A Personal Letter to Disney: Be Brave

There is a storm brewing with the Disney release of a toy line featuring its first truly ‘brave’ heroine, Princess Merida. Seems that in an effort to appeal traditionally to little girls’ doll tastes, the rough and tumble star of “Brave” has lost weight, filled out her too tight gown and adopted that doe-eyed sparkle princess look….the look and the life that the animated Merida despised.

I will let anthropologists and psychologists dissect why this is right or wrong. Or just cowardly.

I will turn instead to my own experience, watching the animated film alongside a 7 year old redhead named Soleil.  From the moment that Merida, the cartoon ginger wild child, picked up her bow and galloped through the woods, Soleil’s heart pounded in the saddle alongside her heroine. Proud, cheering, valiant.

For once, the story wasn’t about a cookie-cutter forgotten waif lifted by a prince to a palace. This was true grit, the kind of beauty any girl with guts can achieve. The knowing eyes, the powerful stance, the in-your-face joy of being a girl alive in her own skin spoke to Soleil. And the hair, the untamed, boundless curls that said, “Remember me!” Go ahead, Disney, give our real ‘brave’ Merida a sparkly crown. We need her in the Magic Kingdom. But don’t mess with her curls or her curves or her courage.

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Watch Three Generations React to “Makers” on PBS

This week, PBS aired a groundbreaking (and we hope, award-winning!) documentary called “Makers” tracing the journey of women from the awakening of the feminist movement through to today. Chelsea, a prime Gen Y woman and I, a member of the class of ’75, gathered a group of ten women to watch together and weigh in. We invited representatives from all different life stages; a college senior getting ready to transition to the professional world, recent graduates starting careers, newlyweds looking forward to starting a family, empty nesters and life-reinventors.

Our living room of new and old friends represented the movers, shakers and MAKERS of today. This video captures the conversation that just wouldn’t quit—inspired, candid and as women are, openly engaging. Listen in!


As Chelsea said, “It’s easy for Gen Y women to forget how many doors had to be knocked down in order for us to be standing where we are today.

We may not have lived through the height of the women’s movement in the 60’s and 70’s, but the energy that was generated then certainly lives within all of us now. Unfortunately the road to equality is still lined with roadblocks, detours and “Do Not Enter” signs. It’s now up to our generation. We each have to ask ourselves—what are the issues and values that I want to stand up for to make a difference for myself, my peers and future generations? When that answer comes, you will be ready to make your mark.”

Sent from both of us with love and with thanks to June, Joanna, Erin, Kelley, Amy, Nidia, Alexis and Maggie.

Mary Lou and Chelsea

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A Mother’s Prayer and a Daughter’s Dream: The God Box just made the New York Times bestsellers list!

I am so excited to share this incredible news. The New York Times just named “The God Box” to their bestseller list. This is a huge thrill for me and I can only think of Mom who was the reason for the story and more than that, the reason I believed I could write. Even though I can hear her now saying, “I knew this would happen,” I have to admit, I am over the moon with joy, gratitude and that feeling that comes with doing what you love. Thanks so much to all my friends and family who were behind me every step of the way. This is your story, your success too.

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My latest project: “The God Box,” full of faith, love and letting go

Imagine traveling the country and learning about women–their deepest and often unspoken feelings? Imagine sharing stories of love, loss, hope with perfect strangers who soon become friends? Imagine seeing faces that reveal that the women they’ve become is rooted in the mother who bore them?…and all the while, raising money for causes in need?

That has been my experience of the past month, every single day.

On April 14th, at the Coaches V Cancer event in my hometown of Philadelphia, I launched my new book The God Box: Sharing my mother’s gift of faith, love and letting go. And seven days a week since then, I have spoken, hugged and shared my story. The book is about the discovery of my Mom’s God Boxes filled with loving prayers, 20 years worth of every worry, hiccup and hope for family, friends and even strangers.

I knew that even writing a book with “God” in the title might make some people wonder what I was up to. After all, business people rarely cross lines of politics or religion or any boundary that might seem too personal. And here I was, on the road talking about faith, motherhood and the heartbreak of losing my mother. But you know what? There’s a lot of yearning out there for honest talk about the relationship that formed us first and the underlying beliefs that get us through life. The book is spiritual and inspirational and I am proud to share that it has been recommended by PARADE, Redbook, Family Circle and this week by USA Today as the number one book for Mother’s Day.

We have been covered in the Wall St. Journal, the Huffington Post and the NY Post and I’ve written blogs for the New York Times’ Motherlode, Parents.com, Belief. net and this Sunday for the Wall St. Journal, all exploring the nature of mothers, both in life and after death.

The book garnered bestseller status in the first two weeks on amazon and Barnes and Noble and both the online and brick and mortar stores blew through their stock in a heartbeat. We have gone to a second printing and we are just getting started. The book is not about one holiday or one life. But about the hopes we harbor for those we love and the way we can learn to let go.

I have traveled so many miles and frankly, shed some tears but I sit here a month later and want to say, this is the loveliest journey into understanding women that I have ever taken. And men are along for this ride too. And in my own way, I believe my Mom is enjoying it as well.

Hope you will check out the book right here on the home page. I can say that right now, I couldn’t be happier.

Hands on,
Mary Lou


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Tracy tells NYWICI how to reach the female audience

Marketers (and men) find themselves constantly asking “what do women want?”  A question that is impossible to give a simple answer to, as women as a whole never all want the same thing. “All mom’s are not the same, all women are not the same,” Tracy said. This makes advertising to women today difficult and challenging.

On December 6th, last Tuesday, Tracy Chapman was a panelist for New York Women in Communications, Inc (NYWICI)  event, “What Women Want: Strategies for Reaching the Female Market.” The panel of marketing experts was moderated by Lesley Jane Seymour, the Editor-In-Chief of More Magazine, who aimed to uncover what the best approach in understanding the thoughts, motives and triggers of a targeted female audience.

Tracy explained that as a marketer or advertiser it is easy to get caught up in the half-truths that women tell, but it in order to succeed in reaching the target female audience the whole-truth must be uncovered. “Women have and project the best intentions;” however, often times what women say and do are very different. If the whole truth behind these intentions are uncovered, it is much easier to reach the intended female audience.

Tracy provided the attendees with insightful information that helped to make the event a great success!

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Red Soles And Pink Slips

Manolos or Louboutins? We should only be so lucky as to have that choice.

The New York Times Style Section debated the issue this Sunday–the iconic Manolos brought to attention by Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw are suddenly back on top of the stiletto pyramid. On the heels of her appearance in recent documentary God Save My Shoes, our very own CEO and Founder Mary Lou Quinlan weighed in on Manolo Blahnik’s ascent to power over his counterpart Christian Louboutin:

“Luxury is strong,” said Mary Lou Quinlan, the chief executive of Just Ask a Woman, a marketing company with clients like Clairol and GlaxoSmithKline. “There’s an element among women who are still doing well in their jobs of, ‘I deserve it, I need it, I’ve got to have my fix.’ ”

Or, as Ms. Quinlan said, “It’s tacky to strut around in your red-soled shoes when other people are trying not to get a pink slip.”

To read more about the shoe struggle, check out the entire article HERE.

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Where Does Dr. Pepper Ten Go Wrong? Mary Lou On The CBS Early Show

You know how we feel about the commercials for Dr.Pepper Ten (Don’t remember? Then click here), and their particularly subtle “Not for Women” tagline, but how about their larger campaign, including their Facebook page? Mary Lou Quinlan appeared on the CBS Early Show this morning to lend her insight to the latest ad campaign making internet waves.

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Femininity and Humanity: The Appeal of Steve Jobs’ Vision

The powerhouse organization New York Women in Communications has put together an insightful tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs, who passed away on Wednesday, with the help of our very own Mary Lou Quinlan. Mary Lou muses on how a company in the traditionally masculine tech field resonated so beautifully with women:

Steve Jobs will be praised as a beloved man who was an entrepreneur, a visionary and a marketing genius who revolutionized the way we communicate and connect. But I want to salute him for his innate understanding of women–their affinity for design, for ease, for enhancing life’s experiences.

Back in the early 70s when Steve invented apple, through to the present day, the technology industry has been highly male-driven, even with the bright lights of Sheryl Sandberg at facebook and Marissa Mayer at google. The mentality of bells and whistles, the macho ‘mine’s cooler than yours’ bravado of Silicon Valley led to products that were functional but not exceptional.

Steve’s innate and intuitive grasp of the beautiful as well as the brilliant, his recognition of how technology can go beyond “gee whiz” to actually enhancing life moved computing from a task to a treat, from dreary to delicious. Without ever saying, ‘Women will love this!’ or even thinking pink, Jobs recognized that devices could be lovely to hold, intutive to use, easy to love.

I only hope that his sensibility, almost feminine in nature, will continue as apple’s legacy: generations of products that appeal to the humanity in all of us.

NYWICI’s tribute to Jobs includes thoughts from Linda Kaplan Thaler, Dorothy Crenshaw, Patrice Tanaka, and and Cathy Carlozzi. The entire tribute is available on NYWICI’s blog, Aloud. CLICK HERE.

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Jen Drexler Talks Caring, Creativity, And Why Apple Is Iconic

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ untimely death, both media and marketers are scrambling to decode how one man and his company changed the way the world uses entertainment technology. And when looking for insight into a brand’s influence on our lives, who better to ask than Just Ask a Woman?

Stacey Vanek Smith of Marketplace spoke with Jen about Apple’s iconic imagery and cult following:

Making people feel like it cares is exactly why Apple is Apple, says Jen Drexler, a brand analyst at Just Ask a Woman.

Jen Drexler: You joined it. It’s like enrolling in college and wearing the sweatshirt. You joined this brand the second you became hooked on one of the products.

Part of it is the cool factor. Drexler says instead of focusing on selling to businesses and targeting the cubicle culture, Mac aimed its products at musicians, filmmakers and visual artists.

Drexler: And then everyone else who has one can feel a little bit of that too. I can tell you I’ve never done anything creative with mine ever, but I would like to believe people think I do.

Check out the entire article HERE.

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Mary Lou Quinlan Discusses Chick Beer On The CBS Early Show

When it comes to a product marketed towards “chicks,” who better to ask than Just Ask a Woman CEO and Founder Mary Lou Quinlan? The CBS Early Show had the same thought when discussing the merits and drawbacks of Chick Beer, the latest in the line of overtly feminized beverages (learn about another one HERE).

Check out what Mary Lou had to say:

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June 14, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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