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Julie Peters, Executive Director at the Women's Exchange of St. Louis

Posted on 20 July 2021

Meet Julie Peters, the Executive Director at the Women's Exchange of St. Louis 

Introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m the current Executive Director at the Woman’s Exchange of St. Louis, a not-for-profit organization founded by women, for women, that utilizes sales from our tearoom and shop to support and empower local female artisans.
I started my career in Strategic Planning at the National Hockey League in New York where I was able to work on market research and then made a pivot to clinical social work where I worked with children and adolescents who had experienced severe and chronic trauma specializing in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I transitioned to the Woman’s Exchange to serve as their Executive Director as the business was making its own transitions and the combination of my strategic planning and clinical work was the perfect fit for the organization.  Our Board of Directors is composed of 60 amazing women and has for the past 140 years. 

(work bio can be found here: Staff — The Woman's Exchange (woexstl.org))

Julie wearing the Va Va Voom Midi Dress in White/Gold

What characteristics (cultural, personality etc) make you unique?

I am constantly evaluating how I can improve and use adverse experiences to shape my leadership and guidance for others.  I am a life-long student and enjoy challenges as much as I do successes. I lead with compassion.  To me, amazing team members are shaped by their supervisors ability to provide for their whole self with the allowance of self-care and advocacy.  I have high expectations of my team and I believe excellence also comes from balance.  I want my team to grow professionally but also have the time to manage personal responsibilities.  Take a day off.  Time for self-care practices is essential.

What motivated you to get involved with The Women’s Exchange of St Louis?

We have the most amazing nonprofit mission that started over 140 years ago when women realized that other women were falling on hard economic times.  In the 1880’s it was considered inappropriate for women to work outside of the home, so a collective group of women created stores for those women to discreetly sell their handmade garments to make ends meet.  Today, our mission remains the same as we work with extremely talented Artisans who work to make additional income to increase their financial stability.  We create an individual plan for each Artisan to reach their goals including professional training and feedback. I love that we do not judge or evaluate the reason a woman is seeking additional income.  Some of our Artisans are early-stage entrepreneurs seeking their first retail or restaurant experience, others may be contemplating leaving an unhealthy relationship, some have unexpected healthcare costs for themselves or their family members.  To us, it does not matter. We support your quest for financial independence.

A snapshot from the Women's Exchange of St. Louis Instagram @woexstl

What is inspiring you at the moment?

The resilience of our community.  18-months ago, we had no idea where the Woman’s Exchange would be heading as we entered the pandemic.  The outpouring of support for our organization, the people we serve and our team was unwavering.  We would not be here today without the community standing behind our almost 140-year nonprofit and so I get to stand on the shoulders of giants to continue our mission.

Finish the sentence: I am most proud of… 

My team. They take our mission personally, are constantly advocating for the needs of those whose voices may only be heard at a whisper and are fierce business people. 

Why is it important to you to empower women?

A woman’s financial stability increases her ability to choose the life that she wants to live and who can be part of it.  Empowering women through guidance through supportive education and coaching, allow women to make decisions in the best interest of themselves on a timeline that works best for them.  We must foster this growth in a nonjudgmental and compassionate manner -- for the reasons that they have found themselves in a place of uncertainty is not our concern but we help women restructure.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Listen to learn and understand how you use your voice.”  As we evolve, improve and grow we must know how we got to where we are in the first place.  It’s so easy to dismiss historical practices, especially those that aren’t as data-driven as they are today but there is wisdom in the oral traditions and we must not discount the value that can be found there.

What draws you to the Mestiza brand? How does your Mestiza piece make you feel?
Mestiza has quickly become one of my favorite brands. The quality is amazing, the colors are fabulous and I really cannot say enough positive things about the amazing company that Louisa and Alessandra have built!

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