Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, and all of the hardworking, talented, intelligent, and empowered women that surround us. Here at the girl & the fig, we are fortunate enough to work with and among these women every day. A sense of support, encouragement, and empowerment is present within the fig family every day, for both women and men alike.
Of course, this whole thing wouldn’t be possible without the woman who started it all, our very own Sondra Bernstein. With two restaurants, a catering company, pop up space, a food truck, 2 cookbooks, a fig product line, and a new podcast, Sondra inspires those around her every day with her hard work and dedication to her passion. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked Sondra a few questions about the women who inspire her, her experience and view of women in the food industry today.
Who is the woman who inspires you most, and why?
There are many different women that inspire me, and it has changed and evolved over the years. Right now, I am incredibly inspired by young mothers who maintain full time jobs. It’s absolutely astounding to watch a woman excel at her career, as well as raise children, which is hard enough to do on its own. I see how hard I work, and I don’t know how I would have done it if I had kids. It blows my mind how these mothers are able to do it.
I am inspired by every woman that has made a step forward in the food and wine industry. From Betty Crocker to Julia Child, these women have paved the way for us. Though there are still not enough of these women being recognized, it is improving. It is encouraging to see women supporting women, and rewarding to see women lifting each other up. There are many movements today, such as Me Too, that are helping women come together, and I can only see this making our industry more empowered and more inclusive.
The list could go on with women who inspire me, but I will also include Joan of Arc, and my mom. She had a handful with 4 of us kids!
In your view, how have women made an impact on the food and wine industry/why are they important in this industry? Have you seen their roles shift since you've been in the industry?
More and more women are edging into the food industry, finding their voices, and becoming more demanding of respect and space in this industry.
Never, to me, has gender had an impact on who I work with here at the fig. It would not occur to me to pay a female less than a male for the same work, or to hire someone based off of gender. If you can get the job done, and done well, that is what matters, regardless of your gender.
I don’t know if I’ve seen so much a shift, but in recent years, more and more women are becoming chefs, restaurateurs, female winemakers, etc, and it has caused these careers to become more attractive and lucrative for young women. Women in these roles are less unusual, and more celebrated. What we see on TV has changed, for example, we see cooking shows that highlight women has top chefs.
What is it that inspires you about the women you work with?
I love to watch the fig women grow and excel. One of my favorite examples is Jennifer Worsham. Jennifer has impressed me throughout her time with us at the fig, growing in her role here, by moving from Assistant to HR Director. Jennifer created her own department, and continually brings new ideas and input to the table. She truly knows her stuff, is always going above and beyond, and honestly, teaches me.
I love and strive to be a mentor to all the women I work with, and I hope they always know that they can come to me for guidance.
What advice would you give to young women just starting out in this industry?
If you have a dream, follow it. Nothing comes easy, and if it seems to be coming too easy, question that and evaluate. Don’t be afraid to put your head down, and grind for something that you really want. Dream big, and live big. It is also important to ask for help, and to not be afraid to ask each other questions. I couldn’t have done everything I have accomplished on my own; I have an amazing support system of both women and men. Dreams can come true, but not without hard work, dedication, and the support of others.