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Manon DeFelice

Manon DeFelice

We are excited to feature Manon DeFelice in this member spotlight. Manon is very passionate about women's rights, which encouraged her to start her company Inkwell. Manon sees the value in hiring women who have left the traditional workforce, which has been key to her success.

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I am a mother, an attorney and the former executive director and general counsel for a women’s rights foundation. I am a dreamer, a believer, and an agent of change. Women’s issues are my passion, and it is with this mindset that I created Inkwell. Too many of my peers stop working because they can’t find a job that allows them to do interesting work, justify high childcare expenses and have the flexible schedule they need to be able to spend time with their children while they’re young.

In my search for a solution I decided to develop an organization that connects women to fulfilling and more flexible employment. These women still want to be challenged, recognized and rewarded in their careers. Can go into more detail about Inkwell… 

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

The balancing act between my personal and professional life has always been one of the greatest challenges to my career. I have three children and I try to be involved in their daily lives, while building a company. Before I started working on my company Inkwell, I always felt like I had to sacrifice my personal commitments in order to concentrate on my career. Working from home has definitely changed that – I get to work on my own schedule, stepping out once in a while to check in on my kids and returning to work after they went to bed. Not only has my productivity increased, but also I’m not worried about the unpredictable moments in life, like having to pick my kids up from school early or staying home with them when they’re sick.

What was your biggest career breakthrough moment?

My breakthrough career moment came while I acted as Executive Director of a women’s rights rights foundation in New York. One of my first hires at the foundation was a woman named Chelsea – she was contracted to draft legislation for us. She worked from home with her small children and travelled to DC whenever we needed to meet with Congress members.

Chelsea had a wealth of experience that was invaluable to our operation, but as a small non-profit, we did not have the budget to hire her full time. But this didn’t matter because as a mother of small children, Chelsea preferred to work from home, part time. Chelsea produced some of my foundation’s best work. My experience with her as a contracted employee made me think about other professional mothers and organizations that would benefit from hiring them. I saw that there was an untapped market of professional women with major expertise who had left the traditional, full time work force to focus on their families. Working with Chelsea, I realized that such relationships were mutually beneficial for businesses and women, thus leading to the creation of Inkwell.

Finish this sentence, "I knew I had "made it" when…"

I knew I had made it with Inkwell when I started to get such positive feedback. Inkwell started as an idea, one that I knew was good but also revolutionary. It completely changes the traditional work model. Such ideas, if not implemented correctly, can easily fail. I knew Inkwell was a good idea but I had no way to gage what people’s reactions would be or how successfully it would transfer to women’s lives. It turns out, both women and businesses love it! We are expanding everyday, making more and more professional contracts and gaining attention in the press. I could not be more grateful to my excellent Inkwell team who has helped me take this idea from the drawing board to the real world. We did it!

If you could go back and talk to your younger self (before your career really began), what professional advice would you give her?

I graduated from college in 2002 and got my first job in HR Consulting. It was a good job, with good pay, and I was thankful to be given the opportunity, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t fulfilling. It was not the job for me. I took the job because I thought it was what I should do, not because it was my passion. My advice to my younger self, and all young women, would be to discover what your passionate about and then do it. Life is too short to be working in a career that you don’t love. If you need to go back to school, do it; if you need to take time off to figure out your passion, take it. In the long run, you will be much happier at a job that you love to go to, doing the work you want to do. 

Share your two cents about money. What lessons have you learned about money along the way?

My advice for money would be to start saving – yesterday. Putting your money into an account that will accumulate interest over time is the best thing you can do financially, and the more time you allow your money to grow, the better. For example, if you put just $1,000 away in an account that compounds interest monthly at a rate of 5%, in 20 years that money will accumulate to over 20 times what you originally put in. And, the longer you let your money accumulate, the more it will grow. You worked hard for your money, now let your money work for you!

What is your secret to success?

The secret to being successful is to define it in your own terms. For me, being successful is running my company well and being able to be present in both my professional and personal lives. For someone else, being successful might mean getting a certain promotion, working at a certain company, or raising a family. Defining what success means to you means you can set concrete goals and steps to achieve it, which at the end of the day will leave you feeling more fulfilled. Don’t let anyone else tell you what your life should be like – you define your own life and your own success.

Why are you a member of Ellevate?

I am a member of Ellevate because I believe in women. My whole professional career has been dedicated to the advancement and the defense of women. From working in the sex crimes unit of District Attorney’s Office of New York during law school, to managing the anti-Human Trafficking task force for the city of New York, to heading a small non-profit organization focused on women’s right, to finally starting and running Inkwell. I am a member because I want to learn from and help other women as we achieve our dreams together. I would also love to mentor younger women that are building their own careers.


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