Your Story: Deborah
Deborah Koenigisberger is the Founder and CEO of Hearts of Gold Inc., a charity providing needed support to homeless women and children (www.heartsofgold.org) in New York City. She is also the owner and President of DNK INC. d/b/a Noir et Blanc, an upscale fashion boutique in New York City.
Hope Fitness Gear recently interviewed Deborah about family, fashion, charity, and the gifting of hope.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur in fashion?
In my late teens, I started modeling for a young designer. This led to the realization that I had a real love as well as a knack for fashion and styling. I continued modeling into my early 20’s and ultimately came to the conclusion that styling and fashion were where I wanted to focus, career-wise. In August of 1989, with a wing and a prayer, I opened my women's French retail boutique Noir Et Blanc. The rest, as they say, is herstory.
Who founded Hearts of Gold? How has it grown from its early days?
I founded Hearts of Gold in 1994. Back then, I was a one-woman show with a dream and a burning desire to affect change in the lives of homeless mothers and their children. After a few years, I onboarded my two best friends from college and high school: Val DiFebo and Jack Gindi. In my very first attempt at fundraising, I raised just under $3000. I was ECSTATIC! That was over 23 years ago. Now, on an annual basis, we raise over $1.2 million dollars and this year is lining up to be our best ever as we formally launch our first Annual Fund Campaign! The growth has been astounding and magical. The more we raise, the more moms and kids we can help.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give women who want to follow a dream but don’t know where to begin?
My “coach” and “mentor” my whole life was my mom until she was suddenly taken away, way too soon, in 1995. I watched her live a life of service and giving and working REALLY hard. I took my lessons from her. That said, for dreamers without that same ‘influencer” in their lives, I would advise them to find a mentor and to never give up on their dreams. I believe that without dreams and a passion for something that drives you, the world has to be a very difficult place to navigate.
How do you keep fit?
I NEVER sit. I jokingly tell everyone, because people always refer to me as the equivalent of the Energizer Bunny™ that I am basically on a treadmill from the moment I wake until my day ends. It's basically the life of an entrepreneur. We have stuff to get DONE! I also eat very well. I love to cook, so most of what I eat comes straight from my kitchen and I know exactly what is in my food. Best way to manage your nutrition! As I write this, it's Sunday morning and I have been roasting a turkey since 6am... That's how I roll.
What motivates you to get up each day and do your “thing?”
Life is so very short. My mantras are “okay, what's next?” and “let's do this”. I am a “morning” person. I believe that there is so little TIME! I also am not a “ponderer”. When I have a thought or idea, I run with it. If it pans out awesome, if it doesn't, at least I didn't waste valuable time wondering what would happen “if”. If you're struggling with motivation, really think about what you want your life to have meant and write it down. This should unstick you.
If you really are lost, get someone to recommend a coach. I know a couple great ones! By the way, if you are setting goals, you're already motivated! Just get some help getting over the bump. As for being better organized, I am the quintessential Virgo so I don't know how not to be organized (lol). But if that’s all that’s making your life crazy, hire someone to help you figure it out.
What gives you hope?
Because of the work I do, which is being of service, both in my retail store as well as with my non-profit, Hearts of Gold, hope is easy to come by for me. Watching the people I help every single day as they transform from one stage to another is pretty freaking brilliant. My two amazing boys, Florian and Stephan give me the most hope. They are fierce, they are kind, and they are full of empathy! We have slain dragons together when they were young and now I am watching them do the same in their young adult lives. Lastly, everyday that I am granted the gift of life, gives me a reason to hope. I try to make everyday count.
and finally, you just gotta believe folks….
For more information about Hearts of Gold, how you can donate or volunteer please check us out at www.heartsofgold.org and/or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also own the most fabulously elegant resale store called the thrifty HoG which is located at 11 West 25th Street in Manhattan (212-206-1174). We are currently accepting donations of new or barely used men’s shoes, accessories, outerwear and clothing, (no suits please) as well as children’s shoes and clothing and designer women’s clothing and accessories (again, no suits please), that are freshly cleaned laundered.