“If we stop focusing on our differences and start finding points of connection with the women right in our backyards, we can change the world.” This is the mantra of Christine Bronstein, founder and CEO of A Band of Wives, a booming social support network focused on connecting and empowering women of all backgrounds.
Bronstein possesses a rare form of beauty that can only stem from within. She is stunning and statuesque, yet warm and embracing–an extraordinary combination of qualities. Bronstein is the quintessential “girl next door” whom anyone would want to know. And it seems as if everyone does. The self-professed former “tomboy” from Ann Arbor, Mich. has evolved into a picture of grace, changing the face of the woman who has it all. She’s a wife, mom of three, socialite, CEO and “wife” to thousands. The brunette beauty is married to former Hearst/San Francisco Chronicle Editor at Large Phil Bronstein.
“We got engaged, got pregnant, went on our honeymoon, and then got married– in that order!” Bronstein said.
Bronstein’s father is Louis Borders, who with his brother, Tom, Borders founded the eponymous Borders Bookstores. While the Borders Family sold the family business in the ‘90s, and it has since declared bankruptcy under new owners, Bronstein still retains those lessons she learned from watching her father build his business.
“My dad put every bit of himself into his 25 years building Borders,” Bronstein said. “He focused on truly taking care of both customers and employees. All of these values–hard work, taking care of people, looking at the world from different angles–also became important to me.”
Bronstein used these same principles when she set out in the business world, serving as CEO of Axis Personal Trainers and Spa for eight years. At the time, Axis was one of the few woman-run, venture backed companies of its kind in the country. Bronstein then took a year to travel, from continent to continent, visiting orphanages and schools from Romania to Kenya. While awareness of women’s issues the driving force behind her endeavors, it was really another monumental life event that changed the course of her professional life.
In 2009, Bronstein gave birth to a daughter and swiftly had an epiphany.
“I started to become more aware and concerned about the lack of women in high-level positions,” she said. Simply put, Bronstein thought that her daughter should have access to the same opportunities as her two sons.
“I started talking to Phil about how great it would be to have a way to connect women online,” Bronstein said. Thus, there was a birth of another kind, this time of A Band of Wives, or ABOW.
Known as “the new kind of sisterhood,” Bronstein’s social network exclusively for women takes networking to new levels, facilitating women from all over the world to build new connections. Women become a community of “wives,” sharing anything from business ideas to products and services to advice.
Bronstein makes her message of female empowerment loud and clear.
“ABOW has nothing to do with being married to men,” she said. “It’s about women supporting one another. We provide women with a place to flex their voices and support one another in unique and powerful ways.”
And her journalist husband was completely on board, even writing a column titled “Wives have wives–and that’s healthy,” touting the merits of close female friendships.
Bronstein founded ABOW grassroots style.
“I sent out a handful of invitations and it started to grow organically,” she said. Since then, the site has only grown.
“In 2010, we had grown to more than 1,000 members with no marketing. I felt like I had lit a match; all of these fabulous women came rushing in with wood, and we built this raging fire together.” ABOW now has upwards of 4,000 members.
The CEO and wife also has the title “writer” on her dossier.
As a contributor to the Huffington Post, her compelling voice focuses on–what else?– female empowerment. Bronstein has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Wall Street Journal Online.
How does she balance it all?
“I don’t,” she said, instead, embracing and offering support whenever needed. “No one can balance everything on their own. I have a lot of help.” And a lot of wives.
Even after hobnobbing with President Obama at a recent fundraiser, Bronstein stays dedicated with grounded grace.
“I got to hug the President,” Bronstein said.
“But you know what the best part of the night was? Hanging out with my wives.”