Just a girl living in a man’s world. Working for “the man.” Last night, I ventured to D.C. where womentrepreneurs shared their stories of success and hustle.
Women entrepreneurs are a special breed. Yes, as a girl I will admit that I make decisions based on my gut or a feeling I have (high risk = high reward) and I’m a sucker for the little things, like the warm and fuzzy shit. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Woman or man, business is built on relationships and good people and I hate to say it guys but women have the upper hand in saying what’s on their mind and how something makes them feel. NO shame in my game, I WILL cry if I want to.
As a recent DC transplant, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people (300+ chicks in one place?!) Worn Creative tweeted RSVP’d to the F*It event. I thought long and hard until the minute I had to exit towards my house or towards DC. Then, I committed. I said F* It. I was convinced I was meant to be there when I found player parking. Doors wide open, I found myself at the new iStrategyLabs. Getting there, and walking in were two big steps for me. Now, finding a seat…
I got REAL COMFY in the middle of a bunch of strangers. I am still getting used to the idea of people being exclusive to their “cliques” (that’s just bad business, people!) I’m from the south. So, naturally I will smile at you and I will say hello. Why people ignore you, turn their backs, or pretend they can’t hear you…I will never understand. I guess I’ll blame the cold weather for not feeling the warmth in the room. I had to remind myself that I had a purpose. I was there to learn: about myself and about everyone else in the room. (Pro tip: Don’t get so hung up on your phone, life is happening. Be present.)
Now, for the good shit. ICYMI.
Sara Polon, is the Founder of Soupergirl and her insights definitely left me hungry. She made the decision to start a business on the simple fact that she had no other option. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” You do, it will. Decisions have consequences, but Sara’s had promise and her smile as she said this made everything else clear “I sleep at night, I don’t wake up every morning saying “What am I doing with my life?” It makes a difference knowing what your purpose is the second you wake up every morning.
Sara touched on something I take very dear to my heart: human resources. Finding good people is hard. I mean, recruiting and you think you know someone then OMG! My background is in HR and working for start-ups, small businesses, and the feds…I feel like I’ve met and worked with all types of people. What you really want to do is find someone just like you or if you could, you would clone yourself! (Am I right, or am I right?!) Sara’s story really set the tone for the rest of the night because building a team is something she didn’t initially put into her business plan. So, create a plan for when you need to cross that bridge and definitely drug test and ask for references!
So, Sara left me hungry and these ladies left me thirsty. WHAT A COMBO. Shizu and Jennifer are the co-founders of JRINK Juicery. I first heard about JRINK at a Yelp event and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to try their stuff out! (I LOVE LOCAL BUSINESSES!) Their product and what they’re doing, is a no brainer for a customer like me. I love their mission, what they’re building, and I’m a huge fan of their brand. Like, the shit they post on instagram is totally my style-I’ll double tap ALL DAY. I was impressed (pun intended) with how much they’ve grown in such a short amount of time and couldn’t wait to hear their story.
I hope that when I get the balls to start my business, I can do so with one of my best friends by my side. I truly believe that Shizu and Jennifer’s paths were meant to cross as ‘ex-Wall Streeters’ and the hours spent on excel spreadsheets paved the way for two serious #girlbosses. My favorite thing about these ladies is the way they spoke: learn and pivot, take calculated risks, cost benefit analysis, FIGURE OUT WHAT IS YOUR VALUE: make sure you are emotionally and physically compensated. Numbers and data don’t lie…remember that.
Rachael is the Principal at RGI Events. The minute Rachael got on stage, I noticed an immediate shift. She is the living testament of disrupting the industry. She stood there confident in all black with a touch of gold, a smile outlined in red lipstick I thought “Damn, I want to be like her when I grow up!” It was her time and she was in control. Rachael reminded me that there is a fear value to everything, and highlighted fear with financial risk. Financial risks are scary, that’s why it’s called a RISK. Spoken like a true PR expert, it’s all about your strategy.
Komal Kushalraj grew up in the biz, and she is the founder of NUMARI. I always wondered what that’s like, to come from a long line of business owners, is there more or less pressure? Komal’s story is unique, she had access to all the right resources. Isn’t that every potential business owners dream? I think that’s the struggle about being an entrepreneur, you’re never really satisfied or fulfilled. Until one day, someone tells you your business sucks. Not one part of it needs to be fixed but just that everything sucks. Komal had someone tell her “your business is not going to work. It’s not sellable.” When you are passionate about something that reflects you directly, and someone tells you it’s not going to work it makes you feel like the person is telling you indirectly that YOU SUCK. That’s what I hear. “Trust your internal board of advisers, your team.” Kumal was ready to start over until she learned what I am so happy she shared to be a very valuable life and business lesson “Filter criticism if it’s not coming from your target audience.”
The night was short and sweet and I walked out feeling like a brand new person…plus, Beyonce was blasting. (Who doesn’t like Beyonce?!) Drum roll, round of applause, and BIG THANK YOU to the women at Worn Creative for putting together an event I will continue to look forward to. These ladies reminded me exactly why I decided to move to THIS city. iStrategyLabs, swoooon your space is beautiful! Thank you for hosting the 300+ ladies, look forward to 300 more!