“Real Women, Real Work” is a Darling series about everyday women who work in various fields including business, entertainment, science and education. We want to get to know the WHY behind their WHAT and get an inside look into different industries.
Camila Alves McConaughey is a woman on a mission. Entrepreneur, philanthropist, host, chef, mom of three and founder of popular lifestyle website Women of Today, Camila’s days are chock-full of things to do, but through all the busyness, her greatest passion remains—to impact people.
This passion comes into play in her work with Women of Today. The online platform focuses on sharing inspiring stories and offering advice and tips to help readers make better life decisions, whether about their health, fitness, finances or family. With community at its focus, Women of Today focuses on creating a space for people to learn from each other and to do good for themselves and those around them.
Darling got to chat with Camila about Women of Today and how this online platform is creating a sense of community amidst the isolation and uncertainties of 2020.
Growing up, what did you imagine you would be?
Younger Camila always wanted to have a successful business. Along the journey of being a part of different businesses—both failures and successes—older Camila realized that the mission is not to have a successful business but to help people in any way possible. Younger me was more focused on the monetary aspect of things or the status that came with success. Older Camila isn’t really looking for that status or affirmation.
One way I’m doing that is with Women of Today, an online community focused on people learning from each and growing together. With WOT, my focus is on whether or not what we are doing is helping someone else. This is how you make a business successful and impactful.
My focus is on whether or not what we are doing is helping someone else. This is how you make a business successful and impactful.
I had to go on a journey and make WOT on my own because a lot of companies I was a part of before were focused on something different. When you focus on the monetary results, it’s a quick fix. It’s a numbers game. WOT focuses on people and gives them tools to make better long-term decisions for themselves.
That fulfillment—that one thing we did and didn’t know what the outcome would be—is helping one person do better. It’s a ripple effect. Knowledge doesn’t go out of style. It’s a long-lasting thing. It doesn’t get thrown out. Now I know that I am doing something that will impact people once I’m gone. It will have ripple effects, again and again. That’s the biggest difference between younger me and the woman I am today.
How do you juggle the different hats you wear?
It’s crazy. Crazy is a nickname for it.
I have three kids. My mother-in-law has lived with us this whole time during the pandemic. I have my husband. I have my family in Brazil. We are involved in many businesses that a lot of people don’t know about. We have the things that are very public. We have our nonprofit, the Just Keep Living Foundation.
So it’s crazy. It’s very overwhelming. Usually when your personal life is overwhelming, you go outside of your life and your own world to look for peace, but right now, outside in the world, it’s crazy too. Some days, it goes well. Some days, it doesn’t, and it’s all mushed together.
In the chaos, I think what’s really important are the people you have around you. If you think about it—the people that you work with and the people you live with—that support system around you is key.
In the chaos, I think what’s really important are the people you have around you.
In business, I want to see everything. I want to be heavily involved, but in 2020, a lot of the time, I had to step back. I have to care for my kids, and I cannot interrupt that time with my children to review an article or approve something. This year, I had to learn to put more trust in the team. I had to work on myself and let go. You can’t do everything.
Also, I had to understand that some things are going to fall short and to show grace for myself. People make mistakes, and you have to remember to be compassionate.
Why did you decide to launch Women of Today?
I started it about five years ago. Originally, WOT was a slow, homegrown situation. My family and I traveled a lot and lived in many different places, and the one thing I noticed in different countries (and even in the South in the U.S.) was that the sense of community was much bigger and deeper than in the states.
You see people talking to people and learning more openly from each other. If someone doesn’t know something, they’d point you to someone who does. It was so different in other places and people were open to conversations.
When I came back home to the states, my world would go back to the small circle of people I knew. I decided to start WOT with the knowledge that when you have community, you do better for yourself and others. Your strength is multiplied. That was the core of founding WOT—to learn from each other and to be more open.
WOT offers a lot of health, beauty, food, education and entertainment content because that’s what the community is asking for. We also give business advice and highlight people in our community. We do a lot of giveaways because I love giving people gifts and bringing them joy.
I love doing the food and recipes. You hear people say, “I can’t cook,” or “I can’t afford to make healthy food.” Whatever it is that we are making on WOT, we offer a vegetarian version and a meat eater version. Most recipes are done on a budget for feeding an entire family. It just makes it accessible to people.
The joy when you cook something, serve it to someone else and enjoy it, that joy and gratitude for when you make something and have family time, that mealtime is so important.
Women of Today focuses a lot on community. Why is this important to you?
WOT is a very inclusive community. We do have men as well. We have people from all age groups and colors, which is really cool to see. Apart from sex, age or race, I think for any human being, community is such an important factor.
For any human being, community is such an important factor.
As we go through life in different stages, we can all learn from each other. We are able to make a heart shift easier in ourselves. We are able to also help others, and it comes back to us as a form of purpose and gratitude. It’s a 360 effect. It’s a win-win situation.
What do you hope that women get out of the WOT community? What has the response been like so far?
From emails to letters to social media, everytime you start something with a purpose, you never know if that purpose will be fulfilled. Right now, what we are hearing from the people of WOT is that this purpose is being fulfilled. They feel included, independent of race, age and gender.
People feel like they can get something out of it. People are sharing how the community has helped them in tremendous, lifelong ways. Especially during the pandemic, we had people going through hard situations. People were struggling, and the things we were doing on WOT (like exercise on Instagram and my personal IG, cooking, giving meals to people in need and gear for first responders), people shared that doing that consistent exercise helped them during this time. Allowing them to be a part of a program that helped others has also helped them.
You offer a lot of healthy, simple recipes on WOT. What has been one of your go-to WOT recipes during the pandemic?
Anytime that I don’t know what I am going to cook or I am short on time, my go-to for the adults and my oldest son (my 12-year-old) is the no mayo coleslaw. It’s very simple. It’s full of flavor and very fulfilling. Not only that, but it’s items that last you a long time.
It can be seven days later until you make it. I’ll get the fresh things and cook them up first and use the long-lasting ingredients later. It’s simple and so good. You don’t even think about it anymore after.
Tell me about your specific project this month with Women of Today. How did the Sugar Talk come to fruition? How do you maintain this in your own life?
We are doing a Sugar Talk this month. It started because I couldn’t control my weight and emotions. I was always craving a lot of sugar. So I went about 40 days with no added sugar at all. After the 40 days, the difference that my family and I noticed was huge. We were like, “This is amazing!”
We wanted to do something like that for WOT. It’s not a challenge because we want people to make real, long-term change to understand how sugar affects their bodies. We want people to make decisions that impact their health for the better.
It’s a personal journey. Once they get the knowledge, they have to figure out what works for them in order to make it a lifelong habit. That’s why my goal is not to tell people to do it this way or that way. You can have people who go cold turkey. Some people go slowly. Some people go 50-50. That’s why it was really important for me to give the community education and information about how sugar affects the body.
The minute you truly understand it in your heart, you start to look at it differently. We are giving our community tools, alternatives, suggestions and a circle of other people to talk to and ask questions.
There’s no way to be perfect or have no added sugar. I will still have my dessert here and there. It’s about balance. When you create self-control, it’s easier not to go back.
Tell me about your livestreams and how you use Instagram to connect with the Women of Today community.
I love it! It’s been a very interesting experience because I have never really had such open interaction with people in my personal space. Right before the pandemic started, we had a whole different plan for WOT and a whole different fitness program for WOT.
So when the pandemic hit, we had to ask, “How can we still help?” We went to IG LIve because we wanted to help people by connecting with them directly. All of the sudden, we had to connect even more.
Outside of leading WOT and being a mom, what do you for fun? How do you recharge?
It’s a different kind of fun these days. I miss just being able to do something with my husband without kids or with no one else around. So we try to do little things. Sometimes, I make a rule that kids can’t come into the kitchen so the parents can have dinner alone. The kids have dinner with their grandma, and they put themselves to bed.
For me, on my own, it’s just being able to go out in nature and take my walks. Those walks have been a blessing, which I never did before the pandemic. It’s good for my brain and my emotions—just being by myself. It went from 15 to 30 to 45 minutes to an hour. It’s really therapeutic, and I would do half of the walk on my own and let my thoughts catch up with me. The other half, I’ll call friends.
What advice would you give to young women who are starting their career?
Start when you’re young. Don’t wait. Once you have family and kids, it’s doable. It’s very doable, but it’s so much harder and you have to compromise so much more. If you want to start a business, then just go for it. Go for it at a young age.
If you want to start a business, then just go for it. Go for it at a young age.
Also, whatever it is that you want to do, make sure you have a purpose behind it. If you make that purpose very clear, then it will help you and guide when the hard times come.
Starting your own business is really hard. It’s not a wave of a magic wand. You go through so many emotions. It’s a difficult and beautiful journey, but make sure your purpose is clear. It will help whether things are hard or things are going well. If you have a mission, you will also have something to celebrate.
Knowing what you know now about life and career, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t wait. Start young. I had multiple business ideas when I was younger and thought about it, but I didn’t push it hard enough. So I learned that if you feel it in your gut, go for it, especially at a young age. You still have to hustle on the side.
Follow Camila on Instagram, as well as Women of Today. You can also sign up for the WOT newsletter for the latest updates!
Image via Camila Alves McConaughey