Challenges: Women’s Challenge
“You are smart. You are pretty.
You can do what others do, but better.”
~Phylis (Aldatz) Tuthill
At 7 years old, Tina Aldatz had no idea of the impact and weight of her mother’s words – said at the time to an impressionable Tina to counter the snide remarks of classmates who teased her for dressing “like the people on TV”. The affirmation stuck, further validating Tina’s childhood dreams of an improved life for her and her family, while building an unshakeable confidence that would later lead the young fashionista to creating the multimillion-dollar designer shoe accessories company, Foot Petals Inc.
In this intimate, no-holds-barred autobiography, Tina candidly shares about her humble yet tumultuous upbringing, a freak accident at the beach that damaged the soles of her feet (and later inspired the brand), and lessons learned in corporate America that served as the impetus in her eventually calling her own shots.
Filled with wit, wisdom, and unrelenting honesty, From Stilettos to the Stock Exchange offers a detailed look into the life of one of the most creative and successful “serial entrepreneurs” in the game. Complete with Tina’s Six Essentials of Business and a play-by-play account of the creation of Foot Petals Inc., From Stilettos to the Stock Exchange proves that with faith, hard work and confidence, “The American Dream” is within reach for any person with the desire and will to make it their reality.
I don’t usually read autobiographies and memoirs. In fact, I almost never read them. I’m more of a fiction girl, so I actually get bored very easily and, often even incredibly annoyed with the protagonist of a memoir because their story or their character just aren’t developing the way I’d want them to. Of course, because they’re actually real people narrating things that happened in their real lives, my getting annoyed at their lack of character development… yeah, that’s on me. So I just avoid them altogether, and I keep on living happily in my fictional worlds (yes, you read that right. It’s worlds. I have plenty.) And if I had gone along that path, we wouldn’t be here today talking about this book. Instead, here we are. So, what changed? Well, I decided to leave the wondrous world of YA fiction, fantasy and dystopians to dip my toe in adult non-fiction. I read the synopsis for this title, and thought to myself, “Well, that actually seems like a really interesting story. I wonder if it will be as good as it sounds.” And when the PR company contacted me to know if I wanted to take part in this blog tour, I gladly accepted.
I actually enjoyed FSTTSE a lot more than I anticipated. For a while, I thought I had made a mistake in accepting, but pretty soon realised that I was moving through the book really quickly. Tina’s story is incredibly compelling, and the fact that I know it’s real made it all even more amazing. It’s a wonderful, real-life fairytale of a woman who dared to follow her dreams in spite of all adversities. She worked incredibly hard to reach all the milestones she did, and had to balance amazing successes with terrible heartbreaks. But, in the end, managed to achieve exactly what she set out to do, and she built herself her very own happy ending.
Even though I couldn’t totally relate to Tina as a character in her own story, I still wanted to know what had happened to her and how she managed to overcome all the obstacles in her path. I am in awe in front of her creativity and bravery in sharing her whole life story like this. And, being possibly the least creative person ever to walk the Earth myself, I find it absolutely amazing that she managed to build such an original business from scratch almost entirely by herself.
There were a few things in way the book was structured that didn’t quite work for me, but I realise that they depend entirely on my personal taste as a reader, and not as objective flaws of the book itself. I found myself a bit confused by the order of events at times, since the author frequently uses flashbacks to explain how certain things came to be, or what inspired specific events. Personally, I found it somewhat hard to get the timeline straight in my head, and so was often wondering if what I was reading came before or after something I had read before.
The other thing that slightly reduced my enjoyment of this book was the fact that, being the autobiography of a very successful entrepreneur, a lot of space is devoted to business talk. Now, that is totally fine if you have a head for business and you like getting to know all the details of how a business is built and works. Unfortunately, business talk just bores me, so I didn’t enjoy those parts quite as much as I did the rest of Tina’s story. Luckily for me, though, they weren’t that many, and the author did a pretty good job of alternating the more technical parts of building a successful business from scratch with the more human side of her story and the other people involved.
This was an inspiring read and a great reminder that, no matter where you start from, with hard work and dedication, you can make your dreams come true. This book will probably appeal more to people who are interested in business, and they will likely enjoy it more than people who have no interest in it whatsoever, especially since Tina inserted quite a few of her own personal business tips throughout the story. There is, however, a little bit of everything in this book, and so don’t be put off by all the business talk alone: even if, like me, you’re really only in it for the story of the people involved, you could still really enjoy this book.