Interview Entrepreneur Se

Q&A with Women's Empowerment and Fashion Visionary, Ashley-Victoria Smith

Ashley-Victoria Smith, founder, and producer of Descalzo Shows, a fashion show production company focused on women empowerment and working with female-owned businesses and brands, helps small business owners find the tools and resources they need to grow, scale, and build their businesses, and ultimately themselves.

Ashley-Victoria Smith

 

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

In 2012, I was fed up with my underpaid, underappreciated, Director of Marketing 8–5, a desk job that I decided to quit without any backup plans. I had been doing behind-the-scenes fashion show production for about two years by then and I knew that I wanted to bring something different to the table. That difference was to do a lingerie fashion show that focuses on WOMEN EMPOWERMENT to erase the taboo of lingerie being provocative, but rather as a statement for the woman wearing it; making her feel good.

I put together a theatrical lingerie fashion show with one of my good friends at the time with a $500 budget. We partnered with boutique lingerie stores and we showcased the most beautiful luxury pieces while telling a “star-crossed lovers story”. It was a hit. We sold out violating fire marshall code and donated ticket sales to a local breast cancer charity.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?

Really it’s the businesses that I first reached out to who told me no or no response, are now actually asking me to be involved. It’s like “hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring” kinda thing.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I believe the company stands out because I genuinely care about the woman behind the brand and her well being. Being in a male-dominated industry is hard enough and when you’re a business it doesn’t get any easier.

I want designers to know that when they register for our showcase, I am with them every step of the way. For many, this is their first show, so the nervousness and insecurities are even higher. I will help show them the ropes in putting together their models, run of the show, etc…

Many producers have a team that does this for them so they can (obviously) focus on the logistics and production standpoint; however, I choose to do both.

Additionally, I am not competing with anyone, I am not trying to be like the other fashion show production companies out there; there’s nothing wrong with them but I feel that having a private, invite-only show isolates the everyday woman who reads Elle, W, and other high-end magazines that may not get invites to fashion shows but sure as hell BUYS what’s showcased on that runway. I want to give those women an opportunity to have a fun night out, meeting designers, experience the red carpet, shop the runway in person. This is also great for the designers because they can get direct feedback from actual customers & future clients.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There’s actually two; one is Ryan Philemon who held my hand and stayed up late hours with me offering me more wine to calm down and know that our first production was going to awesome. The other is my late best friend Carolyn Colon, whom we lost to suicide; she pushed me to believe in myself, she took care of the back of house, taking care of expenses, helping models, encouraging other women to believe in themselves; it was her that kept me running when the coffee ran out. I wish I could tell her that today.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Always.. I have several large projects in the works that Descalzo Shows will reveal in Spring 2019.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My Grandmother told me, when you can, give. Then the money from the shows I give towards charities geared to help women; from breast cancer awareness to fighting human and sex trafficking. This year for Miami Swim Week, I am switching it up slightly to donate to The Humane Society.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life?

Yes, and of all them, it’s #Girlboss.

Can you share a story? I picked up this copy back in 2015 at a gift shop at the Philadelphia Amtrak Station because I had 13 more hours to go before I was back home, and this book was a game changer for me. For one, I was going through a rough time with the lingerie shows due to uncomfortable businesses situation with men. I felt that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be in my career path (still working a full-time job), and my relationship with my own man was just crumbling. I started reading this book and I cried because I realized that us women aren’t so different. We all go through financial battles, personal battles, health crisis, bad relationships, etc… #Girlboss simply enlightened me to know that I am not alone in this entrepreneur...ship (pun intended).

What do you “ wish someone told me before I started my company”?

Don’t try to be like everyone else. When I first started doing my lingerie shows, I wanted to be like New York Fashion Week, after three productions (while the audience was now at 400 people), I still wasn’t getting the response for mainstream press and media. It took coffee on the Chelsea Pier with a very notable photographer in NYC to tell me this; “do you think NYFW cares what London FW is doing? Do you think Paris Fashion Week wants to be like London? No. You have to do what works for your city, your audience”… and that is legitimately my Oprah, ‘ah-ha’ moment. He then told me, “If we weren’t friends, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now because, in NYC, time is money.” Jaw drop.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I want a date night with Ellen DeGeneres (aka De Generous). Ellen has heart, has character, and more balls than some of these men ruining, I mean, running our country. I want to work with her in doing a show with real everyday women, not models, help them bring out something they never saw in themselves or too scared to. Tell them to know their worth add shipping and handling fees.

Q&A with Entrepreneur and Therapist Angela Ficken

Angela Ficken

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I was born and raised in Boston. I’ve never left although I tried after undergraduate just to get an idea of what it was like to live away from familiar. But I realized that everything works out for the best and really love that I did stay in Boston.

After undergrad, I got my first job at McLean hospital working as a counselor at the OCD Institute. It was there that I really learned about anxiety disorders, and received training in Exposure therapy, and learned about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I was trained by the worlds best in the field which was an amazing experience.

After Grad school, I returned to McLean Hospital but this time was a social worker on an inpatient locked unit. I, again, had another wonderful opportunity learning from the best doctors and social workers. It was during this time that I became trained in DBT and CBT, both therapies I use today in my practice with clients, focusing on teaching effective coping strategies for anxiety disorders.

After McLean, I worked at Harvard University as a primary therapist to undergrad and graduate students. I really enjoyed working with the young adult population, everyone coming into their own, finding their way, and being apart of that journey with them was very rewarding.

Now that I am in full-time private practice, I remain committed to teaching skills and strategies to people who are looking to manage their stress, anxiety, and other challenging emotions more effectively.

I also wanted to be able to reach more people than those I am only able to see in my office which prompted me to write an online course on stress management, so others around the country can have access to the skills I teach in sessions. Additionally, I created the Progress Wellness App which provides coping skills for any challenging emotion one might be in, at any given moment.

I love the work I do and being in full-time private practice allows me to focus on thinking outside the standard psychotherapy box and finding new ways to reach those who are interested in managing their difficult emotions more effectively. I have a great gig! 

What inspired you to start your business?

I had always had a small private practice in addition to whatever full-time job I had at the time, whether I was working at McLean Hospital or Harvard University. After years of doing this, I realized I enjoyed the creativity my private practice gave me. I could create my own hours, I was my own boss, and I could really focus on what I was interested in and fine-tuning those skill sets. Taking the plunge into the unknown of full-time private practice was stressful and anxiety-inducing but also exciting. Paving my own path was important to me, and starting my business gave me that.

Where is your business based?

My private practice is based in Boston, right in the Back Bay. I’m lucky that my office has a great view of the public garden which is the oldest park in America and overlooks some of the best parts of the city.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Starting my full-time private practice was like jumping into a sea of unknowns. I had no idea of all the steps involved in setting up shop. But, I knew some basics, like find an office, build a website, and finding a network of peers. I chose to sublet office space both in Boston and Cambridge to see where I would eventually like to have a full-time office.

Did I want the city or did I want the other side of the river? Subletting allowed me to figure out what I preferred and where I felt most at home. Back Bay won! After I had my website up and running, I definitely felt more official and soon began connecting with other clinicians in the community for support.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Believe it or not, it’s been Pinterest. I have a little over 1050 followers on Pinterest which can ebb and flow, but I receive on average 500k views to my website each month. I also think the articles I’ve written for HuffingtonPost.com, ThriveGlobal.com, and Marriage.com, along with my blog have helped my business tremendously in terms of raising awareness.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenges all revolve around anxiety, which is funny because I am an expert in the field! And, I think when starting your own business there is a level of stress and anxiety that is inevitable.

The first challenge I faced was getting started. Since I had never done this before, and there is no manual for starting your own business, I felt my anxiety hold me back in making decisions. I wanted to wait to figure out the perfect “right” decision rather than just going for something and figuring it out later.

After realizing that strategy was not working for me, I started to catch on that I needed to practice what I preach! So, I decided to create small to-do lists that I would tend to each day. Little steps getting me to the bigger goal. That helped me organize my thoughts and stay on task. I use this strategy all the time now when I am faced with a challenge or deadline.   

How do you stay focused?

I find that keeping a schedule and looking at what I need to do each day incredibly helpful. I have certain things on my schedule that are set in stone, like my sessions with clients and my time at the gym, self-care is important! Other tasks I schedule but can move around if needed.

Things like making calls, getting billing done, and writing assignments if I am not hitting up against a deadline. I also make social time with friends and family and personal downtime a priority. Making time for that during the week also helps with staying focused. Seeing my weekly schedule gives me a visual on what my week is looking like and how I want to manage it. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I think I’m different than most psychotherapists in my area of expertise and in general. I am trained and certified in three different very effective behavioral therapies which have given me the skill sets to teach others how to manage stress and anxiety. I consider myself a skills queen. I can talk skills for days! I also think I have a great sense of humor (my mother agrees) which is helpful when trying to break through and talk about difficult topics such as anxiety.

I also have other interests outside of the office which include writing and finding creative ways to reach and help as many people as I can who struggle with anxiety. I recently finished writing and audio recording my first online course on stress management and created an App - the Progress Wellness App that gives on the spot coping skills based on whatever challenging emotion you are experiencing at that moment.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

You mean besides Kristin Marquet? :) Just Kidding! I think creating an entire system that leads people to my website where they can learn more about me and my practice has been helpful. Pinterest, Instagram, and my blog to name a few are all different strategies to show people who I am, my style as a therapist, and the work I do.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Take one step at a time. It’s OK if you have no idea what comes next. I didn’t and I still don’t! I take all the mistakes I’ve made and see them as learning opportunities. Without the flops, I wouldn’t know what I know now. So embrace uncertainty and the mistakes that go along with building a new business. We learn by doing, so go do!

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Ok, I’m not going to lie - my favorite App is Candy Crush. I know. I’ve been playing it for years and find it can be a helpful skill for me when I need a 5-10 minute brain break from whatever it is I’m doing. My favorite blog right now is Lucie’s list. Her blog is about pregnancy and each week you get an article from her on what’s happening to your body that week and what to think about (creating a registry to breastfeeding tips).

My favorite book at the moment is Difficult Conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen. It discusses different communication styles and how to navigate more effectively through conflict. I recommend it so much, I should buy stock in it.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

OK, so I am going to say my online calendar is one of my favorite tools. It collects and tracks all payments I receive, it organizes my life and is easy to use, which I like as I am one of the more technologically challenged people I know. I used to have a paper datebook and really fought leaving the old school method. So glad I gave in!

Who is your business role model? Why?

Alison Ratner-Mayer is a child and adolescent therapist in the Boston area. She and I do very different things and because of that have different businesses. Although we both are clinicians, she has built her business to include two counseling groups and she has a multitude of wonderful clinicians working for her. I admire how creative she is in building her business and her advice and feedback to me have been incredibly helpful in creating and expanding my own brand.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Well, I have a new baby so that will be a major piece on my plate over the next several months. On the business front, I am interested in doing more online courses for anxiety and continuing to think about ways in which I can build my business outside of my private practice office. I see a lot of brainstorming in my future.

How can our readers connect with you?

I can be reached via email at angela@progresswellness.com. My website progresswellness.com also has more information about me and my practice and has a contact form you can fill out that gets sent directly to my email.

 

Q&A with Aida Yodites

Aida Yodites

Aida was eager to hit the ground running straight out of college with her BA in Marketing. She spent her formative years with the Walt Disney Company working alongside and learning from writers, graphic artists, and creatives. Aida then segued from entertainment into the booming SoCal biotechnology industry, successfully building “MarCom” departments for two biotechnology start-up companies. One moment with her daughter was the catalyst that sent Aida from working in science to manufacturing girl’s undergarments relatively overnight.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I received a BA in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I hit the ground running in my field straight out of college. I spent my formative years with The Walt Disney Company, where I held various marketing and communication roles. I then segued into the biotechnology field where I was able to exercise my growing MarCom skills in a completely different industry. In my most recent professional role, I spent 5 years building the Corporate Communications Department for a renewable chemicals start-up company.

What inspired you to start your business?

My young daughter was the sole inspiration behind Delicate Seams. She walked in my room one morning as she was getting ready for school and expressed how dissatisfied she was with her current undergarment selection. I thought she was joking. It was when she became visibly upset, that I realized that her plea was genuine. That was the catalyst that sent me on my entrepreneurial journey.

Where is your business located?

My business is a based out of Murrieta, California.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I started my business by first and foremost doing a ton of research. I spent months looking for the right undergarment product for my daughter. While on that quest, I had learned the “gap” in the current market and the competitive landscape pretty easily and organically. I then did a lot of online research about the manufacturing and apparel industry. I also spoke to any professional in the industry that would lend me their time. I continue to do this today.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

The most effective way of raising awareness for my business has been “getting out there”! What I mean by this, is by making personal connections with as many different organizations, groups, and networks as possible. This could mean joining social media groups and circles, attending retail and wholesale shows, or meeting a stranger on a plane who may be a great business connection. I’m not going to grow my business sitting behind a desk. I know that I make a much stronger impact when I’m connecting with people.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges with my business is having to learn “on the fly” about an industry that I have zero background and experience in. I came from the biotechnology field and entered the apparel/retail business. In essence, I went from working in the science industry to manufacturing girl’s underwear relatively overnight! I’m overcoming this challenge by continually reaching out and learning from any expert or successful person that I meet or become connected to in the apparel/retail industry.

How do you stay focused?

I stay focused by doing two things – Creating a daily list of tasks and keeping a daily routine as much as possible. Being an entrepreneur can be very overwhelming if you look at it from afar. I try to triage the tasks at hand for my business every day, then I tackle the list one item at a time. I am amazed at what I can get accomplished in a day. A daily routine allows normalcy and balance, which is necessary to running a successful business.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I differentiate myself from others by emphasizing that Delicate Seams not only offers a product with great function and fit. But we are a brand that is introducing fabrics and trims in a way like nobody else because we promote modesty and appropriateness in all of our styles. We are also a brand that promotes positive messages to young girls at an age that is so impressionable - That modesty matters and embracing that we all come in different shapes, sizes and skin tones. We are truly building confidence in young girls one bralette at a time.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

I think the most effective marketing strategy that has helped grow my business has been my partnership with the mother/daughter ministry group, Secret Keeper Girl. I am one of their first official sponsors for their national tour. As a result, their following has become a number one customer source for Delicate Seams. Moreover, when I ask people how “they found” Delicate Seams, more often than not, I’m told through “Secret Keeper Girl”. So, I think this partnership has been a great marketing move for me.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be this - Don’t let every obstacle stop you in your tracks. Stop signs cause you to second guess yourself. Very early on, if something didn’t go right for me, I would ask myself “Is this a sign that I need to stop?” Then I started to realize that if something became an obstacle, it just meant that there was a different solution, or a better way of doing something. In other words, obstacles are really detour signs – just look left, right, or behind you for a better way, but don’t stop!

What’s your favorite app, blog or book and why?

My favorite app right now is Grasshopper. This phone app allows me to capture my customers’ phone messages while I’m on the road. The app transcribes voicemails into a text and relays them straight to my phone. Most recently, we had our first “lost” package and a customer left me a voicemail. Within an hour of receiving her message that her package was not received on time, I personally contacted her to apologize and to let her know that we were going to replace her misplaced package immediately. The customer was so pleasantly stunned that I (the Founder) personally contacted her, and she ended up writing a beautiful testimonial about Delicate Seams that is now posted on our website.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource and why?

My favorite business resource is StartUpFashion.com. It is a “one-stop-shop” community for aspiring designers, of all skill levels. The website offers a plethora of business tools and templates used in the design/apparel industry, as well as, current resources for upcoming events in the retail industry. In addition, they offer live interactive webinars and their Facebook group is very friendly and helpful. I’ve actually received great information from other designers/entrepreneurs and I’ve had the opportunity to lend my voice and help others as well.

Who is your business role model and why?

My business role model is a former employer who was the Founder and President of a very successful company. Even though he has since passed, he is still my biggest role model for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, he started his company out of his garage, which is exactly the way so many successful businesses have started. This man was not only one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but he had so much passion for his company and life in general. He is a testament to hard work and passion paying off. He once told me something that has resonated with me - He said, “Aida, you have the most impeccable instinct that I’ve ever seen in someone.” I believe that he really meant those words, because there have been many instances on my business journey where my instinct has been my only guide. So far, my instinct has always been right.

What do you have planned for the next 6 months?

The next 6 months are going to be pretty busy for me and Delicate Seams. I will be promoting my brand at some big retail shows coming to Southern California and Las Vegas. I will also be rolling out in-home trunk shows, which is a more exclusive event for mothers and their daughters to experience Delicate Seams in a very unique and fun-filled way.

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can connect with me on:

facebook.com/Delicate Seams

Instagram/delicateseams

Linkedin/Delicate Seams, LLC

Q&A with Kate Bagoy

Kate Bagoy

Kate Bagoy is an award-winning consultant & coach for entrepreneurs. After quitting a corporate dream job, Kate moved to Silicon Valley and fell in love with startups and entrepreneurship. The valley wasn’t a fit, but she caught the startup bug & has been working with entrepreneurs at all stages ever since - working with more than 50 startups as a designer, marketer, product manager, strategist, advisor, coach and consultant.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I studied graphic design in college and landed a sweet job with a Fortune 500 company within a year. It was a my dream job for awhile, but it slowly turned into a nightmare.

I quit that job without a plan, started freelancing and went back to school to earn a Masters in Business. At the time, the goal was to lead product innovation in the Valley… but after moving to the Bay Area for a job, I realized I really wanted to run my own business.

I struggled for a few years to get traction until I started really investing in my business and learning from more successful business owners.

In 2017, after having a successful couple of years in business, I left the US to travel full-time as a location-independent consultant and coach.

I work primarily with new consultants and entrepreneurs who want support growing their business and tactics for becoming financially and location-independent.

What inspired you to start your business?

I initially got started as a freelancer just to get out of my day job, which later became business & design consulting for startups.

Years later, I jumped into coaching because I believe life is too short to just exist.

I spent years in a self-made prison… burnt-out and trapped in a cubicle I hated, spending money on stuff that didn’t fill the void, drinking to avoid dealing with anything…

Now I help people move forward inspire the fear and doubt that’s kept them trapped before, and give them effective strategies for getting their life or business where they want to go.

Where is your business based?

My business is conducted 100% online. I’ve lived in 17 different countries in the last year as a digital nomad, but I spend the most time in Portland, London, Bangkok, Barcelona and Melbourne.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

My first business was a disaster. I quit my job without a plan and basically spent months cold calling, writing emails, working with anyone who would hire me. Don’t do that.

When I started consulting again years later, I approached things very differently. I started by investing in training and coaching to learn what I needed.

Then I got amazingly clear on who my client was and what they needed that I could provide better than anyone else.

I built a website that targeted that specific need, used every keyword related to that business in my LinkedIn Profile and started helping people. I’d share helpful content, volunteering at events, going to networking breakfasts… and basically building relationships.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

I’d say it’s a fairly even split between meeting people at events (like conferences or volunteering), referral marketing and social media / content marketing.

As a freelancer, LinkedIn was a source of more than 50% of my income - I got most of my business organically by people who found me in search, clicked through and booked an appointment. The rest of my income came from referrals and people I met local tech and marketing events.

As an online coach and consultant, Instagram and Facebook had been a big factor in my growth. I focus my effort on organic Instagram engagement and paid Facebook Ads.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge have always been mindset, money and energy.

When I pivoted into coaching I thought I was simply growing my exiting business but I was dead wrong. It was an entirely new business and far more difficult than I anticipated. Which means I failed to plan for it financially.

I simultaneously left the country to travel with Remote Year, and failed to anticipate how that would effect me energetically.

The problem with burnout is that it sneaks up on you until it completely shuts you down - and then it takes forever to recover from.

Now my biggest challenge is growing a business while struggling with physical exhaustion and a lack of funds.

How I move forward is slowly… but I don’t give up.

The more entrepreneurs I work with, the more I am convinced that the survival rate of a new business has less to do with the right ideas or perfect strategy than it does the founders willingness to keep going when things are hard and problem solve.

How do you stay focused?

I start my days with a gratitude list and then get focused on what’s most important. I write down the 3 most important things to get done that day, and I do those first if I can.

I say NO to a lot of things, spend little time in email, rarely use social media and unsubscribe to things with a vengeance.

When in doubt, I ask myself if the activity is revenue driving.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

As a coach my differentiation has more to do with my personality than any other factor, which is a big shift from previous businesses I’ve run.

My clients want to work with me because of my energy and authenticity. I don’t sugar coat things and make outrageous claims just to make sales, and my ideal clients appreciate that.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

I tripled my email list and opt-in rate when I started offering webinars on evergreen.

I’ve now switched to video training which are also highly-effective when combined with targeted social media posts. Quizzes, and video posts perform best for getting people into the funnel.
For example, I’ll run an ad that links to a quiz, which pre-qualifies the leads and directs them to an email opt-in for a free video training or to book a strategy call.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Pay yourself first and pay yourself well.

This likely means raising capital before you want to, but in my experience, most new businesses fail because the founder failed to plan for his or her financial needs and runs out of money and energy.

Take a business loan early and invest in the right training, tools and support for your business up front so you can grow.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny. I read it close to a decade ago and doubled my salary within two years. I recommend it to nearly every woman I meet.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

WiFi! Because it allows me to run my business from anywhere in the world.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Tony Robbins, because he’s gotten immensely wealthy doing what he loves and changing lives. If I can impact one person the way his programs have impacted me I will have been successful in life.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Massive growth for my training program, Six Figure Freelancers, and a podcast launch.

How can our readers connect with you?

Visit me online at katebagoy.com or sixfigurefreelancers.com

http://instagram.com/kbagoy

http://facebook.com/kbagoy

http://twitter.com/kbagoy

http://pinterest.com/kbagoy

http://linkedin.com/in/katebagoy

 

Q&A with Sisters and Co-Founders, Hannah and Ariel

Hannah and Ariel

HappyBoxStore.com is a sister-owned online gifting platform that allows users to build-a-care package tailored to their recipient, with affordability in mind. It’s simple: pick a box design, choose  gifts to include, pick a card and write a note, and the HappyBoxStore.com team packs and ships directly to your recipient for free.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

We’re two sisters with similar, yet complimentary backgrounds. I am a marketing strategist and an MBA, and Ariel is a creative mastermind--she’s our Creative Director and designer. We both have been working in advertising and marketing agencies for years, and started HappyBoxStore.com as our side hustle which we hope to grow to be full-time.

What inspired you to start your business?

The thought behind our business started in college. Ariel had a bad break up, and I wanted to send her a care package, since we lived in different states and I couldn’t give her a hug. So, I curated a “Break Up Box!” I realized that I had to run all over town to find all these items and then had to wait in line at the post office. While worth it, I thought it was super time consuming and expensive, so I looked online to see if anyone had created a more modern gift basket company. What was out there was super expensive or not personalized, so I pitched the idea to my sister and we together started brainstorming and ultimately built the site and launched our business!

Where is your business based?

We are based in Hoboken, NJ. But we’re an e-commerce company that ships globally!

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

First we did started our “proof of concept” stage, which was a small website and a ton of user surveys and interviewing people to find out what they wanted out of a gift experience. Then we launched our minimum viable product, our curated box collection, which had pre-created gifts for various occasions. Finally, after learning a lot about our customers and their desire for ultimate customization, we launched our “build a care package” offer last July, which was a major but great pivot for us!

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Word of mouth and our local startup community. We feel so honored that people enjoy working with us and creating fun gifts for their friends so they spread the word for us.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Balancing our full time jobs, social lives, and Happyboxstore.com is hard. We set deliberate goals for each time we work together, and have accepted that we won’t be able to accomplish everything at one time. We overcome our challenges by celebrating each win and taking real breaks from our work lives with spa days and vacations to refresh ourselves. It’s much needed!

Our second major business challenge is trying to learn while doing. This is our first ever attempt at e-commerce, so we’re starting with zero experience. We have business advisors and mentors who are invaluable to us; they are successful entrepreneurs who constantly challenge our hypotheses and make us think bigger when we get stuck in tactics. One of our mentors is constantly emailing us ideas and research he does for fun to help us out, it’s amazing.

How do you stay focused?

An on-going to-do list! We try to stick to accomplishing simply 2-3 things in every meeting. Our list is a LOT longer, but we get sidetracked and don’t get very far if we try to do everything at once.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Price point and free shipping. We try stay approachable and affordable so gifting is never a hassle and never breaks the bank.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Search advertising by far, followed by influencer marketing. Search drives the most conversions in a direct and trackable way, but influencers on social media who talk about our business drive so much peripheral benefit in addition to conversion - they provide SEO benefits plus the credibility we need as a small company.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Use every opportunity to learn. Seek advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and attend entrepreneurship events. Inhale entrepreneurial books, blogs, and podcasts. Every car ride my sister and have together, we’re listening to a Ted talk, or an audiobook about growing and scaling our business. You have to be curious and constantly want to learn and improve.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries has taught us a lot of important lessons about measurement and approaching a startup with true deliberation.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

There are so many great books, podcasts, and blogs, but to be honest earning my MBA was such a great experience that not only taught me a lot but also connected me with such brilliant professors and people who definitely guided the way for us to start this business. They are still mentors of mine to this day.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Sara Blakely. Her stories of shipping boxes out of her apartment are too, too real. We love her because she is so open and honest about not really knowing what she was doing but being confident and going for it. That’s how we feel - lost sometimes but always learning and staying true to our aspirations. Also, Tony Hseih. His approach to customer service really resonates with us and we think about it every single day and with every customer interaction. It can really set a company apart, as he has proved at Zappos.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

For the next six months, we have some PR aspirations since we haven’t really done too much proactive PR. We also are focused on perfecting the user experience and creating some features that will make our “build a gift” care packages even easier!

How can our readers connect with you?

IG: @happyboxstore

email: hello@happyboxstore.com

Q&A with Singer Jenn Bostic

Jenn Bostic

Can you tell our readers about your background? 

I grew up in small-town Minnesota and have been singing for as long as I can remember. Music was a part of our family, something we did together. My dad was unfortunately killed in a car accident when I was ten years old, and songwriting became the therapy that got me through that traumatic experience. I threw myself into music, went off to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and shortly after moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I live now.

I recorded my first album in 2009, and was told my music industry executives that I was “Too pop for country and too country for pop.” It was during the writing and recording of my sophomore album, Jealous, that I truly tapped into the depths of my soul and with co-writers, Zach Runquist and Jimmy Fortune, penned the song that changed my life, “Jealous of the Angels.” This song is a deeply personal tribute to my father, and through a passionate fan across the pond, it was played on Smooth Radio, BBC Radio 2, I performed it on BBC Breakfast, and it went #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart in the UK. That song brought me to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, which was a dream come true, but more importantly, it allowed me to heal and connect with fans in a way I never realized my music would allow. I strive to write from the bottom of my heart and bring messages of hope and encouragement into the world.  

What inspired you to start your music career? 

I do think it had a lot to do with the introduction of music at an early age and the challenges that I have faced.

Where do you call home?

Nashville, Tennessee. 

How did you start your career? What were the first steps you took?

I studied Music Education at Berklee College of Music in Boston because I love working with kids and I knew how powerful expressing myself through music had been for me. I enjoyed the program and followed through with my student teaching, but upon graduation, I just knew in my heart that if I didn’t step out and pursue a life as a performing and recording artist I would always regret it. I then moved to Nashville and recorded my first album.

I had some amazing friends and mentors along the way to guide me. When I finished the album I wanted to go out tour but didn’t have an agent or the first clue about getting one. I picked up the phone and started asked coffee shops if I could perform in their venues, sometimes just for tips. Before I knew it, I had a three-week long tour with a friend of mine booked and it was still one of the best, most educational experiences of my life.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your brand? 

Social media is an incredible tool. Since I have fans of the music around the world, I think it’s really important to stay connected. Consistent posting, live online performances, and email updates have been great resources. I am constantly touring, and that in-person connection is absolutely the most powerful.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

Losing my dad was the biggest challenge my family and I have ever had to face. It was so sudden that it took an incredibly long time to process and find a way to truly grieve. I’m so grateful that music allows me that opportunity.

Performing “Jealous of the Angels,” did not come easy at first. I hadn’t talked about losing my dad much before the song was written, but performing it live almost forced me into sharing my vulnerable story over a microphone. However, realizing that the worst day of my life had somehow channeled into a song that could bring hope and comfort to grieving hearts around the world, made every painful moment of performing that song worth it.

How do you stay focused?

Self-care is so important. I have learned over the years that I need to take time for myself to rejuvenate. I am the most effective performer when I am at my best. I try to eat healthily and exercise out on the road, and although it’s difficult I really try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. 

How do you differentiate yourself from the competition? 

There’s a place for all the art that’s being created. I think what sets me apart is that my story isn’t the same as anyone else’s. The more honestly and authentically I share my story through the songs I write, the more unique my brand and my music becomes. While the general ideas and concepts of the songs will resonate with many, the specific lyrical moments and styles are my own.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your fanbase? 

Understanding what I do well. I have been able to best connect with an audience through my honesty and vulnerability. Therefore, when I’m writing a new song, my audience has given me the freedom to be raw, emotional and real. I have stopped trying to think about what the radio wants to hear and I write music that inspires and encourages me. That authenticity comes through in the songs and I truly believe it pulls people to a connection.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new musicians, or working women in general? 

Stay true to yourself and stand firm for what you believe in. Your work matters and you are strong enough to achieve the success you desire.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I love the “Jesus Calling” app. It’s a daily dose of faithful encouragement that sets the tone for my day. No matter what background you come from, the author’s writing is full of love and hope. The perfect way to start any morning. 

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

There’s an app called “Thank You Pro” that I have just started using. This app allows you to design and mail a physical card straight from your phone, using personal photographs and signatures. I believe little personal touches can mean so much. When I perform at an event, sending a little note of thanks with a personalized photo on the cover spreads a little extra appreciation.

Who is your role model? Why? 

My mom. She is the strongest woman I have ever known. She lost her husband, and gracefully raised two children on her own. She was a professional model, make-up artist, flight attendant and pageant winner. She is a true dream chaser and continues to be. She now performs in community theater productions in Sarasota, Florida, where she lives.

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

I am so excited to be releasing my brand new album “Revival,” today on Amazon. It is my favorite album I have ever recorded and pulls from my influences of blues, soul, pop, gospel, and country. I toured the album through the UK during, as well as Mexico and the United States throughout the summer. I truly hope this album encourages and empowers people to believe they can overcome any obstacle.

How can our readers connect with you?

All of my contact information and music is available on my website at www.jennbostic.com, and I am personally active on all my social networks as well. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

Q&A with Entrepreneur Valeria Duflot

Photo Credit: Sebastian Fagarazzi / Venezia Autentica

Photo Credit: Sebastian Fagarazzi / Venezia Autentica

Valeria Duflot is the co-founder and startup CEO of the social business Venezia Autentica. She is a believer in the digital world, tech,  innovation, social justice, and sustainability. Valeria holds degrees in Health & Biology and Business Administration and is a neuro and mental health advocate.

Can you tell our readers about your background? 

I'm a 30 year old well-traveled Frenchy with a serious need to try to make things around me better. I'm convinced that business can and should be used to make a positive impact on our world.

Before Venezia Autentica I co-started and co-run a business focused on giving a platform to creative entrepreneurs, worked as a consultant in the healthcare industry and  (co)-organised and curated numerous events and festivals in the field of tech, innovation, performance arts, and entrepreneurship.

I also started researching and developing a couple of businesses ideas that I later paused, one because I realized that it wouldn't work, at least not the way I wanted to go about it,  the other one when I had the idea of Venezia Autentica. 

I hold degrees in Health and Biology and Business Administration and have been living abroad more or less continuously since 2011.

My current venture, Venezia Autentica, is a social business I've co-founded to halt the exodus of the Venetians who are pushed out off their city by unregulated mass tourism. We are trying to do so by making it easy for visitors to feel like locals in Venice while making a positive impact on the life of the Venetians.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I had a 'Eureka ' moment after living in Venice for a few months with my boyfriend, and co-founder Sebastian, who is a native Venetian. 

Due to our interactions and the ones with the people around us,  I was aware of the struggles Venetians face to stay in their city as well as the 'theme-parkisation' of Venice. 

One day, when having a walk, I found myself in between a huge guided group of day trippers and a bunch of young Venetians men who were singing local songs and harboring the Venetian flag. 

I knew the impact that day tourism had on the city and remembered that when my friend and I first visited Venice, we had a completely different approach and that we really enjoyed taking our time and spending time with local artisans who shared their world with us. 

Thinking about this, it suddenly hit me,  I realized that my friend and I couldn't have been the only tourists looking forward to meeting locals, and to support authentic businesses. I thought to myself that if a part of the 30 million tourists coming to Venice yearly would spend their time and money in the right places, and especially at the local businesses then it could have a huge impact on the 55,000 Venetian residents future and the city itself. 

No one was doing anything really to help the Venetians, so I decided that if I could convince Seba to come on board, we would do it ourselves.

Where is your business based?

We're based in Venice, Italy but being a digital company, we are accessible everywhere in the world.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The first thing I had to do was to convince my partner in life to work with me on this project as I couldn't see it making any sense without someone who knew the problem from the Venetian perspective in and out. Moreover, as Sebastian and his family used to run a local business in Venice, his insights were invaluable for the success of our project.  So, my first move was to get the right co-founder.

To convince him, I started mocking the website and drawing a rough business model idea focussing on understanding what we wanted to do, how, and who we wanted to touch. Once Sebastian on-boarded, we started taking a lot of time to brainstorm on our strategy, mission and business model. We aimed at understanding how to approach the challenge and what was feasible. Once we had a reasonable idea of what we were going to be, we immediately started working on defining our identity and quickly got online on social media making Facebook our hub for communication.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? 

Being present and consistent online has been the most efficient way of raising awareness for our cause and business, so far. Press and media features are also doing wonder to help us broaden our reach and spread our message to a bigger audience.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

The most significant challenges we've been facing have been to:

1/ Running a business with my better half.  

It is not always easy to separate the personal from the professional. We're overcoming it by clearly allocating responsibilities and tasks while keeping each other accountable and taking all the big decisions together. And we work in different rooms. 

2/Not being in the middle of an ecosystem. 

I used to live in Bangalore, India, where the entrepreneur and creative ecosystem was striving. I could access entrepreneurs of all kind and of all stages, attend meetups and events very easily. These are things that I miss. I find it essential to have the opportunity to speak with people who understand what you are going through. In Venice, there is no such ecosystem and having been in the center of the action I'm aware of the fact that we're missing something. I try to compensate by doing a lot of online reading, learning and attending events in Paris where I go regularly and where the startup scene is growing.

3/Lack of resources:

Like many bootstrapped startup we have limited resources and plenty of needs and ambitions. We've made this limitation a strength by learning to trust ourselves and to learn to do almost everything while recognizing when certain things are beyond our capacity and better outsourced.

How do you stay focused?

I like this question because the more I learn, the more I realize that productivity is crucial and that productivity is, mainly, focus.

I stay focused by doing 3 things: 

1/ Continually creating and evolving a routine which fits me and my objectives, by working on building habits

2/ Removing interruptions 

3/ Using a system of daily to-do lists matched to our company roadmaps. 

I introduce new habits progressively to make them part of my routine more easily or find a better way to do so.  Indeed, I found that implementing big dramatic changes, New Year's resolution style didn't work with me, while let's say introducing one new habit at a time such as  'spending 40 min learning something new' for example, was doing the trick. 

Regarding my to-dos, I organize my daily tasks by priority, identifying the must do of the day and always keeping space for improvisation, opportunities and, obviously, to put out fires. My to-do lists are made of daily micro or routine tasks (checking e-mail, learning something new..)  and 5 to-dos of the day, within which 3 are absolute must do. When I'm too tired to continue working and that I have completed these 3 tasks along with my micro-tasks, I stop working and prioritize rest or leisure,  as taking the risk to burn out or have a migraine attack is never a good idea, according to me. After all, founding a business is more a marathon than a sprint. You need to last the distance.

Something else I do is to remove as many interferences as I can, by filtering my mailbox, checking e-mails and socials at set times, and trying to take calls and meetings only when necessary. The latest one being the part I still struggle the most with as it is not always easy to say 'This is not part of our priorities right now, we'll be happy to meet with you at the right time,"

During the day, I always have a notebook and agenda with me at all time as well as note-taking application on my cell phone.   I use them to write ideas I do not want to forget, and schedule tasks to the following days. This is the best method I've found to achieve the essential objectives of my day without splitting my attention nor fearing to love a valuable idea for my venture.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

We differentiate ourselves from our competition at several levels.

We have a clear purpose. We exist to solve an identified and relatable present social problem, the displacement of a local population due to mass tourism

We offer a tangible solution. The way we tackle the exodus, by focusing on keeping the Venetians in Venice by supporting the local businesses, is easy to grasp and people understand that they can actually help and make a difference,

We know our stakeholders. Our founding team has a deep first-person understanding of all our stakeholders' experience.

We design for people. All our content and tools are conceived with the users in mind.  Our approach is focused on people empowerment, user-friendliness, customer satisfaction, and impact.

We create impact. Every one of our articles, information, and travel tools are designed to improve, directly, the quality of the experience of the travelers and positively impact the local community. 

We create circularity.  We make it easy and highly rewarding for the people who use our platform and the people who work with us to make the right choices and to be driven to continue doing so. Each of the positive decisions they make has a positive impact on not only themselves but also others, ultimately encouraging all stakeholders to repeat the right behavior leading to a wonderful virtuous circle.

We are authentic and approachable. We do what we do because we care and we know that we cannot do it alone. This is something we consistently communicate, and we make a point to make it easy for people to feel close to us and reach out.

 What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

Getting online on social media early on and making our voice and identity unique and clear since the beginning has definitely been important to bring us where we are today. 

Being authentic and seeing marketing as a way to bring our message to more people to increase awareness and impact is key.  

I see marketing as a service to our cause and our audience. The message we spread, the message they receive should be useful to them each time. It should be an opportunity for them to learn or feel something. I am convinced that when people believe you, enjoy your voice and feel close to you and your cause they are more likely to get on board, support you economically and even champion you.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

Know your why, be true to yourself and your values and stay focused. Do not let anyone deter you from trying. Do not let anything stop you or corrupt you. Be driven by what you have to accomplish and confident that people who need it will welcome it with happiness and even champion you. 

Off course, the road is full of obstacles, but it is also what makes it enjoyable. Each new challenge is a unique opportunity for learning and growth, a new opportunity to define who you are as an entrepreneur and a human being. 

Venezia Autentica is still a startup, but I've learned so much from it already, about work and myself. What felt like the end of the world a year ago is something which I barely notice now, something I am detached from but gives me the right boost of energy to accomplish more. The thing I love about entrepreneurship too is that no matter what your venture will end up being, successful or not, no one will ever be able to strip you from what you've learned and who you've become.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I use many apps and I couldn't do without them. It's a tough choice, but I'd probably say Evernote. I use the paid version, and it is well worth the money. I love being able to record interviews with the business owners we work with or walking meetings with the app or just screenshot full articles to read them later.

Favorite book? This is a tough one. One book I'm reading now which I thoroughly enjoy is 'Heal Me' by Julia Buckley. It is not a business book but a memoir written by a brilliant British female journalist in her 30's and telling her struggle with chronic pain and her search for a cure. She travels the world in search of the person who will heal her, trying desperately to get her life back, to stop being in pain when her local healthcare system failed her. Her story brings many important topics on the table. She's courageous and vulnerable. Her voice is self-aware, witty and unapologetic. An absolute must-read.

I don't really have a favorite blog. I change the blogs I read like I change socks. It all depends on my interest or question of the moment. I find myself often landing on Medium as the variety of their writers equals only the diversity of the topics you can see discussed on the platform.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business resources are currently Quora and Twitter. 

The first one because it allows you to learn just about everything related to business, and beyond, as so many experts, experienced entrepreneurs and leaders take some of their time to share incredible insights on the platform. 

I also love Twitter as it makes keeping up with the latest niche news in tech for example easy.

Who is your business role model? Why? 

Pope Francis!  He's not exactly in business, but I believe he's an excellent role model because of his ability to be fearless and use his voice and position to challenge the status quo while leading one of the oldest, most conservative and probably least agile institution in the world.

Did you know that there is a startup accelerator at the Vatican, now?

Speaking of innovation, I admire Elon Musk for his genius and audacity and for steering the world towards a greater and more sustainable future while at the same time remaining conscious of our limits and trying to push boundaries as much as he tries to protect us from our very nature.

Finally, the work that Ellen Mac Arthur does with her foundation to accelerate the transition to a circular economy is, I believe, outstanding and of great importance.  It is a bold move and an ambitious cause. I applaud her undertaking, and I am convinced of the importance of her work while very glad that the person leading the way towards such a significant shift is a woman.

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

In the next six months, we aim to continue testing our model and make the right adjustments to our strategy and products, assess the impact of our first year in business, nail down our customer acquisition, increase our reach and sales and raise funds.

I firmly believe that to be a successful social business, to be able to make a significant difference, the most important thing that we need to achieve is to have a robust business model, be sustainable and able to grow.

How can our readers connect with you? 

You can follow our work with Venezia Autentica on

Twitter: @veneziaautentic

Instagram: @veneziaautentica 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/veneziaautentica/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/venezia-autentica

and connect with me on:

Twitter: @duflotvaleria 

Linkedin: https://fr.linkedin.com/in/valeriaduflot/en

Q&A with Jenna Reiss

Jenna Reiss

Jenna Reiss, Intuitive Healer, Writer, Founder & Lead Breathwork Meditation Coach at Breathe Accented Life, believes in the personal power of oneself and works with clients helping them re-discover their higher-truth. Using a 2-part active breathing technique, intuitive guidance and life coaching tactics, and pulling from a toolbox of intuitive thinking, therapeutic conversation, essential oils and musical sound, she teaches individuals, groups and corporate clients how to detox the body from negative energy and create a heightened sense of awareness inwards. She believes that together we can heal the world, and it all begins by choosing love as a state of mind.  Link: http://www.breatheaccentedlife.com/

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My background is an eclectic one, beginning in my 20’s were I spent my time doing what every 20-something does, exploring the world, getting to know myself, learning how I fit in, if I fit in and most importantly, discovering where I belonged. I jumped around between industries, worked as a preschool teacher for a while, I moved to Spain to teach English where I volunteered in the disability classroom and came back to the states getting certified as a Behavioral Therapist and started working with children with Autism. It was in those early years that I realized I wasn’t making the impact I wanted to make in the world because I couldn’t work the school systems the way I had hoped. Just like that, I switched entirely and landed in the Advertising/Marketing world. I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I never knew exactly what that meant, or how it was going to come to life. Switching to Advertising, I felt like I could get some experience on big brands, and then start working for non-profits, or smaller companies with a strong message or product that helped better the world. For many reasons, over time I learned my non-profit marketing dream wasn’t going to happen, and although I was bummed about it, I was mostly bummed because I felt confused about the path I was on. I knew I was destined to be making a bigger splash in the world, to be helping people on a grander level and yet I also knew that where I was just wasn’t right.

Then trauma in my family happened, and as it works with trauma, I was shaken to my very core and found myself amidst a lot of pain, darkness and a completely unknown future. Although I would never wish trauma, or pain on anyone, this experience in a way, woke me up. Initially, I didn’t see it this way of course, and I was consumed with more darkness than I had ever experienced before. I felt like I had lost my ability to connect with people, and was now unsure how to open my heart to the level of connection with the world that I used to love. But, this trauma is also the reason I went searching for more. I knew there was more of life to be lived, that there was more than just waiting for Friday’s and the weekends to roll around. I knew that I had to take some leaps of faith.

My mother taught me how to meditate at a young age. I was an emotional child and unsure of how to work with my emotions, she gave me meditation as a tool and I began learning thought management. I didn’t know it was a meditation at the time, but over the years, it’s been fun to look back and see that my path was set up for me starting at a very young age, and I have my mother to thank for that.

When it came time to take some leaps of faith, after many tears and discussed fears, I got dropped off on a mountaintop in New Mexico and began studying with worldwide healers, authors and meditation instructors. I worked with a life and career coach to get clear on the path ahead, and three years later I can confidently say that my trauma cracked me wide open sending me on a healing journey, that I’m still on, and is the reason I was able to open my practice. It’s the reason I started working with people on a much deeper level, and it’s most definitely the reason I can feel surrounded by and within so much love in every class and workshop I teach, every group and private session I lead. Following my intuition, my inner voice, and allowing myself to say yes to experiences I knew were right although couldn’t see or prove why at the moment, and taking leaps of faith by believing in me, were the best decisions I ever made because they lead me to where I am today.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was inspired to start my business, Breathe Accented Life because, after more than a decade in the corporate marketing space, it was time to push against the day-to-day stressors and depletion that corporate America presents. I wanted to create a practice that empowers individuals to be their authentic selves because I had grown to see, to feel like that was a key element missing from my own 20-something search.

Growing up I was lucky and am grateful to have been supported in following my dreams. What was missing though was the societal conversation, the empowerment to explore who I really was, and what I wanted to do with my life. That is certainly not at the fault of my parents, or even teachers or mentors around me, it’s just not a conversation that I had found in my everyday. The job title that is my life purpose isn’t something that exists on a job hunting site and I therefore never knew it existed before creating it for myself. BUT, if we have a place and space for us to have the difficult deep-dive conversations into our individual definitions and self-understanding, if we have the tools to help us discover who we are, what our truth and essence really is, then we can confidently stand in the wholeness that is ourselves. Only then can we all go confidently after our dreams, make up our own job titles, and empower others to not be bogged down by their own baggage, history or old stories.

It is because of all that I had experienced in the corporate world, all that I experienced in my trauma, my pain, and all that I experienced in my own self-exploration in going after my dreams, that Breathe Accented Life was born. Breathe Accented Life is a Breathwork Meditation and Coaching practice where people are led through an active, guided meditation that ultimately opens their minds, moves the body’s energy and allows participants to connect with their truer essence. The goal is to help individuals recognize their own truth and ultimately experience healing, empowerment, and love in their own lives. I work with many major companies and brands, well-known meditation studios in the Los Angeles area, and private individuals educating people and their teams on the benefits of meditation and helping people look beyond their fears to realize their true self.

Where is your business based?

My business is based in two places, in Los Angeles, and online/everywhere else in the world. In the Los Angeles area, I work with many major companies, brands, well-known meditation studios, and private clients in person, educating people and their teams on the benefits of meditation and helping people look beyond their fears to realize their true self. And then the other 75% of my work is done online and I work with clients all over the world from San Francisco to Vancouver and Dubai. Working online through video chat is magnificent not only because it allows people all over the world to experience healing, but because it creates an online community of like-minded individuals who connect on a deep level over this powerful work, and create a community that stretches all over the world. I launched an online program this year called WILD HEARTS which is a group of individuals from all over the world joining online together once a week for healing, creation, and community. It’s extremely powerful to watch each individual learn from one another’s stories, connect over common themes in their lives and heal from the journey that we’ve all been taking. I love the combination of working both in person and online.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The most important step for me in starting my business was to get out of my minds fearful tricks and say yes to my intuition. It’s not always easy, and I know some people feel like they don’t have an inner voice, but I believe every person has that inner-knowing, their own psychic powers. It’s about learning how to listen to it because as you start listening to intuition, the voice gets louder, it grows, and it starts to become more of an inner-knowingness that you don’t have to prove to yourself because you’re just comfortable and confident in the knowing. Once you start asking the questions about what is next for you, what is the right step, the Universe starts to give you signs, answers, messages and it’s important to say yes. Saying yes to the strange, unique opportunities that fall in front of you, take you a step further to something else. Then your body starts gaining the knowledge and information it needs to say yes to the next interesting thing, and before you know it’s the funniest path how you got to where you are, but it becomes so clear that this is where you’re supposed to be. For me listening to my intuition, saying yes to the Universe, yes to the path even when it was extremely unclear what I was saying yes to and why was the most important step in getting me to starting my business.

One of those unique, intuitive steps I took was to begin working with a Business and Career Life Coach. It wasn’t an intentional step, something I knew I needed to do but it fell into my lap and I was willing to listen to my intuition telling me to say yes. I had no idea what new route my career was going to take, I didn’t know what new job, or even industry I was going to fall into, but I knew where I was no longer working and at that moment, that was enough for me to say yes to some unknowns. I strongly believe that we are all our own healers and that we have the ability to heal ourselves. With that said, no one should have to go on, or take their journey alone. It’s important to have an outside perspective, someone who supports you, guides you and helps you get out of your own way. My life coach is still very much a big part of my life, and I believe it’s important for all of us to lean on others as we take the scary steps towards our dreams. If we try to do it all alone, I find that we typically end up letting our fears, and our minds have too much control over our actions.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

My answers to this aren’t tactical. More than anything else, I started by doing a lot of internal work, healing work on myself in order to get out of my own way and let some of the pieces fall into place. I had to start believing in myself, believing that working as my own boss, that launching my business and being successful was possible first. As I started growing those, raising awareness became less about taking action and more about talking confidently about what I’m doing with people that come my way and sounded like they could use support. If you believe you, if you know you can do something for someone, it’s less about convincing them because your confidence and energy speak for itself.

On that same front, once my confidence and self-worth had begun to heal, I was able to present myself confidently to studios in Los Angeles. I let those teaching opportunities fall into place and started teaching at the places that were right for me. Some of these studios had their own following, some were small, some were big, but all I needed to do was show up, hold space, and let the work speak for itself. From there people started telling their friends, their loved ones, and awareness began to spread.

Most importantly, in my experience raising awareness has been about leaning into TRUST. I trust that the Universe brings me the clients I want to be working with, I trust that the sessions, workshops will get filled with the people who are supposed to be there, and I trust in the path that I’m on so it unfolds as it’s meant to.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has probably been a personal challenge I faced. Ironically enough, a few months prior to my trauma I started dating a man. He had only been in my life for 3 months when my world got turned upside down. Because of everything that was going on, I was struggling to understand what love really meant to me. As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, almost always open, loving and trusting, I questioned love more than I ever had in life. I would get aggressively angry in that first year of us dating and me healing, unsure of how to let my frustration and pain be felt and released. I know I got mad at him more than once when he hadn’t done anything wrong. He responded one day with this - “ I know you’re not really mad at me, and that right now you’re so mad you just need to yell, so it’s okay, keep yelling at me if you need, but please know, there is nothing I can say to make you feel better so I’m just going to keep listening.”

And the part that will never leave me - “And I’m not going anywhere”. From that moment on, unconscious to me at the time and in the most unruly of situations, I let him into my heart. It wasn’t difficult in a way because it was so unconscious, it was as though my heart knew this was what was right for me. But over the years, my mind would question things and pull away by fear, and pain. One day, after an in-depth tarot card reading with my best friend, I felt a block release, and I made the most difficult, yet easiest and most impactful decision: he was my person, the only person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. This decision opened my heart up even more, allowing my love of life to grow, our relationship to flourish, and professionally, the Universe started sending me more people to work with because I was able to help them heal their own unconscious, yet painful blocks in their life. So at the same time as my personal life grew, and I felt this internal and external decision of my love, my business began to flourish and I was able to connect with people in a completely new way.

From a business perspective, my biggest challenge has been getting out of my own way. Like many others in this world, my mind can be like a monkey, jumping around between thoughts, ideas, creations, doubts, fears, joys, love. I believe that staying true to my practices, to breathwork, to meditation, to my daily journaling and writing is what continues to help me overcome me standing in my own way. I work with myself each and every day, I use different practices and tools, and over time my monkey brain has gotten significantly better and more able to focus on love, focus on trust and on letting go into the Universal flow. Overcoming monkey brain might be something that’s always there, I’m not sure, but as I’ve watched myself improve over time, my faith in myself, in my business, it’s success and how it all unfolds, continues to grow stronger.

How do you stay focused?

Definitely my practices. I have a powerful morning practice that I’m generally good at sticking to and it really helps me set up the day for success. And my mid-day check-in practice has been extremely helpful in either turning a day around or reminding myself to go a little easier on me. If/when I’ve gotten off track, I have an alarm that goes off every day at 2pm reminding myself to acknowledge me for something I’m proud of and to call myself out for something I could have done better. No matter what path the day has gone down, once that alarm goes off it’s as though it’s a complete reset. I’m able to see where I can continue to grow and I’m able to treat myself with some kindness and pride in what I’ve already accomplished.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I really don’t see other people, their practices, business’ and whatnot as competition, but rather as inspiration with the potential for collaboration. I was in a competitive industry for a long time, I was an athlete my whole life always competing, and although I understand that competition motivates some people, in my field, I genuinely feel that there is enough space for everyone. The client that is right for me, will always find me, and if they’re not right for me, or I’m not right for them, I’m grateful that there are other practitioners out there that can offer their support and guidance.

I do believe that what sets me apart is the simple fact that I’m me. Every energy worker, healer, teacher, or guide that I know has something different and powerful to provide. There is always something unique give to the world just purely based on the fact that we are all different beings. My background, my energy, and my style as a teacher and a coach is reflective of who I am, how I identify with and how I show up in the world. To me that means my clients, classes, and workshops will always be held with the utmost love and compassion, I will always show up as the full embodiment of myself, bringing what I’ve learned and what I’m feeling energetically, and I always promise to read between your words, pushing you up against your comfort zone so you can step into your fullness and release old stories, when your body is ready.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

My marketing strategy has been a lot of learns. With my background being in Marketing, I’ve put together too many marketing strategy presentations from creative strategy, go-to-market strategy to social media ecosystems over the years and for major Consumer Packaged Goods, Automobile, and Confection brands. I learned that marketing for yourself, let alone specifically marketing yourself, was a completely different ballgame. Prior to launching my practice, I started putting together my business plan and all the documentation “they” say you’re supposed to make in order to create a successful business. Although a lot of the work we put into it absolutely helped shape my mission statement, my voice, and who my company was, I found that the most effective marketing strategy for the first year was to rely on word of mouth. The process of outlining my company goals, my unique selling proposition and gathering consumer research has been extremely helpful in understanding what people are looking for and for me to sell my corporate offerings. On the other hand, with the type of work that I do, a meditation practice combined with life coaching, people want to work with someone they trust and to grow trust and let someone in at this deep of a level, they need to hear about it from their friends. For this reason, and many more it never felt right or necessary to lay out an overarching plan on how to achieve maximum success. Success was, is happening already, and I actually needed to let go of my old corporate, analytical ways, allow the process to unfold and trust in the information and knowledge I already did have. Once I started doing that, that’s when things really began to take off.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My advice to anyone starting their own business, or to aspiring dream goers is to do your research, ask questions and take it slow. Information is power, it can help build your confidence, and personal strength as a business owner - if you allow it. BUT, it can also be overwhelming and bring you down - if you allow it. Find a mentor or mentors, take them to lunches, coffee’s, etc. and ask them questions, give yourself time to grow, and know that if you truly believe in what you're building, the Universe will help support the execution and the details.

There will always be challenges and roadblocks to overcome. The key is to BELIEVE. Believe in yourself, believe in what you're doing, believe in putting yourself out there, believe in having the hard conversations and answering the hard questions. Fear and doubt will always exist in some capacity, but it's up to you to decide how much strength and how much power you're going to let them have over you. As far as I'm concerned, if there isn't a little bit of fear in what I'm doing, then I'm probably playing it too safe and have gotten too comfortable with complacency.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Favorite app: Probably the Libby app which is the Los Angeles library app. Yup, you heard correctly, I have a library card and the app lets you listen to thousands of books from the library on your phone for free. It’s an incredible resource of information, I listen to fun fiction books, educational books to anything that I know will empower me with more knowledge and information to better serve my clients

Favorite blog: I don’t really follow a lot of blogs out there, but the one that’s been pretty consistent over the years is The Power Path. They have a monthly forecast where they discuss energetically what’s going on in the Universe both from an astrological perspective and from an energetic perspective, and their themes are always so on the money. They empower me daily, monthly reminding me that I’m not alone on this journey and to just take the ride as it comes.

Favorite Book: Over the years this answer definitely changes and right now I have two that have been in the top for the last 10 years, and one new one that’s just been added: First, The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. This book should be read by any woman who wants to understand herself, her body, and her brain better, and don’t just see the movie, read the book first. Secondly, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, for any creative who knows they are a creative or not, and they just don’t know how to let it out, how to express it or what to do with it. And third, would be Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown because living life with a strong back and a soft front is the way I always strive to live my life.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I’m still working on figuring this out myself. There are so many systems, tools out there for small business owners, and everyone has their own preference. I’d say that first and foremost, Zoom has been my best friend. Doing most of my business online, I depend heavily on their program in many ways and even when they’ve frustrated me or I’ve had difficulties, their customer service has been all over the solution. So for anyone out there looking to connect with clients all over the world, as long as you have a strong internet connection, Zoom has been great. My second favorite resource is YouCanBookMe. It’s a specialized scheduling app and it makes booking clients, private, groups etc. exceptionally easy without becoming the time suck that going back and forth on scheduling can.

Who is your business role model? Why?

To start, and I’m quite surprised by my own answer but it feels right to say, my father. I have a difficult relationship with him as our family trauma was heavily reliant on him and the choices he made, but he has got to be the hardest working person I’ve ever known. He started his career in Hollywood sweeping floors and worked his way to being the boss of his department, has an incredible eye for what he does and almost always, at least used to, act with honor. I also feel grateful for the lessons his hard-working demeanor taught me not to do, one of the main lessons being that it’s not about working longer, or harder, it’s about working smarter. I want to always work through that lens.

My Life, Business and Career Coach, Sarah Khambatta is absolutely a business role model for me. This woman has been holding me true to my essence for the last 2.5 years. Never quite knowing what or how she was going to help me get out of my own head, she always seems to help the flowing tears, and the fears make sense. She guides me to see between my own words, helping me gain clarity on major life decisions while also empowering me with self-confidence when I’m not sure where it went. Together we turn my dreams into action, helping me manifest all my visions while always leaving room for more dreams to come true. And all the while, her story is incredibly inspiring, building her business from the ground up, expanding and now the president-elect of the International Coaching Federation, working with major brands all over the world. She continues to blow my mind and I’m grateful for her mentorship.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Expansion baby! I have expansion on my mind, body, and soul and I’m saying yes to all of it! Over the next six months I’ll be leading retreats all over the world, starting with a few coming up this summer, some in Malibu, Santa Barbara, and then Virginia and Wyoming. Soon thereafter, international retreats, all events always empowering more people to step into their light and their authenticity. In the next six months, I’ll be working with my editor on getting my book on authenticity published and out into the world with a wonderful book deal.

Most of all, I’ll be allowing myself to stay in alignment with what is right for me, my business, and my expansion. I’ll be saying yes to all the right opportunities, trusting completely in what comes my way, and what doesn’t, and allowing the Universe to take me on this ride of life!

 How can our readers connect with you?

My website and Instagram are where I’m most active so you can always reach me eventually through one of those. It’s important to note that I am going through a rebrand, so what is now Breathe Accented Life will soon be my name - Jenna Reiss. And the best way to stay in touch on events, retreats and classes I have going on is to sign up for my newsletter which you can do through my website.

Website: http://www.breatheaccentedlife.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennamreiss/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AccentedLife/?ref=bookmarks

 

Q&A with Entrepreneur Elizabeth Dodson

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Elizabeth Dodson is Co-Founder of HomeZada, a mobile and online home management portal that helps homeowners manage their largest asset – their home. Elizabeth’s career reflects the adaption to change from a corporate job to join an early stage startup that grew to a successful acquisition, to recently being a co-founder in her own consumer internet start-up. Her skills in sales, marketing, and partner management have supported her career growth and benefited her passion to mentor other entrepreneurs and women through various organizations. Elizabeth has an MBA from Loyola in Maryland, and a BS in Business from Stevenson University.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My background started when working for a technology company in the commercial construction industry. This company was a young growing company and with my experience in the commercial construction tech industry, I wanted to help this company grow and provide its clients with valuable solutions to help their businesses. I realized that I enjoy being part of a growing company. I appreciated the chaos of growing and the opportunities that aligned with the chaos.

What inspired you to start your business?

While working for the construction project management software company, I realized that I had a need to manage my home in a similar fashion to these projects. I wanted an all in one solution that I could access anywhere, and it had to assist me in managing all aspects of my home. I looked for years trying to find the solution that could assist me. Yet to my sadness and frustration, nothing existed. So it was either I start this business or I continued to be frustrated with my situation.

Where is your business based?

HomeZada is based in El Dorado Hills, CA, a suburb of Sacramento, CA.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

My two co-founders and I reviewed the opportunity for a solution like HomeZada and we agreed to join each other on this journey. Each of us has a different skill set that was needed to grow this business. We have marketing, business development, software development, product management and overall corporate management skills in our cofounder makeup. To find the right skills and partners you trust is key to starting a business. Once we had the initial people, we then set up our corporate structure. Legal incorporation of the company, determining a company name, securing URLs, business licenses, emails, etc. These were all necessary to get started.

Once all these details were set up, we each divided tasks and went to work. Like Nike says, ”Just Do It.”

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Raising awareness can be tricky in this noisy world. HomeZada successfully uses pay per click, keywords, website, blog, social media, and building relationships with influencers. We also get our work out with our own personal contacts.

As we continue to grow HomeZada, we also partner with other organizations that want to enhance their connection with their clients. For instance, insurance, mortgage, real estate, homebuilding and other homeowner related industries are partners with HomeZada.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

As I indicated, HomeZada continues to partner with organizations in a variety of industries. These organizations are generally very large and because they are large, they have a lot of processes. These processes and procedures often lengthen a business development cycle and do not often work well for startups. The HomeZada team has experience with large corporate processes, but many startups do not.

We overcome this issue by staying focused, managing the corporate process with the organization, and continuing to build our brand with homeowners directly. We also balance the number and size of partners that we do business with as smaller partners can easily secure a relationship with HomeZada that can be effective immediately.

How do you stay focused?

Focus is key to what we do. We leverage a few tactics to keep us focused. First, we know who we are and what our strategic mission is. It is easy to deviate from your mission when people are asking for all kinds of options. Our team is confident in our no’s and we also help provide workarounds for these types of situations where folks are asking us to create something completely different than what HomeZada offers.

The next tactic that keeps us focused is that we have regularly scheduled meetings on topics that require updates. Meetings can often be burdensome, but with the correct structure, all team members can be on the same page and offer solutions if a problem arises. Our meetings have a rhythm and process that we can easily get through them quickly.

The third tactic we leverage is using technology to keep us focused. Whether we use Jira for development management or Salesforce for partner management. We use solutions that can quickly keep us organized and informed.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

The challenge with HomeZada is that our competition for most homeowners is - do nothing. Assisting homeowners in understanding what their options are for home management and introducing them to HomeZada and how it works is critical to our differentiation. Our biggest opportunities are education and awareness. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

We have several marketing strategies that work. All aspects of digital marketing and our partner opportunities together are HomeZada’s most effective way of getting awareness and education out to market.

HomeZada is quick to test specific marketing programs, measure these programs and learn what works and what does not. If the program works, we can continue with the program. If the program does not, then we stop performing that specific program.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

This was a hard question to answer because I feel like there are so many pieces of advice to give entrepreneurs depending on the stage of their business.

But the one piece of advice I think can work for everyone is to find a team that can support and assist your company in growing. Whether these are partners in your business, staff or contract staff that can help you perform the tasks in business or fellow entrepreneurs who meet regularly to help you stay focused on the business. Building a team around you is instrumental in growing your company. Like any team sport, you have players playing different positions on a field, you have coaches, trainers, and so many other folks that are needed to win a game and bring fans to their seats. Remembering this concept and knowing when to ask for help is critical to growing a business. You do not have to go it alone.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I consider myself a constant learner of all things. I once had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation from an IDEO partner. This partner explained that when you learn from multiple and different sources, you can gain more awareness. He also stated that something unusual or least expected could lead to a new and fresh decision-making experience.

Like the IDEO partner, I read a lot online from all different types of sources and I read a book almost every week. I surround myself with different types of people from all different types of backgrounds. I basically embrace knowledge.

So my suggestion is to keep your mind open and learn from as many possible situations and sources. You never know when something might apply to your business.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My Microsoft Surface is my favorite business tool. I can use it for work, to access the internet, and as a tablet to demonstrate HomeZada at tradeshows. It is light an easy to carry anywhere. I was an early adopter of the Surface and it has been a dream solution.

Who is your business role model? Why?

I think Sara Blakely is an amazing role model for entrepreneurs. I appreciate what Sara has accomplished and what her values are for herself and her company. Sara was frustrated, sought out a solution (aka a problem solver), and went out and built a company. She will tell you it is not easy, and she will do all of that with a smile on her face. She will embrace the good and the challenging and realize that you can learn from anything.

I believe that if you are open enough to the situation, you can gain perspective. You may not always like it, but you will gain something no matter what. I believe that Sara Blakely may also believe in this concept.

Not to mention, Sara Blakely pays it forward. She has gratitude for her situation and built a program called A Leg Up to help others get more exposure. I mentor folks today and I look forward to the day when HomeZada can offer programs like Spanx’ A Leg Up Program.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

We plan on continuing to scale HomeZada by targeting homeowners, securing more partnerships, and securing the next funding round.

How can our readers connect with you?

@frankizada

https://plus.google.com/+ElizabethDodson22

https://www.instagram.com/edodson2/?hl=en 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/edodson/ (Introduce yourself. My parents raised me to be polite and shake hands. Even on LinkedIn you can introduce yourself while connecting with me. I look forward to meeting everyone.)

Q&A with Entrepreneur Stacey Kehoe

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Stacey Kehoe is the founder of Digital Marketing agency, Brandlective Communications Ltd, since launching her business 6 years ago in London she has developed over 400+ business brands, given them visibility on Page 1 of Google search and utilized social media to double their inbound leads.  The Federation of Small Businesses named her one of 2016 London Entrepreneur’s of the Year following the launch of her business magazine. With a Podcast, Membership website and Book set to launch in 2018, she is one to watch.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I grew up in New Zealand where we have a very easy-going lifestyle.  I enjoyed school although was never academic and no-one expected much from me.  For that reason, I didn’t attend university but instead worked to save enough money to spend seven months traveling through South America and Europe.  I caught the travel bug so decided to settle in London to work in the corporate travel industry where I could continue to feed my addiction for traveling to unique and obscure places.

What inspired you to start your business?

I started my business for two reasons.  The first was that I was made redundant during the 2007-2008 recession.  I worked in the corporate travel industry for financial institutions, and that whole industry disappeared in a matter of months, so I knew I needed to move into a sector that was adaptable and able to grow no matter what sort of economic conditions were on the horizon.  The second reason was that I discovered a passion for helping SME’s discover the power of digital.  After my redundancies I found myself freelancing for a few sales agencies who were not keeping up with technology.  My fear of not keeping up with emerging trends and business practices that had contributed to those redundancies was prevalent, so I pushed these agencies to embrace social media and digital advertising.  After two years, I was being approached my other businesses who wanted help transitioning into the digital world, so I decided to launch my first business, Brandlective Communications Ltd.

Where is your business based?

My digital marketing agency is based in London, UK.  Although we now serve businesses throughout the USA, Europe, and Australia.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I had a very organic transition into starting a business.  I was working on a full-time freelance contract so was familiar with being self-employed when I began receiving enquiries from companies which had seen my work.  These business owners asked me to begin freelancing for their company’s, and before I knew it, I had a growing portfolio of clients.  I then incorporated the business (while still on a full-time contract), and invested all of the profit from my additional freelance work back into the company for working capital.  Managing time was very difficult during this stage, but it allowed me to build my own confidence and stability before I ended my full-time contact and worked solely with my own agency.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Without a doubt, it has been social media.  Pushing my views, ideas, opinions, and content in front of an audience is so simple with social media and allowed me to build a reputation within the marketing field.  I also did a lot of networking and have found over the years that it is a combination of both offline and online.  Everything rolls around in a circle. I can use digital marketing and social media to build awareness of what I do and to leverage speaking engagements and networking opportunities.  Many of my relationships are still built in person at these events or speaking opportunities, and then I continue to build trust and loyalty through the content I produce across the digital landscape. 

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges for me have been around recruiting the right people. As a small business, I always feel short of time, so recruiting and training, but also having the patience to allow people to grow into the business has always been a struggle for me.  I'm impatient and want instant success which is unfair and stems from my own impatience rather than other people incompetence.  My big ongoing challenge is being able to work ‘on’ my business, not ‘in’ my business.  I do find I still get sucked back into day-to-day work which I find frustrating.  It is something I have very focused on achieving over the next 12 months.

How do you stay focused?

Focus for me stems from being organized and planning.  These are two things that do not come naturally.  I really do have to work hard at it.  I always try to overdeliver to clients so that keeps me focused.  If I know we have promised a deadline to a client I will ensure we have the procedures in place to deliver.  It is that strong desire to overdeliver on clients expectations that keeps me focused on what I need to achieve within the business.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Brandlective’s purpose statement is: To give visibility to those that think differently.  

We love to work with brands that have big goals, are a little bit wacky, edgy or bold and like to do things out of the norm. We differentiate our business from competitors by focusing our advertising on this type of business owner (rather than a specific industry).  I also have a passion for businesses who have traditionally operated offline and are looking to make big changes in their businesses to embrace digital.  This also sets us apart from other digital marketing agencies as many don’t like to touch these ‘old-school types of businesses’.  And, finally, I think our clients would say it’s our no-jargon, down-to-earth, direct communication approach is attractive.  I often speak to clients who say they are just so grateful to be able to spit-ball ideas with us, and that we can come back and present them with a simple non-tech / no-jargon filled strategy that they can actually understand.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

It has actually been word of mouth.  We do a lot of digital advertising to raise a awareness of our brand and build our credibility, but our growth has stemmed directly from referrals, and I believe that comes down to the culture of our business and how invested we are in the clients we work with.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Persevere.  In my opinion, there is nothing truly special and unique that allows one person to be more successful than another other than perseverance.  If you have a strong belief in what you are doing and feel like you can make a positive influence on your audience, then don’t give up.  Just persevere - you will have a breakthrough, and all things will come together.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Audible.  I know its a simple one, but I am obsessed with podcasts and audiobooks.  I’m currently listening to The SHED Method by Sara Milne Rowe - an absolute gem for any business leader.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business tool is probably Zapier.  I love automation!  Anything that can make my business or personal life a little bit easier gets a gold star from me.  I love Zapier because it allows multiple business tools speak to each other and automates so many things that save me countless hours in my business.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My biggest role model is my former boss.  She encouraged me to leave and start my own business which I think was so selfless and shows such fantastic leadership.  She is also successful in her own right and has built multiple businesses - a total inspiration.

 What do you have planned for the next six months?

I am currently writing a book so I’m working with my publisher to get that finalized and launched within the next six months.  The Vault, my new podcast, and membership website are also due to launch by mid-2018.  Additionally, I have planned some travel in Asia for some charity work.  We have partnered with B1G1 to make impacts around the globe and contribute to the 2030 UN Sustainability Goals.

How can our readers connect with you?

You can connect with me via LinkedIn or Twitter or email me at stacey@brandlective.com

www.brandlective.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacey-kehoe-b8b25319/

@StaceyKehoe

@Brandlective