We got the chance to speak with Nancy Youssef—the chief business development officer of our nonprofit partner Soles4Souls—to find out more about her bold work empowering women from impoverished communities to start their own businesses. Here, she shares her personal journey, what being bold means to her, what it was like to start an e-commerce marketplace celebrating shape diversity, and of course, how Birdies help her feel bold, bright, and confident.
What is your definition of bold and how do you incorporate this into your day-to-day?
My definition of bold is having the courage to be transparent in all that you do. It is always easy to share the wins. However, admitting and sharing your hardships is what allows transcendence to the next level of boldness. Being authentic and sharing my whole story breaks down barriers and perceptions and creates open dialogue.
What’s a bold move you’ve made in your life?
A few years into an amazing career path in the finance industry, I changed course and took myself to fashion design school in Milan, Italy. I had wanted to get into the retail sector but found it impossible to get a job on the creative side given my finance background, so naturally, I did what every person would do. I packed up, crossed an ocean, and took a one-year design course in Italian…which ultimately led to my entry into the retail world! Then later, I made another bold move and left the corporate retail space to pursue passion and purpose. I started a company called Curves with Purpose and finally pivoted to my current role in nonprofit at Soles4Souls.
Who or what inspires you to be bold?
Without a doubt, my family inspires me to be bold. They are my support, and they are also my inspiration. My parents are immigrants to the U.S. who encouraged and pushed me to do anything I dreamt to do as a child. Watching their journey fueled me to do all I could and to do it boldly. My husband and children are now the ones who propel me to continue to grow in my personal journey.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about being bold and true to yourself?
The piece of advice I hold dearest was given to me many years ago when I started a career in global retail (when I was traveling extensively and leaving my children and husband for long stretches of time). It was that you will never do everything perfectly in the same day—being a mother, a wife, a career woman. So just boldly accept one facet at a time each day and strive for greatness in that…and that is enough. That advice was from a male boss who was one of my greatest allies!
How do Birdies make you feel bright, bold, and confident?
Birdies are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve put on my feet. No exaggeration. From someone who has spent the better part of her career in the footwear industry, I’ve worn a lot of shoes! I genuinely believe clothing and shoes are an expression of self, and I truly appreciate the versatility of Birdies—whether I’m wanting to dress up, be casual, or somewhere in between, they allow me to manifest whatever vibe I’m feeling. (In these photos, Nancy is wearing The Swift sneaker in sunrise.)
Nancy is part of our Bold Women series, featuring and celebrating women who embody what it means to be bold inside and out. In this series, they share their stories of success and how Birdies help them soar.