Miami’s Women Of Innovation

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Haute Living sits down with some of the greatest female innovators in the city of Miami to discuss why innovation is important, how they push the boundaries in their fields and also how they stay practice eco-friendly living to preserve the beautiful city of Miami.

LOLITA FRANGULYAN – CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER OF JETSMARTER

Lolita FrangulyanPhoto Credit: JetSmarter

How do you innovate in your field?

JetSmarter has disrupted the private aviation space and created a new way to fly—sharing economy in private aviation. In any field, when you innovate, you have to push the boundaries of things that are standard in the market. This is what I do day to day at JetSmarter in sales, growth marketing and brand divisions.

How important is it for you to encourage other women to join and excel in your field?

I support all female leaders in the workplace and I am a huge advocate for female leadership. I encourage all women to reach for the stars and to ASK for what they want. It sounds very simple, yet today it is very difficult to accomplish for women in the workplace. They always think twice to ask for a promotion, but their fellow male coworkers take the chance. I encourage talented women who want a career, to ask for the opportunity. I also believe females have the advantage over males in heading operations because they are much more detailed and emotionally intelligent by nature.

Who inspires you, and why?

Every entrepreneur that has made it inspires me. Real entrepreneurship is NOT shown on an Instagram photo on a yacht or a jet. Today we are bombarded with false information and stories on social media misleading with #entrepreneur. Building a successful business is very hard. You take serious risks, live in the state of uncertainty and must have resilience to persevere every challenge that finds you. You fight daily. I get inspired by success stories of young businessmen and women that have made it in any industry.

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

I try to limit the use of plastic at home and at work. We don’t buy plastic water bottles and use filtered water. I would like to improve with my recycling.

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

We need to focus on our youth and after school programs. We need to teach them that technology should be used to benefit the community versus playing video games and social media. Our youth is our future, and we need to keep them in after school development programs and not on the streets to empower them to innovate.


ANGELA BIRDMAN – PHILANTHROPIST 

Angela BirdmanPhoto Credit: Angela Birdman

How do you innovate in your field?

There are so many wonderful causes for people to donate to in Miami. To garner attention and support to a particular event, you must always keep events fresh, exciting and fun in order to engage the community. Thinking outside the box has always been a skill I utilize in my creative process when planning an event. I try to find new ways to create memorable experiences and fun ways to market events to create excitement around them.

Why is innovation so important?

The one thing you are guaranteed is that nothing stays the same. Without creating new ways of doing things and improving on existing ones, things cannot advance or grow. The remedy for stagnation is innovation.

Who inspires you?

The late Dame Zaha Hadid inspires me. She was the first female to be awarded The Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. Zaha pushed the limits of what was thought to be possible. Her fearlessness to follow her vision and stay true to herself left the world with a truly amazing architectural legacy including The Aquatics Center in London, The Maxxi in Rome, The Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan and Miami is added to this list with One Thousand Museum Residences, her only skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

What are the ways you strive to inspire those around you?

Through creating a variety of events with various commitment levels, I try to encourage people to get involved in their community. From galas to a casual ‘Sip & Save the Animals’ or even something as simple as a clothing drive for hurricane victims, we can all do a little something to make things better for someone less fortunate. It may sound cliché, but I do believe in being the change you want to see. Positivity is contagious. Alone you can make a difference, but together we can create change.

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your daily life?

Aside from the basic recycling, I do not use disposable dishware or cutlery at home or at my events. If it is necessary, I stick to biodegradable bamboo products. I try to make use of natural light as much as possible. Being a foodie, I am a big fan of farm to table restaurants and a huge supporter of locally grown and produced products.

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

Florida is the “Sunshine State”, but we are embarrassingly behind in terms of utilizing solar energy.  In spite of having much higher electrical prices than those in Florida, California residents actually spend less on energy. They are more aggressive in their pursuit of alternate energy and the increasing use of rooftop solar.  Seeking out alternative energy sources can not only save money but help the environment at the same time. I am a big advocate for our Florida beaches and the wildlife in our waters. Nothing pains me more than a beach full of plastic bottles, cups and garbage after a festival or celebratory weekend in our city. These items are often washed out into our waters, creating life-threatening conditions for our marine wildlife. Volunteering for beach clean-up days is a great way to protect the wildlife and keep our beaches beautiful.


ANDREEA BACLEA – OPERA SINGER & INSTRUCTOR  

Andreea BacleaPhoto Credit: Andreea BacleaHow do you innovate in your field?

As an opera singer and instructor, I feel the most important thing I can stress to myself and impart to younger singers is the idea that success is mastering your craft. Truly believing and living that is not so easy. Most of us equate success with visible wealth and accolades, which are not to be scorned. However, I believe the ultimate art and goal are to become a master in your field and to improve it. Music and entertainment businesses, in general, tend to put artists in boxes. If we don’t find a label for the box, we throw it out. That does not encourage creativity and innovation. I tell everyone that singing, for example, is not this exclusive and elusive talent. On the contrary, if you can speak, you can sing. Once we focus on mastery, the spirit is free to accede to the world of ideas and inspiration, as Plato put it. This is how innovation is achieved. 

As a side gig and apart from my field, I have been experimenting with no carb baking. I’m hoping to come up with a line of healthy desserts—as in 30 calories vegan, organic cupcakes. The world is definitely in need of healthier food. 

Why is innovation so important?

Where would we be without it? We can’t apply the same formula over and over in any field. That doesn’t stimulate anyone. An example is the de-evolution of music for the most part. Even if we cannot invent new musical notes, we can experiment with different styles, chords as well as on different platforms and audiences. It’s exciting and it moves us forward. 

Who inspires you?

So many artists—Irene Dunne, Chaplin, Preston Sturges, Marlene Dietrich, Tony Morison, Leontine Price among many others. Recently, I read Quincy Jones’s interview in which he says that his biggest blessing is to be able to put all his thoughts and feelings on the music staff. That is what I aspire for—that is true freedom. 

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

In one word: ethics. I do my best to think, analyze and try to find the right thing to do. Never hurt others, practice compassion. It implies self-awareness and constant study. Ultimately, that’s the most important thing we can achieve. 

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

I reuse and recycle. I don’t believe in disposables. I’ve always felt that even material things carry the energy of what they’re made of and the people who made them. Abusing things would be disrespectful to those people and resources. One of my mottos is “Appreciate! Don’t consume.”

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

Education and better eco policies. And again, ethics. It should be part of any curriculum starting with kindergarten. The city should invest more into fliers educating locals on eco-practices and the love of nature. It’s important for all of us to understand that we are only custodians of this earth. We do not own it. And it’s not disposable. 


KELLY BLANCO — NBC6 SOUTH FLORIDA REPORTER 

Kelly BlancoPhoto Credit: NBC6 South Florida

How important is it for you to encourage other women to join and excel in your field?

It is important to encourage other women by showing them that with hard work, passion and dedication anything is possible. I pride myself in leading by example and always being willing to help my fellow sister. I was taught early on that what’s meant for you in life has already been written in the stars for you, so you can only gain more by helping others achieve their goals too.

Who inspires you, and why?

About a year ago, I met a group of adults with developmental disabilities. They are a part of the Wow Center, which offers them guidance and encouragement. They had me at hello; I was immediately drawn to their energy and zest for life. They inspire me to focus on what’s good and pure in the world. I am also very touched by any child who is battling a sickness because they inspire me to be strong in times when I feel weak. I began volunteering at Joe DiMaggio Children’s hospital six years ago because I was scared of needles and didn’t like doctors. The children I’ve met throughout the time have proven to have more strength in their pinky than some of us adults have in our entire life.

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

I like to inspire others by being authentic and positive on and off camera. It’s important for me to encourage people to be unapologetically themselves. I also find time to do charity work and hope that people will see that even with a hectic schedule it’s possible and important to find a cause near to their heart. I personally always strive to maintain a healthy mind because if you don’t love and believe in yourself then you can’t help others do that.

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

I live on the beach so I always walk instead of driving whenever I can. I love a nice breeze, so you’ll find me with the windows open more than with the air on. I actually don’t mind the humidity! I also invested in a good water filter so I haven’t had to buy plastic water bottles in a long time.

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

We live in an area surrounded by beautiful beaches and we all need to do our part by being mindful in our daily practices. Maintaining the conservation of our surroundings and our oceanic friends needs to be a priority and it all starts with a selfless mentality. Recycling and picking up after ourselves (or others) are small steps we can take to be part of the solution.


VALERIE DAVID KAYE – CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF PRESTIGE IMPORTS 

Valerie David KayePhoto Credit: Valerie David Kaye

How do you innovate in your field?

We are seeing a tremendous shift in how consumers purchase cars. In certain markets, it’s no longer necessary to walk into a dealership. But at Prestige Imports, we find that today’s luxury car buyer still appreciates the importance of actually seeing, touching and test-driving the exotic automobiles that we sell. Creative marketing tactics and brand exposure are key. Our team thinks out of the box, constantly breaking the mold of how a normal dealership operates.

How important is it for you to encourage other women to join and excel in your field?

2018 is the Year of the Woman and I am very happy to see the latest historical changes being made, but our world will only grow in the right direction when it becomes the Generation of the Woman. The automotive industry has always been male-dominated, but within Prestige Imports, I am encouraged to see that women are playing more extensive managerial roles, along with our female Brand Ambassadors.

Who inspires you, and why?

Women who survive any type of adversity or abuse and refuse to let it define them.

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

Our Ride2Revive Foundation allows us to share our world of exotic automobiles with children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Ride2Revive hosts adrenaline filled racetrack experiences that focus on revitalizing their senses while instilling hope and positivity, both proven to increase the chance of recovery.

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

I am a big advocate of recycling. About 500 billion plastic water bottles were purchased globally last year.  This staggering number continues to increase, with only a dismal 23-percent recycling rate. As a mother of three, I’m truly concerned what kind of earth we are leaving for our children’s children and future generations.

Prestige Imports is an authorized dealer of KARMA, featuring the REVERO model, 2018’s Luxury Green Car, that runs on electricity, fuel and the power of the sun. Exquisitely designed exotic cars and the well-being of our environment have never gone hand in hand but with KARMA, exotic car enthusiasts can finally have the exhilaration with a conscience. Built in California, the KARMA REVERO is the only head turning hybrid on the road.

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

Born and raised in this tropical paradise, Miami is an ever-growing metropolis that we must continue to preserve. The sun is our greatest natural resource. New laws are requiring solar panels that control energy costs while generating clean energy. Homes and businesses can measure their carbon footprint. Recycling needs to become a requirement, not a choice. Stringent fines must be enforced for littering, especially our beautiful beaches. We all must THINK GLOBAL, but ACT LOCAL.


AVRA JAIN – REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER, FOUNDER OF THE VAGABOND GROUP

Avra JainPhoto Credit: Pepe

How do you innovate in your field?

I don’t think what I do hasn’t already been done in the real estate world. I just have the courage to do it when others hesitate. And the fun is in doing it with other like-minded people.

How important is it to you to encourage other women to join and excel in your field?

I never saw the gender divide. I mentor a lot of young people. I can say though that the universe gifted me an awesome team of super talented women who now work with me and one day the business will be theirs. They will take it to the next level.  

Who inspires you, and why?

My daughter. I think as a parent so much of what we do is for them. It inspires and motivates. 

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

Be true, be thoughtful and do it. Your work speaks louder than words.  

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

Turn the lights off! 

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and preservation of our city?

Preservation, both architecturally and culturally, of our city is fostered in the community. Resiliency, our ability to bounce back, is grounded in community. To improve the quality of life for all we need to invest in the community, caring for each other.  


YOLANDA BERKOWITZ – PHILANTHROPIST 

 Yolanda Berkowitz & Jeff BerkowitzPhoto Credit: WorldRedEye.com

How do you innovate in your field?

I learn in-depth all that I can about the issues related to animal welfare and our public shelter system and repect and work within what is possible in government agencies and within a system that must consider what is best for the greatest number. In this way, I can earn the respect of my peers and colleagues, and am better able to push boundaries to change how we see these issues by bringing a new and fresh perspective. 

Why is innovation so important? 

As I bring a fresh way of thinking and maintain a stubborn and steadfast devotion to my vision for improving and saving the lives of homeless and shelter pets in our community, I hope that I am able to build trust, inspire others and help chart new and better paths. I want to lead by example and inspire others to follow and to lead themselves. 

Who inspires you?  

Anyone who speaks and acts for those that cannot for themselves. 

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

In my work and by my leadership, I hope that I am able to build trust, inspire others and help chart new paths. I demonstrate my words through actions to prove that positive change is possible and that we all have the power to make these changes occur in our communities. 

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

In day-to-day life, I strive to be more conscientious of conservation issues by driving less, by eating local, organic and more plant-based; by paying attention to and reducing our use of water and electricity; by reducing the use of harmful chemicals; by recycling and reusing; by buying smarter and therefore being less wasteful. 

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

We can plant trees, use fewer chemicals in our homes and gardens, reduce how much we drive—really a lot of the things listed above.


DORA PUIG – REAL ESTATE BROKER/OWNER OF LUXE LIVING REALTY 

Dora Puig - HeadshotPhoto Credit: Luxe Living Realty

How do you innovate in your field?

I created the first super luxury real estate property lounges in two locations for steam brunch meetings and client gatherings, my company has gone paperless, we utilize the latest in technology and equipment in selling tools and we use tons of digital marketing for my property portfolios. We’ve been diversifying our online presence to grow more prominently. 

Why is innovation so important? 

The Internet has sped up the real estate business big time. We need to stay ahead of the curve to succeed, especially online and through social media. 

Who inspires you?  

My mother and my goddaughter. 

What are some ways you strive to inspire those around you?

I Mentor high school girls in underprivileged high schools with Women of Tomorrow, which encompasses Women empowering young girls by leading by example. I achieve excellence in my education, as well as my real estate career, hoping to inspire other women to do the same. 

What are some eco-friendly practices you incorporate into your day-to-day life?

I am a hard-core recycler. I detest waste. I am trying to drink out of glass only and cut out plastic—I also turn the water faucet off when I am brushing my teeth in order to conserve water. I don’t pre-rinse dishes that go into the dishwasher to conserve water, and I don’t waste napkins and make my office recycle scrap paper in the copy machines in order to save a tree. 

What are some ways we can improve the quality of life and the preservation of our city?

RECYCLE! There is no excuse not to do it! Also, use the city bikes when you can. I’m hoping to help improve the quality of life for young girls in the city through the Women of Tomorrow Charity Mission. And I am nice to my staff! 💗

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