In celebration of Mother’s Day, we spoke to one of the most inspiring moms we know: Dee Poku, founder of the Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Network. WIE is a leadership network that supplies women with the tools and community to succeed in their careers.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Dee and chat everything from female empowerment to the joy of being a mother — and of course we had to get the details on her skincare routine, too! Read on to hear more from our inspiring conversation:
Can you tell us a little more about how your career started?
I first started in fashion but I didn’t last very long, quite frankly! I’m very drawn to creative people and I’m good at bringing creative talent to life. I started working in fashion because I was in awe of designers and what they could create — I wanted to be a part of it.
Unfortunately, this was during a time where people screamed — a lot! It was the way you demonstrated your power, by being mean to people lower on the totem pole. Back then as a young woman, I didn’t really have a voice. Then I had the chance to work on a fashion movie, and discovered my love of film. Soon after, I transitioned my career to work in the movie industry. It was very cutthroat, too — and it never felt like there was a strong sisterhood between women. I didn’t feel like anyone had my back. That’s why I built WIE: it’s the network and community I wish I had had when I was first starting in my career.
How did you come to found WIE?
Broadly speaking, I realized that while men are very good at building networks and ensuring they cultivate relationships in the workplace, women tend to just go in, put their heads down, and work really hard. But, success is due in no small part to the community that is built around you — that’s why communities like WIE are so important for women.
I realized the women around me were craving community — they really wanted to connect, build bonds, and understand they weren’t alone in whatever they were trying to navigate. Whether it was negotiating salaries in the corporate world to building their own business, they wanted to learn from real women with real experiences — not just a book!
In 2010, I went to a conference with many successful women in attendance, and we all made a pledge to pay it forward. Afterwards, a friend and I decided to host our own event, which was just meant to be a one-off conference about women supporting women. Some many women came and found kindred spirits: women like them, who were on a mission — intelligent, but not selfish. They all wanted to learn from each other, and this led to the creation of the WIE Network. At first it was a side-hustle I was very passionate about — and then it became my full-time job!
What is a WIE conference like?
The most important thing for me is that you leave a WIE conference with tangible information. We host conferences with anywhere from 100 to half a million people, and I’ve come to learn that talking about the issue does not solve the issue! Instead, what are the tangible tools women can take home with them? We focus on both soft and hard skills — for example, soft skills would include negotiating, pitching, leadership, managing teams; while hard skills focusing more on skills such as fundraising or digital marketing.
How can someone become involved with WIE?
You can visit our website to apply! Our community has mostly grown organically through press, social, and word of mouth. We have a few thousand members currently. We are really looking for women who are leaders. During the application process we look at depth of experience, what you do, and does it make sense for you to be a part of this community.
We’re currently in New York, Austin, L.A, D.C, San Francisco, London, Chicago, and Boston, but looking to expand to secondary cities soon.
What advice would you give to women who want to turn their passion into a career?
I don’t know if your passion just suddenly comes to you — most people are interested in lots of things! Instead, I believe in allowing the universe to guide you to the right place. That’s why I throw all my energy and my whole self into whatever I decide I want to do and what feels good in that moment. I go full-on, with a full heart, and see where it takes me.
So how can we be more involved in WIE? How can we apply?
You can visit our website to apply! Our community has mostly grown organically through press, social, and word of mouth. We have a few thousand members currently. We are really looking for women who are leaders. During the application process we look at depth of experience, what you do, and does it make sense for you to be a part of this community. We’re currently in New York, Austin, L.A, D.C, San Francisco, London, Chicago, and Boston, but looking to expand to secondary cities– other than just these major ones.
You’re also a mom! How do you balance work and motherhood?
I have a son who is seven, and I really prioritize my time with him. I feel like it’s so important to live the things I preach and raise my son to respect women. He is so smart, and I learn so much from him!
What are your wellness rituals?
I like to walk everywhere. I find it very therapeutic — this is also when I do my best problem-solving. I also never skip my morning water with lemon, and I don’t drink coffee — just lots of green and mint tea. I also eat a really well-rounded diet and avoid junk food. (I love french fries but would never order them, I just eat other people’s. Haha!)
For skincare, I really love washing my face — it’s my favorite step! I also love the Hydrating Floral Essence and Resurfacing Mask from Tata Harper. Otherwise, I keep it pretty simple — just washing, toning occasionally, and staying moisturized.
Thank you, Dee! To learn more about the WIE network, check out their website or follow them on Instagram.