Lift Your Legacy: How to not let your success get in the way of your life with Sharene Wood and Rabbi Jacob Rupp
We have so many personal expectations, societal pressure to do things the way that other people have done them. But you really have to set up a balance that works for you and your family. As I got older it became easier. I became more confident about what works for me, what didn’t work for me and embrace that wholeheartedly. And you also have to gain the confidence to let others know how you will show up in the world.
Entrepreneur. Mother. Philanthropist. Wife. — Sharene Wood wears many hats as a women on the go! She is President & CEO of 5001 FLAVORS and Harlem Haberdashery. Sharene is responsible for all administrative and organizational duties of the company. Her keen business sense and love of fashion make her a perfect manager and integral part of the company. She also contributes greatly in the company’s client relationship building efforts.
With the brand expansion of Harlem Haberdashery, Sharene has assumed the leadership position of President & CEO of Harlem Haberdashery. She brings the same enthusiasm and administrative management skill to this new venture that she brought as a founding partner of 5001 FLAVORS.
5001 FLAVORS is a custom-clothing and manufacturing and fashion styling company based in New York City. The twenty-five year-old company has created iconic fashion — Think the late Notorious B.I.G. in elaborate leather ensembles, Grammy award-winners Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, or David Beckham’s “Welcome to the U.S.” Adidas promotion campaign or Grammy-award winner Beyonce & daughter Blue Ivy in their 2016 Halloween costumes.
Harlem Haberdashery is the award-winning (Time Out New York) bespoke boutique listed as “One of the best places to shop in Harlem” (Racked.com). The five-year old “retail expression” of 5001 FLAVORS located in the heart of Harlem, NY. The nearly 2,000 square foot boutique carries emerging designers, located in the former home of the late civil rights leader Malcolm X, pays homage to Harlem’s rich history and luminaries.
Sharene and her husband Guy Wood, Sr. support NYC Health & Hospitals/Harlem (formerly Harlem Hospital Center) through their boutique’s annual benefit as well supports her brother Kells Barnett #TakeCareofHarlem. Sharene is a philanthropist supporting Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Food Bank of New York,#TakeCareofHarlem Y.E.S. (Young Executives For Success- volunteer and fundraising branch of Dress For Success Worldwide),and Board member at Black Women For Black Girls. Sharene has been honored by Council Member Inez E. Dickens and Sylvia & Herbert Wood Scholarship Foundation (along with her husband Guy).
Sharene is featured in various media outlets: CafeMom.com, CBS Pulse.com, New York Daily News, Ebony.com, Examiner.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MadameNoire.com, MSNBC.com, New York Amsterdam News, Essence.com and other press outlets.
Sharene is a native New Yorker — born and raised in Harlem. Sharene is a proud graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. She is an active Prep For Prep Alum. Sharene is a Market America UnFranchise Business Owner. Sharene resides in New Jersey suburb with her family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I am Shay Wood. I was born and raised in Harlem, NY. Went to Prep For Prep in the sixth grade then enrolled at Riverdale Country School and then Columbia University. I started my first company, 5001 FLAVORS, a custom clothing company catering to various personalities in art, sports and entertainment industries with my then boyfriend now husband, Guy Wood, while a sophomore in college. We just celebrated our 26th year in business!
We expanded into a retail store, Harlem Haberdashery, for customers who are not celebrities but want to have their own red carpet moments seven years ago. We were able to incorporate more family members in to that brand to help us succeed. We have recently launched HH Bespoke Spirits as we curate a collection of custom spirits that continue to help our clients experience quality experiences and unique customization as we expand into a lifestyle brand .
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me was having to change my view of the world as I started the company as a teenager, finished school, dated, got married and had children. Through trial and tribulation I was able to define a career path that allowed my business to still exist and thrive while evolving into who I am today.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
Leadership is about getting talented, creative, like minded people to work in cohesiveness for a common goal or objective. It’s about getting others to see your vision, understand your mission and collectively join forces to manifest that vision. Understanding that each team member is an individual and have their own talent and treasure is key to understanding how to cooperatively and collectively work as team.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mom, Esther Barnett, gave me my confidence, my voice and my tenacity. All of these things have helped me become who I am today and allow me to see the power of my decisions, my ability to do all things and my unwillingness to never stop trying to reach your goal.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
Yes it is very difficult. We have so many personal expectations, societal pressure to do things the way that other people have done them. But you really have to set up a balance that works for you and your family. As I got older it became easier. I became more confident about what works for me, what didn’t work for me and embrace that wholeheartedly. And you also have to gain the confidence to let others know how you will show up in the world.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Being in a family business it’s easier for me to integrate my work and personal lives because there is a huge intersection of work and personal life that allowed me to have a position that most people do not have a for that I’m grateful. I can bring my child to work and work events. I can take off as needed from work to allow me to participate in very important personal experiences and meetings. Everybody understands because everybody is part of my family and business at the same time.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Having both a work and personal life are equally important and the need of both must be acknowledged and respected. Having an equal balance between the two however does not come easy you must work hard at both. Putting time, effort, and emphasis on both as best you can.
- You have to really respect certain important days and events in your personal life where work and meetings simply must take a back burner to what you need to do in your personal life. I usually block off recital, parent teacher meetings, assemblies as best I can on my calendar months ahead so that there is no conflict with work.
- Self-care is important. So that means work and personal life must allow you time to be yourself, take care of yourself, rest, rejuvenate, and restore yourself so that you can bring the best of yourself to all areas of your life.
- Try to create clear time boundaries so that you are 100% working when you’re working and you are 100% being who you need to be in your personal life. I try not to answer my phone, schedule meetings or calls until after my most important job as Mom and Wife in the morning is over. I also tried to be as present personally as I can at school pick up time, during evening activities switching back over to work now if needed after my daughter goes to sleep.
- Achieving the best balance of work and personal life that works for you takes a lot of fine-tuning and adjustment. It’s not easy, it’s not a fixed routine, it’s ever-changing. Especially as you evolve in your life, those around you evolve, your kids get bigger and your family and responsibilities grow so you have to continue to change your routine as needed as your life changes.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
Looking back and realizing that our brands (collectively over 26 years) has allowed me and my husband to create our own economy, sustain our family, build a transferable legacy of business, impact markets and help others enhance their own personal brands and business by contributing to this success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
In this journey of life we all want the same thing in some sense. We all want to evolve, learn , prosper, succeed, elevate, enlighten ourselves as we all journey to leave this world a better place than where we came. How we all get there in all different types of manners, journeys, realizations , success and failures is the thing that we call life.
I think recognizing that we are all the same, just with different journeys, needs, talent and expectations makes us work better on all levels. Mutual respect, admiration, love, concern, and consideration will make all work and personal lives better.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?