In our 2021 issue, we’re shining the light on several amazing Leading Ladies.
Sales and Replenishment Analyst, Paris Presents, Inc.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Stephanie Martinez moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2011 and took a director of operations role at a local entrepreneurial company. She has always been very driven, having come from humble beginnings, but over time she learned the hard way there is more to life than work and school. It is a personal mission of hers to inspire others and bring out the best in themselves. “As a Latina, I grew up with such few role models outside of my family, and I was determined to change that, starting with myself,” she said.
B.A. Journalism/Public Relations, University of North Texas
M.B.A. Supply Chain Management and Marketing Analytics, University of Arkansas
Did you always know what you wanted to do?
Ha, I always laugh at this question because I used to know EXACTLY what I wanted to do and exactly how I wanted to get there, but as you mature and experience more of the real world, you come to realize your perfectionist ideals are silly. I always say, “Life happens,” so instead of crumbling when your perfect plans change, learn to be adaptive and responsive to the world. Look at all of us this year – the only people still standing are the ones who were nimble enough to evolve.
Have you stayed on a straight path to your career goal?
I’ve always known I wanted to inspire others and make a positive difference in this world. As long as my work allows me to express myself, inspire and support others, and aligns with my morals and values, then I am exactly where I need to be. While I haven’t stayed on a straight path in my career, my degrees have allowed me to be very versatile in my career and not locked down into one particular career. Leadership, both in service, and building other strong leaders, is a huge part of my mission, and I love to teach corporate leadership classes on the side. For those of you who are not where you want to be, just remember to continue putting your effort into everything you do, and learn as much as you can from where you’re at now.
First big break:
I originally graduated in a recession, so I took an unpaid internship with American Airlines. Most people had no paying jobs to offer at the time, so this was a great, humbling lesson to learn and taught me to be flexible in the face of unforeseeable life changes and to leave my ego at the door! In the end, I was the only one of five interns who was hired into the corporate communications department. I was able to learn so much about what I was looking for in a career and in some ways, what I did not what in a career.
Best part of your job:
My team. I absolutely adore, respect and admire my teammates. We are all cut from the same cloth, but each has a unique set of attributes and characteristics which make us a united front. None of us are afraid to put in the work and learn from each other, and we all pour our hearts into what we do, which makes all the difference. The positivity and professionalism are unparalleled to anything I’ve previously encountered, starting with my boss, the amazing and unwavering Debbie Alsup (whom I assume you all know, as she knows everyone!).
One thing you’d love to master:
I would love to truly master the Spanish language. I speak Spanish well enough, but since it is my second language there are many nuances and idiomatic expressions I don’t know. When native Spanish speakers hear me, they always ask in a confused way where I’m from since my accent is a little weird! Speaking a second language opens up entire worlds and opportunities, and even help people in crisis. I stopped to help a car which had been forced off-road and crashed in front of me. It turned out to be four Spanish-speaking women, and I was the only one who could translate everything to the police, EMTs and firefighters!
Quality you admire most in women:
Resilience. Women have the ability to bounce back and recover from some of the most unexpectedly challenging or painful experiences.
What changes have you seen within your workplace in regard to empowering women?
I’m blessed to work in an environment with strong, independent women, supportive men, and the most amazing advocate as our leader, Debbie Alsup. She makes sure all our needs are met, we are heard, and there is no such thing as discrimination or gender inequality on her watch. Advocating women doesn’t mean inequality for men; it means creating a level playing field and treating everyone with the same respect. If we begin with a foundation of equality, then each person can build their career on merit, not an unfair disadvantage.
In what ways have you professionally had to pivot during the current pandemic?
Video call fatigue is a real thing and paying attention to personal health and work-life balance has been a real struggle. I force myself to get up, move around, go check the mail just to get outside and do some yoga. Otherwise my entire week is living in front of a monitor, and you can’t sustain that lifestyle.
How are you practicing self-care?
Freeman face masks of course! I love the products I represent, and there is something so fun and self-loving about face masks and skin care that make you feel rejuvenated after a long day at work. Of course, I love to practice yoga to reset my nervous system, focus on my breathing and rest my mind and body. I actually got my certification this year during quarantine. Nothing like your personal schedule completely clearing out to give you the time you need to start a new hobby!
What do you do for fun?
I really enjoy practicing and teaching yoga. There is something so therapeutic about the breath and the movement, and I love to share it with others. I would normally say traveling, but this year has grounded us all. Still, exploring new places and learning different cultures is my all-time favorite. Cooking at home and playing with cocktail recipes is also my idea of a good time! Local adventures include hiking, kayaking and (very) amateur biking.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My family. I have many role models, but my biggest inspirations are my mom, dad, stepmom and sister. My mother is strong and courageous and has this impossible resourcefulness to make something out of nothing. My father is a talented chef who is disciplined and passionate about quality and genuineness. My stepmom is so capable and genuine; she isn’t afraid to “tell it like it is.” My sister is an amazing graphic designer who is fiercely loyal and unwavering in her support. We have so much love in our little family. It fills me up, and in return, I share this love with the world.
“What you allow is what will be, and you have the power to make a difference.” Believing in yourself is the key to everything in this world. Change starts with you. If you don’t like something, do something about it! I have a rule – you’re not allowed to complain about it if you’re not willing to take action. Have the courage to speak your truth.
Best advice you’ve ever received:
“Not everyone is going to like you.” When you learn to stop people-pleasing you can focus on what truly matters.
Advice you’d give to others:
Believe in yourself. You could accomplish so much more if you just kicked that self-doubt to the curb and trusted in your own abilities. Trust the one thing you have complete control of: yourself.
Best part of your day:
Waking up each morning and being blessed to have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, family and friends who love me, and a job that I love.
Do you still seek out mentors or mentees?
Oh, absolutely! I yearn to learn more from others every day. Love getting advice and gleaning knowledge from others. I also love to coach leadership and conduct corporate leadership classes. I say, “You can learn something yourself by gaining experience, or you can learn from others’ mistakes and gain wisdom!” I tell others to learn from my mistakes and gain wisdom. Better me than them! I love to learn, and I love to teach. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing them implement positive changes in their personal and professional lives as a result of my classes.
How do you stay motivated?
Staying motivated is an art. It does not necessarily come naturally. Everyone has good days and bad days, and when we live in a life full of perfect Instagram stories and snapchat replays, most people get intimidated with what they see, or they get a false sense of easy accomplishment. So many see luxury and wealth as commonplace, they lose their drive and initiative to work hard and don’t have the gumption to accomplish their goals. We’ve all gone through hardships, but overcoming challenges is what makes us stronger, not how many followers you have. Developing your natural talent and skill is what matters. Improving yourself and the life you lead is something you have to work at. You get out what you put in. When I feel down, I always try to find some way to express gratitude. This can be hard when you’d rather crawl in a hole from something you were horribly embarrassed about, or messed up at work, or at home. Beating yourself up isn’t going to get you anywhere, so that is something I personally continue to work on. It’s easy to give others grace, but showing yourself love in your darkest moments is a great goal to work toward when you need motivation.
Thing you’re most proud of:
The success of the people I’ve mentored over the years. I have quite a few people who I am so incredibly proud of, and so absolutely honored they chose to learn from me through both my successes and my failures. I feel as though their improvements are a manifestation of the love and attention I put into them. I am so blessed to be able to inspire and, in my own small way, try to make the world a better place.
What nonprofits are you involved with and why?
Children’s Safety Center is near and dear to my heart. I volunteer for the Dream Big Charity Gala committee to help raise money for children who have suffered sexual abuse. The American Heart Association also is extremely important to me, as diabetes runs in my family and my grandfather is a heart attack survivor.