Every opportunity I’ve ever had in my whole life is by the grace of a powerful woman.
Starting with my mom, Nancy Golden, who had the courage to get a divorce in 1973, when it was still stigmatized, and then go back to school for her design degree.
She showed me – at only 18 months old! – that she was not going to stay in something that made her unhappy. She made the decision that was correct for herself, knowing it would work out in the end.
Then there was my first French teacher in high school, Cheryl Storm. She opened my eyes to a whole new world beyond the one I knew, and encouraged me to go live in France – a move that deeply affected who I am today.
If you read The Things That Matter, you already know all about Madame Storm, as well as auctioneer Leslie Hindman, my first boss in Chicago. She believed in me, gave me a lot of autonomy, and taught me about the history and stories behind objects.
And then there’s Oprah. Not only did she give me a platform to do what I love and have it reach millions of people, but she was constantly encouraging and honest with me, just as she is to this day.
She also opened the door for me to meet iconic, brilliant women, like Dr. Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Edwards – truly incredible women who have done deeply meaningful things and impacted the lives of so many people along the way.
My mom, after that brave move when I was a baby, happily remarried. And I lucked out when my dad did as well. The grace that my stepmother, Sher Berkus, has shown while navigating the loss of my father after nearly forty years of marriage has been profoundly inspiring.
It’s definitely a pattern for me: to hitch my saddle to strong, independent, creative women, and hope for the best. So it’s no surprise that on International Women’s Day, I’m so intensely grateful for all these women, as well as one in particular that brings unimaginable light to my life on a daily basis.
That’s my daughter, Poppy Brent-Berkus. I admire her spirit, and I know that as her parent, my role is just to honor that. We don’t control her, we don’t own her, we’re just here to love her and coach her through fulfilling her full potential, whatever that might be.
So here’s to the strong women in our lives. We could celebrate them 365 days a year and it still wouldn’t be enough. And as we honor International Women’s Day, I hope you’ll stand with me in the hope and the fight to bring equality – in rights, in pay, in respect – to women of the world.
Wedding photography of Nate with Nancy Golden, Sher Berkus, Jeremiah Brent, and Oprah by Gigi de Manio; Madame Storm photograph via Cushing.org; Leslie Hindman photo via candidcandace.com; video stills of Michelle Obama, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Elizabeth Edwards via The Nate Berkus Show; Poppy photographs courtesy of Nate Berkus.