Empowering Entrepreneur Mom on the Street SHE Keene is showing girls how they can blaze their own paths through her life and art. Read on to learn all about her and her inspiring work.
SHE Keene is a born entrepreneur and fierce believer in the strength and abilities of girls and women. For more than twenty years, SHE was a robotics programmer and software developer for the Department of Defense industry, all while raising a daughter on her own, and managing several businesses she built or bought. SHE now is the Owner, CEO, and Creative Force behind the “A Girl Like Me Art” business, creating designs that empower girls and women to know they can be ANYTHING. A Girl Like Me Art is built around the idea that “Girls Cannot Be What They Cannot See.” So, we have to SHOW THEM! Girls can be anything, but often they don’t know it because they haven’t SEEN it.
Sadly, powerful, intelligent, and confident representations of women are often missing in our society. SHE’s designs strive to show girls from an early age the possibilities they have in front of them. Her designs inspire young girls and women to broaden their minds and believe that they can disrupt gender norms and create their own paths in life.
SHE always includes a “slightly hidden date” within each art piece or art-inspired product. The date represents a time in “herstory” that a woman performed a fantastical feat! SHE believes it’s important for girls and women to know there were so many ladies that came before, fighting and marching for rights that we are fortunate to have.
A Girl Like Me Art wants to change the way the world views and treats girls and ladies… one piece of art at a time.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? I chose to raise my daughter alone for more than twenty years. I’m from a small conservative town, so this was a pretty bold choice. My daughter is now 31 and has a beautiful family of her own including her husband Jeff and young son Hudson. When I was still in the midst of raising her and juggling a career, I thought it was important for my daughter to see all the possibilities that existed in the world. So, we ALWAYS had these magical adventurous trips to so many interesting places.
Fancy places like Paris, Tuscany, and Hawaii, but also some obscure places. We planned a trip to all the places where Dirty Dancing was filmed. We stayed in the cottage where "Baby" and her family stayed in the movie, met people at the Inn who were there when the movie was filmed, stood in the same spot where Patrick Swayze stood, etc. Pure Magic! We once took our Jeep and drove cross-country from Georgia to California, primarily via Route 66, and took a short detour to see a small town where donkeys roam free. Once we planned a trip to a Dude Ranch out west. We could make any trip an adventure. I treasure those moments and miss them dearly.
What’s been your best family vacation? Two adventures that stand out include our Route 66 road trip and a trip to NYC to see “Spring Awakening.” We were “those freakish Broadway-loving people” that rushed to the backstage door at the end of shows and met some of the players. Our all-time favorite stage door meet was John Gallagher Jr (he won the Tony for Spring Awakening). This trip was to celebrate my daughter's 18th birthday and John led everyone in a rendition of Happy Birthday. Although these experiences were fun and magical, the lesson I wanted my daughter to learn is that dreams can come true for anyone and that at the end of the day, we are all just "people." No one is better than anyone else, so don't be intimidated by the world.
What’s your favorite family game? We LOVE a good game of Scrabble.
What song gets everyone in the family dancing? A loud and on-key rendition of "Seasons Of Love" from the Broadway musical Rent.
What’s your go-to family dinner? I have a few talents, and cooking is not one of them. In the spirit of creativity, something my daughter and I always did once a year was creating thematic food for the Oscars. When Frost/Nixon was nominated, Frosted Flakes was part of our meal. When Sean Penn was nominated for Milk, we had Milk Duds and Chocolate Milk. And we always love a good pizza… anytime.
What’s your favorite family restaurant? The Downtown Grill (GREAT salted caramel ice cream dessert).
What are some of the best things your kids have taught you? My daughter is now an adult. She didn’t actively teach me this, but this I know for sure. Parenting young children is different than parenting "adult" children. I still think about my daughter every day, several times a day, and wonder if she's doing OK and whether I should reach out more or less. When children are young, there are basic rules you have to follow (loving them, feeding them, bathing them, teaching the basic right and wrong concepts, getting them to and from school, etc.)
Once they are adults, the rules disappear! As parents, we are left wondering how do I interact as a parent, but not offer too much or too little parenting. How do I continue to teach and guide without being too aggressive? If anyone has the answers, please email me!
What’s your favorite part about being a parent? Being forever connected to this individual that encompasses most of my heart.
I hesitate to offer advice on the hardest job I know. So, instead of “advice,” here are my thoughts. I've built an entire business on the belief that "Girls Can't Be What They Can't See", so it's up to us to show them! Because there are still too few visuals of strong women in leadership positions (only 27% of Senate and Congress members are women; approximately 7% of monuments celebrate women), we have to educate and expose our girls to the possibilities that exist for them.
Tell your girls and boys stories of strong, intelligent women. One of the reasons I always include a "slightly hidden date" in each art piece I create is because I want to educate girls on the many women that came before us, marching and fighting for precious rights that we have available to build our own dreams. Tell your children stories about girls and women who overcame odds to achieve their dreams. As parents, let’s all agree to encourage not just our boys, but also our girls to go after leadership positions.
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch? The Crown, The Great British Baking Show (and I don’t even like cooking!), Mad Men, and House Hunters.
If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be? Either Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon.
What’s your favorite beach read? I'm not much for the "typical" beach read. I like heavy subjects with strong female characters. I love (and re-read) The Signature of All Things, The Four Winds, Untamed, and Big Magic. I love historical fiction also. And Steinbeck.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be? Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I'd love to sit with her and soak up a bit of her wisdom and better understand her thought process. I'd also love to spend the day with Sara Blakely. She's the ultimate entrepreneur and I use her story as inspiration so often as I deal with the frustrations of building a business.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list? I'm a lover of all-things-NYC, especially the Upper West Side. I LOVE a walking city and NYC is my favorite. I typically visit a few times a year but have not been in more than a year because of COVID. I'm starved for a good Broadway show, yummy restaurants, long walks in the Park, etc.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? This is such an easy question and anyone who knows me can give you the answer. M&Ms. I like all types, but my go-to all-time favorites are the plain M&Ms.
What’s your favorite form of self-care? Hard-core gardening and painting. I love the feel of dirt and/or paint on my hands and transforming a bare piece of earth and/or paint into something lovely.
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? I typically wake up early, around 5 or 6 am. I love working all day with very few, if any, breaks. I've given myself permission around 5 or 6 pm to "turn off." A glass of wine and either a good movie or "fluff TV", i.e., shows that are enjoyable but require little thinking on my part (House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Studio McGee, etc.), allow me to wind down.
Through her lifestyle and art, SHE inspires and encourages so many. Her strong and whimsical designs beautifully embody feminine strength, inspiring girls and women of all ages to dream bigger. Be sure to check out her website for a fantastic collection of books, journals, mugs, and more-- all featuring her art.
And for more inspiring moms like this empowering entrepreneur, be sure to check out FamilyApp's Mom on the Street!
*photo credit for cover is Anna Daniels Photography