fem founder

Q&A with Judy Hoberman, Selling in a Skirt

Judy Hoberman

I had the pleasure of interviewing Judy Hoberman, founder of Selling in a Skirt. Judy Hoberman is President of Walking on the Glass Floor and Selling In A Skirt, companies that are both focused on empowering professional women.  She is an International Speaker, Trainer, Executive Coach, Author, Radio Show host and Mentor.  

Judy also works with companies supporting their diversity and women’s initiatives in the areas of leadership, recruiting, training, coaching, mentoring and retention. She offers a complete training program that concentrates on women in leadership, the men that champion them, with a concentration on Redefining Culture.   

Judy’s mission…to help One Woman A Day by following an important philosophy-“Women want to be treated equally, not identically” ™ 

Can you tell our readers about your background? 

A wise woman told me to always look for the root cause of why we do what we do. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, many young girls were told we weren’t old enough or tall enough or smart enough to do even the smallest things. It was also the time when I was told “girls don’t do that.” Pairing “not enough” with “girls don’t do things like this” is not a winning combination. 

For much of my life, I thought of myself as a square peg in a round hole. I never truly fit in. My parents had one idea of who I was supposed to be, and I had other plans. So I did what others thought I should … until I couldn’t any longer. 

My saving grace was my grandmother who was a true trailblazer for women. She always said, “Judy, follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you truly want to do. It may not happen today, but it will happen.” She was right. It did happen, albeit fifty years later. 

Judy Hoberman

What inspired you to start your business? 

Everything I did in my professional life found me to be the only or one of the only women in that company or industry. I had to create my own playbook to be successful. I started in construction and then finally found my “home” in Insurance that lasted for decades. Because I was female and because I built relationships, I was promoted and finally got to a top position when it was discovered that I might know what I was talking about. It was a few years later that I was asked if I would consider moving to Dallas and building a training department… which would not only provide consistency to the thousands of producers in the field, but also give some insight into the softer skills, the people skills and not base all success on technical skills and numbers. 

Where is your business based? 

My business is based outside of Dallas, Texas. We do provide our services nationally and internationally and have a team of 10. 

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

Honestly, I started my business with a business card and a thought. I resigned from my position and had no idea what I would do. I asked myself, if I was starting all over, what is it that I would want or need? It was a female mentor or coach. There weren’t any for me when I began and when I started to show signs of success, I became the company and country mentor and coach. It was time to turn those tables around. Once I had that idea, the very first thing I did was hire a coach…and yes she was female. It was the greatest investment I have ever made. 

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

The most effective way of raising awareness for my business is word of mouth. I ask for referrals, testimonials and reach into my network and let them know what I’m doing and where I can use their help and support.  Having a business is not the time to be shy about asking for help. 

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

The biggest challenge at first was that we were in the height of the recession, so dollars were tight. I had no clue that dollars were tight. This is what I heard and I either listened or not. It reminded me of starting out in Insurance when my manager told everyone that the two most difficult times to write business was in July-vacation month and between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  Do I need to say what my two most productive and profitable times of the year were? It was the same with my business.  We were in the height of the recession, so people weren’t spending money on bringing speakers in, so I did training. They weren’t doing training, so I did coaching.  It didn’t matter what they didn’t do, I found what they did do and continued that way. 

How do you stay focused? 

I must be very strict with myself since I am a shiny object person. I have a strategic triangle that I use. A triangle has 3 sides and in each side is one of the 3 services that I offer-speaking, coaching and training.  If it doesn’t fit in one of those sides, I can’t do it. If I want to do something else, I have to remove one of my services and add that.  I have to remind myself that a triangle has 3 sides so there are only 3 services I can offer. Not only does this keep me focused, it also gives me the ability to say no… 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I am focused on women in leadership, emerging leaders, men who champion them and redefining culture. We encourage diversity and have a diverse team. We not only walk the walk, we talk the talk.  The entire team has been in business for decades, have experienced being overlooked for promotions for numerous reasons or have been or wanted to be a champion for women. We have the stories and the experience. 

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

I think that raising awareness and marketing are very similar and go hand in hand. We use social media platform to reach our networks and connect and reconnect.  We are very active on social media so that our networks are ready to help promote what we are doing and planning. As I mentioned before, we ask for support. We all practice servant leadership and we give in all ways and always. That favor is returned most often without even having to ask. 

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

The first thing I would say is understand your why. Why are you planning to do whatever you are planning to do? Know your market and the problem you will solve. Remember that you can’t help everyone…even if you want to. And most importantly, find a mentor or a coach. One of my guests on my radio show said she always has two mentors-a man and a woman so that she gets different perspectives. I love that and recommend that as well. 

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

One of my favorite books is Power Questions by Andrew Sobel because it confirms the fact that being named the "Question Queen" makes great business sense.  He gives you reasons why you should and shouldn't ask certain questions and identifies a question that, when I ask it, the response is  "No one has ever asked me that question before" and the conversation continues on an entirely different level. I find that asking questions shows you are interested in, not interesting to your prospect, client, friend, partner, spouse etc. 

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

I love LinkedIn.  It’s not simply a social media platform. It gives you access to thousands of “your people” whether by company, title, position or group. You can connect and reconnect and introduce your connections to each other. Since many of my market are LinkedIn users, it makes it that much easier. 

Who is your business role model?

Why? Brene´ Brown.

She is brilliant and speaks to you, not at you. She has a wealth of knowledge and is a speaker that I see, watch, listen to and read about. She is also a celebrity crush of mine and I know I will meet her in person sooner than later. 

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

For the next 6 months, we are creating a movement through our foundation Walking on the Glass Floor foundation. Its stated purpose is: To support and empower women by sourcing, publishing, and distributing educational materials for women in leadership and organizations that support women in leadership.  

Women are desperately needed and wanted at higher levels in companies, non-profit organizations, governmental institutions, new businesses, and on boards. More than simply a nice idea, our foundation is a collaboration of women and men supporting women regardless of age, culture, or industry. This IS going to be a movement.  

Through the Walking on the Glass Floor Foundation, we also are developing partnerships with companies and organizations committed to women in leadership. The goal is to sell 1 million books and donate a portion of the proceeds back to charities, foundations, social causes and scholarships and create events for women in underserved communities. It’s very exciting for everyone involved. 

How can our readers connect with you?  

https://www.linkedin.com/in/judyhoberman/ 

https://twitter.com/SellingInASkirt 

https://www.facebook.com/judyhoberman 

https://www.facebook.com/sellinginaskirt/ 

https://www.facebook.com/Walking-On-The-Glass-Floor-403061066758257/ 

https://www.instagram.com/sellinginaskirt 

Q&A with Female CoFounder Karlyn Tupper of Tenacity Jeans

Photo Credit:  Skerpon Photography

Photo Credit: Skerpon Photography

Karlyn is one of the co-founders of sister-owned company, Tenacity. Tenacity is a USA-made denim jeans line specifically designed for active women. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Connecticut where she also played lacrosse. When she’s not working on the business, you can usually find her coaching or refereeing on the lacrosse field, spending quality time with family & friends, or at the dog park with her pup!

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and graduated from West Genesee High School. In 2010, I headed off to UConn and took the opportunity to play alongside my sister (again!) on the Women’s Lacrosse team. After graduation, I returned to Syracuse where I worked in digital marketing for about 4 years. I left the corporate world this past March and decided to go all in with Tenacity. Being able to commit full-time to the company has allowed us to make this idea a reality and provide a quality product in the marketplace.

What inspired you to start your business?

My sisters and I were walking off of the lacrosse field and were talking with our teammates about how discouraging it was to find jeans that fit our active build. We always had to buy a size up to fit our muscular butts and thighs, only to be left with a gaping waist. Quickly we realized we weren’t the only ones that struggled to find a pair of jeans that complimented our shape and provided a confident fit. Since we couldn’t find them, we decided to design them!

Where is your business based?

Tenacity originated in Syracuse, NY, but is operating out of the greater New York City area.

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

Research, research, research. Once we established the concept, we started asking teammates, active women, and coaches if they found it difficult to find jeans that fit. When the majority of the women said they have the same issue, we knew we had found our niche market. We performed extensive competitor research only to find there were very few brands that provided an athletic fit and confidence-boosting jean for active women. From there, we began contacting U.S. based denim manufacturers, designers, fabric suppliers, etc., and had our first prototype made.

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

Social media influencers and word-of-mouth! Selecting influencers to try a pair of Tenacity jeans not only provides a pair of jeans that are designed specifically with their body type in mind, but it naturally increases brand awareness as well. Secondly, do not underestimate the power of networking! Connect with other people, brands, and organizations with similar values and find a way to collaborate to help one another achieve success.

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

Facing the unknown everyday! Destiny is truly in your hands when you are living the entrepreneurial life. It can be very challenging to define your tasks and channel your focus. I embrace the hustle, the opportunity to learn from others, and connect daily. Stay disciplined and passionate; everyday is a new chance to learn, grow, and share your message.

How do you stay focused?

I stay on a routine! Starting off my day with a solid workout helps me channel my energy and focus. I'm a huge advocate for to-do lists and mini breaks throughout the day; both of these help me to stay disciplined while still maintaining a healthy balance in my day.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Our team. Aside from our specifically engineered design, our team is how I differentiate Tenacity from the rest of the market. My sisters and I played sports and stayed active throughout our entire lives. Our hustle has shifted from the field to the business and I anticipate that level of intensity maximizing Tenacity’s potential.

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

Social media marketing and events. Keeping followers engaged on Instagram and other social channels with new content, blog posts, and product offerings is a key driver for our traffic. Jeans shopping is rarely easy, so we've focused on hosting or joining events to get Tenacity jeans in the hands of consumers to touch, try, and feel. We've really enjoyed teaming up with local brands for joint pop-up shops!

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

Don't lose sight--Don't lose sight of your mission, don't lose sight of your goals, don't lose sight of your passion, and don't lose sight of your strengths. Being a new entrepreneur is challenging and everyday brings something new, so stay focused, believe in yourself, and embrace the journey.

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

My favorite app is Instagram. I'm able to stay connected with friends, family, and other brands. Insta always gets my creative juices flowing and inspires me with new ideas almost daily!

My favorite blog is Camille Styles! Camille and her team have a ton of creative content with a wide variety of inspiring topics and ideas. Light and enjoyable reading, check it out!

My favorite book right now is Present Over Perfect. Not sure about the rest of you, but I certainly need a reminder from time to time to be more in the moment, focus less on perfection, and more on embracing the imperfections.

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

My favorite business resource is other entrepreneurs. Books, articles, conferences, etc., are all extremely helpful, but to learn from someone who has experienced or is experiencing the start-up journey has been worth its weight in gold. Real conversations full of authentic insight and genuine thoughts is rejuvenating.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My father. He is a small business owner with several successful products that bring solutions to a niche market. He's intelligent, business savvy, and has always been present for our family while simultaneously running a successful business; his rewarding work-life balance truly inspires me.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

In the next six months we plan on diversifying our Tenacity line with various colors and styles! I am moving to the greater New York City area to expand our market reach and will be bouncing around there at events and other marketing opportunities!

How can our readers connect with you?

If you’re looking to learn more you can check out our site www.tenacityjeans.com, email me with questions or comments at info@tenacityjeans.com , and/or follow us on social @tenacityjeans & @ktupps27 .

Tupper Sisters.png

Q&A with Female Entrepreneur, Smita Daya

Soham Photography

Soham Photography

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My name is Smita Daya. I was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. I left Zambia at the age of 12 to attend boarding school in England and then moved to the United States in 1980. After having worked in corporate for over 25 years, I decided it was time to follow my true passion for healthy eating. For the past 29 years, our journey has taken us to various countries where we became enthralled in the world of oils and spices. Living and traveling abroad has allowed us to explore the finest in savory spices, gourmet oils, and seasonings from home, charming ourselves and our two daughters along the way. Now a family tradition, every home-cooked meal incorporates different oils and spices, enticing our taste buds with exciting new flavors.

What inspired you to start your business?

Life is full of wonders, and we are fortunate to have lived next to an amazing Italian family (the Calamai family) for 16 years. Our lives changed when we were introduced to freshly pressed olive oils, straight from the Cantina. We grew to love fresh oils and continue to further expand our palate with gourmet olive oils, vinegars, and spices. We had the privilege to visit the Calamai family several times in Romola (near Florence), Italy and were fortunate to visit the Cantina, where the olives are first pressed. That did it, we were in love! Olea Oliva! ("The Olive Tree") is a family-owned and operated business, and we want to share this tradition with you.

Where is your business based?

Our business is based in East Cobb, Marietta Georgia. We are also an e-commerce business that ships in all 50 States.

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

At the beginning of 2015, I was searching to find the right business to start that would allow me work to take care of my family. My husband, Dilip and I travelled to various countries over a period of several months to do some research on spices and olive oils. It became clear to us while travelling that we wanted to create a business where our customers know that when they buy an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from us, they are getting exactly that – the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made with attention, care and love from preferred handpicked olive groves. With a family-oriented community, and an appreciation for health and good taste, it seemed to be a perfect setting for a gourmet super spices, olive oil & vinegar taproom.

So, both Dilip and I decided to get certified in our areas of expertise. Dilip, is a certified Olive Oil Sommelier from University of California-Davis at Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences, together with over 10 years of experience from Florence, Italy with the Calamai family. In addition, he is also an Industrial Chemist. I hold a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell.

It was very important for us to get certified. In a world where fast food and convenient foods devoid of nutrients have become the norm, we feel that offering people simple and quick cooking tools and techniques is more important than ever. Our passion is sharing our spices, oils and balsamic vinegars with you and getting people excited about cooking. With two daughters and a business to run we know how hard it is to plan freshly cooked, flavorful healthy meals every day. For us, these spices, oils and balsamic vinegars have changed the way we eat! Our products make creating flavorful and healthy family meals easy and fun.

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

The most effective way of raising awareness for my business is word of mouth branding. I love to partner with the community and local business owners and help empower individuals to make sound healthy choices. We offer healthy cooking workshops in the store and private venues. I have been blessed to share my passion for healthy cooking at the local senior centers, fitness centers, YMCA’s and Churches. Community development and partnering with local businesses is very important for Olea Oliva! Social Media is another effective way I have been raising awareness for my business.

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

One of our biggest challenges is trying to educate the mass consumer on authentic Extra-Virgin Olive Oils, barrel-aged Italian Balsamic Vinegars and Super Spices. Since we opened our doors we’ve received so much amazing support from the Marietta and Atlanta community and local community business partners. These are our champions, our friends and the people who share our mission to spread the word about cooking real food with quality ingredients and amazing flavor combinations. We love the growing community of regular patrons - and the opportunity to serve them. We think of Olea Oliva! as a little store with BIG heart. Getting to know and understand our customers has been a rewarding experience.

How do you stay focused?

It is not always easy to balance work/life. You really have to be disciplined in so many ways. My boarding school days in England taught me a lot and having some structure in my life has helped me to balance both. I am an early riser and start my day with “me-time” and work out for an hour. This sets the tone for the rest of the day. My family is and will be the most important thing. I always plan ahead and prioritize what is important and take the time to understand what needs to get done first. Planning ahead is the key to managing the work/like balance.

Work and career are there to help us grow and enable our family to do special things together but as the old saying goes, a good work-life balance is one in which you work to live, not live to work. I have been so blessed to have such wonderful support from my family, friends and our local community! 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I differentiate myself from others by offering healthy cooking workshops on how to use super spices with Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamics by boosting flavors while maintaining high nutrition in a dish. My customers want to learn more on how to “Eat better, not less”. They want to be able to go home and provide their family with the healthier options. This is very gratifying to see!

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

Hands down, it has been word of mouth and reaching out to my local community partners! I also send out my monthly workshop schedules to my database email list. We love to work with local markets and do pop-ups.

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

Believe in yourself! Work hard. Know what you are capable of and have faith in your capabilities! Do what you do best!

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

The internet as this allows me to work from any location.

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

We use Shopify because of the business tools, resources and processes it provides. This platform also provides us with information about marketing campaigns and promotions. We also use Shopify for our day to day analytics and shipping.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My father, who taught me how to run a business at a very young age of 18. Always giving me strength and courage to fulfill my goals and face my fears. Love you, Dad, for always challenging me to do my best!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Growth, author another cook book, and start to teach at culinary schools!

How can our readers connect with you?

Olea Oliva!
The Avenue East Cobb
4475 Roswell Road, Suite 1000
Marietta, GA 30062

Website: www.oleaoliva.com

Phone: Tel: (770) 321-0099

Email: info@oleaoliva.com

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

Q&A with Makeup Artist, Angel Johnson

Angel Johnson is founder of Memphis Makeup Artists, INC (memphismakeup.com). Her love for beauty goes back to high school where she first wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology. However, life led her down a different career path as a corporate accountant. In February of 2018, she managed to bridge her corporate world and her first love with the launch of Memphis Makeup Artists, INC. 

Angel-Johnson

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Yes. I am affectionately known as Angel, the Makeup Artist. I have been a freelance makeup artist in Memphis, TN for the past 4 years. I mostly travel to locations doing makeup for weddings, films, and events. I love it! But that’s my weekend job. I am also a Financial Consultant M-F. I have been a corporate accountant for the past 13 years but I don’t have a passion for it. I’m currently on a mission to leave corporate America for good. 

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always had a passion beauty and fashion. I became a freelance artist after doing a relative’s makeup for prom. I enjoyed it a lot! Memphis Makeup Artists was born out of a need to streamline the administrative work so I could focus more on doing what I love…making women look and feel beautiful. 

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Memphis, TN but our service area is worldwide. 

Angel at work

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

I started my business in my head a couple years ago. It took lots of research and planning before I could see anything tangible. Makeup artistry is a booming career for freelancers with a lot of ambiguity still. And Memphis did not have anything that looked like a glam team. Once I decided what I wanted it to look like, I registered with the state as a corporation, obtained my business license, and opened a bank account. 

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

Social media. Plain and simple. Beauty brands are getting so much traction via social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I followed suit. And it works. Customers enjoy engaging and interfacing with brands. It builds trust and that’s very important as a makeup artist. 

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

My biggest challenge has been wearing too many hats. It causes burn out quickly. I would recommend outsourcing whatever you can as fast as you can. My work experience aided me in building a backend office that is streamlined from beginning-to-end due to systems integrations. But I had to quickly pick up marketing and sales, customer service, and human resource skills. Get help!

How do you stay focused?

I stay focused by keeping long-term visions for my business and my personal life front and center. I am an advocate of vision boards, post its, or whatever is needed to keep goals in your face so that you don’t lose sight. Also, with the economic boom occurring in Memphis, there is this urgency looming over me to become a household name as quickly as possible. That motivates me to keep going.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

I differentiate my business by offering something no one else in Memphis offers. I have a team of professional makeup artists with diverse skillsets and backgrounds. Being a team, we also have greater capacity and can handle large scale events in house. 

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

SEO. Search Engine Optimization has helped Memphis Makeup Artists gain first page listings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These leads, unlike social media leads, have a much higher conversion rate. Meaning they are ready to purchase!

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

Be resourceful. I have utilized many free programs to help with business needs. I used a local college for market research. They provided me a report that would have cost me thousands. Utilize organizations such as SCORE, SBA, and your local chamber of commerce to help bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to go. 

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

My favorite app is Facebook. I can promote business, engage clients, book appointments, and keep an online portfolio of my work in one place. 

My favorite blog is my own! I just started a couple weeks ago but it is another way to engage clients and increase SEO. However, I am an avid listener of the podcast/YT channel The Rich Dad Channel.

My favorite book is the Bible for it’s many lessons and wisdom. 

What's your favorite business tool or resource?

My favorite business tool is Intuit QuickBooks. I can keep tabs on my financials easily. It helps me to make quick business decisions. 

Who is your business role model? Why?

My most notable business role model would my mentor and fellow makeup artist Nikki Chanel. She is a full-time professional and celebrity makeup artist. She also trains and develops other artists. I aspire to that. My most influential business role model is a former employer. There I learned the power of efficient systems and setting standard operations and how that helps to provide a great product. 

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Because we are a startup having just launched in February, I am still primarily focusing on building the brand and the business. I will focus heavily on building working capital, marketing and marketing materials, and nurturing relationships. All of those will be relied upon heavily in 2019. I am currently working my final contract as an accountant which ends January 2019. And I will say goodbye to my security blanket. 

How can our readers connect with you?

Readers can find me at:

Memphismakeup.com

Instagram.com/memphismakeupdotcom

Instagram.com/facesbyangelbaby

Facebook.com/memphismakeupdotcom

Facebook.com/angelthemua

Twitter.com/memphismakeup1

Email: info@memphismakeup.com

Q&A with Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas

Natalia Vargas is the creative and innovative mind behind the brand Doppia Swimwear. She has been running the company for a short time with a big picture of how the brand is going to grow. Natalia was born in Colombia with Latin blood and passion for her country. She wants to share the story of Colombia, its rich culture, diversity, colors, people, and values through the Doppia brand. www.doppiaswimwear.com  

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I studied and worked in finance at the beginning of my career. However, I have always loved to draw, design, and create, so I quit my job four years ago to start this new adventure.

I also studied for a Master's Degree in International Business in Spain and have a certificate in Brand Management from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

What inspired you to start your business?

I wanted to connect with people and to create a brand that represents and celebrates the different shapes of women.  My own experience was also part of the inspiration because I am curvy - my hips and legs are thick and it was very hard for me to find bathing suits that didn’t leave me marks but were also pretty, fancy, and trendy.

Where is your business based?

My business is based in Bogotá, Colombia.

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

The way I started is not usual because the brand already existed. I joined the company four years ago. I was a customer and what I loved the most was the concept; Doppia means "double" in Italian so reversibility is the main characteristic of the design.

I kept the essence of the brand (reversible swimwear) but made improvements in terms of design, inspiration, and communication. I asked our customer what they wanted and how they felt about the brand. Once I had gathered that relevant data, I used inspiration from Colombia, its people, and traditions to create bold and fun designs.  

Natalia Vargas

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

Word-of-mouth is definitely the way I started to build brand awareness. Between my friends, family, and every place and event that I go, I talk about the brand and its concept and people get really excited and start following it. Social media has also been an effective way to build brand awareness. 

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

My biggest challenges have been related to production and design. I have all the ideas about what I want and how I want the products to be, but as I am not a trained designer, there are many things related to both processes where I don't have enough expertise. So the way I overcome them is by working closely with my design team and the garment factory.

How do you stay focused?

Oh boy, this is a hard one! When you have your own business many opportunities emerge. Yet I stay focused by tackling one goal at a time. Sometimes you just have to say "not now, but later" when different opportunities emerge. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I think the way my brand is different from my competition is how we communicate with our customers. We have close relationships with them and provide as much information as we can. For example, our hang tags are designed specially to let the customer know which garments are reversible.

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

Since a few collections ago, I decided to switch the image and prototype of my Doppia woman by shooting campaign photos with my customers. This strategy resulted in more engagement with my market because women identify with the girl they see in the photos. This approach also helped to grow the brand's sales and awareness in social media.

Natalia Vargas

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

My advice is to keep working, love what you do, and be patient. Sometimes being an entrepreneur is hard and everything can get overwhelming, but don't quit.  Just keep working and keep the goal in your mind. Patience you will get where you want!

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

My favorite app is Instagram; I use it for editing pictures, making short videos, benchmarking, as a communication channel with my customers, for inspiration, to find stores, potential customers, shopping and sale events and many other different things.

My favorite blog is Foundr because there are many interesting articles related to business, new entrepreneurs, marketing, and strategies that are very useful.

My favorite book is "The One Thing" because it tells the importance of keep focused!

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

I like Shopify because of the valuable data it provides, including what visitors see, what products they like, as well as what are the most viewed and added to the cart products. The platform also provides information about promotions, ads, and marketing strategies to reach wider audiences. 

Who is your business role model? Why?

A couple of years ago, I met a wonderful Colombian designer based in New York City named Raul Peñaranda. He became an inspiration for me and my business role model. I had the opportunity to find out about his work and history, how he began to work in the industry and started his brand with all the struggles and this really inspired me! And last year, I worked with him at an event in Bogotá, Colombia where he presented his collection and it was an amazing experience!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

My plans for the next six months are exploring new markets - one is the U.S. This collection will be inspired by our indigenous southern tribes and their creations, and we'll let women and men know about our unique Colombian pieces and share a bit of our country.

How can our readers connect with you?

They can reach out to me or to the brand through social media, in Instagram as @doppiaswimwear, Facebook as Doppia Swimwear or our web page www.doppiaswimwear.com. I would love to get in touch and introduce them to my brand experience!

4 Ways to Start a Successful Gig Economy Business

Dog Walker - Gig Economy

By: Lucy Reed

It’s easier than ever before to start a business, thanks to the gig economy. Whether you want to provide short-term work as a consultant or services provider or do freelance work, you can build your own successful gig-based business in just about no time. The trick is zeroing in on a need in your area or putting your skills to work for yourself.

1. Turn Your Hobby or Interests into a Gig Economy Business

The gig economy is characterized by independent contractors providing services or work for the short-term. It’s an ideal environment for people who want to set their own hours and rates and have more freedom than a permanent position provides. It’s also ideal for entrepreneurs or people who want to start their own small business and achieve an improved work-life balance.

One of the best ways to get started in the gig economy is to transform your hobby or interests into a real business. For example, if you have a knack for painting, you could paint people’s homes for them. If you have an eye for decorating, you could stage people’s homes as they prepare to sell them.

If you prefer to spend time outdoors, you can start a gig economy business guiding people on hikes in your area or completing landscaping projects. Thousands of people offer their skills and services on TaskRabbit. Using a platform such as this helps you connect with more people looking for your particular skills, from housecleaning to completing handyman jobs.

2. Turn Your Love for Animals into a Gig Economy Business

Some people turn their love for animals into successful gig economy businesses. For example, if you love dogs, you could become a dog walker, dog boarder, or pet sitter. Regardless of where you live, people look for reliable animal lovers who can help take care of their dogs when they are away at work or on vacation.

Becoming a dog walker, for instance, is a perfect way to spend time with four-legged friends, spend time outside, and set your own hours and rates. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of getting exercise outside and reducing your stress by spending time with dogs. In fact, Time Magazine reports that spending time with pets is good for your mental health, and studies show that spending time with dogs can reduce your blood pressure in addition to reducing stress.

3. Create a Website

To get started in the gig economy, you’ll need to market yourself. One of the best ways to get more work is to provide an excellent customer experience so that satisfied clients tell others about you. Word-of-mouth advertising is free, and people are more likely to hire someone their friends or family members recommend.

That’s why you also should build a website for your gig economy business; according to Forbes, online customer reviews generate more business, and you want to help prospective clients find you by creating an online presence for your business. This includes creating a social media profile and keeping your Google business listing up to date. The more places that people can find excellent reviews about you, the easier it will be to generate more business.

4. Use Your Network

It’s also helpful if you rely on your professional and personal networks as you delve into a gig economy business. Independent contractors especially attract more freelancing work when they network. Make sure the people from your former permanent position know that you have started your own business so they can recommend you.

Use your personal connections to get information about projects before they go public so you can get in as early as possible. Go to Meetups, economic development meetings, alumni networking events, and career fairs to expand your network. It’s also a good idea to collaborate with others in the early days of your new business so you can tackle larger projects with more people.

You can start a successful gig-related business by focusing on your hobbies, interests, or love of animals. Build a website so people can find you easily and leave reviews to generate more business. Then, rely on your network to launch your business quickly.

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 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 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