Women's History Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the countless women that have contributed to our nation's history. During this time, we wanted to look internally and spotlight the incredible women working behind the scenes at Astek. We're fortunate at Astek HQ to have women leaders across multiple departments. We asked them to share their thoughts on visibility and gender equality in the workplace. Here’s what they had to say!
Sarah LaVoie, COO + Creative Director
Can you tell us about a female figure who inspired your views on womanhood, equality, or society? My mom has been an inspiration and role model for me personally and professionally. She followed her father and grandfather’s footsteps early in her career into a male-dominated world at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She started in an age where women were expected to wear skirts and dresses and, instead, rocked pantsuits. Through her more than 45 years there, she worked her way up by being authentic to herself and had the opportunity to work on some awe-inspiring projects. She led her team with professionalism, empathy, and grace while balancing and prioritizing her family. My mom’s patience, perseverance, and dedication have inspired me both as a woman and a leader.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position or to see other women in leadership roles? As my mom paved the path for me, I see my role as a woman in a leadership role as paving the way for those that follow. The women leaders I’ve had the privilege to know and work with have demonstrated a capacity for creative problem-solving, effective listening, and transformative action enabling the success of their teams and the companies as a whole. I feel proud to work beside them and to follow in their footsteps.
Just for fun, what’s your favorite Astek wallcovering design and why? This is a tough one! One design I’m pretty partial to, however, is Saratoga in Citrine, a mural from our From Above collection. Inspired by aerial views of the earth, Saratoga yields an abstract view of mountain ranges from a new perspective. I love the depth created by our printing process, using metallic ground and various levels of white ink and color to push the abstract quality of this design further into the realm of abstract art. This mural resided in my previous home, and the detail and movement made it ever-changing and new with the time of day and quality of light throughout the year.
Lisa Astalos, Office Manager
Can you tell us about a female figure who inspired your views on womanhood, equality, or society? My maternal grandmother inspired me with her fierce determination and drive. After losing her husband, she raised 4 children in a 2 bedroom home on her sole income, she worked 10 hours a day in a time where women usually were stay at home moms. She didn’t let anything keep her down and always had a positive attitude in life.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position or to see other women in leadership roles?I love seeing women in leadership roles because we are every bit as capable of being leaders. Women bring new skills, talents, different perspectives, open-mindedness, and pressure handling, which can make them more in sync with their teams.
Just for fun, what’s your favorite Astek wallcovering design and why? The In Bloom collection. I love the vibrancy and detail in the designs.
Rachel Brand, Design + Media Manager
Can you tell us about a female figure who inspired your views on womanhood, equality, or society? My mother-in-law is an absolute powerhouse. Raised primarily by her Mexican grandmother, she grew up in public housing in Los Angeles. She's faced countless challenges, but through grit and determination, she built a successful career running her own business and has created a beautiful, prosperous life with family and community at its core. She taught me you can be fierce and powerful but also generous and empathetic. And she has a mug that says "la jefa" which, come on, that's iconic.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position or to see other women in leadership roles? Having women in senior roles and leadership positions conveys that we're capable, that our opinions matter, and creates opportunities for younger generations. I'm grateful for the female leaders and mentors that came before me and gave me chances in my career. I don't know if I'd be where I am today without them. We offer a valuable perspective and point of view. There should never be just one type of person in these roles.
Just for fun, what is your favorite Astek wallcovering design and why? I have a special affinity for Xylem. I love analog techniques, and I created that design by hand using paint and collage. It was the first original wallcovering design I made for Astek, and I'm always excited to see it in people's spaces! I have the originals framed on my mantel.
Natasha Jones, Chief Project Officer
Can you tell us about a female figure who inspired your views on womanhood, equality, or society? I have always been inspired and motivated by the great poets like Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde who at a time were forced to be silenced. Their voices through written words have inspired not only me but generations.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position or to see other women in leadership roles? To be a woman in leadership means everything to me. When I first came to Astek I saw the shift from other companies. I came to a company where women were leaders in just about every department. To have that support, that vision, and that path visible to me gave me confidence that I, too belonged and I, too could make a difference and be heard.
Just for fun, what is your favorite Astek wallcovering design and why? My favorite wallcovering design is Fairytale - Enchantment. It is just a fun wallpaper with so many different elements. I would just like to plop myself in this scene of Utopia.
Anna Wahlers, Associate Art Director
Can you tell us about a female figure who inspired your views on womanhood, equality, or society? My grandmother. She packed her bags and moved from a rural town in Akita, Japan to downtown Tokyo when she was in her early twenties, to pursue her career as a seamstress. A few years later, she had to close the book on her career to marry my grandfather and then had my dad and uncle to care after. She had recently told me all of this and gifted me her first diamond necklace and ring she had purchased from her paycheck, and advised me to never let society's standards and expectations as a woman keep me from pursuing my dreams.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position or to see other women in leadership roles? We all need role models, and providing that support to women in the workplace is so crucial. Not only is it empowering to see a woman in a leadership position, but it can have a significant impact on diminishing the pay gap between genders, thus promoting equality. Especially as a woman of color, being able to contribute as a woman in a leadership position is enough reason for me to keep doing what I am doing!
Just for fun, what is your favorite Astek wallcovering design and why? Sugar Town! I made it while listening to Nancy Sinatra's song, "Sugar Town", and it makes me want to put on a pair of boots and dance all over town.