This week on the blog we’re rolling out something that’s very special to me—HER:STORIES! HER:STORIES is a space designed to share the lives of amazing, everyday women through interviews and round-table chats. It tells the stories of women who are impacting the world in their own ways; women just like YOU!
This past weekend, out in beautiful Ocean City, NJ while celebrating our mom’s 60th birthday, I got to sit down and chat with one of my most favorite people in the world: my big sister, Samara Catherine, who is undeniably a real life Superwoman. She is an all-around powerhouse: a scholar (with the degrees and nerdiness to match), a brilliant entrepreneur with a full time career, a makeup artist, a devoted wife and a loving and empowering mother of FOUR beautiful girls. She’s all these things and more!
This month as we delve into the topic of intentional living, I thought it would be great to interview Samara Catherine about what living with intention means to her.
Karen Cecilia: So, I know you have a very full life—tell me about what you have going on at this stage or season in your life.
Samara Catherine: At this stage in my life I am a very full-time mom. Four children. Four girls—adolescent and kid aged. I’m also employed full time. I’m a wife…
KC: And your job is an “involved” type of job, right?
SC: …well, yes, it’s a senior level position, if you want to say that. I’m also a leader in my church, leading a group of young girls…
KC: MORE young girls!
SC: Haha, yes girls are the story of my life! And they’re my passion actually. I am also…I wouldn’t say an aspiring entrepreneur…but I’m an entrepreneur in the beginnings of a cosmetic company.
KC: Well that’s a mouth full.
SC: It is, haha, it’s a very busy, very full life.
KC: It definitely is. Speaking of which, I’m talking about intentional living on the blog this month and I know recently you were talking to me about how the word “margins” kept coming to you—becoming a theme, almost. In the context of your life, that’s clearly very full-on, what does creating margin look like for you? What is it like for you to try to find margin?
SC: Oh boy! Actually, a couple of weeks ago, maybe a month, I was telling God that I felt like I was giving a little bit of effort to everything, but not doing anything fully. I was saying, “God, I just don’t have enough time!”
But he gave me the realization that there are only 24 hours in the day. I’m not going to get any more; that’s the allotted time. And so I basically had to treat my time like a budget.
He had me do this really tedious task of writing out what I’m doing every hour of the day. So, I wrote out my 24-hour day and I started to fill in everything I was doing—even when I slept. I noticed there was only 3 hours out of 24 hours that was in the “budget” for me to do things outside of working or wifely duties or parenting. There’s 3 hours for me to do anything I want to do: personal development, going to the gym…. I really didn’t have much time in the day. So he had me look at this and start to cross off things that weren’t important or productive… wasted time. Time spent watching TV and surfing internet. I had to weed out these things to try to accommodate the time for things that I want to do.
So, for me creating margins is just that: looking at the time you have, looking at the things you need to do and want to do, accommodating your schedule and omitting things that are wasted time. With a budget you have income and expenses, if you don’t watch it, you can spend more than you have. And so basically that’s what I’m doing right now, learning to budget my time and steward my time.
KC: That’s great you mention that. In my last blog post I touched on that a little bit. I talked about how sometimes doing less in general gives us space to do more in particular—intentionally making time to do things that we’re meant to be doing with our lives. In that vein, what are some things that you feel you’re meant to be doing with your life in this particular season?
SC: At this time in my life, I mentioned, I have two “grown” children and two smaller ones, so I feel like I’m not at the point where I was a couple of years ago when I was really hands on with the kids. I’ve freed up my time a bit where I can focus on different passions. In the last couple of months I took on this ministry with the young girls. I know that God has put a passion in my heart to work with young girls and women. I’ve taken some of that freed up time to start ministering to young girls in church. I’m also focusing on personal development, I’m a self-help…
KC: Yes you are!
SC: …Hahaha, Yes I love anything self-help! I am really into the Bible right now. I’m taking a lot of free courses and group studies on-line. I’m working on different online communities engaging with the Bible and other women.
KC: That’s awesome!
KC: You have four girls, as we mentioned before, I want to talk about that for a second. Raising girls in this day and age, what are some of your heart-dreams for them? What are some of the things in your heart for them as young women growing up now?
SC: What I see for my girls, what I want for them is I want them to know who they are. To know their identity in Christ. In this age of social media and television and magazines and books, they get all these images of what girls are supposed to be or what they should look like, sound like and what they should be doing. I want my girls to be able to stand up against that and know who they are in Christ and that it’s not found in these things that are fleeting. I want them to be the unique individuals that God has created them to be. You know, they’re siblings, but they’re very, very different. They’re growing up in the same household and with the same parents, but they’re unique and I want them to embrace their uniqueness and not think that they’re lesser than each other or anyone else. They’re special and they have their God-given brilliance and they can live in that and walk in it!
KC: That’s so beautiful and I feel like all of that ties into the heart of what you’re doing entrepreneurially with your company, Ella Es Cosmetics. This idea of women knowing who they are and embracing their beauty. Can you just share a little about what Ella Es Cosmetics is and what your heart is for it?
SC: Ella Es is a love project, I’d say. It came about when I realized the need that women of color in my country (Panama) had in finding cosmetics for themselves, in their shades. It made me think about not being accepted for who you are. I felt that these women had to almost live vicariously through others and they couldn’t experience the fun of finding makeup for themselves. They probably even find themselves wishing they were someone else, unable to embrace who they are. And so the idea behind Ella Es Cosmetics is to provide shades of cosmetics that aren’t being served in these countries to women of color. It’s also a project to get women and girls to accept who they are. In Panama, women often wear lighter foundation because they can’t find foundation for themselves and so this is an answer to that. They could go to the store and find something that’s for them. They’re important and their beauty needs should be met. Also, behind Ella Es Cosmetics, is the feeling of why wait for someone else to do it for me?Why wait for a cosmetics company to recognize and serve my need? Why not do it for ourselves? I’m educated, I have a degree in business, and I have the over-all idea of how it can be done. Why not me? Why shouldn’t I initiate it and go after it myself?
KC: Wow! Yes, yes, yes! My next question was going to be in what way do you hope to affect change in your sphere of life and community, but I feel like you answered a lot of that already in terms of Ella Es and even in terms of your girls. Is there anything else you want to add to that?
SC: Yeah. There are three words that Ella Es Cosmetics lives by: recognize, educate and celebrate. Everything that E.E.C. does has these 3 components in it; we recognize the needs of us women of color. We educate by informing and providing information and education surrounding beauty, the industry and techniques. We celebrate by providing a platform where women can see others who look like them represented in a beautiful way.
KC: Amazing and that’s so, so necessary.
KC: I want to shift gears a bit so let’s talk 2018, hey. We’re already approaching the mid-point of the year. What is your biggest win so far this year?
SC: My biggest win?
KC: Yep, your biggest triumph. What are you the most happy about or proud of?
SC: So far my biggest win was to actually accept the call that God has given me with young girls. Because of the lack of margin in my life (because I was in another period of life raising small children) I couldn’t do it before. But I always knew in my heart that it’s a calling on my life from God. It’s something I take so much pleasure in. That by far has been my biggest win, just to be able to commit to it. Actually doing it and getting past the fear of the commitment. Just jumping in and doing it.
KC-That’s a great one! What would you say is one of your biggest lessons this year?
SC: One of the biggest lessons…I’d have to go back to time. I was never very respectful of time, haha. That analogy that God showed me about time as a budget was pretty insightful for me. I’m a person who was always late. I just didn’t respect time. So being able to put it on paper and see what I had and what I didn’t have. It was huge for me. I’ve become so much more mindful of it. I have to steward it appropriately.
KC: Yeah, that’s really good. Ok so, fun question: If money were not a factor, what would you spend your days doing?
SC: What I enjoy most are three things that I consider to be my sweet-spot: anything to do with women empowerment…
SC: …education, and entrepreneurship. So the cross-section of those three–I’d do it all day for no money! It excites me, it motivates me! To be able to help women develop themselves using business. Yeah!
KC: That’s great and I feel like that’s not even an if money weren’t a factor kind of thing, but it’s a do it anyway thing and you’re already doing it! OK, last question and it’s a heavy one…
What do you want to be remembered for?
SC: I have a quote in my closet that says “she leaves a little bit of sparkle wherever she goes”. When people think of Samara, I want them to think she added something to my life. Whether its an associate or a friend, she added something to my life. That takes a lot of intentionality.
KC: Yep, that’s the word of the month!
SC: Yeah, its been the word of the past 5 years for me, really. Haha! Sometimes in our daily busy-ness we don’t take the time to stop and engage with people and give them attention. Real attention. This past week I was in an elevator with someone and I asked them how they were doing and they said “Agh. Here…” and I said, “Oh that’s good,” and I kept walking. Did I listen to her? I didn’t listen to her! Clearly the way she answered it wasn’t good. And I felt really bad, I said to myself, Samara, you can’t ask someone how they’re doing and not listen to them. Listen to what they have to say. I want to stop and connect with people. I don’t want to just go through the motions in life. I want to be known for always providing a life-giving word. Encouraging and imparting hope to others comes naturally to me. I want people to say she always made me feel hopeful.
I’d like to say thank you, Sam, for doing this. I have an enormous amount of LOVE and admiration for you and I’m really excited to share a bit about your story. Not speaking from bias at all here…you definitely have been a source of encouragement and hope for me and I know the same holds true for your girls and the one’s you’re leading in church. Cheering you on, always! x
I hope you enjoyed our very first HER:STORIES feature with Samara Catherine! You can find her on Instagram: @samaracatherinemua @ellaescosmetics
See you all next week!