During college Sasha Wallinger took a women's history course where she was inspired to make a vow to herself ~ to be the voice for women don't have the opportunity to share their voice.
Her passion for building awareness and unexpected partnerships that create authentic, intimate relationships with target audiences have yielded award winning campaigns that have impacted $250M+ sales growth.
Sasha is an inspired thought-leader driving strategic, futuristic programs to help organizations soar. In the past she has led communications strategies at brands such as H&M & Nike.
WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS YOUR COMPANY SOLVING?
I am a global communications director, who works on behalf of brands and individuals to leverage new technologies, create design collaborations, conduct market research and act as an ambassador to market them authentically to targeted audiences. While I work across industries, my specialization is with the intersection of fashion, sustainability and technology.
WHAT DID THOSE FIRST STEPS LOOK/FEEL LIKE? (FOR EXAMPLE: THE FIRST 6 MONTHS)
Starting something on your own is a lot like a marathon. There is a lot of careful planning and training involved, but some of it is just luck. My first 6 months were a long time coming, beginning with obtaining my Masters at Reed College in Sustainable Fashion Communications, and then starting my first business. In the process I met so many other incredible designers, entrepreneurs and innovators who were those beacons of light that kept me going on the journey.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD THUS FAR?
Listening to other strong, confident and powerful women, either in their words or actions. The ability to witness and appreciate someone breaking barriers is an inspiration like none other.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FAILURE? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?
There are too many to count. I think the only lesson to learn when something doesn’t go just how you would like it to is how to pick up the pieces and move on to the next thing.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP? OR, WHAT DOES BEING A LEADER MEAN TO YOU?
One of the best analogies that I reflect upon, especially when faced with hard leadership decisions is that I’m constantly acting on the behalf of my teams, colleagues and peers. The ability to create a space for people to just do their work is one of the critical opportunities of being in a leadership role. I think that ethos is a huge part of being a good leader and has been taught to me by leaders I’ve had who I have the utmost respect for.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACQUIRING ONE?
Ooh, do you know a good one, because I would love one! But in all seriousness, I’ve had so many influential people cross my path, it’s hard to pick just one mentoring relationship to highlight. I tend to be driven by emotional intelligence, which for me has meant that in some of the most impactful mentoring relationships I’ve had, the person has had no idea that they are my mentor. It’s actually more about being like a sieve, absorbing the way a leader comes across, the power she yields over a room, however large or small and how she gets things done. All this results in a learning cycle that is richer for me than a structured mentorship.I have also learned just as much from those whose footsteps I choose not to follow then those whose I do.
WHAT SHOULD WOMEN BE DOING MORE OF TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP SKILLS?
Supporting one another. It is in the constellation of stars that we all shine the brightest. If this means attending an event that a friend or colleague is speaking at, then go. If this means that you mentor up and share an opportunity with someone to make sure that they are being seen then do it. I love how @joanigerber describes her peer network on honesty in the Women of Forbes. She notes that her community is guided by "empathy, trust and understanding." It resonates loud and clear with me, and those in my close circle of friends and colleagues. This is the true path towards leadership with longevity.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING "OVERWHELMED"?
Breathe. Get some perspective, take a walk, meditate, do yoga, or call a friend who I know will tell it to me straight.
WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?
“No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.” - Jim Morrison, That’s the quote that I put next to my picture in my high school yearbook. I think it still rings true, about not wasting any moment, or with respect to our earth and the beings on it treading as lightly as possible while adding that unique, special thing that makes you you!
WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
I can never just read one book at a time, plus it’s summer. So I’m catching up on things that I have wanted to read for a little while and adding in some light reading to break up the research I’m doing integrating sustainability in fashion with tech. My list includes:
Water 4.0: Past,Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource, by David Sedlak
Empire of Cotton: A Global History, by Sven Beckert
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, by Amy Chua
Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant
Have you ever felt imposter syndrome, and how did you combat it?
That’s a hard one. Having worked in PR and entertainment marketing with so many talented creatives, athletes, musicians, designers and actors I’ve witnessed first hand that there can be a feeling of “what am I doing here” that transcends the spectrum of public awareness and accomplishment. I think the ultimate cure to that moment of questioning oneself is to simply remember that we are all human and our voices have just as much power as we are willing to allow them to share.
IF YOU HAD ONE TIP OR LIFE ADVICE, OR MANTRA TO SHARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Listen. Laugh often. Practice kindness and compassion. And have a really good time!
ANY THING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO INCLUDE?
I think it’s so special that you’re doing this important work, to share with women leaders that their voices need to be heard. People can follow me @sashawallinger on Twitter and Insta and I’m on LI as well!