Female Founders: Terran Lewis of Herb’n Eden On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a…

Female Founders: Terran Lewis of Herb’n Eden On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

It’s not going to be easy. I was so green when I started Herb’N Eden at 23. I had no clue about the sacrifices I would make to be in business. Personally, my husband and I lived with his parents 2 times in an effort to reduce our overhead and have more money to reinvest back into the business.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terran Lewis of Herb’N Eden.

Terran Lewis is the founder and owner of plant-based beauty brand Herb’N Eden. Founded in 2015, Terran along with husband Quinton have taken their company to new heights, securing a $1.2M growth and development investment and creating local jobs in their hometown of Douglasville, GA.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

While interning at an urban farm I learned a lot about the ecosystem of plants and their powers. I also was introduced to the farmers market world, where others were making and selling sustainable goods, and that world really intrigued me. From there I was inspired to learn the craft of soap making, which I turned into a business and started creating personal care products that were natural and plant based.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A moment that I will never forget: There was a young guy who regularly bought our products for him and his wife. He would always tell us how his wife loved the products, but we had never met her in person. She happened to come see us in person at an event we were selling at, and she pulled me to the side with tears in her eyes. She began to tell me how the products had helped her skin clear up tremendously and helped her to regain her confidence with being in public and interacting with others. At that moment, I understood that this company was much more than me making products that helped with the skin, we were doing the work of helping others to feel good about themselves through plants.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

While making a batch of soap, I once left the essential oil out of the tea tree soap and I realized it after it was too late to add it. This left me with an unscented soap. I learned to take my time and be aware during the process of my craft to avoid a mistake like that again. We were able to pivot that situation by giving the unscented bars away in purchased orders.

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 about that?

Herb’N Eden has grown tremendously! The person that I’m grateful for hands down is my husband, Quinton. His business mind has helped guide the company. Having him as my partner in this business has been a great relief. I founded the company and created the product line, on the other hand he was learning internet marketing. His marketing and business acumen allows us to be complimentary, he is strong in places I am weak.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I know a lot of women founders personally, but if I had to say something was holding us back from that it would be the proper balance of personal and business life. Our personal and home lives require so much energy from us that it can be hard to branch off and run a successful company sustainably. Also, business is heavily dominated by men and it can be intimidating to disrupt these spaces. We definitely have what it takes to increase that 20%. Thankfully there are more resources becoming available to encourage women to start that company, with some help and guidance.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Grants are a great way to get some working capital and put your business on the radar. One of the greatest things I think can be done is to pay attention to women that have paved the way already and make them your mentors. Look at what the steps they have taken. Accelerator programs are also another great way for women founders to build community with others. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the proper steps to implement in your business. Lastly, if business is heavily dominated by men then they should be cognizant of this disparity and use their influence and knowledge to help empower women as well by lending their expertise and intentionally helping to improve that statistic.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should become founders because we have great ideas too and we have what it takes to execute. Women are intuitive so we are not blind to the problems of the world, and we most certainly have solutions. Furthermore, there are just some things that women understand more, especially when it comes to issues that affect only us, it only makes sense that we create companies and lead them fiercely with passion. Our minds matter and our energy is valuable. More importantly we are the top consumers, we know what we want!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

One myth that I would like to dispel is that it seems like people don’t think founders can make mistakes. Social media has us glamorizing founders and when they make a mistake we crucify them. Founders are people too, especially women who are in tune with their emotions. For a lot of people becoming a founder is a whole new world to navigate with tons of levels to unlock as you grow. A lot of us are first generation figuring it out as we go. Having grace and compassion allows the founder to fix those mistakes and true growth can take place.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Being a founder is not cut out for everyone. It’s a lot of pressure along the business journey, everything relies on you and the energy you give. So it’s conditionally up to each person to develop themselves personally along the way. A successful founder has a vision, and does what it takes to see that vision through. They have tenacity and resilience. The type of person that should seek a “regular job” is one who knows that they are more valuable being a part of a team. Founders often start off alone and then build a team gradually, we need people to be on our teams to help see the vision through.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

-It’s not going to be easy. I was so green when I started Herb’N Eden at 23. I had no clue about the sacrifices I would make to be in business. Personally, my husband and I lived with his parents 2 times in an effort to reduce our overhead and have more money to reinvest back into the business.

-Success takes time: Most of the time we think we are going to hit the ground running when we start our business, and the sales are just going to flow in. That’s not the case for everyone. It took us 6 years from inception to reach $1 million. Some businesses experience that way sooner than others, but for most it takes at least 5 years.

-Don’t grow too fast: When our company experienced rapid growth in a short period of time, we were forced to make impulse decisions. An example of that was hiring people just for the sake of having hands to meet the demand. We found ourselves extremely behind on orders, messed up orders, and so much more. It also exposed a lot of our flaws and our lack of systems. Fortunately, we made it through and it showed us where we needed to tighten up our processes.

-Create a sustainable system and establish standard operating procedures (SOPs). As we continue to grow our team and expand, having a sustainable system of operations is top priority. With so much demand in all aspects of running a business, systems allow founders to work on the business and not be weighed down with doing everything. We can’t do everything all the time, we have to establish systems and put people in place that will continue to implement those systems. I personally think not having a sustainable system can be a fatal blow to the success of a business.

-Learn how to build a valuable business. I recently read a book called Built to Sell. Even if you don’t plan to sell your business you should get it to the point that it can run without you. Running a business is expensive not just in terms of real dollars, but also energy wise. I’ve learned that commerce is a system itself and there are particular steps to success. One example is when I started Herb’N Eden I didn’t know about needing capital and investors. Smart partnerships can take your business to levels you might not have without the financial backing.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’ve used my success to make the world a better place by creating jobs for others in my community. We have a manufacturing facility in Douglasville, Ga that employs local people, and we create natural personal care products. Being a Black woman with a successful soap business makes the world a better place in general. Representation matters, and the path that I’m paving along with others is a good example that there is a place for us. I certainly plan to do more to make this world a better place through my business success. I hope to one day be able to invest into other young businesses and help them be successful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The greatest movement is love. We have to love one another, our future, and this planet. We can learn alot from nature and tapping into ourselves.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

So many people come to mind, but I will just name 3, Richelieu Dennis, Pinky Cole, & Jay-Z. They are in their bag when it comes to business! They have truly made some smart business moves and I really admire that. A one on one with them would be full of value.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Terran Lewis of Herb’n Eden On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Penelope McCown Of Cocoa Baby Love On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Penelope McCown Of Cocoa Baby Love On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Self-Care — There has been a much greater focus on self-care. Women in particular focus so much on other people that we forget ourselves! Those days have passed. We must put ourselves first. Every day we must find the time to take care of ourselves, no matter how small. It is critically important.

As a part of my series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Penelope McCown.

Penelope McCown, a board-certified family nurse practitioner, originally from The Bronx, NY, relocated to Augusta, Ga at 4 years old. A dedicated wife, and mother to her miracle daughter Priya, and noted to be Penelope’s main brand inspiration for Cocoa Baby Love. Cocoa Baby Love LLC is a high-end, luxury brand of infant and toddler products and apparel dedicated to the celebration of children.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I am a mother, a wife, and an Infertility Advocate. I was inspired to have a large family as I grew up like an only child. My husband and I got married in 2013 with the intention of conceiving the following year without question. However, we were continually given negative pregnancy tests. We were devastated. I ended up completing multiple rounds of fertility medications, along with trying multiple fertility teas, supplements, herbal medications, other therapies, and farfetched modalities that I had heard worked for one person or another. However, we were still unsuccessful. We eventually decided to seek treatment after a lot of convincing by my gynecologists. After discussing treatment options with our doctor, it was decided that in vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, would be the best treatment for me. With endless tests of poking and prodding, I was eventually diagnosed with unexplained infertility, which simply means there’s no explanation as to why I can’t conceive. From there my journey was filled with countless ups and downs. After 3 rounds of IVF, including a failed round and a devastating 2nd-trimester miscarriage, we were blessed in the most wonderful way with our daughter. My fight against infertility and my journey to motherhood eventually inspired my brand, Cocoa Baby Love, and inspired me to become an infertility advocate.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me since the beginning of my career as a CEO and entrepreneur is that I was contacted by a producer of a show that I was a fan of. Although my product line was still new, I was honored and excited that it caught the eye of someone who showcases entrepreneurs. They felt that my brand had star power. It was an amazing feeling. That’s when I realized you never know who you influenced or inspired.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I made, in the beginning, was working with a manufacturer of products that I didn’t feel right about in the first place. Ultimately, the product was not satisfactory to me. I eventually lost money because I refused to sell or associate with a product that is not of the best quality, especially since I have a luxury brand. My lesson is that you must always rely on your intuition. It never leads you astray. In addition, don’t ever try to force anything, particularly business relationships. If it doesn’t seem right, let it go. Even that means a clean slate. In the end, I carried on.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

One in eight couples suffer from infertility. Which means it’s very common. However, within the African American community, there are stigmas and misconceptions surrounding infertility. Infertility is regarded as taboo and seldom openly discussed in the community, resulting in many African American women to suffer in silence. African American women tend to be shamed for infertility or even to seek treatment for it. Many feel isolated, deepening feelings of despair, leading to depression and mental health issues. It impacts not only the person who is suffering, but their partner, their family, and ultimately their community. Infertility is a major problem, to put it mildly.

I strive to raise awareness of infertility and to educate as many people as possible. The more people are aware of it, the less taboo it will be. Women will not be humiliated; they will feel free to seek treatment, they will feel dignified, and their mental health will be improved.

I have an online series called “Pieces of Penelope” where I not only share my infertility journey, but I bring on guests with varying experiences involving infertility to share their stories. I also go to other platforms to speak and share my story, all to bring awareness. This is how is am making a bigger impact on the world.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Healthy Eating — We should all make healthy food choices, but obesity is a factor in infertility. The healthier we eat, the less likely we are to be obese. Therefore, improving our chances of infertility and being healthier overall.
  2. Exercise — As stated, obesity is a factor in infertility. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day 4–5 days a week will help in weight management. Also, exercise serves as an excellent form of stress relief and self-care. Both of which are imperative in getting through the infertility process and daily life.
  3. Smoking cessation — Smoking is also a risk factor for infertility. But smoking cessation for all is important.
  4. Self-Care — There has been a much greater focus on self-care. Women in particular focus so much on other people that we forget ourselves! Those days have passed. We must put ourselves first. Every day we must find the time to take care of ourselves, no matter how small. It is critically important.
  5. Mental Health — I believe that mental health is every bit as important as physical health. Not only does it affect our physical health, but it also affects every aspect of our lives. I even believe in regular mental health counseling, even when things are going well!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

That would be exactly what I am doing now: to create a movement to educate and bring awareness to various aspects of infertility. Infertility has implications not only for physical health but also for mental, spiritual, and financial health.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Plan for success to take longer than expected — While it may appear that some people reach the top instantly, for the most part, it takes time.
  2. Expect to spend more than anticipated — As a new player, you are not aware of all unexpected expenses that may occur along the way.
  3. Find a mentor at the beginning — When you’re just getting started, you need advice. I thought I could get through this on my own, but everyone needs that person to call for that priceless little advice.
  4. Expect to work harder and longer than you intended. I expected to work extremely hard to be successful, but then you must multiply that by 10. Get ready to give everything and give more!
  5. Prepare for others not to fully understand — while family and friends love and support you, they might not always understand your vision. If you believe in it and trust that you can achieve it, that’s all that matters.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is most certainly dearest to me. I am relieved that mental health is a major topic right now. For generations, mental health has been ignored, which has caused the demise of many. Mental health IS health. Depression and anxiety are real issues. The current mental state of people will have a strong impact on our society, especially with all the tragedies that occur so frequently. Emphasizing mental health will really help our society.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram at IamPenelopeMcCown. For my product line, Cocoa Baby Love, please visit www.CocoaBabyLove.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.


Women In Wellness: Penelope McCown Of Cocoa Baby Love On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Modern Fashion: Robin Hoffman Haack of LOVLEI On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion

Modern Fashion: Robin Hoffman Haack of LOVLEI On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadice

BE PREPARED TO GO HEAVY with SALES, MARKETING and PUBLICITY. This is an area that most companies, even outside of fashion, make a big mistake. They create a great product, sometimes put hundreds of thousands into it, create a website and then wonder why nobody is coming to it.

Many in the fashion industry have been making huge pivots in their business models. Many have turned away from the fast fashion trend. Many have been focusing on fashion that also makes a social impact. Many have turned to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many have turned to hi tech manufacturing. Many have turned to subscription models. What are the other trends that we will see in the fashion industry? What does it take to lead a successful fashion brand today?

In our series called, “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today” we are talking to successful leaders of fashion brands who can talk about the Future of Fashion and the 5 things it takes to lead a successful fashion brand in our “new normal.”

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Robin Hoffman Haack.

Robin Hoffman Haack is a Southern California native and comes from an elite family of textile entrepreneurs and world class surfers. Her Father, Walter Hoffman along with her uncle, Philip Hoffman, pioneered the world of big wave surfing. Robin’s sister, Joyce Hoffman was also the first Women’s World Champion Surfer from the USA in the 60’s, and one of the first females to conquer the swells of Pipeline.

The Hoffman family surf legacy has trickled down to the grandchildren and great grandchildren as her nephew’s Nathan and Christian Fletcher remain notable names in the surf industry, as well as her great niece Indie Hoffman, who is the current Junior National Champion Surfer today.

From the age of nine, Robin followed her own dreams of showing horses. She went on to become a World Champion and was inducted in the National Cutting Horse Association Non-Pro Hall of Fame. Her husband, Mike Haack was a world class Cutting Horse Trainer and has also been inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame. The two of them have gained experience showing and managing multi-million dollar cutting horse operations around the country.

In 1996, Robin proudly joined the well-known family business, Hoffman California Fabrics, that her grandfather had founded in 1924. My Father, Walter has run the company since I was born, designing, and selling textiles to leading surf brands, such as, Hang Ten, Ocean Pacific, Offshore, Quicksilver, Gotcha, Billabong, O’Neil, Roxy, Volcom, Ralph Lauren Polo and many more.

Hoffman Fabrics has been instrumental in forming what is now, the casual, relaxed style of the surf culture in Southern California and around the world.

Today, Robin is also the Founder of LOVLEI, a premium athletic and resort wear fashion brand. The mission of LOVLEI is to help women glow more confidently, inside, and out, by offering uniquely designed and ethically sourced resort and activewear, aligned with outstanding lifestyle opportunities and unique perks.

You can learn more at www.Lovlei.com

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

Growing up on the beach in Southern California, I remember my dad, Walter Hoffman, second-generation co-owner of Hoffman Fabrics, took the train each day to go to his office in downtown Los Angeles. On the weekends he’d spent his time surfing and diving with friends. He is now 91 and I feel fortunate to have him around so long. He’s lived a full life, with family, his career, and travels. Most of his travels were for business, yet he seemed to base them around surf towns and surfing. It was a win-win for everyone involved, being most of his clients were in the surf apparel industries. If it wasn’t for business, he’d still travel to an exotic place to surf and go on diving exhibitions.

When I was 8 years old, I became really interested in horses, so my parents got me my own horse and I began showing them competitively by the age of 9. I wanted to compete right away, and not just ride for fun. Our entire family has that competitive spirit, hence why we have many world champion surfers and horsemen in our family. It was in my blood to compete since I was always there to watch my sister, Joy, at her surf contests, who later became world champion. We traveled to Hawaii every year for her to compete in the world surfing contest at Pipeline and frequented my brother’s sporting events.

I recall as a child whenever we would go shopping, my dad would always look at the clothing designs and see what was the latest and greatest. Whenever we saw someone wearing a print he liked, we’d all notice too. Many times, he’d quiz me on what kind of material it was, or where I think it was made. He’d even walk up to the person and ask if he could touch the material and look at the label. He was creative, inquisitive and a complete character. He was always learning about fabrics and brands and had a fascination that he passed down through generations. The world of textiles and fashion was truly woven into my DNA.

As I became a bit older, my dad and uncle had moved the business to Orange County. I recall so many people staying at our house as a kid. He’d invite them over, meet with my dad and work with him on designs, and he’d help them build their brands. His heart was huge, and so was his presence. People loved my dad and still do. The majority of my father’s friends were in the surf or apparel industries. So, I was always hearing the latest conversation about design, hot fabrics, sales and what was trending with customers. I’ve been well-educated.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

We have always talked at Hoffman about starting a clothing brand since so many companies use our fabric and we were the ones behind-the-scenes, helping to make big brands find success. But we never seemed to do it. What really sparked the interest in me, is when I saw what was happening in our world during Covid, and seeing people work from home and living a more laid-back life wearing more casual clothing. I felt there couldn’t be a better time to bring happiness, joy and comfort incorporated into some vibrant prints and beautiful styles that make you feel amazing, both inside and out. I truly love empowering women to feel bold and strong, and to me, wearing prints is part of that. Our brand is print heavy, although we do offer solids as well. For me, I have been around prints all my life, so it is my personal preference. I have a deep appreciation for what goes into making them and just how one stands out when wearing a nice vibrant print, with good design.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think what is most interesting is I’ve recently gathered an A-list team in all departments and I’m continually learning so much as we go. Our team is close-nit, and we bounce ideas and are open to communicating and sharing and hearing new ideas. Sometimes we roll with them and other times we don’t.

My Head of Product and Design, Anna Kenney and I work together very closely. It’s been fun collaborating with such an amazing designer. She’s a highly sought-after behind-the-scenes designer of well-known brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Anne Cole, Anne Taylor Loft, Mossimo, Victoria Secret and many more. It’s nice to trust the input from your whole team. That’s important to me, is to have people that bring things to the table. It’s been interesting for me to watch and continue to learn as I go.

You are a successful business leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Drive.

Dedication.

Gratitude.

I think coming from a competitive family and years of competing as an athlete; showing horses, has really helped with my drive and dedication for succeeding. It’s helped me develop a tenacious spirit and one of gratitude for all that is and all that I’ve accomplished. I think it’s important to have harmony between work and personal life. Having an “I can and will” mindset is the key to personal success, family, business, and athletic endeavors. Roadblocks are simply roadblocks, they are meant to be hurdled, plowed through, or create a detour to get to where you want to go.

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

It really goes back to my grandfather who taught me to love people, and give people a chance, no matter what. From the start I wanted LOVLEI to be about empowering women to feel beautiful from the inside out, and to be able to boldly wear prints and live a life out loud. That is one thing that, I feel, makes us a standout brand, in addition to our Hoffman legacy: designing and selling prints for the apparel industry for many decades.

We have an endless library of prints that have been copyrighted and archived, as well as having our own facility in Bali to sustainably develop our hand dyed fabric. I continue to eat it all up. I love what we do, and I love being a part of something bigger than myself, something that helps women succeed. The whole thing is just beautiful to me.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is and has always been, “What you believe, you can achieve.” I have learned over years and years of personal growth that you can achieve everything in life if you have faith and believe in what you can’t see with the eye — but with the mind!

I see things daily that happen that are nothing short of miracles. Things that were once just a vision, and in time have become reality.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I do! I am seeing a lot more younger people coming into the industry with all the great fashion schools that have popped up over the years. It’s exciting to meet them and hear about what they are doing. I really love seeing the next generation of designers and brands flourish and I’m excited to have a chance to mentor the young women that join LOVLEI’s team along the way. Another thing I am seeing emerging with fashion is that consumers are opting for a lighter wardrobe, with quality apparel that are made well and have a story and purpose behind them. Less is definitely more these days.

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

LOVLEI is on a mission to help women glow more confidently, inside, and out. We are doing so by offering uniquely designed and ethically sourced resort and activewear that is aligned with outstanding lifestyle opportunities. We are creating a company culture that attracts those who uplift and embrace inclusivity and individuality.

I believe it’s more of a movement we are creating, with events and extensions of our brand to support women, and children’s organizations through donating a portion of our brand proceeds to the good of the world. It’s important that our focus is on giving. I believe that is what will make us successful, being a mindful philanthropic company.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

All our production facilities are all approved and have certifications. We work with our factories very closely to develop and work on the best fabrication and dye processes possible. Our production efforts have the planet in mind. We hand design and digitally print our fabrics, so they do not cause excessive dyes that leak into the ecosystem. Our facility in Bali has an elaborate water treatment plant where the rinse water returns to Mother Nature at the correct PH levels.

We also work with highly knowledgeable pattern makers, who hand draw every pattern and design. We-work the prints, discuss the silhouettes with the pattern makers and design them to fit a broad range of sizes and shapes. It’s important our brand is inclusive and ethical in its operations. We use knowing but top-of-the-line machines and work with solid, ethical packaging companies. To have longevity, each detail matters.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

What we are finding is that people are demanding quality materials that are long lasting and timeless in design. They are also taking interest in brands that are sustainably mindful and eco-friendly. Additionally, we are finding that people are staying away from fast fashion disposable apparel and are moving into unique brands and clothing that can be worn years down the road and still be in style.

The fashion industry is moving forward to exclusive, innovative, and diverse textiles and prints, with smaller cuts and better quality. We recently went to an international fashion show that showcased many new, up and coming designers and brands. There’s a competitive market out there and to be, and stay, ahead of the curve, one needs to have quality, sustainability, and timeless designs in mind.

More retailers and customers are looking behind the curtains to know the story, and the transparency of the person and the creation behind the brand.

One of the biggest takeaways around fast fashion is that most of those brands do not go through the typical design processes that the high-quality brands go through. Fashion and development take time and money. There is no time and proper funds with fast-fashion, speed to the market at a low price point is what fast fashion is about. When it comes to fashion, you typically get what you pay for, and people are shying away from this type of buy. It’s a time of quality over quantity.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. KNOW who YOU ARE DESIGNING FOR. It’s most important when you are creating your brand, that you do some reverse engineering. Understand exactly who you are designing your products for. Know their lifestyle, age range, what they like to do — understand what is missing in the marketplace and hit a homerun to give them something they are looking for and would still find unique. Then once you have a theme that your ideal audience understands, stick with it. Confused buyers don’t buy. Stay in your lane.
  2. SHARE YOUR STORY. Understand where your passion lies, and why you are doing what you do and then share your unique story with your audience. Everyone loves a good story and to feel connected to a brand. When I first got the idea to create LOVLEI, I reached out to a friend that has literally grown up in the apparel industry and has worked for major brands. I shared my idea and vision, with him understanding my background and connection to design and fabric through my family. His first words were, “No one has a story like you and your family history in the textile industry. You need to take it and run with it.” It was that reassurance from someone who I deeply respected in the industry telling me that, that got me to take the leap forward, and I’m so grateful I did.
  3. CREATE DESIGN THAT IS LASTING. Having an innately creative and innovative eye for design, color and development is key. As anyone creative, it all starts with a vision until you turn that vision to life. I get inspiration with the colors from many forms of art, a beautiful sunset, the way the colors interact in a tropical sea, or even from a dress that I feel would have been even sweeter if they had done a few things differently. Inspiration sometimes comes as a random thought. Yet, regardless, it’s important that you make it lasting and as timeless as possible. You don’t want to create something that could be outdated within months of following a trend. I’d prefer to create the trend.
  4. DEVELOP SOLID COMPANY PROCEDURES and PLACE A STRONG TEAM BEHIND IT. When I created LOVLEI, I went all-out. I found the best designer, the best partner, the best marketing, tech and customer service team, and the best of the best in all areas. We are sophisticated with our company’s operations and our team is tight. They have the same vision as I do. They are mindful and all are good people that I can count on and trust. It’s important that your team has the same focus, passion, and vision that you do about the brand. You need to know where you are starting and where you are heading and hitting those milestones. Also, be open-minded and willing to pivot when and as needed. Being flexible and allowing your team to bring forward new ideas makes it more of a family decision. I like it that way! When I think about the team, I have in place there is so much synergy and it makes a world of difference. There is nothing like the feeling when you are all driving forward together with the same passion and energy. Having factories that you can work with easily and efficiently are a tremendous help.
  5. BE PREPARED TO GO HEAVY with SALES, MARKETING and PUBLICITY. This is an area that most companies, even outside of fashion, make a big mistake. They create a great product, sometimes put hundreds of thousands into it, create a website and then wonder why nobody is coming to it.

When we created LOVLEI, we put together a strong marketing team and a strategic and diverse marketing and publicity plan. It’s critical to have this all-in place. Your marketing plan should bring in a great ROI and if it’s not, adjust until it is. You just got to keep on keeping on!

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example? I feel it has improved with being connected with your customers online through social channels so you can really see what they are gravitating to. I also see improvement with technology and being able to use new technology to show your line.

I couldn’t agree with you more. Social media has been a game changer. People post, tag, and repost your brand. You really get to feel the engagement, as opposed to just seeing sales come in. With the latest technology, there is transparency and more trust for influencers and ambassadors, as with us, and many companies like us have access to a portal to see their sales, and gain training through pre-recorded and live videos.

There is much more of a community feel with brands these days and that’s what consumers are wanting. I think the more we go towards creating community and inclusivity and connection with our consumers, the more successful we’ll become. That is the foundation of our brand. There’s an audience for fast fashion brands. Yet, I believe we all crave to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to be a part of something that makes us feel good inside and out, is really where it’s at.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thank you! I believe we are already creating a movement by helping women on a global level to embrace their beauty inside and out, be a part of an inclusive community who we help to become financially secure through brand opportunities. We are strictly an e-commerce B2C brand and understand that exposure, marketing, influencers, and ambassadors all help us drive the ship, and are instrumental to our success. We took the time to do things right and didn’t rush any steps. We are in for the long haul, and I just can’t wait to see how many women we help along the way.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can find us on our social media sites on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest & Twitter @LovleiLife, or on Facebook at: Facebook.com/LovleiLife. If someone would like to check out our website, they can do so at Lovlei.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

No, thank you! This has been so exciting talking about fashion, my family, and my background in the textile industry. I really appreciate your time and consideration with this interview. You asked some great questions. Much appreciated!


Modern Fashion: Robin Hoffman Haack of LOVLEI On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Terresa Zimmerman of WOOD Underwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up…

Female Disruptors: Terresa Zimmerman of WOOD Underwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Own it. Learn from it. Move on. When you hit walls, make mistakes, completely screw things up, etc. you have to admit it. You have to own it. No excuses. Excuses don’t teach you anything. Excuses are easy to see through and you just lose credibility with anyone you’re trying to convince, including yourself. BTW, blaming someone or something else is also just an excuse. Oh, and it’s a stressful way to live. It’s so much easier to just own it. However embarrassing it is in the moment, however hurtful, it’s better to gather yourself, be brave and own it. If you own it, you can learn from it. And then you can move on from it in a better way. I’ll remind you of my story about crying all the way from Portland to Seattle? I couldn’t be constructive in that moment but when I could I was clear about owning it, learning from it and moving on in a better way for it.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terresa Zimmerman, entrepreneur, author and advisor of business owners. Terresa traveled the world working on brand and strategy challenges with enterprises. The only female founder of a men’s underwear brand, Wood Underwear®, she discovered a love for Main Street, the small businesses fueling our communities. She co-authored best-selling, award-winning, Oh, Lords! with entrepreneur, Jes Averhart, host of Reinvention Road Trip® Podcast. And, she co-founded Sayhii with Amy Gurske, industrial psychologist and human guru.

Terresa is forever training for a run and trying to improve her golf game. She and husband, David, live in NC and VA, with Aussies, Whizkey, and Tequila. Find Terresa on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Complete accident. I landed where I am by being totally open and opportunistic. I could not have written my path. That’s been the fun of it. It also means I took some detours I might have avoided with a little more thought. I grew up in the western US. High school in southern California where my horse and gymkhana kept me out of the majority of teenage trouble. I spent my first year of college at University of Colorado Boulder where I studied little and skied a lot. But I needed to graduate, which I did from Santa Clara University. My Japanese teacher at SCU proactively told me she’d never recommend me for a job in Japan which lit a light bulb…wow, Japan? Yep. I went. Why not? For a couple of years. That started my globe trotting. I raised my hand, or it was raised for me for every ‘grand adventure’ assignment that crossed my path.

I was in Brussels, Belgium, when I started work for a creative agency and ended up within that family for a very long time. I loved consultancy. It fed my love of mental gymnastics and fast, important deadlines. What it didn’t do was give me any ‘ownership’, figuratively or literally. And as much as I wanted to be somewhere else and on to the next great thing in my younger years, I was gathering steam for a desire for depth in my life. I left corporate and started my own thing. I explored so many things before founding Wood Underwear®, a mens underwear brand. Wood came together with the encouragement of my husband and the need he pointed out that men have ‘nothing’. 10 years later, we are celebrating a Wood anniversary. The journey of a founder never ends…and start-ups are a bit addicting. Most recently that is with sayhii….which is so exciting for me personally because I get to go back to the world of technology.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I didn’t intend to be a disruptor so it’s kind of fun to be called one. There are a few things that I’m active with as a disruptor right now.

1) I’m the only female founder of a men’s underwear brand and company — Wood Underwear. We just turned 10 this year!

2) I just laid bare my life’s dating stories in an award winning, best selling book — Oh, Lords! — published last year with co-author Jes Averhart, a total badass in her own right. Through sharing our personal experiences, we aim to show women that they can have total agency over the relationships in their life. Women can and should take responsibility and authority over the relationships they have and over themselves.

3) Along with a brilliant co-founder, Amy Gurske, we are turning the whole employee engagement category on its head, with the advent this year of Sayhii — a woman founded, woman funded, woman led tech company. That’s a “unicorn” situation all by itself.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There are so many mistakes. All the time. I’m not sure I think my mistakes are funny, but I definitely try to find humor everywhere, mistakes included. That is a lesson itself.

When I was first starting with Wood, there was one conversation that was funny and incredibly life changing. During the holidays around New Year’s Day 2012 I sent a mass email to my entire contact list, in gmail, announcing Wood to everyone and telling them it was coming. One of the calls I received from that blast was from a high school friend. “What are you doing for 3PL?” he asks me. Well, uh, what is 3PL? I mean, I think I can spell it. After I told him my plans of breaking into the port and finding my underwear and driving it to a storage unit where I would begin life filling orders and driving to the post office he said, “you’re not doing that.” And there began my lesson in 3PL and outsource pick/pack services. So, I had the luxury of starting day 1 with fully scalable 3PL services….and not in jail for breaking into the port of Los Angeles.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

As a startup founder you lean on so many people, officially and not. Sometimes they don’t even know it.

About 5 months after I started Wood, I had set up trunk shows going up the west coast of the US from southern California and finishing in Seattle. After a San Francisco stop was Portland. I had underwear in my truck and a list of stores in my hand and I was walking into places asking the buyer if they wanted to ‘see my underwear’. On my way to one store, I spotted UnderU4Men — beautiful and with mens underwear in the window! Not on my list, but of course I walked in and asked to see the buyer. Eventually Steven, the owner, comes out and as I’m introducing myself he interrupts and says “I know who you are. Come with me.” Well, how does he know who I am? I didn’t even know I was stopping there. That’s the network in men’s underwear — someone I saw in SF called and talked to him about me and Wood. First, I was super flattered. Then, he heard my pitch and looked at my product and began a fairly comprehensive review of everything that was wrong with it. I thanked him and left. Packed myself up and cried all the way to Seattle.

But guess what. He was right about ALL of it. I spent the next 6 months changing and improving EVERYthing, from a new manufacturer, new packaging, new fabric, plus, plus, plus. That next January was the beginning of the line we have today.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

There are so many great examples of disruption, for sure. We can look at the good and the bad of it in one place — with retail. Stores. Across the US there are so many multi-generational stores. They have history and ‘place’ in their cities. The families that run them are pillars of their communities. They aren’t just running stores, they are building a legacy that goes beyond their store and family. It’s fantastic. I call it ‘main street’.

The negative disruptions to main street are the big guys, the predators that aren’t just happy pushing retail to innovate, they want them gone. And, for some of these big players, it’s a stated aim.

There has been good disruption for main street…finding a silver lining from our horrible year(s) with Covid. Stores were forced to think dramatically differently to save their businesses. It was life changing and beneficially disruptive in that they had to really dig in and figure out how to serve their customers where they were and how they wanted to be served…and do it proactively. The rapid innovation that happened on main street over the last couple of years is phenomenal and it will be everlasting. Having to compete raises the bar for everyone.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Focus on your WHY.

It’s cliché, but no less true. You have to have passion in what you are doing. It’s that passion that leads others to want to engage and be part of your endeavor, whatever that is. Never stop telling your ‘why’ story. My book, Oh, Lords! is one example. It’s personal. It’s real. And I knew I was going to write it 15 years before I did. Yep. I met my husband through a dating agency in 2006 when it was pretty unusual to do so. More unusual was getting no last name and no picture (gasp!) before agreeing to a ‘date’. My friends, while horrified were placated, sort of, when I told them whatever happened with the dates, it would be fun to meet some people and I planned to take notes and write a book. Perfect timing with my co-author, Jes Averhart, and Oh, Lords! was brought to life. We get to share, through our lived experiences, trial and error, our full belief that women can and should have agency over the relationships in their life.

Turtles can win.

You know the story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise runs his own race, mindful of the goal, with full focus on getting there. In so many things, it’s a game of perseverance. Passion too helps you stick to it when the going gets tough. The going always gets tough at some point. And sometimes, it’s the one who perseveres that gets the contract. I go to men’s apparel trade shows a few times a year and when I started going to these shows, no buyer wanted to talk to the newbie. They want to see you ‘last’ for a few seasons before they’ll stop and give you a look. Well how the heck are you supposed to make it to the next season if no one talks to you in the season you’re in? I can’t tell you how many new brands show up each season. I can tell you that 4 out of 5 of them never show up again. It’s pretty tough. You have to be the tortoise.

Own it. Learn from it. Move on.

When you hit walls, make mistakes, completely screw things up, etc. you have to admit it. You have to own it. No excuses. Excuses don’t teach you anything. Excuses are easy to see through and you just lose credibility with anyone you’re trying to convince, including yourself. BTW, blaming someone or something else is also just an excuse. Oh, and it’s a stressful way to live. It’s so much easier to just own it. However embarrassing it is in the moment, however hurtful, it’s better to gather yourself, be brave and own it. If you own it, you can learn from it. And then you can move on from it in a better way. I’ll remind you of my story about crying all the way from Portland to Seattle? I couldn’t be constructive in that moment but when I could I was clear about owning it, learning from it and moving on in a better way for it.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Oh, I’m already on my way to shaking things up with sayhii. Sayhii looks at employee engagement from a completely different place. Most engagement work is about the company trying to figure out how to get employees to do and be and think what the company wants. Sayhii flips that on its head and goes straight to the employee to activate them on what they care about, what their needs are and where they need or want to be challenged, which absolutely benefits the company. It’s just a totally opposite perspective from the current. We’re proving the model. It’s fantastic.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

​​Being taken seriously. And maybe even taking yourself seriously.

“Good luck on your little hobby.” Parting words from a customer I met at a trunk show at a resort boutique after we’d had what I thought was an okay conversation about my brand and business. How incredibly condescending. My first thought? “What an ass!”

My second thought, “what did I say, how did I come across, that that was his takeaway?” I can’t control what he said or thought but I could certainly control my reaction to it. I chose to take it as an opportunity to review my messaging, and ask if I was taking myself seriously. I decided to up-level both my thinking and confidence in what I was doing. He was still an ass.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I saw a TedTalk by a monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, on how to be happy. It’s amazing. I think of it often. It gives me pause on days that are stressful and also on days where I’m not really on any deadlines and need a little focus. It’s a multi purpose-message — personal, business, life.

Any founder goes through ups and downs. Days you don’t know what to do with yourself or don’t know if you’ve chosen the right thing to do that day. Any setback gives you an opportunity to learn something. To see it as an opportunity.

I’m already an optimist, and Brother Steindl-Rast gives me a framework to think about it and ground myself in optimism productively.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Shop Local! Support your stores on “main street”. Main Street is the lifeblood of our communities and neighborhoods. Buy from them. Forget Amazon. They aren’t the best price anyway. And their convenience comes at a cost to our local cultures. Think about it, who goes to visit a new town, on vacation or driving through, to visit the big box store or the amazon warehouse. No. You go to the local stores. The boutiques. The local restaurants and bars and coffee shops. You want to experience the local vibe and flavor. Hard truth?! This includes your town too. If you don’t support your local stores and businesses, they die. Then what happens to your community? It becomes soul-less. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. There are a lot of towns out there that feel the “sell-out” repercussions. They aren’t the ones anyone talks about or visits. Here’s the good stuff: your local stores will offer you service like no other. Just ask them. Curb side? Personal shopping? Local delivery? Reminders of special events? Special orders? Yes. Yes. Yes. Will it cost you more money? Surprisingly, very likely not. Will it cost you some extra thought — yes. And that’s a good thing. You’ll be living with some intention.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Oh, that’s easy, my favorite life lesson quote: “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.” It’s really a daily mantra and guide for my priorities. I always ‘know’ I can do everything. But it isn’t the most productive use of my time. Others may be more equipped, time, expertise, etc to handle whatever it is most efficiently. This mantra helps me think about how I’m using the experts around me and whether I’m doing right by them as well.

This is super silly, but a very real and current example. I just received 1800 images of my fall and spring collection. They have to be gone through, selections made, polishing done, sizing, cropping, etc for a variety of uses. I would love to do this myself. And, in fact, I spent about 4 hours starting to do this the other night. Note, I’m not an expert at this stuff. I have experts on hand. And, instead of doing some work on contracts that only I can do in this particular instance, I’m spending time on images. Avoidance? Yes, probably. Also, excitement over getting the images. In any case…can I do it? Yes. Should I? No.

Super useful. And it’s been in my life for at least a decade.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn: Terresa Christenson Zimmerman

Instagram: @terresaz9 | @WOODUnderwear | @Oh_Lords

Website: WOOD Underwear | Oh, Lords! | sayhii

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Terresa Zimmerman of WOOD Underwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Cory Waggoner of Higher Yields Consulting: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading…

Cory Waggoner of Higher Yields Consulting: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis or CBD Business

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

It’s all about the people you hire. Those committed to the company and experienced in their field are hard to find, but once you find those people hang on to them. The fallout of a bad hire will cost you money, time, and sleep.

As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Waggoner, CEO of Higher Yields Consulting.

In 2015 Cory founded Higher Yields Consulting — shortly after recreational marijuana was first legalized in Colorado — in response to investors’ and business owners’ growing need for expertise beyond cultivation design and optimization. Through Higher Yields, Cory has overseen the design or optimization of nearly 2 million square feet of cannabis cultivation and extraction facilities worldwide.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

After being a medical cannabis dispensary owner and operator for five years in California and Colorado, I decided I wanted to have more flexibility and help to solve problems within the industry. In 2013 I sold my businesses and started working with a few distressed cannabis assets in Colorado. I helped these groups implement operational systems to their cultivation facilities first and then to their retail stores. After two years, both companies were able to exit the industry with a healthy buyout.

After I completed these two projects, I reflected on my experiences in the industry and thought about the areas where businesses were struggling the most. I looked at the people who were entering the industry. All of them had been successful at something in their careers to get to the point of investing in an unknown industry, but very few wear all of the hats necessary to succeed.

In 2015, I founded Higher Yields Consulting to help businesses elevate their cannabusiness operations. The company focuses on four vertical systems, including start-up services, design & system implementation, deployment services, and growth services.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s hard to select my most interesting story, as it has been a fascinating journey over the last 13 years, and it has been interesting to see the industry’s evolution. The beginning conferences were small, equipment was limited, and the tech sector hadn’t expressed an interest in the industry. Today we have multi-billion dollar a year global companies entering the space.It’s also been exciting to see how social equity opportunities have evolved, to watch sovereign nations get involved and prosper, and see the global trade of cannabis that currently exists.

I’ve learned many lessons along the way. One thing that sets Higher Yields Consulting apart is that there is no project too big or small for us to take on, as our mission is advocacy for the global acceptance of cannabis and hemp. We have seen projects with small budgets and a lot of passion, up to Management Service Organizations (MSOs) with huge budgets and even bigger personalities, and everything in between. We’ve seen so many creative and innovative business models and approaches in the industry. Every lesson I have learned has been invaluable to the success of my company.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

International cannabis is the most exciting for me right now. We’re fighting an uphill battle here in the United States while the rest of the world is working toward global trade of the product. It is exciting to meet with regulatory departments, presidents, kings and other government officials to educate and talk through the nuances of this industry to create cannabis programs that protect consumers and create economic wealth.

This industry has created many jobs and streams of tax revenue and has positively impacted small and large communities. It’s gratifying to see a program develop over time and see the positive impact this plant and industry can have.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We work on a lot of social equity projects around the country. We have a project in Jamaica right now where we are focusing on using cannabis and the industry to fight the global slave trade. These projects can benefit the industry and the world.

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?

Having worked with so many different types of people, I’ve picked up finance, strategy, and customer service skills. It’s hard to pinpoint one person because I learn something new from my clients and team members every day.

This industry is young, dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

It is mind-boggling that large MSOs focused on acquisition don’t brand all of their products together. We see MSOs running independent operations without capturing market shares because they acquire a new license and keep the name and brands.

Digital marketing is significant for Higher Yields Consulting. The same marketing strategies that have allowed the company to grow quickly into an internationally recognized cannabis consulting firm are the same strategies we pass along and programs we develop for our clients.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

Three things that excite me include:

Federal decriminalization

This would allow the industry to thrive. It would open up opportunities for new businesses and state-to-state trade. It would potentially allow for the export of cannabis to other countries and allow the United States to catch up to the progressive acceptance of cannabis by the rest of the world.

Global trade

The United States is currently fighting an internal battle with cannabis and some states are experiencing the same with CBD. Globally, there are countries trading this product over borders and seas. This creates a lot of uncertainty in the United States for where, when or if the United States will enter the global cannabis market. There are a handful of countries globally that are cultivating, manufacturing, exporting, and importing these products. There is an enormous economic impact on the countries that become involved with the industry. For many areas looking to climb out of the aftermath of the COVID shutdowns, this is an amazing opportunity to bring jobs and tax revenue to their areas.

Industry growth

Overall, it’s exciting to see the industry continue to grow and evolve. Cannabis was hardly an industry 10 years ago and today it’s massive and continuing to grow exponentially year-over-year on a much larger scale.

3 Concerns that I have about the industry.

Federal legalization

The federal government is notorious for being unable to create a cohesive and successful cannabis program. Generally, their involvement demonstrates that issues will be politically influenced and likely benefit operations closest to DC.

Underdeveloped social equity programs

We continue to see states and local governments failing to put forth a successful social equity program. Governments believe that putting a piece of paper in someone’s hands will allow them to raise capital, purchase real estate, build out a facility, operate a business they’re not familiar with, and then compete with large MSOs doing the same thing. If these governments continue to leave out access to capital and adequate training, these programs will continue to fail and MSOs will continue to use these programs to exploit social equity applicants to create larger financial gains for their investor pools.

Lobbyists

Lobbyists are generally loyal to those who pay them the most. Unfortunately, MSOs are usually the companies employing these groups with the company’s best interests in mind. This might include very limited licensing processes or RFP requirements that are difficult for others to adhere to.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You don’t get to choose your schedule or make all the money as a business owner!
  2. It’s okay to say no. Some people don’t have realistic goals. Rather than trying to achieve the impossible, it is sometimes best to move on.
  3. You can’t make everyone happy.
  4. Every day is hard as a leader. Everything falls on your shoulders, and it’s a lot of stress some days.
  5. It’s all about the people you hire. Those committed to the company and experienced in their field are hard to find, but once you find those people hang on to them. The fallout of a bad hire will cost you money, time, and sleep.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Have a plan and stick with it the best you can, but don’t fear change. It’s okay to reassess the situation; the industry is constantly changing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am working to find a city or state with a social equity program that needs retooling. Many of the existing programs don’t do a great job of helping the applicants become successful. Most governments assume if you give them a license or the ability to obtain a license, they somehow will be successful, but it’s not the case.

There is a significant lack of capital support, educational training, and strategic partners to support these entrepreneurs in competing with businesses that are large global operators with huge checkbooks and years of decades of experience under their roof.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

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

LInkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/higher-yields-consulting/

Twitter: https://www.instagram.com/higheryieldscannabisconsulting/

Instagram: https://twitter.com/YieldsHigher

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Cory Waggoner of Higher Yields Consulting: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Dipika Patel and Annelise Osborne of GreatOne On The Five Things You Need To…

Female Founders: Dipika Patel and Annelise Osborne of GreatOne On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Women have financial and educational power. We are powerhouses. I encourage women to follow their idea, build, strategize, find allies and build the company. Also, don’t do it alone. Lean on business contacts and professional networks for support and guidance.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dipika Patel and Annelise Osborne.

Dipika Patel, founder and managing member of GreatOne, is a veteran hotel operations and real estate executive with over 20 years’ experience developing, managing, and transacting Select Service and Full-Service hotels across the United States. In addition, she spent 14 years on Wall Street with leading banks and private equity firms, including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Bank of America. Dipika is proficient in five languages and has extensive business experience in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America. She is the chairwoman of the Patel family office and Patel Foundation.

Annelise Osborne, founding team and board member of GreatOne, is a finance executive with 25 years of experience in capital markets, structured finance, debt ratings, fintech, digital assets, and blockchain. Her experience includes Arca Labs, Moody’s, JLL, WP Carey, Propellr and Metechi. Annelise holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School, a BA in Economics from The College of William and Mary, and has won industry accolades such as the Women of Influence (Innovation) award in 2021.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Dipika: My dad was a great inspiration for me in my early years, particularly his confidence when it came to negotiating and closing deals. Being raised in a business environment and exposed to bankers, vendors and suppliers would end up being a great help in my work life. The roots of my career were planted at university in England, where I was selected to participate in the Jack Welch Six Sigma program. I was fortunate enough to travel to Paris, London and New York, where I got to understand the different divisions of GE Capital. After graduating and earning my Six Sigma black belt certificate, I moved to New York and started my career in financial markets. My Wall Street exposure enabled me to understand the end-to-end banking workflow across fixed income and equities. This capital markets’ expertise encouraged me to open up my own investment firm, Hayden Holdings, where I converted over $250 million in equity capital into real estate deals worth over a billion dollars through acquisition, development, design, construction, asset management and capital management.

Annelise: I love to learn so I’m always looking to challenge myself. I follow new financial structures, new business environments and new technologies. My first job post-college was starting an advertising agency in Ukraine while not speaking the language. That led me to help start the JLL office in Kiev before working in London. After business school, I participated in the early days of mortgage-backed securities, which led to a lower cost of financing and spreading out of risk. I found the new financial structuring fascinating and enjoyed understanding the flow of finance and the risks involved. When I was introduced to blockchain technology, it opened my eyes to a more efficient financial infrastructure and I could see tremendous real-world applications. I assumed other people were already building asset-backed securities on blockchain but with research, that wasn’t the case — so I stepped up.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Dipika: The business model has evolved over the years. In 2019 we were in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for a conference and it was overwhelming to see so many people from across the globe in the Middle East. The excitement about new markets, products and consumers was palpable, as everyone was looking to redefine the way business had been done for centuries. We strongly believe that the only way to be successful is through consistent and customer-centric innovation, irrespective of the business that we build or invest in.

Annelise: The most interesting part of building GreatOne was the task of gathering the best minds in multiple industries, including hotels and traditional and digital investing. The common thread in all the people we recruited for this effort was the mindset and ambition to create something truly unique and compelling that people in the investment community have not seen before.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Dipika: To Err is Human. I don’t see any mistake as silly or funny. In fact, every mistake teaches me a lesson. In our organization we build a case study around our errors and we ensure that these lessons are passed on to the next generation of employees so that we all learn from each others’ mistakes. We are in the business of investing in people and the future world, so every small mistake that we make in that process has a potentially large cost and impact. We understand that and take on the responsibility to make things right.

Annelise: The funniest mistake to me was my thinking that people would quickly see my vision and buy into it. I am an optimist and don’t always recognize the patience required. That said, the hesitation people had in buying into the vision allowed me to fine-tune my message and communication. The challenge allowed me to better debate the benefits of the new technology. I am reminded that if it was easy, everyone would do it.

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 about that?

Dipika: I am surrounded by great people and wonderful minds. There are numerous people who have traveled with me on my path so far and added their value to make me as well as the business successful. In relation to the digital asset ecosystem that we are building, I am especially grateful to have Lakshmi Narayanan, Annelise, and Kim Diamond as part of the go-getters team.

Annelise: I am thankful for all of my mentors and sponsors that supported me in my career. I believe one’s career is decided when they aren’t in the room, so mentors, sponsors and reputation are very important. I am thankful for my partners — Dipika, Lakshmi and Kim — who all bring different skills to the table. Business doesn’t grow in a vacuum and having my partners to brainstorm, strategize and build has made me stronger.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Dipika: I believe the empowerment of women is a cultural challenge more than anything. Even though women are specialists in multitasking and independent thinking when it comes to family and home, on the career front they have been seen and treated as less skilled or reliant in a professional setting. Society has determined that family life takes precedence to the career for women, but when a woman decides to lead no one can stop them. I run my family office and we are fully woman-led and managed. We have invested in more than 50 woman-owned and managed businesses. The women leading these efforts are not only successful, but powerful in their industries.

Annelise: I don’t know one answer, as everyone has a unique set of circumstances. I believe that a strong network is important to both encourage, strategize and financially support the founder through the first year or years prior to generating revenue. Financial and strategic backers are important. I believe seeing other women succeeding and surrounding oneself with like-minded people makes a positive difference.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Dipika: We are a woman-owned and managed family office, and more than 50% of our portfolio companies are woman-owned, woman-promoted, woman-managed or woman-focused. Individually every woman can be a great force in helping other women to achieve their independence and financial freedom and that’s what I do. When our country sees the first woman president, it will be a big moment.

Annelise: Investors are fiduciaries and fiduciaries rely on trust. Trust is built on relationships. Relationships grow by sharing interests and spending time together. As it turns out, most investors are male and socialize with people like them, who also generally happen to be male. How many women were invited on the last company golf trip or to the last networking dinner? I think the root cause here is ingrained. People complain there aren’t women in the pipeline and yet, there are, but people don’t seem to be looking very far.

I believe there is unconscious bias that plays a large part in business decisions. Unconscious bias is difficult to fix but very important to address. I think companies, managers and teams need to make an effort to invite women to networking opportunities. I think all slates for new job opportunities need to be diverse which can be implemented by HR. I believe women should be invited to participate on industry panels that aren’t about “Women in the Workplace” but are about substantive topics. One woman on a panel is still only 20–25% representation of the panel.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be useful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Dipika: Building an organization is all about people management. Launching a product is all about understanding people’s requirements. Who can be better than a woman in understanding and managing people? For so many women, this is a true strength, and one that every founder should possess.

Annelise: According to Catalyst, Inc., women “direct 83% of all consumption in the United States in buying power and influence.” In 2021, 59.5% of college students were women. Women account for 52% of management, professional and related occupations and 29% of CEOs. In 2022, women accounted for 29% of corporate board seats. However, according to Bloomberg, female founders account for a mere 2% of venture capital funding.

A study done by FirstRound shares that in their portfolios, female-founded companies performed 63% better than the male-founded companies.

Women have financial and educational power. We are powerhouses. I encourage women to follow their idea, build, strategize, find allies and build the company. Also, don’t do it alone. Lean on business contacts and professional networks for support and guidance.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Dipika: Founders have to sacrifice some things to achieve other things but this should not be a deterrent.

Annelise: I have heard that one can’t be a founder if one has a family. That isn’t true. I have three teenage boys and two dogs. I focus on time management, prioritization, juggling and being present when I am with my kids. I do have to let go of having everything ‘perfect’ but everything flows.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Dipika: Founders are not born, they are made. Everyone can be a founder. Even if someone is holding a regular job, to be successful in a specific role they need to think like an “intrapreneur“ rather than being an entrepreneur. But similar skills are needed.

Annelise: Everyone brings something different to the table with respect to skills and ambitions. Not everyone wants to manage people or run a company or start a company from scratch. I think founders need to be ambitious and, more than anything, have conviction to believe in themselves through thick and thin. The ability to see a way around obstacles is very helpful as is the ability to perform the job of the receptionist, the sales person, and the CEO simultaneously.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Dipika:

  1. 90% is planning and 10% is execution
  2. People make everything
  3. Profit is the byproduct of good work
  4. You don’t need to know everything before you start
  5. Great ideas and solutions come from unexpected sources

I learned all this in the process. If I had known and practiced these five lessons, I might have saved time and resources.

Annelise

  1. Every overnight success takes seven years
  2. Persistence is key
  3. Making money is not as easy as it looks
  4. Build a plan and goals, and revisit and revise them often
  5. Network, we can learn from other’s mistakes and advice

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Dipika: We are a mission-driven family office. Everything we do is driven by a larger purpose to have a positive impact on the world.

Annelise: I believe in developing the next generation of leaders through education and mentorship. I enjoy guest lecturing at universities and industry functions and have taken on many mentees over the years. I have taught Junior Achievement and I support educational charities. I have provided interview skills and donated clothing to charities that provide women with interview suits.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Dipika: I have three things that are close to my heart and I want to do everything that’s possible from my side to impact them: solving the housing problem in America; building attainable healthcare for everyone; and creating a better financial individual independency.

Annelise: Thank you for the kind words. The movement I want to inspire is mentorship and support circles. We can help people we know with training, advice and inspirational words. My movement is to spread positive gossip, saying good things about people which makes us look stronger and inspires confidence for all. My goal would be to help people find jobs which allow for financial security.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Dipika: Warren Buffett. I love his investment philosophies. I have been following him since my childhood days. Or Mark Cuban. I love his focus on diversification and entrepreneurial support.

Annelise: I am very interested in what is next and I would welcome understanding finance and banking in the metaverse, so Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan would be an amazing opportunity. Also, I am inspired by Tim Cook of Apple who was named “The World’s Most Influential CEO”. I would love the opportunity to hear how he finds his vision and his views on ethics in technology. My first computer was an Apple IIe.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Dipika Patel and Annelise Osborne of GreatOne On The Five Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Abingdon Mullin Of The Abingdon Co On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succe

Female Founders: Abingdon Mullin Of The Abingdon Co. On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

“At the beginning, act as though every decision has a $0 budget.” This will force you to get really creative. Don’t have money for a printer and paper to sign a contract? What will you do? I guess you’ll have to look at free online tools where you can sign documents using a trackpad or stylus. Yes, they exist. Can’t buy marketing software like Photoshop or Premiere to edit photos and videos? Better use the freebies like Canva and YouTube editor… When you are starting, every penny counts. And with technology today, there are countless free options available to solve almost every cost that comes your way.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Abingdon Mullin. Abingdon Mullin is a woman of all trades — a CEO, pilot, and scuba diver. Abingdon empowers women and creates purpose-built watches for women who do more so they can climb, drive, fly, ride and discover.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was born in England and raised in California. I have a serious spirit for adventure and excitement, especially when it has to do with flying. I fell in love with aviation when I was 14 years old and held on to the dream of flight through college. I then became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. By 22 years old, I couldn’t wait any longer and finally earned a private pilot certificate at Santa Monica Airport. I have over 4,000 hours logged in over 80 different aircraft from a Piper Cub on Floats to the Airbus A320. When I’m not working or flying, you can catch me somewhere around the world scuba diving or racing cars. In 2006, I was at a dinner and had a roundtable conversation with a group of women from pilots and mechanics. During this conversation, someone spoke up about her desire for a fully functional aviator watch and how the watch industry will never create something for women because it’s too small of a market (6% of pilots are female in the US). Her comments struck me because not two months earlier, I had been looking for a pilot’s watch made for women and gave up after not finding anything. It was at that dinner that I decided I wanted to form a company that is dedicated to building purpose-built watches designed with women in mind. I wanted to build watches for women who do more. Fifteen years after that dinner, I still regularly meet with women in industries with active lifestyles. Together, we leverage our expertise and knowledge to create innovative products that meet their professional and personal needs. As an unintended result — the Abingdon watches themselves have become a symbol of empowerment.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

That’s a tough question — there are so many to choose from! One comes to mind though and that was when one of my Crew Members, Retired Colonel Laurel “Buff” Burkel invited me to her Air Force retirement ceremony at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. She was retiring as a colonel and had been in a helicopter crash three years earlier in Afghanistan. She was wearing her Abingdon Marina watch at the time of the crash and both her and her watch survived. After a year of rehabilitation, she continued serving until her retirement in 2018. That’s when she asked me if I’d be there for her retirement. I said absolutely! (I mean, how can you say no to an Air Force Colonel right?) I had no idea it would be at a mountain over 18,000 feet in the air. She said, “Great, start training now. You have 8 months to get ready. It’s going to be at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.” I started training, flew out to Africa in October, met with her and eleven others that were there for her retirement — from General Roser, who officiated the ceremony, to some of her best civilian friends. We hiked over the course of six days, however, by day four, I had started to experience altitude sickness. I suffered through it and continued on the climb. I made it to the top of the summit with a 42% oxygen saturation which could have probably killed me. They helicopter evacuated me and it took months for my body to recover. But, I made it and I was there for Buff, and that’s what matters to me the most.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

So not many people know this, but typically a leather watch strap is always put on a watch in one way — the buckle side is attached to the top side of the watch and the long part of the strap attaches to the bottom side of the watch. So one day, I’m meeting with a very big watch strap manufacturer — one of the largest in the world — and my leather strap on my watch is on upside down. I hadn’t even noticed. Well, one of the guys in the meeting pointed it out to me in front of everyone and it was embarrassing. I shrugged it off and made up some excuse, but I filed the incident in the back of my mind. I never wanted one of my Crew Members to have the same thing happen to them, so when I started manufacturing watch straps, I stamped the numbers “12” and “6” on the underside of the strap so the wearer would know what side to put it on their watch.

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 about that?

Many people have helped me get to where I am today. I married an entrepreneur like myself. My husband, Shawn, is strong in the areas I am not. I’m the creative entrepreneur whereas he is the analytical type. He helps me every day from the smallest question I may have to the largest issue that may come. Running a company comes with big and small challenges and Shawn is my number one guy that helps me navigate stormy waters.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

In my early days of establishing the Abingdon Co., I experienced not only sexism, but also ageism as I asked others to help me build my idea for a watch company. I was 22 when I came up with the idea for my company and I told everyone who would listen to me what I was trying to do. You never know who your next investor may be, right? Well one older man in his fifties or sixties that I knew at Santa Monica airport where I was working, told me he had an idea that he thought might help me get financing and offered to discuss it with me over lunch at the airport café. I met him for lunch and he propositioned me for sex in exchange for financing my company! I was shocked, dumbfounded, and didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, women get asked to dinners and lunches by potential investors to “discuss the opportunity” often and sometimes the investors have ulterior motives. These situations are inappropriate and shouldn’t be happening, and a woman needs to know how to navigate shutting down such a situation while not burning bridges even though every ounce of their self wants to.

And if they DO get to the boardroom for a proper sit down with a potential business partner, it is widely researched that female founders are asked more risk aversion questions while male founders are asked growth potential questions. Women get all the way into the meeting they had been fighting for and they still are assumed to fail! I get why women are held back from founding companies. Women have to be smarter, better businesspeople in order to navigate tactfully the “isms” that they will no doubt experience. So why would a woman want to found company when so much is set up against them as a barrier to entry? She may be the most passionate expert in her field with the next trillion-dollar business, but without believers, mentors, financing, and access, she will not succeed with their company.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Be open minded. Just because someone doesn’t look like you or doesn’t fit the founder stereotype that you’ve built in your mind doesn’t mean they don’t have what it takes to create an incredible business. As a society, we need to listen more to founders and what they are trying to create. And if it resonates or aligns with us, then we should support them. Support comes in many forms. Money, praise, connections, relationships, partnerships — even the occasional text asking them if there’s anything they need help with. Treat female founders professionally and ask yourself, would I be doing/saying/acting this way with a male founder? Be an ally and encourage male founded companies to bring women onto their board or leadership team for a more well-rounded approach to the business. With more diversity in executive roles, businesses become more successful.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

The real question is why SHOULDN’T more women become founders? The more women found companies, the more commonplace society will see women in leadership roles, inventing products or processes, and building. If you want to equate becoming a founder to something that society believes women do “naturally,” then look at motherhood. Founding a company is identical to motherhood — from creating to nurturing to feeding to growing into something that can survive on its own. I think women should become founders because they will realize how good they can be at it. It uses all of your brain, your senses, your intuition, and your smarts. It challenges you, forces you to grow, and creates one more legacy for you. My company is one of the things I am most proud of, and don’t get me wrong — I have shed blood, sweat, and tears for it — but I’ve also experienced more joy than I could imagine running a company that not only benefits the employees who rely on my leadership for their income, but also my Crew Members who sigh in relief that they finally have products made for them.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Founders are sometimes thought to be risk-taking loners with strong personalities who are workaholics with no work-life balance because they are only motivated by money. Ok, maybe not all of those things together, but any one of those traits are myths that founders oftentimes need to dispel. Though a founder does take risks, they are usually careful and calculated, often as part of a well-thought-out strategic plan. As for the “loner” mentality, yes there is some truth to the old adage, “If you need to get something done right, you may as well do it yourself,” but that’s not sustainable for founders who are playing the long game. Founders who want their companies to scale need others as part of their team to grow the company. Being a loner is not an option. Next, having a strong A-type personality is not the only personality of a founder. Some famous examples of introverted founders are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Now being a workaholic is definitely something I have difficulty with. I have to remind myself to socialize, exercise, and talk about other things other than work. Some founders I know have a great work-life balance. It’s one of the things I struggle with because it’s a (bad) habit I’ve formed over the years. Lastly, motivated by money… that is a characteristic very few of the founders I know have. Based on how difficult it is to build a company, the money motivation myth is rarely ever true. More times than not, founders are passionate about causes that are near to them. They need to be because when times are tough, that passion is their fuel to carry on.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

No, I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder. You have to have desire. You have to be ok with failure, because you will make mistakes along the way. Being a founder requires dedication, patience, hard work, and pure toughness. If you have an idea and even the slightest vision to make it happen, then anything is possible. There’s also strength in numbers — co-founding has become extremely popular. People may have certain strengths & abilities that you lack, and vice versa, but if you partner then remarkable things can happen. However, some people just prefer to enjoy the products or services that are being offered to them, instead of being a founder & leading a company, and thank goodness for them! If everyone was a founder, then nothing would get done! It all depends on your values and what you want to put into this world. As for myself, I feel I have a lot to offer — I want to empower women and make a difference in my community — and I’m able to do that through Abingdon Co. & Abingdon Foundation.

Here is the main question of our interview: What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. “At the beginning, act as though every decision has a $0 budget.” This will force you to get really creative. Don’t have money for a printer and paper to sign a contract? What will you do? I guess you’ll have to look at free online tools where you can sign documents using a trackpad or stylus. Yes, they exist. Can’t buy marketing software like Photoshop or Premiere to edit photos and videos? Better use the freebies like Canva and YouTube editor… When you are starting, every penny counts. And with technology today, there are countless free options available to solve almost every cost that comes your way.

2. “Act as though it were impossible to fail.” If this is your daily mantra, you’ll approach each problem as a challenge instead of a roadblock. Your mental game will get you through the tough times of the early days, so work out that muscle strong.

3. “You will have people tell you their opinion of your business whether you want to hear it or not, and most of the time they will try to poke holes in it.” Expect it from friends, family, potential investors and business partners, and even strangers. Just remember though, they have thought about your business a fraction of the time that you have spent thinking about your business.

4. “Look at the source of where your advice is coming from.” Has the person who is telling you how to raise capital ever successfully raised any money themselves? When your friend tells you how to post on social media, do they actually know what it takes to grow a following on social media? What about an investor who advises you on your business — how many years in your industry do they have? Always look at the background of the person or group who is giving you advice. Remember, you can always hear the advice, but you don’t always need to take it.

5. “Some things take time, so be patient.” I wanted everything to happen so fast at the beginning, but that just wasn’t how things went. I had to learn that there are some things I could control and get done quickly (like building a website. I built a Shopify site myself in 45 days) and some things that took time, like getting product reviews. To get product reviews, you have to sell the product, then ask for the review — sometimes several times — and then only a small percentage of your customers will put down a review. You can’t hurry some things, because some things are out of your control.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

In 2017, on the 10th year anniversary of the Abingdon Co., I was granted 501(c)(3) status for the non-profit side of the company, Abingdon Foundation. We award scholarships to women who are interested in a pursuing something in STEAM and we teach girls at a young age to explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics as something fun, attainable, and for them. I started by using conferences such as Women in Aviation, Heli-Expo, SHOT Show and DEMA as a backdrop and we’d introduce recipients to women of influence in their respective STEAM fields so that they can develop their own networks with groups of supportive women that can help guide them on their path. Women should be given the know-how to evolve their passions into their own unique expressions of careers and lifestyles. The It’s About Time Sponsorship is overseen by Abingdon Foundation and awards a full-paid trip to a STEAM Industry Conference to a woman 18 years of age or older. Along with first access to seminars and multiple networking opportunities, the winner is introduced to key people in their industry who share their experiences. The unique aspect about the scholarship is that applicants are not required to be in the industry at the time of their application. The goal is to invite someone to see all of the different avenues of their industry (i.e. aviation includes: engineering to aerobatics to maintenance and airlines).

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire any movement, it would be to change the societal belief that girls and women aren’t cut out for STEM. Girls are great at science, technology, engineering, and mathematics! They just have to believe it — and that begins with the adults in their lives. If a young girl tells you she wants to be a pilot, a computer coder, a scientist, or a crane operator — encourage her! It may sound foreign in your world, but it doesn’t in hers. The worst thing we can do for our children is define their dreams for them.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Without a doubt, Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Founders: Abingdon Mullin Of The Abingdon Co On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succe was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Huong Wolf of Quilling Card: They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Find your true life calling — I was born and raised in a rural farming village. I spent my first 19 years there and had never been anywhere else. Despite the fact that farming was all I knew, I never saw myself as following in the footsteps of my family for generations and remaining in the village. I was always curious what is out there, what is next. This curiosity allowed me to set higher- ordered goals in life and ensured I never settled for less. Once you find your true life calling, there’s no other option but to pursue your dream– it doesn’t feel like hard work and I enjoy every day.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Huong Wolf of Quilling Card.

Huong Wolf is the co-founder of Quilling Card, a fair trade greeting card company. Huong had previously worked in Marketing throughout Southeast Asia and the US for large corporations such as Unilever and L’Oreal. After years working towards someone else’s dream, she decided to leave the industry and pursue her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the art of quilling. In 2011 Huong and her husband Raphael decided to take this passion and turn it into a flourishing greeting card company — making this beautiful art form more accessible and placing it in the homes of admirers all over the globe.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

I am a native of Vietnam and spent many years working in marketing at global brands like Unilever and L’Oreal. About 10 years ago, I began to get the entrepreneurial itch and began considering, alongside my husband, how I might make a change. A friend of ours in Vietnam asked my husband to check out a quilling factory. To be honest — he was in textiles and thought she was referring to quilting, and while I had purchased a piece of quilled art for our apartment in Saigon, I wasn’t familiar with quilling as a business.

Once we toured the factory, I was hooked. We quickly considered how we could make this intricate art more widely available, and I immediately knew that there was a US audience for these handcrafted, luxury greeting cards that were really more like pieces of art.

We created the LLC that night in our apartment in Saigon and I soon was leaving my job in marketing to run Quilling Card full time. That was over a decade ago, and we have since moved to the US, where Quilling Card’s headquarters are based. We also have hundreds of artisans we employ in my home country of Vietnam, which is a point of pride for me.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We just completed one of the most exciting projects in our company’s ten-year history when we captured two Guinness World Record titles! We received titles for Most People Quilling Simultaneously and World’s Largest Paper Mosaic (Image). This was an incredible undertaking that took months of planning and thousands of hours from our staff. In the end, we created a quilled replica of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” that stands about 19 feet high and 15 feet wide. This is a traveling art piece that we are bringing to cities across the US, so that’s been exciting. It’s also inspired a new line of our greeting cards representing famous pieces of art (starting with “Starry Night” of course!), which has been a great exercise in creativity for our designers and artisans.

We have established a number of socially-minded and mission-driven projects in our decade in business, including a program in Vietnam that employs deaf workers and a Braille line of our Quilling Cards. But what all of them have in common is creating good, fair jobs for hundreds of artisans in Vietnam — jobs with which they can share their talents, use their hands and make a fair wage in good working conditions.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

There is not another company that does what we do at the scale we do it. Each quilled card takes an hour to make by hand and is its own piece of art — but we sell over a million cards each and every year.

What stands out for our customers is the incredible care and uniqueness of our quilled cards and that they are small pieces of art, as opposed to standard printed greeting cards. Many of our customers collect and frame their cards. We also ensure that each card is blank inside. I believe that greeting cards are so personal and our goal is to encourage authentic sentiments inside them — it really creates a keepsake every time you receive one of our cards.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

Yes! Starting a greeting card company in the middle of a digital revolution was definitely met with a few raised eyebrows. In fact, my boss at the time laughed at me when I resigned and told him what I was going to do, reminding me that quilling was a dying art.

And at the time, it was, but part of our mission with the business has been to preserve quilling, an ancient Egyptian art. As a result, there are hundreds of artisans in Vietnam who are skilled in quilling and who are making a living doing it. I’m incredibly proud of that.

I’ve always had faith in my decisions and my ability to work hard and solve problems, and that’s how I have managed to continue even when people have thought it “can’t be done.”

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

Today, 10 years in, we are a multi-million dollar greeting card company that’s proven there is a vibrant market for quilled cards and an audience for handmade, artistic products like ours.

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 about that?

My significant other — who is also my business partner — is the one I am most grateful for in this journey. I struggled for the first three years of building the business, during which time I was also raising two young children and learning how to navigate life in a new country. It was a lot to manage, but my husband continuously encouraged me whenever I had any doubts and would remind me along the way that challenges are to be expected, saying, “Huong, you forget that you are building a business.” Fortunately, my husband is a lifelong entrepreneur and has walked this road before, equipping him with the ability to support me in that way. He has given me the best advice and insight into navigating entrepreneurship. Beyond his partnership at work, he is a supportive husband and wonderful father to our children. When I am traveling for work — exhibiting at trade shows across the country or visiting our Vietnam facilities — I have peace of mind knowing that he will be taking great care of our children at home. Likewise, when I am home with the kids, I trust that he will get things done in the office. We are truly a great team. We share a lot of sweat equity in life.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

I can think of three pivotal moments where I ignored naysayers in my life, each of which has helped me build resiliency as an entrepreneur.

The first instance was shortly after I finished high school in Vietnam. My family lived in a rural farming village in the Mekong Delta region, where it was not uncommon for girls to drop out of school as early as freshman year. At best, some girls would complete high school through senior year, but that would be the end of their academic careers. As expected, after graduating I didn’t advance to university like my three older brothers. Rather, I stayed and helped my family with farming work. I then started to think about the lives of my friends who married young, similar to my mom who married at the age of 17 and had me (her 4th child) by 25. Their days were spent on a farm, raising water buffalo and chickens, and following a traditional lifestyle known to the women in my village. It didn’t take me long to come to the realization that I was meant to follow a different path in life.

Despite the fact that in rural Vietnam there is a belief that women do not need a higher education, I applied for and won a scholarship to go to university in pursuit of a degree in education with the goal of becoming a teacher. I’m proud to say I did it… I broke free from the norm and left my village by the time I was 19 years old, moved to Ho Chi Minh City, and began working towards a degree.

The second occasion was later in my career, when I was working as a senior brand manager for Unilever in Vietnam. Despite an upward trajectory for my career and a boss, coworkers, and company I loved, I felt like it wasn’t enough. I wanted to earn my MBA overseas to experience education outside of Vietnam’s communist education system.

Once again, I applied for many different scholarships offered to Vietnamese citizens to go to Japan, Australia, and the United States. I didn’t receive most of them.

I shared my intention with my direct boss, and he discouraged me from pursuing a graduate degree, telling me that Unilever would teach me everything I needed to know in business, and that he didn’t believe getting an MBA was needed to help me advance my career there. Despite his feedback, I continued my search and finally won a full scholarship with stipends to study in Vancouver, Canada for my MBA. I once again stood against the norm and left Vietnam for Canada at the age of 27.

The third occasion was ten years ago, when I sent in my resignation letter to my boss at my last corporate job to start Quilling Card. He asked me what I planned to do after leaving, and I told him that I planned to start a company selling greeting cards. He laughed so hard and said “Huong — the greeting card industry is experiencing negative growth. You want to launch a business in a declining industry?” I responded that these would be no ordinary greeting cards — and here I am 10 years later.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Find your true life calling — I was born and raised in a rural farming village. I spent my first 19 years there and had never been anywhere else. Despite the fact that farming was all I knew, I never saw myself as following in the footsteps of my family for generations and remaining in the village. I was always curious what is out there, what is next. This curiosity allowed me to set higher- ordered goals in life and ensured I never settled for less. Once you find your true life calling, there’s no other option but to pursue your dream– it doesn’t feel like hard work and I enjoy every day.
  2. Don’t be fooled with golden handcuffs — To be honest, it was a very difficult decision for me to leave my dream job to move to Canada to get an MBA. While leaving my village for my undergraduate degree felt like an easy decision, this leap was riskier: I had a job I loved and things were continuing to improve for me where I was. I had the infamous pair of golden handcuffs: everything that I had dreamed of, a great career opportunity with a prestigious company, great salary and perks, a terrific job that many people would sell their souls for. I was able to see past the content and comfort to the larger picture — it’s essential to continue to do that in order to grow.
  3. Tighten your belt and roll up your sleeves — Transitioning from a BIG corporate job with BIG budget and BIG agency to a bootstrapped startup was extremely challenging. When I went to work for myself, I had to tighten my belt and roll up my sleeves. I had no pay the first three years. I had to use my resourcefulness and common sense to make decisions, instead of the expensive market research I was used to. I became a woman who could wear many hats within my business, which has helped me strategically as we have grown and hired.
  4. Work smart and hard but don’t forget to play harder — Many people say work smarter, not harder. I disagree strongly: combining smart and hard work gives you even greater results. Often, I work around the clock due to the time difference between Vietnam and the US. In many instances, I burn the candle at both ends with sleepless nights, long haul business trips, and the guilt between juggling family, business and friends. However, I have learned how to manage the 24/7 nature of my work. I recharge my energy by running marathons and doing yoga. When I put my sneakers on it’s my “me time.” I don’t listen to music when I run but I run silently and jot down mental notes. I bring my yoga mat on business trips. I can stretch and do yoga in the hotel room, or between the airports waiting for next flights. I also make sure I do not miss out on any great sightseeing or activities during trips. If I can sneak in a day or two I will …and yes, I do stop and smell the roses along the way — literally and figuratively.
  5. Always raising the bar and ask for 1% extra everyday — The difference between the naysayers and the doer is that extra 1% every day.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

My favorite quote for resilience is Buddha saying:

What you think, you become

What you feel, you attract

What you imagine, you create

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have spent all my energy for the last 10 years on promoting and preserving the beautiful art of quilling. This is a lost art in many parts of the globe. I want to create a moment to revive this art and help it to flourish for new and younger generations.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.instagram.com/quillingcard/

https://www.facebook.com/QuillingCard1/

https://twitter.com/QuillingCard

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Huong Wolf of Quilling Card: They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Melissa Ross of Breathe With Me Yoga On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Melissa Ross of Breathe With Me Yoga On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Gratitude. Find the positive in every adversity and focus on the lessons you learned — maybe when you had a flat tire, you learned how to be more prepared and change the tire yourself next time. Be grateful for what you have, and your mindset will eventually shift.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Ross.

Melissa Ross has over 20 years of experience in the field of yoga and mindfulness. As the founder of Breathe With Me Yoga, Melissa has united countless families, helping them to burn off stress-energy and listen to their bodies while also bringing them hope. After helping her son navigate anxiety at an early age and spending time in the classroom with so many children, it became Melissa’s biggest passion to help children and their parents navigate their way through anxiety, bullying and positivity. www.melissaross.yoga

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

In 2011, I suffered from postpartum depression and severe anxiety. After my two-and-a-half-year recovery, I returned to my government job stronger than ever and stress-free. Within a month of returning to work, I was feeling the same stress I had felt during my pregnancy. I knew then and there that I had to find a new path for my life. I had volunteered at my son’s school in the last mile of my recovery and loved being with the children and guiding them in whatever journey we were on that day. I had also been practicing yoga with my long-time instructor of thirteen years (now 20 years). I was passionate about both and set out to find a way to put it all together. In July of 2014, I certified as a Children’s Yoga Instructor and founded Breathe With Me Yoga. I went on to earn my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher designation. As class sizes grew and I began to lose the one-on-one connection with my students, I realized I wanted to help them on a more personal level. That’s when I set out to make a more significant difference in the lives of every person I encounter. I certified as a Mindset Mentor and Clarity Coach and founded Rise2Wellness, where I hand families the keys to mental wellness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I love sharing this story! I was in business for about a year and a half when two brothers enrolled in my Calm Kids Yoga class. The older brother was very shy. He began his first class curled in the fetal position in a chair by the front door and couldn’t look at or speak to me. I assured his mother that we would get along just fine — and we did. Over the weeks, he slowly inched his way to the side of the room, then into the class and eventually participating in the full lesson. He was so immersed in the lessons that he wanted to do more. I watched as he broke out of his shell, allowed other students to interact with him, and eventually asked to be my assistant in class. The most inspiring part of the story is that he confided in me that he was being bullied at school and asked me to help him talk with his parents about it. The takeaway from that story is to always lead with love and remember that everyone is having their own experience. If we allow without judgment, beautiful things will happen.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I’ve ever made was releasing a student without physically seeing his mom there. He was a friend of my daughter’s from school, and I knew the whole family. Our class was running in an upstairs studio then, and I knew the mom had a newborn. The student told me his mom wanted him to meet her downstairs after class, and I let him go. The mom came to me the next class and said that I had released her son before she was there, and he did not have her permission to meet her downstairs. She was trembling. I will never forget the fear on her face. The lesson I learned was never to assume anything, never make a call based on my limited knowledge and always follow the protocol no matter how uncool the kids may think it is.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

When the pandemic hit and everything was shut down, I began a free online yoga class called Story Time Yoga. Story Time Yoga helps children and their parents navigate their way through anxiety, stress, and positivity while highlighting the incredible message in the books we read. Visualization of the stories helps kids connect with and create a bond with the stories and their messages. Children 5–9 years and families 2–9 years gather together to breathe, have fun, and find the yoga in everyday life. After airing 100 episodes in 2020, Story Time Yoga was picked up as a TV show, and season one has launched on the “In the Limelight” channel on Binge Networks.

Every author that has their book featured on an episode of Story Time Yoga is involved in creating the miracle of:

  • uniting families through yoga, mindfulness and the books they read;
  • helping them to burn off stress energy;
  • teaching them to listen to their bodies;
  • showing them how to regulate their breathing; and
  • bringing them hope.

We all know that if a company wants to be a force for good in the world, it needs to embody hope. My biggest passion is to bring children, and their families hope in a world that sees so many people struggle with mental health. I help families grow in gratitude and positivity and let children know there is always enough love for everyone. The work I do with families through Story Time Yoga will have a more significant impact on this generation than Mr. Rogers did on mine — it will improve humanity.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Gratitude. Find the positive in every adversity and focus on the lessons you learned — maybe when you had a flat tire, you learned how to be more prepared and change the tire yourself next time. Be grateful for what you have, and your mindset will eventually shift.
  2. Affirmations. Affirmations are short, positive phrases repeated to yourself that help overcome negative thoughts. They’re deeply personal and set the tone for your entire day.
  3. Journaling. Journaling is an excellent way to explore your thoughts and feelings deeply. It’s known to ease anxiety and depression and to help you focus. You can dump everything you’re thinking onto the paper, and you’ll start feeling better just by getting it all out.
  4. Breath Work. Aside from keeping us alive, our breath nourishes, feeds and cleanses us. By learning how to breathe mindfully, you become stronger, more aware, and more in control of your emotions. It’s so great because you can do it anywhere.
  5. Celebration. Celebration affects your brain just like breathing — it releases those happy endorphins into your body and calls in more of what you’re celebrating into your life by anchoring in that success. You’re signalling to the universe; I want more of that!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

My vision is a world where everyone grows in gratitude; therefore, I would start a gratitude movement. I mentioned earlier that regular gratitude would result in a mindset shift — so why not practice gratitude every day! That positive shift can help change the face of mental health and help the world find happiness from within. This is so easy for the entire family to be involved in. When you shift from concentrating on the negatives to finding the good inside of every experience, you find the clarity you need to navigate the issues you may be dealing with. I believe that when we support families with mental wellness, gratitude and a positive mindset, we will manifest a more kind world filled with courage and growth.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Find a mentor or a coach. Coaches and mentors have lived what you are currently experiencing. They have the wisdom to get you where you want to be in less time.
  2. Figure out what you are good at and delegate the rest. It will take you ten times as long to complete a task as it will an expert. Hire your web designer, accountant, social media marketer and administrative assistant if those areas are not your expertise.
  3. “Delegate, don’t abdicate” ~ David Corbin. If your knowledge in a particular aspect of your business is low before you delegate, you will surrender to someone who could take advantage of you. Understand that aspect of your business before you delegate it. You want to be a 5–7 out of 10 before delegating.
  4. Network, network, network. Find a like-minded community of networkers and support each other. When you talk with people and find out about them, it makes it easier for you to serve them and others. It also makes it easier to find the resources you need when you need them.
  5. Don’t sell, serve. “If you want more success, find a way to serve more people.” ~ The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is the dearest cause to me. It has affected me, my children, and many friends and family. If not for the support that I had in place, I would not be here today. Since 2014, I have seen an increasing number of children affected by stress and anxiety — and it’s a family affair. I’ve also lost numerous friends and co-workers to suicide. I believe that mental health is the next pandemic. Now is the time to put better supports in place.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

Story Time Yoga can be found on Binge Networks at https://www.bingenetworks.tv/series/story-time-yoga-206965 and my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/breathewithmeyoga. The links to all of my other work can be found at www.melissaross.yoga

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.


Women In Wellness: Melissa Ross of Breathe With Me Yoga On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Kelly Walter of Daily Orders On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Kelly Walter of Daily Orders On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Assumptions about women in business. I really hate it when people ask me, ‘How is your little business going?’. Would they say that to a man? Unlikely. We turn over $1 million in revenue per year and employ three people full-time — that’s not small in my books. There is this assumption that because I’m a woman and my business supports my parents, it must be small or in some people’s eyes, even a hobby! It’s wrong and we need to challenge these assumptions. We’re in a growth phase and not slowing down anytime soon. It’s time for assumptions to catch up.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Walter of Daily Orders.

Kelly Walter is the founder of Daily Orders, a Australian-based business selling time-saving planners for busy families. As a busy mum herself, Kelly knows first-hand the importance of being organised and has made it her mission to help other families achieve a better work/life balance by helping embracing the ‘Daily Orders’ method.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

The mental load has been an invisible weight that women have carried for generations, and it’s time for change. When I was on maternity leave with our second child, one question kept running through my mind: how would I ever get anything done again? Why can’t I handle this? So, I turned to a planning hack used in the Navy where I’d worked for many years as a Naval Logistics Officer called ‘Daily Orders’ to help me take back control of my life. In the Navy, Daily Orders is the primary method of communicating. Published daily, it tells everyone exactly what is happening and when. I wanted to test whether it could make life that bit easier with a baby at home and it worked. I took this concept and created Daily Orders family wall planners for parents just like me.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We manufacture and sell a range of family wall planners that help families get organised, display all the things that need to be done, and make it fun too! The work we do is disruptive because we are changing the way families operate on a day-to-day basis. We are giving parents the tools they need to take back control of their lives and share the load with the rest of the family.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s only funny in hindsight, but at the time it was a disaster! I had arranged a major collaboration with a huge Australian Thermomix group to co-design a menu planner to go on the fridge. We’d never mounted our planners with magnets but the demand was huge so we naively gave it a go. After sending out more than 300 planners, they started falling off people’s fridges. Of course, we received a bunch of complaints and despite doing my research and testing, it turns out that these strip magnets weren’t suitable for actually mounting anything, rather they were just meant to be stuck on racking for electrical cables. The lesson I learned here was to always triple test your products before you launch them and to trust my gut. I knew I didn’t want to use button magnets as they are a common choking hazard, but I was swayed by the customer’s desire to have magnets. Always listen to your gut!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I started out listening to James Tuckerman from The B2B Group who is an exceptional businessman. He helped me grow my audience on Facebook and generate sales through Facebook ads. The biggest lesson I learned from him was ‘not to propose on the first date’ i.e. it is highly unlikely that the first time someone sees your product that they will buy. You need to warm them up first, by giving value and letting them know, like, and trust you, before you ask them to give over their hard-earned dollars. More recently, I’ve been working with business coach Lisa Jones to work on my business, to help me get out of working in the business. She encourages me to make better use of my time, outsource where I need to, or where I am not skilled, and really delve into the numbers behind the business to work out what needs improvement.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I generally believe that disrupting an industry is positive when innovation leads to improved outcomes for consumers. In the parenting space, there are a lot of products and services that have largely remained unchanged for decades, despite the fact that families have become more diverse and parents have less time and more obligations than ever. The needs of parents will continue to change, and we need to be prepared to change with them.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Never propose on the first date — it is going to take time for people to warm up to you and trust you and your brand. They’ve worked hard for their money so you need to work hard to get them to trust you with it.
  2. Numbers don’t lie — You can have all the feelings you like about how you think business is going, but when you look at the numbers, your truth will appear.
  3. Avoid having all your marketing eggs in one basket — Facebook Advertising was initially our main source of customer acquisition and it worked really well for us. But as our business has grown, so have our marketing channels. Since the iOS14 privacy upgrade and significant changes in privacy settings, advertising through Facebook has, for us, become unreliable and expensive. Diminished reporting capabilities mean it’s hard to attribute which ad made a sale. This has made the job of making informed data-driven decisions very difficult in our experience. We’re now exploring other advertising channels such as Pinterest and public relations to help us reach untapped markets.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We’re looking at new products to support our National Disability Insurance Clients with their independence, communication, and organisation. We’ve also got another product coming soon which we’re excited about as it will complement our planners beautifully!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Assumptions about women in business. I really hate it when people ask me, ‘How is your little business going?’. Would they say that to a man? Unlikely. We turn over $1 million in revenue per year and employ three people full-time — that’s not small in my books. There is this assumption that because I’m a woman and my business supports my parents, it must be small or in some people’s eyes, even a hobby! It’s wrong and we need to challenge these assumptions. We’re in a growth phase and not slowing down anytime soon. It’s time for assumptions to catch up.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

No — to be honest!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Donate what you don’t need. Ultimately a lot of business owners are in business to make a living for themselves, but if you don’t need a bazillion dollars, there are always people who do. We currently donate a percentage of revenue to SoldierOn to help veteran mental health and rehabilitation which is something I’m particularly passionate about after my time in the Navy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You can’t afford to worry about what you can’t control. My husband and I met when we had both broken-off engagements. We sat on the floor of his apartment in Sydney one day when we were just going out and looked at each other and said, “Are we doing this — are we together?”. The answer was a resounding yes, but we needed to get out of our own heads and stop worrying about the past in order to move forward. So we came up with this phrase, “you can’t afford to worry about things you can’t control” and we have used that throughout our 12-year (so far) marriage.

How can our readers follow you online?

On Instagram, Facebook, and on LinkedIn. To browse our range of family planners, please visit: ​​https://www.dailyorders.com.au/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Kelly Walter of Daily Orders On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.