Okay – I’m totes excited. The subject of this week’s Wonder Woman (WW) is one of the most amazing people I’ve met. Not only is our WW a successful banker and entrepreneur, but she is an outstanding human being with two adorable daughters (both of which are multilingual) and married a man who can cook like Emeril. I could easily dedicate a Daily Affirmation to her, but I’ll let the words of Julie Wagne take it from here:
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Julie Wagne, and I work as a research analyst (high yield bonds and loans) at Wells Capital by day and Petel co-founder with my husband, Ibrahima, by night. We have lived in Hayes Valley, right in the middle of San Francisco since 2002.
You are a bit of a world traveler. Could you share some of the favorite places you been – and the unique experiences you’ve had?
Definitely Jamaica and Mauritania. I truly love West Africa, and have traveled around Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana as well. I love hot places and sand, apparently, and nice people! My favorite city in the world, though, is Paris.
I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Peace Corps in 2000, and spent two years in Mauritania teaching English and computers to high school students in a small village there. It changed my life in so many ways. I met my now husband Ibrahima there, and he moved to the US (San Francisco) shortly after me, where we got married and are now raising our two daughters, ages 7 and 2.
You and your husband recently started your own line of handmade goods. Tell us a bit about Petel Designs.
Petel was an idea to start a company where we could encourage artisans in Ibrahima’s home country (Mauritania) to continue their craft and make things that would appeal to people here in the US and Europe. They still hand loom and weave these beautiful textiles for ceremonial purposes. However, it is a dying art, as the technique is labor-intensive and tedious. We want to encourage the older weavers to train the younger generation, and therefore we are purchasing and commissioning them to make pieces for Petel, that we then sew in San Francisco into fun accessories and home décor (clutches, totes, pillows, table runners, etc). You can see what we have available, as new shipments come in on our website.
What is the hardest product to keep “on the shelves” and where can we find it?
Our newest item, the Aissata Clutch (named after Ibrahima’s mother), is definitely the hardest to keep on the shelves. We are using small pieces of vintage Mauritanian wedding blankets paired with super soft lambskin from Napa Hide house, and gold zippers from Japan. Combined, these elements create a wonderful and useful clutch that is super soft to the touch. We sell out almost immediately each time we make a new one.
What is the one item you’d be willing to splurge on for yourself?
Scarves, as a San Franciscan, I rarely ever go out without a scarf!
Let’s bring the banker lingo out of the fashion mogul for a moment. Bullish or Bearish on the following trends…
Haha…I’ll need your Banker’s input on these, too…
- crop tops: Bullish for Bethanimal, bearish in general!
- high waited pants: Bullish.
- brightly colored tresses: Like with chalk hair dye? Bullish. Actually, any color, permanent or temporary, I love the look. My older daughter and I have both done some semi-permanent streaks of bright blue and pink.
- nail art: Super bullish, especially glittery accents.
- statement necklaces: Bullish.
- monochrome outfits: Bullish – I want to try this look myself.
What is your approach to dressing your two beautiful girls?
I go to work so early (banker hours!), so I have no say in the matter…they have great tastes themselves, and have always picked out their own clothes, which are sometimes African, and usually hand-me-downs or mini-splurges from J.Crew (Crewcuts), H&M, and American Apparel.
Any advice on traveling with little ones?
Not really, other than to just do it. It’s good for everyone to discover new places and see different ways of life. We always come home with fun new ideas and inspirations for living, cooking, crafting, etc.
What advice to you have for women trying to balance career and family?
Again, just do it?! Do whatever works for your family, and yourself. I don’t think there are any right answers, except the ones that you find for yourself. Keep everyone happy and healthy.