From the Earth to Your Home

The Heart of ECOS®: Trailblazing Women Working for a Greener World

The Heart of ECOS®: Trailblazing Women Working for a Greener World

 


 

For over 40 years, people around the globe have come together to celebrate International Women’s Day, recognizing the strong, capable women who have led the fight for gender equality in both big and small ways. As a majority women-owned and women-led company, we strongly believe that our success owes a great deal to our powerful female leadership.

Our President and CEO, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, has broken barriers in the green cleaning industry, championing causes that empower women and cultivating a work environment where female voices not only matter, but are instrumental in keeping us true to our mission. In honor of International Women’s Day, we sat down with four women who work across our organization to learn about their career paths and how they are working to encourage the next generation of women to build a greener world.

Jenna Arkin, Vice President of Innovation

As Vice President of Innovation, Jenna is responsible for overseeing all things new. From improving our formulas, creating unique scents and designing novel packaging, Jenna’s unique eye helps keep ECOS® fresh and fun.

What is it like working at a majority women-owned company?

What I love most about working at a women-owned company is the feeling that family is valued and cherished. We have many working moms in high level positions and this has created a wonderful community of people to relate to. Working moms really do juggle so many aspects of their lives and I am so inspired by the women working alongside me that handle it all with such seamless grace.

What professional barriers have you encountered as a woman and how have you been able to overcome them?

Starting out as a young female chemist at our company, I quickly learned that the chemical industry that comprised much of our supply chain was largely male, and typically much older. I used to have insecurities about how to hold my own in this environment, but I learned that hard work, dedication, and a heavy dose of creativity are more important than decades of experience. Green chemistry is a dynamic field, with the best ideas often coming from individuals who bring a fresh perspective. Once I learned to leverage my differences as an asset, I really started to grow professionally.

How do you serve as a role model to young girls in your circle of influence?

To borrow from Sheryl Sandberg, I think it’s just as important to chase a female role model that’s a few steps ahead of you as it is to ensure you’re holding the hand of the woman that’s a few steps behind you. I am passionate about girls’ science education and I developed a platform that teaches young children the basic principles of green chemistry. My hope is that this program instills excitement in their minds and shows them that chemistry is fun and being a scientist is cool.

As a mom to a sassy two-year-old daughter, I am careful about the example I am setting for her. I want her to be conscientious and kind, but also fearless and unapologetic. I do my best to model these traits so that she grows into a confident woman, ready to tackle whatever great tasks she undertakes in her life.

Gladys Beber, Chief Administrative Officer

Gladys keeps ECOS® afloat. Detail-oriented and efficient, her work ensures that daily operations across our facilities run as smoothly as possible. Need answers to obscure questions? As a long-time company veteran, Gladys is our go-to.

What is it like working at a majority women-owned company? What makes it exciting/special?

For me, the best part is knowing that my words will be heard and that I will be respected and viewed as a professional by my colleagues.

What women in your life inspire you?

My mother. She is one of the hardest working immigrant women I know. She started working a blue-collar job without speaking a word of English. She worked in her field for 30 years, slowly learned English and rose through the ranks. Her hard work showed her managers what she could do and she retired as a leader in her group. She was driven by her desire to always put her children first. She and my father worked tirelessly to give us the opportunity to pursue better, more fulfilling careers. Seeing my professional accomplishments in light of her legacy is very humbling.

What makes you proud to be a woman?

I am happy to be a mom, a wife and a professional. It’s amazing to me that somehow, I can juggle it all (some days better than others). I am proud to be my mother’s girl, to be an immigrant just like her and to be a testament to her own sacrifices and accomplishments.

Maggie Guevara, Purchasing Director

Spunky and funky, Maggie leads the procurement of sustainable, quality goods and services. Her supply chain and logistics knowledge make her a wonderful asset to the ECOS® team.

What is it like working at a majority-women owned company?

It is refreshing and motivating at the same time. To see such strong women in leadership roles within the company reminds me how far we’ve come in this world. What makes it even more special and exciting is the work-life balance that I’ve come to enjoy while working here. I love that working in this company enables me to love and enjoy my life outside of it while still keeping me engaged and committed to doing my best in my role within the company.

What women in your life inspire you?

My mother has always been and continues to be an inspiration for me. She showed me that no obstacle, no matter how large it seems, should keep you from pursuing your dreams. All you need is to believe in yourself and work hard to make those dreams a reality.

What professional barriers have you encountered as a woman and how have you been able to overcome them?

In the earlier stages of my career the biggest barrier was not being taken seriously. However, demonstrating my knowledge and expertise on the spot proved to my colleagues and bosses that I was capable. It helped that I never focused on the barrier. I did not allow it to deter or sway me when confronted by it. I took this approach from all the lessons I learned from watching my mother through the years.

Taylor Nations, Product Development and Regulatory Affairs Manager

All of our certifications, from Safer Choice to Leaping Bunny and everything in between, are thanks to Taylor’s tenacity. As a trained chemist, she also works to develop innovative products that set ECOS® apart.

What is it like working at a majority women-owned company?

It’s great to have strong, successful women to look up to. Seeing what so many women have accomplished in such a short time constantly inspires me to push myself further.

What professional barriers have you encountered as a woman and how have you been able to overcome them?

Sometimes it’s very hard to be heard in a room. As a woman, it feels like you often have to talk twice as loud in order to be heard. It’s important to recognize this and yell louder rather than retreating.

How do you serve as a role model to young girls in your circle of influence?

I try to be authentic and lead by example. I think young girls need to be reminded that it is okay to be a nerd and it’s okay to do what you want even if it doesn’t please everyone around you. My best advice is to stop saying sorry for pursuing your dreams and voicing your views.

What makes you proud to be a woman?

All the fierce women around me fighting an uphill battle and still winning! It’s a pleasure to be part of that group.

Determined, encouraging and resilient, these women are only a few of the wonderful souls working to make a better tomorrow for people, pets and the planet. This International Women’s Day, we encourage you to take a moment to reach out and appreciate the awesome women in your life. And for all the women reading this, we raise a glass to you.

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