Women CEOS of the North Shore: Barbara Turf, Crate & Barrel

We all know the North Shore, like its neighbor Chicago, is full of exceptional women.

But how many of those women rise to lead companies? And how do those few CEOs manage to rise through the ranks? According to Fortune’s 2011 rankings, there are only 12 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies—a measly 2.4 percent. While many women have broken the glass ceiling in recent years, the progress can seem slow.

So, we sat down with five local CEOs to learn their secrets, tips and ideas. Much of their advice was variations on a theme: Find work that you love. And we also got a glimpse of their daily lives—from how they juggle parenting and work to how they spend their money, and what they do when they just need to get away from it all.

Barbara Turf, Crate & Barrel
Winnetka

A happy childhood …
I grew up in a Chicago neighborhood, in what was referred to as “little Italy.” It was a close-knit community, where everyone knew their neighbor and family connections. I enjoyed the secure surroundings of this neighborhood sanctuary; I remember my childhood as fun and worry-free. I am still in touch with my some of my friends.

Biggest recent accomplishment …
Professionally, steering the company through the worst economic period in our history. Personally, my three children, who have grown to become wonderful, successful people in their own unique ways.

Finding balance …
It’s always an ongoing challenge; I had a better work-life balance in the earlier years of my career, but as the company grew and my role became much larger, particularly in the last several years, it has become more uneven. Just recognizing that helps give me the opportunity to look at ways to improve.

Favorite pastime …
Definitely shopping. The experience of searching, finding, connecting and buying never gets old for me.

Biggest indulgence …

I love fashion and beautiful accessories. I am completely taken by great design and wonderful materials.

Her causes …
I’m an avid supporter of breast cancer research and other humanitarian causes. My intention is to become more involved in education.

Best part of her job …

Without question, the ability to travel and develop wonderful relationships with amazing people around the world.

Life lesson …
Inaction is far worse than the wrong action or decision.