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Meet Trailblazer Melissa Bastien

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Bastien.

Melissa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Originally from Sunny South Florida, Broward County to be exact. I grew up in the Deerfield/Pompano Beach area, the oldest of 7 on my Mother’s side and 2nd of 8 on my Dads. I just always wanted better for myself and family. Early on, I had the role of motherhood pushed on me, and did what was necessary to ensure myself/siblings were always okay while mom worked over 50 hours a week trying to maintain. Even with all that, I excelled in school, was an avid reader, and had aspirations to be a lawyer since I was 11 years old. I learned to braid hair by the time I was 10 practicing on my younger sisters and began doing hair out of my aunt’s salon by the time I was 13. Saturdays were amazing. I’d spend all day in the “shop” braiding hair, leaving with all this cash that my mom would always “save” for me until I asked for it. From braiding to event planning, then bartending, and just working my butt off, I was always on the move for better. I moved to LA back in August of 2014 with barely nothing, not even a plan. I just knew that whatever I ended up doing, I was going to do my best and failure was not an option. I worked in accounting and project management for the first couple of years, meanwhile still doing hair on the side for extra income. I enjoyed being behind the scenes crunching numbers doing debits and credits.

I recently gave birth to my first child (a baby girl named Marlee) 14 months ago and my world is now forever changed for the better. She is my inspiration for a lot of things, but most of all she’s encouraged me in ways she may never know. Being a stay at home mom, I decided that I wanted to start a business that would incorporate myself and daughter that’s where MarNMe began. MarNMe is a website and platform that I started to bring together not just mothers but women from all walks of life. I want to be able to provide a safe space forum where women can express themselves, ask questions, start debates, and honestly just drop a simple tag or note. I blog current events, eventually want to expand into lifestyle blogging to help my fellow ladies. This venture all began as a dream; a dream to be able to have something to leave behind for my little girl. Though she may not understand nor know half of what’s going on today. She’ll one day see as she gets older, the kind of woman that mommy was. I want her to be able to take MarNMe and do whatever it is that she wants with it, but until then I’m running the show.

Has it been a smooth road?
I wish it were all that simple to say that it’s been a smooth road getting to where I am today, but that’s just not the case. I truly believe that if things had gone smoothly for me, I’d be half the woman I am today. I take pride in knowing that even when life had its way, I stayed focus on MY bigger picture and my resilience speaks for itself. I had to always remind myself that the universe hears my pleas.

For young women starting their journey, all I can say is never give up. I know right, that sounds so cliché to say. But, no honestly, never give up. Don’t give up on yourself, vision, happiness, success, or passion. Some days will be better than others and most days may suck, but the bottom line is don’t ever give up on yourself. Also, I’d say hold yourself accountable, say what you mean and do what you say. Last but not least, stop feeling like you’re in competition with others. In this vast world, we’ve barely scratched the surface! You are just as important as anyone else.

We’d love to hear more about itsMelissaKris and MarNMe.
Currently, I am a serial entrepreneur. Balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship is what I do. I specialize in hair, bookkeeping, blogging, and crafting. I’ve been braiding for over 16 years now and getting better and better at it. Though I love the income that comes with the beauty business, I don’t just limit my services to just that. I’m also a bookkeeper working with small companies and sole proprietor based businesses. With blogging, writing is a passion of mine, and I love voicing my thoughts on an array of topics. More recently started a T-Shirt business making Mommy & Me creations, that is currently my favorite thing to do.

I would say I’m most proud of being able to empower, encourage, and enlighten my sisters and others in the community. The community of self, friendship, business, love and life. I’m proud to be a mother and a business owner that’s trying to take things to the next level while leaving a legacy behind for my child(ren)

I believe that my take-charge attitude is what sets me apart from others. No matter what, I’m always looking for the solution to the problem before it becomes one. I’m overjoyed by the simplest details of a straight part when doing a braid. Going over a balance sheet is what I call fun times.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
When it comes to barriers that females face in leadership, the most prevalent is gender equality and lack of support in the sisterhood community. As a woman, we’re already a minority and historically speaking, things for minorities aren’t generally easy. Not to say we don’t thrive; seeing that woman-owned businesses are on the rise, and entrepreneurship is taking over by storm. However, it is still really hard for women to be acknowledged for their strengths in leadership without being judged, sexualized, or passed on because we’re women.

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