Nancy Ruffin & The FIERCE Woman Movement

One cannot talk about fierceness and fail to mention Nancy Ruffin. As founder of The Fierce Woman, Nancy is on a mission to inspire, empower and support her sister-girls. Through her FIERCE (Females, Inspiring, Empowering, Recognizing & Cultivating Evolution )  Woman workshops, women are encouraged to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and find creative ways to enhance the power of their true selves and in turn, pay it forward onto their communities.

Having attended TFW workshops quite a few times, there are a few things that stand out for me. One being the diversity of the attendees. Women from all backgrounds and fields come out to network and feed off the feminine energy that fills whatever venue hosts us. I’m also loving how Nancy incorporates local business owners into the mix. For the second year in a row Bruckner Bar & Grill in the Bronx has provided the space; along with their yummy brunch and happy hour specials and Cake Pops by Keyla has kept our sweet tooth satisfied with her homemade delicacies. It’s this each one teach one mantra that has made Nancy the pied piper of female empowerment and our Feature Friday.

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Who is Nancy Ruffin?

This is such a complex question because I’m such a multi-layered individual. There are so many parts to me, but if I had to narrow it down, in a word, Nancy Ruffin is a creator. Whether it’s my daughters, my books/essays, my work with The FIERCE Woman my purpose in life is to create things that will make an impact in this world and that will live on far longer than I will.

How do you self-identify?

I am a badass Puertoriqueña. But I’m also a badass American. It’s important for me to acknowledge both because both cultures have influenced who I am. To deny either one of them would be to deny a part of myself.

 

When did the idea for Fierce Woman begin?

 This idea was born at the same time I gave birth to my oldest daughter. I wanted to create something that focused on empowering women. I want my daughters to be the type of women who uplift, support, and encourage other women and I figured the only way that I could properly teach them those things was by being the example.
 

What in your opinion makes a Fierce Woman?

 I believe all women are FIERCE. We are all born with individual gifts, that when we tap into them, can significantly change the vibration of the world. I mean, we are life givers. We are teachers. We are the ones who give birth to the next generation. There is such power in that. Being FIERCE means that you acknowledge your greatness and use it to change the world around you, in whatever way you can (big or small). That is the type of power women have. The problem is that many of us fall into the trap of believing that we are who others’ perceive us to be. So instead of tapping into our gifts and nurturing those gifts, we focus on the labels put on us by others.

When did you realize your calling to empower women?

I think the first time I realized empowering women was my calling was when I publicly shared my struggle to conceive my first child. Infertility, particularly in Latin@ culture, is not something that is talked about much. When I started sharing my story I had so many women reach out to me and share their own stories. It was like me telling my story gave them the courage and permission to tell theirs. Helping others speak their truth is empowering. It takes incredible strength to be vulnerable and honest about our struggles, but I share my struggles so that other women see that struggle doesn’t make us weak. In fact, it’s the opposite. It makes us tough as hell.

You are also a published author. How are your platforms utilized to serve the purpose of women empowerment?

As a writer, it’s important for me to be authentic in my storytelling. Part of being authentic means you let people see all sides of you. Even the ugly shameful parts that you may not be proud of. Being transparent is the only way you can truly inspire and empower others. You can’t preach one thing and then do another. Your words and actions must be aligned and that is what I try to convey in my writing and in the work that I do. It all ties together.
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As a public speaker, how do prepare to engage your audience?

 As with anything, you have to know your shit, but you also have to be passionate about what you’re talking about. The audience is smart and they can tell when you’re being authentic or if you’re just b.s.’ing them. When I speak to audiences I make sure I’ve done my research on whatever I’m talking about. Sometimes my research is done on the Internet and other times I speak from personal experience.

 You’re also a supreme multi-tasker. How do you balance all your projects and deadlines?
 It’s all a matter of prioritizing, setting deadlines, setting boundaries, and having a great support system. I have an amazing husband who supports me relentlessly. Without his help and support, it would be much more difficult to do all that I do. It wouldn’t be impossible because if I didn’t have him I’d still find a way, but it would be harder.
 

 What inspires your grind?

 My family.

How do you begin your day?

The first thing I do upon opening my eyes would be to thank God for another day, for my health, and for my family. Faith and spirituality are what keep me grounded and focused. I know I can do anything with God in my life.

You have two daughters. What messages do you hope to instill?

I want them to learn that through hard work, determination, and passion they can make all their dreams come true. There should never be a reason or excuse why they can’t do something. They are God’s children and as a result, have the same God-like power to create for themselves the lives they want. It’s all about choices. You have to choose who you want to become and then work every single day to become who you want to be.

 

What is some branding advice you would give to potential entrepreneurs? 

You are your greatest marketing tool so everything you do is a representation of your brand. From how you deal with others to whether you’re on time or late for events, these are all factors that tie into your brand. You ARE your brand. People don’t think of themselves as brands and they should. And when you’re a brand you have to invest in yourself. Meaning if you want people to take you seriously you have to market yourself accordingly. Create a website, have business cards, have a resume. Show people what you’ve done. Tell them why they need to invest in you. You have to be your own advocate because no one will go harder for you than you will.

 

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What was THE defining moment in your career that let you know you were on track?

I can’t pinpoint just one moment because for me it happened in the duration of a year. In 2014, so many great things happened for me creatively. I got accepted and attended VONA for the first time. My second collection of poetry got nominated for an International Latino Book Award, I was hired by one of the largest investment banking firms in the world to be a guest speaker at their Hispanic Heritage celebration, I had a number of essays published in literary journals, my work had been cited online and in essays. Just so many small things kept happening that reaffirmed for me that I was on the right track.

 

What was your first fail when learning the ropes?

 Oh wow. There were so many fails and I have a bad memory so I can’t remember the first fail but one thing I can say is rushing through the creative process is definitely a no-no. I think in the beginning, like many, we just want to be heard and recognized that we don’t do our homework. And what I mean is take my first book, for example, in hindsight, I should have waited to publish it. When I compare it to my second there is a huge contrast from the content to the actual layout to the appearance.  They’re like night and day. I rushed with the first book because I wanted to be seen. I didn’t take the time to learn and you have to be a student first before you can become a teacher.

 

Did you have any mentors?

I have mentors who I’m sure don’t know are my mentors. I look to people whose work I respect and admire like Nancy Mercado, Maria Aponte, La Bruja, Lemon Anderson, Gloria Rodriguez, Vanessa Martír, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, George “Urban Jibaro” Torres, and use it as inspiration for the work that I do. I’ve learned so much from these people by just studying their work and watching how they move in the world. I always say that if you want to do something surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and are succeeding. Those are the people you want to learn from.

How would you define success?

Success is subjective. So for me, success means being able to do what you love while inspiring others to do the same. And if you make money doing it, even better. Passion plus profit is the best combination.

How important are women/women relationships?

For me, they’re everything. I need women in my life to support and encourage me. Only another woman can understand what it means to be a woman and how hard it can be trying to juggle it all.

 

There are many women empowerment /networking groups online and IRL (in real life), how does TFW stand out?

For me FIERCE is a brand. It started as The FIERCE Woman, but last year I held my first young girls event which created FIERCE Girls, an extension of The FIERCE Woman. I’ve also just recently created Team FIERCE Body which focuses on health and fitness. So the FIERCE vision for me is huge. It’s about empowering people on various levels and various journeys. I think that’s what makes us stand out.

 

 What will your legacy be?

My legacy will be my daughters. They by far are my greatest creation.

What’s next for Nancy Ruffin?

I’m currently working on book number 4, I’m working with the students of Christ the King Elementary School for the 3rd consecutive year in their Young Authors  Program, I’m preparing my application for VONA this year and planning the 2nd annual FIERCE Woman Anniversary Brunch.

 

Where can people connect with you?

Instagram: @iamnancyruffin, @thefiercewoman_, @teamfiercebody

Twitter: @iamnancyruffin