One on One With Katherine Tomasso, National Director of Education, Yon-Ka Paris
Everyone I encounter is a teacher in some way, but the people who influenced me the most as a child were my three aunts. They were career women in a man’s world, and although they retired in their 70s they remain very active. They’re dedicated and open-minded, and they exposed me to the arts by taking me to see foreign films at The Paris Theatre in New York. Also on the list are Françoise and Catherine Multaler, the two sisters at the helm of Yon-Ka, which is still a 100 percent family-owned business. These women negotiated and fought hard to secure the growth of the company. They set the perfect example to encourage women to fight for what’s important to them.
How do you motivate others?
I offer them facts and honest feedback, and I don’t sugarcoat anything. People need to hear both sides of a story. My approach creates trust because my team believes in me.
If you could cross one thing off your to-do list, what would it be?
We’re a small staff so I don’t have that luxury! But I deliberately created this life for myself, so I have no complaints or regrets.
What’s your earliest memory?
My aunt Rosalie summoning me to her bedroom to choose a perfume from the collection on her dresser. From all these tiny bottles I selected Joy by Jean Patou, which is my go-to scent even today.
What would you do if you could live your life all over again?
I’ve dedicated my career to Yon-Ka and this is where I want to be. However, if I were to do things differently, I’d like to own a vineyard and be a vintner—a career that blends science and nature, just like my current role. I truly believe that’s why I’m here on Earth.
My homemade ravioli with fresh tomato sauce, followed by lemon soufflé—like the one I had on a wonderful skiing trip to Mont Blanc in France.
To narrow it down to just one is agonizing! I love anything starring Daniel Day-Lewis or Ralph Fiennes, so I’ll say A Room with a View.
Which song sums you up?
I love music—it’s so healing. Again, it’s hard for me to pick one, so I’ll have to go with ‘Just Breathe’ by Pearl Jam or ‘I Saw The Light’ by Todd Rundgren. Both have similar messages.
Can’t leave the house without…
Earrings, lipstick and a spritz of Joy!
How do you manage to strike a work-life balance?
If you really want to acquire wellness you have to commit—you can’t do it part time. I have many tools for acceptance, positivity and staying relaxed, so it takes a lot to throw me off . I resist the urge to overanalyze things I can’t control. I’m also good at turning off the business side of my brain when I get home, and I don’t have a TV or other electronics in my bedroom. Plus, since 1995 I’ve been practicing yoga, which for me is about physical fitness, internal and external beauty, breathing and meditation in motion.
One of your hobbies is traveling with your husband, Dennis. Where are you off to next?
We go to Canada a lot—we’ve been all over the province of Quebec and to the protected Charlevoix Biosphere Preserve, so now it’s time to explore other areas, such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia. But my big ‘bucket list’ trip is Japan. Everything about it appeals to me, from the bustling cities to the quiet countryside.