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Vanessa Coppes | Women In Leadership | The Breakdown with Bethany

women in leadership lead with heart Vanessa Coppes smiling in pink blouse The Breakdown with Bethany MomCaveTV

Vanessa Coppes is a boss who excels at leading with heart! She is a champion for women in leadership, the owner and Editor in Chief of BELLA Magazine, which is an international bi-monthly lifestyle publication focused on fashion, beauty, mind and body, celebrity, philanthropy, arts and culture, and travel. Coppes purchased the magazine in 2019 and launched the Spanish language version of the magazine entitled BELLA LATINA in 2021.

She talks to us about her journey, faith, family, and how leading with authenticity is the only way! Check out the interview below.

Women in Leadership | Vanessa Coppes of BELLA Magazine | The Breakdown with Bethany | MomCaveTV

Writer to Owner

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Hi, and welcome back to another episode of The Breakdown with Bethany. I’m Bethany Braun-Silva, and today my guest is Vanessa Coppes. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of BELLA magazine and one of five of the only Latina editors-in-chief in the U.S. She is absolutely a force for women in leadership, and she’s also a mom. We’re going to learn all about Vanessa’s story and her tips for leadership, and of course, how to run a business like a boss. Definitely check this one out, you guys.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I was so excited that I got the opportunity to interview you because I was researching your story, and you started as a writer there, and now you own the company. So can you just tell us a little about that please? What is that journey to a leadership position?

Vanessa Coppes:
Oh my god. So it’s so funny that you start this way, because my claim to fame is I actually bought the magazine I used to work for, and that’s really it. When the magazine launched almost 11 years ago, I got it in my mailbox. I was super thrilled. I remember the first edition having Denise Richards on the cover. And at that time, I had just launched my custom jewelry business, and I had sent jewelry to Denise Richards. So talk about serendipity, talk about “godincidences,” like talk about things that are like supposed to happen.

Vanessa Coppes:
And I remember just reaching out to the previous owner, and I was like, “Denise Richards was just on my cover. This is so exciting.” And we just created… We had this connection where she was having events where I could support her and vice versa. Then we became friends, and I started to contribute to the publication, and the rest is history.

Passion for Writing

Vanessa Coppes:
I was so passionate about writing. I mean, the writing aspect has just been second nature to me. I’ve been journaling since I was seven years old, and had always envisioned myself writing for a publication since the age of 13. I could see it so clearly for myself. And when they decided to sell three years ago, I was like, it was a knee-jerk reaction. It wasn’t even something that I had planned. My husband thought I was out of my mind, but in my gut, I knew that it was my next step to have a say in how this publication kind of went, and the direction that it went moving forward. And as a Latina woman, I felt like I had so much more that I wanted to explore from the perspective of a woman in leadership. So that’s it in a nutshell.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
That really is incredible. I have to ask, how is it going? Obviously, you’re at the helm now. You’re in charge. What has it been like? What has surprised you, either good or bad? I think a lot of the women who watch would love to know about that.

Vanessa Coppes:
Yeah. The good has been amazing. I have to tell you what has been really heartwarming, reassuring, and reaffirming is that BELLA has its place. You have to remember, that I bought the publication, and eight months later, the pandemic hit. So I had people emailing me left and right, canceling contracts, lost clients. “Are you crazy? What are you doing?” Oh my God. And I had a coming to Jesus moment. I remember a week into the pandemic, I said, “Oh my God, I made the biggest mistake of my life.” I don’t know if I can curse on this interview.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
You can!

Vanessa Coppes:
But I won’t. But it was a full-blown shit storm. It was a shit storm, and it was one thing after the other.

The Good and the Bad

Vanessa Coppes:
And I remember just showing up to a meeting with my immediate team, my publisher, Jennifer, and I said, “Okay, we have to get it to…” Literally in tears… “We’re going to pull it together.” All of my writers began to email me individually. “We’re going to get through this. We’re going to make this happen. You can’t give up.” I’m like, “I don’t want to give up.” But it was like, oh my god, terrified.

Vanessa Coppes:
But I did. I decided to just keep moving forward, and honestly, I’m a very big spiritual person. And I believe that the universe will always find a way to provide. And three years later, here we are. So again, the good has been really good.

Vanessa Coppes:
The bad, I will say, just like I think in any industry or in any career, there are people out there who just don’t have your best interest at heart. And you have to grow a very thick skin when it comes to that. Because I feel like as women in leadership positions, as nurturers, as mothers, we always have the tendency to give, to care, to not so much to outdo, but to outgive. We always want to help support. And you a lot of the time it’s not reciprocal. I do things because they serve my bigger mission and because they serve a bigger purpose. I genuinely do things through BELLA because listen, this is going to help this small business put themselves on the map. Let’s do it. No problem.

From Naysayers to Supporters

Vanessa Coppes:
And you got to be okay with the nos. You got to be okay with the, I don’t want to call them- haters. Jamie Kern Lima, actually one of our past covers says haters are just misdirected followers.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Yeah.

Vanessa Coppes:
Eventually, they become supporters also. So that’s that. I can’t keep… It’s like that. There’s a saying in the Dominican Republic that the only reason to go back is to create more momentum to keep going forward. So-

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that.

Vanessa Coppes:
That’s it.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Actually, Vanessa, would you mind actually saying that in Spanish for us?

Vanessa Coppes:
Oh, of course.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love it.

Vanessa Coppes:

[foreign language 00:06:16]

Bella Latina

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love it. But just as a nice segue to that, you also launched BELLA Latina recently.

Vanessa Coppes:
Yes, yes.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
That must have felt so… You must have been so proud. Can you tell us about what that was like, what that felt like? I mean, if I’m right in saying you’re just one of five editors-in-chief Latina editors in chief…

Vanessa Coppes:
I am. I am one of five in the entire country, which was kind of a little bit of a… It took me a moment to wrap my head around that because I don’t get lost in accolades. I really, really am truly about the work. Obviously, the glam that comes along with it is fun, but then after you’ve done it 50 times, it becomes work. And I’m sure you know this. Who can realistically put on lashes every day? I know a few people, but I’m like, yeah, but you don’t have kids. So you don’t have kids. You don’t have to go home to make dinner. That works until there’s other people, other humans who depend on you.

Doing Right and Educating

Vanessa Coppes:
But yeah, and quite frankly, that’s where I really stepped into a role of understanding the responsibility that it carries. Me, being a woman, number one, also being a Latina woman, a mother, in a position that honestly can drive the conversation. And I take that very seriously. I take it as a very serious responsibility, and that’s the former teacher in me, the former… And also the mom in me to just try to do right by people and educate in everything that we do.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that. And is it fair to say, or accurate, I should say, is it accurate, because when I come to these parties, I know you have a lot of family there, your girls. You work with your family as well? Do they work at BELLA?

Working with Family

Vanessa Coppes:
So it’s really fun. What actually happened with BELLA Latina is that I was able to bring in… I have an aunt who wanted to pursue a career in marketing and writing and journalism. And I remember having a conversation right when I was about to launch the print version, and she was like, you know that this has been my dream forever. And I was like, oh my god, like, this is like, why wouldn’t I have these strong, educated, incredible women who are already a part of my life be involved in this?

So yeah. My aunt is actually the editorial director for BELLA Latina. Her writing is super on point. I think after 18 years of living here in the states, I can speak it, not so much write it as fluently as I used to, but she’s on it. And yeah, so you saw, I think you met one of my aunts. And I have them pop in because I do have family here in New York that do visit and make it a good point to be involved in any which way. So yeah.

Women in Leadership

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that. I love that. Really keep it in the family. I want to also talk about, you really are sort of the embodiment of women in leadership, a woman who leads. And you led through what you just said, one of the toughest times in the world. You took the helm of this business just before the pandemic, and your staff, what you say, rallied around you. So can you give us some tips about what it is to lead, lead with, I mean, how you described sort of grace and honesty, but also toughness, it seems like? So talk a little bit about what would you tell women leaders or aspiring women leaders in business and media, whatever it may be.

Vanessa Coppes:
I think in general you have to lead with heart and with your gut. I think that we genuinely know what the ultimate best decision is for, even this morning, I just had to make a really difficult decision on a cover. And it’s something that I’ve been planning for two years that I’ve been wanting to do. But as we briefly spoke, before we came, we started this interview, I had to put my family first. And that sometimes can be extremely challenging because in my… Had that been me five years ago, I would’ve been like, but the opportunity is so big.

Family Is Everything

However, with time, what I’ve realized, especially through the pandemic, if that has taught us anything, is that family is absolutely everything. You never get this time back. And my son, who’s going through some health challenges right now needs his mother, and I have to be there, and I have to be present, and I have to do what I need to do to take of my home business. And if your house isn’t in order, nothing else can be because your head and heart are on home.

Vanessa Coppes:
I think that we, as women in general, over many years, I think we’re more outspoken now, but I feel like we always fear that backlash of not being liked. I mentioned it before, you have to grow a thick skin. It genuinely isn’t ever personal, but you ultimately have to end up doing what is best for your business. I’ve had tough conversations with my team members, who through this challenging time want more, but I can’t give it to them because right now it isn’t financially feasible. And I have very honest and open conversations with everyone.

Authenticity in Life and for Women in Leadership

Vanessa Coppes:
Something that we’ve done over the past three years, which has kind of become a staple in the way that I lead, is our weekly team meetings. And I know like, oh my god, this could have been an email. However, we look forward to it because we actually pray together as a team. We pray together every week. We get together and touch base with what’s going on. I firmly believe that when you put people first, I always tell… My catchphrase is, “Guys, this isn’t brain surgery. We’re not saving lives. We’re talking about lipstick and shoes. Get it together.” And I always have to bring it back to keeping it very, very real and honest with my team because that’s real life.

Vanessa Coppes:
And ultimately what has sustained BELLA through these past two and a half years has been that authenticity like, oh my god, I can wear those heels because they are $25, or I can make the investment in this bag that will last me 3, 4, 5, 10 years and pair it up with a t-shirt from Target or whatever the case may be. But it’s that authenticity. I crack the whip. My team will tell you, that I have no filter when it comes to just calling things for what they are. I feel like that’s not just my personality, but it’s just how I would have hoped that people who were in leadership positions that I was under would’ve spoken to me, just be truthful, tell me the truth. How can I improve? How can we make it better?

Vanessa Coppes:
And honestly, I’ve hired people that are very much more capable than I am in these different aspects of the industry because there’s always so… If you’re the smartest person in the room, as they say, you’re in the wrong room. You always have to evolve and learn. And my team has taught me so much, so much.

5 Steps to Fabulous: Faith and Community

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Yeah. You mentioned that you guys say a prayer in your meetings, and I know that you wrote this book, 5 Steps to Fabulousness, or 5 Steps to Fabulous.

Vanessa Coppes:
Yes.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
And faith is one of the steps.

Vanessa Coppes:
Yes.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
So can you just quickly take us through the steps and maybe just a little sentence about each one?

Vanessa Coppes:
Sure. The first one is faith, obviously. I always say I have no shame in my faith game, and if it’s going to push you away, I always say, if you can’t talk about God and thank God, but then you can post gossip, celebrity gossip, then your priorities are not straight. There’s so much to be grateful for. There’s so much to… And there’s always something bigger working in all of our favor.

Vanessa Coppes:
Community is also another step. And it is being able to rely on a group of men and women that you can go to for personal, and professional development and rely on. I have my mom friends and my work friends. I had this conversation last week. It’s interesting that over the years I’ve selected more of my media friends as people that I can go to just because they understand this lifestyle a little bit better and can really relate to, oh my god, I have to get up at five to go do my hair except to be on this segment when that is not the norm for my school mom.

Vanessa Coppes:
However, I do have my school moms who help me with my kids and who bake the cookies because I don’t bake cookies.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Neither, neither.

Vanessa Coppes:
I don’t bake the cookies. I’m like, I’ll buy the ingredients for you. And for me, just make them.

Self-Care, Physical Health, and Giving Back

Vanessa Coppes:
So faith, community. Self-care is another one, which is really, really important. I don’t think we do that enough. Even through this whole health hurdle that I’ve had over the last two weeks with my son, I made it a point to go get my hair done, to go get my nails done. Those are my little me moment times. And I got a practice of yoga, which I typically do on a daily basis. And I wasn’t able to get it in as much as I should have last week, but I made it a point to just set some time aside for that.

Vanessa Coppes:
Physical health, you have to exercise, you have to move your body. I don’t care if it’s a 10, 15-minute walk, if it’s a five-minute walk. At some point, you have to move your body, and get up. Something that I’ve taken up lately, especially during the pandemic because I think we’ve been on screen for so long is to stand up while you’re typing or stand up while you’re taking the phone call. That way you get some sort of action and movement in there.

Vanessa Coppes:
And the last is giving back. Giving back has always been a big part of my life. I think that in some… We always think that giving back has some sort of monetary number attached to it, but it’s as simple as taking a phone call, as connecting to women that should meet or connect or introducing them to one another, to be able to have, whether it’s a personal conversation or a business conversation that could propel each of them forward, listening to a friend who may need some advice. Those are all aspects of giving back that really take time, no money. And if you have the resources, obviously help and support in whichever way you can.

Legacy and Leadership

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I love that, Vanessa. I have one final question for you.

Vanessa Coppes:
Sure.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Because I sure I know you’re a busy woman, but it seems you’re really carving out such a beautiful legacy, for yourself, for this magazine, for the Latina community. But I want to know what sort of legacy do you hope to instill to your children? How do you hope your boys view you?

Vanessa Coppes:
Oh my god. So it’s so funny that you’re asking this question because I, and I have my phone right here, because my son, I’ve mentioned him a hundred times. He went into surgery last week, but I’m going to read to you as he was about to go into surgery, what he said to me, and this was a pre-surgery conversation.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Are we going to cry? Are we going to cry?

Vanessa Coppes:
Listen, I’m going to try to keep a dry eye because it was so… And you’ll, when you hear this, you’ll understand why I was so taken aback because sometimes you think that you are not doing enough and that you are never catching up to… You miss the play, or you miss the reading in class or whatever the case may be, but your children are always watching.

Still Mom

Vanessa Coppes:
He said to me, he said, “Your job looks like fun, Mom.” I said, “Yes, it is, but it’s also work.”And he said, “Oh, I know. I see it. But it’s important work. I like that you own a magazine, are around famous people, but you’re normal. You live like a regular person, and you’re relatable. All these likes, right? You’re relatable, and you’re still our mom. That’s the best part.”

Vanessa Coppes:
I was trying to hold it together, keep it together because, ultimately, when he said, but ultimately, “You’re our mom, and that’s the best part.” He gets it. And I think we give ourselves such a hard time, and we give ourselves these massive guilt trips. I know because I still do it. And although I’m okay with a lot of, he understands that, but I still think about it. Oh my god, I’m not there. I didn’t make dinner tonight or whatever the case may be.

Vanessa Coppes:
The legacy is just to be, number one, decent human beings in this world that whatever it is that we decide to go and do, we do it with kindness in our hearts, that we are genuinely just doing right by other people. I always tell him, you could be a window washer, and if that’s what you want to do, do it with kindness, but try to be the best window washer that’s out there so that people who always hire you.

Self-Confident Kids

Vanessa Coppes:
And my little one always says to me, he’s like I’m so proud of you, mom. He loves to be a boss. He’ll come into my office and sit on my… He has no issue taking that seat.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
The little ones always seem to do that. My little one’s like that too. He’s never uncomfortable in any situation.

Vanessa Coppes:
Oh my god. And I’m like, they’re two completely different opposite ends of the spectrum. But obviously, those are all parts of me and my husband. And I think again when I hear the things like that he says out loud, those are the moments where I am grateful, and I give thanks because we’ve done something. Right? Something has stuck. He obviously understands the underlying importance of the work that, not just that I do, but that my team does and that his father obviously works so hard, for us to have this life, and that’s ultimately it.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Awesome. Awesome. We’ll end there, Vanessa. Tell us really quick where we can find you, where we can find the magazine. Can we subscribe? Tell us everything.

Following

Vanessa Coppes:
If you want to follow me, I actually think I’m pretty funny. You can follow my personal Instagram page @VanessaCoppes, and that’s the same handle across the board. I try to lead and keep things as professional as I can on BELLA. So you can just go to BELLAmag.co, but we also go real, be deep and go in with aspects of women and men, health and mental health, of course also, and beauty and fashion at BELLAmag.co, and that’s the same handle across the board. The Real Talk with BELLA podcast is always a great resource also for deeper conversations. And I’m grateful for you for giving me the opportunity to be here with you today. This is great. It’s wonderful.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
I actually had like 20 more questions I wanted to get into with you, but time just didn’t allow for it. Maybe we’ll need a part two, Vanessa. Thank you.

Vanessa Coppes:
Awesome. I’d appreciate that. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Bethany Braun-Silva:
Of course, of course.

Listen to this episode as a podcast here:

women in leadership lead with heart Vanessa Coppes smiling in pink blouse The Breakdown with Bethany MomCaveTV
Bethany Braun Silva

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