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Celebrating Women's History Month: Meet 6 of Bellevue's Extraordinary Leaders

March 28, 2022 - by Sandy Vo


Category Heart of Bellevue

Meet 6 of Bellevue's Extraordinary Leaders

From influential jewelry makers to fitness mom extraordinaires, there are many powerful women who strengthen the Heart of Bellevue. In honor of Women's History Month, we're highlighting six of these female leaders in Downtown Bellevue. Hear what lessons they’ve learned throughout their career, their favorite female-owned businesses around town and what advice they’re giving to the next generation.

Jasmine Dailida
Owner of Fit4Mom Bellevue & Mercer Island

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

The biggest lesson that I've learned so far is that I'm not the only working "mompreneur" out there. Women, moms or not, have extended so much grace, understanding and support for me during these past two years. I feel so humbled every time.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

I have a long list! Some of my favorites in the heart of Bellevue are Vanity Pham - owner Van Pham is incredible, and Holly Zhang from Holly Zhang Pearl Gallery sells amazing jewelry designed by herself!

Are there any women-led local charities or nonprofits that deserve some recognition?

Yes! I personally support Eastside Baby Corner, No More Under and MomsRising.

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of women?

Go for it! Don't worry about failure, worry about the opportunities you will miss if you never try.

Lorali Downes
Owner of Lorali's Optical

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

When you’re a female entrepreneur, sometimes there’s a lot of noise and negativity around you, so I’ve learned to succeed quietly and guide myself through the trouble with some carefully chosen help.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

There are so many great women-owned businesses just here in Old Bellevue. My favorites are Gin and the Banker by Rachael Nov and Veritables by Marie Harris.

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of enterprising women?

Honestly, just do it. Remember to set time for yourself to achieve your goals, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.

Janet Lee
Franchise Owner of City Sweats

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

When I transitioned from working for over 20 years at large corporations, I went from abundant resources and support to being the sole driver of my own business in a new industry. It can be a lonely world as a business owner. Be sure to seek others to build, connect, and grow a network of other inspirational and uplifting partners and resources.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

There are so many woman-owned small businesses in Bellevue! I love to support as many as I can. Noir Lash Lounge, Bellden Cafe, Shred415, Elevate Fit Life, Pure Barre, and Higher Health & Spine.

Are there any women-led local charities or nonprofits that deserve some recognition?

Ruby Room is a fantastic organization! They recently relocated from Bellevue to the Renton Landing. They empower youth through fashion by channeling the strength of personal style as a tool for building self-confidence.

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of women?

Whatever challenges or changes you face can take a lot of stress and anxiety on your mental and physical health. Remember to breathe and take it one step at a time. Take breaks and take time for self-care. Your best self will result in excellent results.

Dr. Lynne Robinson
Mayor for City of Bellevue

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

I’ve learned that there’s no one way to be in business. When I was first starting, I always felt like a businessperson had to wear a suit and have a certain confidence in them, but when you talk to people, you realize that business acumen takes on many different forms. I encourage people to follow their dreams and drive because it’s innate when you have that business acumen.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

Elaina Morris from Ascend Hospitality Group is remarkable. She is someone who had to pivot during hard times and did it successfully. She inspires me all the time.

Are there any women-led local charities or nonprofits that deserve some recognition?

Jennifer Fisher at Bellevue LifeSpring does incredible work and The Sophie Way has a trifecta of outstanding women leaders.

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of women?

For those going into civic work, leave yourself at home. Rule number one is it’s not about you. Getting to feel special and wanting the spotlight is not a great reason to get into politics. If you feel like you’re a good leader and you can represent the people of your community, then go for it and lead from your heart.

Claire Sumadiwirya
Owner of Bellden Cafe

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

As a woman, I have learned the importance of seeking feedback and collaborating with others to enhance growth. We have to think out of the box regarding social constraints like physical capacity, family obligation and social stereotypes. I have applied this practice diligently throughout my career to explore fresh ways to grow and improve. We get stronger when the whole community gets stronger.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

Some of my favorites are Smith and MainRouge Cocktails Lounge, Dote Coffee Bar, Yuan Spa.

Are there any women-led local charities or nonprofits that deserve some recognition?

I love Vision House, REST and BestAlliance

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of women?

Be bold in chasing your dreams. Be brave in telling your stories and be authentic in creating your brand.

Holly Zhang
Owner of Holly Zhang Pearl Gallery

What are some lessons you've learned as a woman in your field? How has that insight helped you throughout your career?

When you’re a female entrepreneur, you have more obstacles to conquer. It’s crucial that you seek help and resources from the right people when you run into those barriers. Sometimes we need a reminder that we’re not in this alone.

What are your favorite woman-owned businesses in the Heart of Bellevue that people should know about?

I am a massive supporter of Molly Moon’s Handmade Ice Cream. She’s a strong female entrepreneur that I look up to.

Are there any women-led local charities or nonprofits that deserve some recognition?

I love Bellevue LifeSpring, Jennifer Fischer is an incredible person. 

Any advice or words of wisdom you would pass along to the next generation of women?

The jewelry industry is very competitive, so you need to create something unique enough to stand out. If you genuinely believe you have something and have the skills, I encourage you to go for it and always trust your instinct. Go into it with a plan and follow through.

Looking to hear more from women in the heart of Bellevue? Read our Women's History Month blog article from last March. 

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.

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