her own right.

I can’t live without:
I couldn't live without my support system. The people I've surrounded myself with have made me who I am, and they all impact who I become tomorrow. They are a phenomenal group who I admire greatly, and aspire to be like.

What is your favorite Biossance product and why?
Entrepreneurial life means a lot of late nights and early mornings. Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream has been a lifesaver in keeping my eyes looking bright and preventing fine lines. The texture is also amazing- so silky smooth!

 

Mariah Pfleger, Marine Scientist at Oceana
Mariah Pfleger, Marine Scientist at Oceana
@mariahpfleger

I am the Marine Scientist for the Responsible Fishing Campaign at Oceana. My job is to make sure that everything that we advocate for on our campaign is based on the best scientific information available. 

What inspires your passion and activism for what you do?
The ocean makes it pretty easy to advocate on its behalf. I have been privileged enough to have had the ocean be a part of my life since I was a kid. Every time I see it, I am inspired once again to work toward a healthy ocean environment.

A short tip/ inspirational message to women in honor of IWD:
Be tenacious in going after your dreams, but make sure to take the time to take care of yourself.

Who is a woman you admire, and why?
This question is hard to me to answer because I admire so many women. One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” I admire any woman who has been in hot water and came out stronger on the other side.

I can’t live without:
I know this is the corny answer, but I have to say my family and friends (and pets). This pandemic has been tough on everybody and it has put a new focus on how much my support system means to me.
As a marine biologist, I’d have to say we literally can’t live without marine plants and phytoplankton which provide us with more than half of the oxygen we breathe!

What is your favorite Biossance product and why?
Well, as someone who has studied sharks, my favorite Biossance product is each and every one that does not use shark-based squalene! (Which is to say, all of them.) **[Editor’s note, our 100% Squalane Oil is the first product with plant-derived squalane as the single ingredient, and was developed with the goal of reducing shark-based squalene!]

Beth Wischnia


Beth Wischnia
Beth Wischnia

Author

My industry experience includes years as a beauty editor and leading content for a wide range of skincare and makeup brands. Those experiences led me to Biossance—I was introduced to the brand on an editor press trip in 2017 and instantly fell in love. I toured the labs, created my own 100% Squalane with essential oils, and noticed a dramatic difference in my skin by introducing clean products (especially the Vitamin C Rose Oil) to my regimen. I’m excited to be on this journey with Biossance and be at the forefront of clean beauty innovation.



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