Think.Start.Do Recap Part II

“People won’t remember your accomplishments,
they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

After an information-packed morning at Think.Start.Do, the learning continued after lunch. With our mind on food, Johanna Cook of MommaCuisine proudly showed the video that is now on view as United Airlines’ in-flight entertainment.

“Know your strengths and OWN your strengths.”
~ Johanna Cook

Johanna started out in culinary school but didn’t enjoy it, so she studied journalism instead to write about the restaurant industry. Soon she became a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen and loved working in a restaurant. She made working in restaurants her career, had three children and then plateau’d a bit in life. “My realistic dream wasn’t working out.”

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In 2007, a friend mentioned that she should blog. She started blogging recipes, and one day received a comment from an excited reader who had tried her recipe. Her first reaction was fear: “What if someone got sick from my recipe?”

“I kept writing just to write.
Then I started to research how brands were using social media.
I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me.
But I thought if Martha [Stewart] can do it so can I.”
~ Johanna Cook

She started thinking about her blog as a business and developed a business plan. Through a ROKU channel and developing her brand he business is valued at $.5 million and she made 6 figures last year, without having millions of followers.

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Johanna recommends making a list of 20 words that you want your brand to be. Then pare that list down to 10, and the pare it down to 4-5 words and focus on those as your brand. “Food is the vehicle to help other women with their passion,” Johanna said about MommaCuisine.

“Everyone here can make 6 figures on a web site,
even if it is just a side muscle.”
~ Johanna Cook

Melissa Joy Kong, owner of Iceberg Content Marketing Agency gave advice on getting out of the weeds of business management and getting beck to the reason you started your business in the first place. She asks herself a few key questions:

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1. What am I doing with my life?
Melissa’s career is one of seeking, traveling the nation to interview couples about love for her Lovumentary, being part of various startups, and helping men transition out of the NFL. The revelation came that instead of seeking an answer externally, she realized she already had the answer inside herself. She realized she was a born storyteller, and she should help others tell their stories. To ease the searching, she recommends writing a letter to your current self from the perspective of 30 years from now.

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2. How do I make the best use of my time?
Melissa has an extensive vision board with sticky notes to map out her time. She guarded against falling into an Internet black hole and use that time more constructively. Instead of focusing too hard on your end goals, Melissa recommended focusing on habits: “We become what we repeatedly do.” She recommended adding a new habit each month, and giving yourself 66 days to form it rather than the proverbial 28.

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A side benefit of creating habits is that you will also stop negative self-talk with yourself. As you become proud of your incremental habit accomplishments, your inner voice will trust itself more and focus more on your true passion than the lies you tell yourself.

“Even though we focus on money or titles,
there is nothing more valuable than time.
You can’t get time back.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

3. Can I make a difference?
A blog post Melissa wrote in 2012 got a comment from a reader about how one particular quote changed her life, and Melissa needed to read that quote she wrote herself at that point in time. She stressed telling the people who make a difference in your life regularly, because it will help affirm their purpose too.

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To accomplish your goals, she said to write out everything you want to do in 3 years, and then crossing off all but one priority. Then set out to do that one thing by mapping out baby steps.

“We get so caught up in our business
that we forget that it’s about one another. …
In the end, we are all walking each other home.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

Simon Anquetil, Chairman of business incubator Tech Pilot Fund (which sponsored our VIP Happy Hour) met Think.Start.Do Organizer Stefanie Monge through South by Southwest. He decided to get an MBA without having an undergraduate degree, and succeeded at being accepted at a university that had its first inaugural entrepreneurship program.

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After founding an IT consulting business and also working as a medical consultant Simon realized repeat business came from women business owners, and he began to study the difference between male and female entrepreneurship. Simon stressed that he understands that gender is fluid, but that there are traits that are classified as more male than female, but that individual gender dispositions are based more on psychological patterns through nurture.

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The key traits that Simon said distinguish entrepreneurial approaches are:
1. Web Thinking: Men tend to think in a linear step-by-step approach whereas women engage in web thinking, considering the context of each scenario.
2. Ambiguity: women handle ambiguity better than men.
3. Chunking, the process of teaching the brain a new pattern and getting it right at any speed is accomplished more easily by women.
4. Long-term Thinking: Women tend to think more longer term than men.
5. Empathy: Women are more community oriented when making decisions rather than focusing on power and status.

While there is much buzz about the NUMBER of women in business leadership positions, Simon pointed out the relative percentage of women business owners and CEOs is still at a historic 4 to 5%. There is still a gap in college enrollment of 60% male to 40% female, and women are still not earning more with their degrees. Men tend to invest angel funding in men rather than women.

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Nonetheless, Simon said there are more role models that exhibit the successful traits women entrepreneurs should adopt, listing: Sheryl Sandberg, Gail Kelly, JK Rowling, Janine Allis, and Serena Williams. Shared qualities include:

  • Don’t go it alone (have a great life partner and supportive community)
  • Done > Perfect: Do it. Change it. Do it again.
  • Assertive and Humane: bring your whole self to work
  • Be bad to be good: stand up to your enemies even if it breaks the hierarchical rules
  • Trust yourself
  • Do the hard work

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Simon then joined a panel about Embracing Failure & Setbacks with Angie Lee, business strategist; Saya Hillman, Founder Mac & Cheese Productions, and Terri Brax, CEO & Co-Founder of Women Tech Founders. The panel agreed that failure is a matter of perspective, and stopping after a setback is worse than not moving on at all. Each also cited examples of how a perceived failure, such as a layoff, turned out to be the catalyst to a better life, even if it seemed the end of the world at the time.

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Aubrey Schuster of TransTech Social Enterprises shared her journey from being the anointed heir to a successful family business and doubling its sales to coming out and losing both her career and her family. She had to move away to be true to herself. When she moved to Chicago she was introduced to Angelica Ross and followed her on social media. When Angelica made a comment about needing administrative help, Aubrey raised her hand via social media, and was hired.

“There is an entire group of people with conviction.
Make a place in leadership for trans people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

TransTech Social Enterprises was formed in 2014 as incubator for LGBTQ Talent with a focus on economically empowering transgender people in the community. TransTech members are trained in graphic design, web development, social media management, multimedia production, and other services through real-life projects.

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The technology field is suited for transgender people because it can be done remotely, removing the barriers of engaging in a hostile office working environment. Since TransTech is a training ground, services are discounted in exchange for investments in social justice causes.

“Transwomen are not a homogenized group of people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

Because transwomen reject masculinity, they are more targeted than those impacted by general misogyny. Trans women, particularly black transwomen, are marginalized with significant economical barriers. They are often rejected by family. 47% of black transwomen are incarcerated. 90% of transgender people hide their true selves, and 70% do not come out at work. You can learn more via this video clip.

“This is the most diverse conference I have been to.
Everyone has spoken beautiful truths.”
~ Devorah Heitner

Devorah Heitner, author of Raising Digital Natives thought a career in academia would be a perfect fit since her professors seemed to have a lot of autonomy, and she didn’t want a boss. She learned otherwise as she pursued this path, but nonetheless focused on pursuing her PhD in 2007. From 2002 to 2007 she researched Black Power TV, traveling the country interviewing people who were part of this movement after Martin Luther King was assassinated. She got married and had a child, and then learned that her husband did not want to leave Chicago, limiting her job options. She took a job that was a bad fit, and made it last for several years until she was fired.

“I was thrust into entrepreneurship
because I knew I cannot be an employee again.”
~ Devorah Heitner

After being fired, she called a career coach friend, and was at the crossroads between continuing a track of race, social justice and media, or exploring kids and digital media. Economic factors had her giving talks at local middle schools and high schools about digital media. She researched the challenges parents and teens face regarding cell phones, permissions to post photographs and other topics. By speaking, blogging and sharing data, she compiled Raising Digital Natives.

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In 2014 she gave a TEDx talk that caught the attention of Singapore’s Minister of Education and she was flown out to Singapore to speak in March. She now has a team of 4 people assisting her with a new book coming out and continuing her venture.

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Tips Devorah thinks are applicable to entrepreneurship from her research are:
1. Mentoring over Monitoring: taking a cell phone away after a mistake does not teach children anything, but teaching how to manage content is more effective.
2. Find productive ways to deal with failure: digital citizenship is an ongoing process and a constant learning curve
3. Find clarity through boundaries: unplug on a given days to clear your mind, don’t discount your rates when you know your value
4. Be clear in your subject lines when requesting an audience: Rather than “requesting meeting” capture what you do, such as “digital media expert” when reaching out to new leads.

“We all have a passion and
we all want to make money with our passion.
Money gives us access and more freedom.
Money helps you do more.”
~ Johanna Cook

We left with notebooks full of helpful hints, inspiration and exercises to ponder, and book titles to read. Many of us felt affirmed in making life choices that have been simmering, and others felt supported in staying the course of where they are now.

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It will be exciting to see how our online community develops after the conference, and where we will all be when the next Think.Start.Do conference comes around.

Think.Start.Do Recap, Part I

“You’re a character in your story
and you need to develop that character.
If you never begin, the end isn’t up to you.”
~ Hello Holiday

When you’re a solopreneur, it is important to build community and also continue to learn from others. Faced with a sense of loneliness, serial entrepreneur Stefanie Monge decided to create her own community, and launched the ThinkStartDo conference this year. Inaugural events are hard to gauge, but I knew one of my favorite serial entrepreneurs would be speaking, and I was looking to mingle with people from other states, so I signed up the moment I heard this conference would be in Chicago. I am so glad I made the monetary and time investment.

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On Thursday evening we gathered at Emporium in Wicker Park to mix and mingle. Since I was upgraded to the VIP package I got to meet the guest speakers early, and enjoyed chatting with Nebraska and Iowa-based business owners over a pint of Magnetron (one has to support women-owned breweries, ya know!). We feasted on Nori Sushi.

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On the way home I scoped out the Jackson Junge Gallery which hosted our event.

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On Friday I took the Metra in to Wicker Park, Angel’s first ride.

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I walked the chilly 20 minutes through the neighborhood and admired remnants of Chicago History.

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We were treated to a wonderful breakfast and I chatted with some early bird attendees before the program began.

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Many people had traveled from out of state, only to be greeted by snow in April.

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Co-Founders Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik spoke about their journey to launching Hello Holiday, from being rejected by various venture capitalists to raising their initial $3,000 startup fund from garage sales. Three and a half years later, they have upgraded their web site and inventory on various occasions, and also opened a brick & mortar store in Omaha.

youchoose-HelloHoliday

Sarah stressed how she needed a partner to push her to become an entrepreneur after years of being interested but not feeling like she could be an entrepreneur herself. Megan was exploring a new venture after various business launches didn’t challenge her anymore, and wholeheartedly bought into Sarah’s idea of an online fashion boutique.

“I was always doubting myself and
thinking I couldn’t work as hard as other entrepreneurs.
I was talking myself out of things.
Then I realized there is no special set of rules
that defines you as an entrepreneur compared to other people.”
~ Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik

By actively documenting the business launch on social media, Sarah and Megan created a connection with customers, emphasizing transparency in the behind-the-scenes aspects of their business. “As soon as you have a product ready to launch, launch it. Your first product won’t be the best,” Megan said. The duo also quickly invested in hiring a part-time employee to ensure they still had time for strategy and business growth rather than getting too much into the weeds of the business.

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The Brick & Mortar store also launched quickly a year and a half ago when an opportunity arose, rather than when Megan and Sarah truly felt ready for it. They now have several employees and moved into larger space to scale for further growth.

“We want to help women feel their best”
~ Megan Hunt

Actively engaged in the Omaha community, Megan and Sarah strive to be as inclusive as possible to be accessible to women of all sizes, all races, and all walks of life. So was this conference. I expected the attendees to skew toward the late 20’s age group, but we had women and men of a variety of ages and in various stages of life in attendance. Some founders still worked full time at other jobs while developing ventures, others launched businesses after layoffs, and many had a blend of part-time gigs and business ownership or multiple enterprises.

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Author and Consultant Stacey Flowers actively decided to fight statistics when she became a teen mom. During her pregnancy, people not only told her that she wouldn’t graduate, but also spouted statistics about her child ending up on welfare, not graduating high school, and ending in jail. She started college with her 3-week old baby strapped to her at the College of St. Mary, and strove to become the best version of herself. Through her network of helpers in raising her child, she was able to pursue her masters and launch an HR consulting firm.

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Stacey said the Greek root of passion is to suffer, and said the key to finding your passion is asking yourself: “What are you willing to suffer for?” Her passion is to help people in their education and growth and development, not only by supporting her family through college but also with helping others pursue their happiness.

“Happiness is not uninterrupted moments of bliss.
Happiness is unleashing your god-given talent
and positively influencing this world.”
~ Stacey Flowers

Once you have defined your passion, it is important to know your purpose, which can be developed with the following three questions:

1. What is the thing I got into trouble for most as a child?
2. What irritates me the most?
3. What completely delights me?

Stacey got in trouble for talking too much, indicating her calling for being a speaker. The thing that irritates you will ensure you don’t do that thing, and likely complements a need someone else has. Where you find your joy is where you find your purpose.

StaceyFlowers

Upon discovering your passion and purpose, learning your platform is key. Stacey distinguished between public and private gifts. While she is compelled to speak and be on YouTube and do consulting work, her son’s gift is more private. He supports his peers privately when they experience bullying, and is a justice advocate through private empowerment rather than public activism.

“No one asks: How is Bill Gates juggling his career and family?
We are no different from dad entrepreneurs.”
~ Jill Salzman

Jill Salzman started Founding Moms when she had a baby and needed a way to network in a kid-friendly space. Six years later, the Meetup has expanded to 50 cities around the world. She shared three top tips for parentpreneurship:

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1. There is no such thing as balance. Jill stressed that she has kid days and she has work days, but she hardly manages to juggle quality time with both in a single day. Key is to choose a priority for that day, and then make up for the other things on another day.

2. Your schedule is your own. Jill fell into the trap of accepting meetings at all times, and over time learned to carve out days just for herself so she would not burn out. She said taking control of her schedule by not booking meetings one weekday helped her be more efficient the rest of the week.

3. Tools Jill listed 4 apps as her go-to tool: Slack, Evernote, Hurdler (an accounting app) and Colorfy.

“The balance thing
is like hiking in a desert and looking at an oasis.”
~ Jill Salzman

Sarah Baker was bullied in High School and strove to find a way of lifting others up with her business venture. Balanced Babe is a wellness and lifestyle brand built on numerous strategic partnerships.

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Sarah emphasized that when looking for strategic partnership the key is to ensure the project is mutually beneficial. Strategic partnerships help support fellow entrepreneurs, offer increased promotion and awareness, and can give you an edge over your competition.

“There is enough success to go around for everyone.”
~ Sarah Baker

Marketing partnerships can be created via:
1. Email: Cross-promote a complementary business with a lead-generating call to action in an email blast
2. Social Media campaigns: Create a social media campaign together
3. Influencers: Offer products or features to influencers and bloggers who can promote your brand
4. Events: bring each other’s networks together through workshops and events
5. Articles: contribute your expertise to articles online and offline

“Expect to make friends.
You have a value that you can give another person.”

~ Sarah Baker

Sarah recommends writing down three partnerships that would benefit your brand. Then research the brand, reach out, negotiate and secure the partnership, execute the plan, and assess the results.

BalancedBabe

There are potential pitfalls to partnering. Sarah cautioned against not being a consultant to the other brand and to gauge if someone is mining for information vs. genuinely interested in a win-win situation. She said she reached out to 20 people a day to generate her first partnerships and followed up three times.

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The panel Turning Passion Into Action helped us pick the brains of Crystal Shuller, Director of Customer Happiness at ReviewTrackers; Maggie Norris, Startup Weekend Organizer; Ari Krzyzek, Creative Entrepreneur, Designer, and Creative Director at Chykalophia; and Steve Daar, Founder of Conversion for Good and author of Profit Hacking. We discussed how to maintain momentum, asking for help, hiring help and overcoming fears.

3DprintedHovalin

Prior to lunch, we were introduced to the Hovalin, a 3-D printed Stradivarius violin replica. Kaitlyn and Matt Hova showed the numerous iterations they went through to develop this violin with a home-based 3-D printer.

MattandKaitlinHova

It took a year and a half before v1.0 was launched. There were three failed prints for every good prototype and 20 pounds of plastic was wasted.

HovalinPrototypes

After creating the version Kaitlyn could play, the couple realized that this would help numerous families with children interested in violin lessons. Hovalin hopes to help save school music programs through STEM grants by letting schools print their own instruments. Hovalin is open source for people to print at home and can also be purchased fully printed for $65.

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V2.0 has been launched and is inexpensive, not fragile and not shrill, defeating the barriers Kaitlyn’s family faced when she begged to play the violin.  Kaitlyn’s rendition of wildest dreams brought many of us to tears.

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There was ample time for mingling and networking during lunch. More wisdom was shared in the afternoon, which I’ll post in part II.

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“You need to take responsibility
for your future and an idea you have.”
~ Megan Hunt

Anticipating ThinkStartDo

Next week a fabulous entrepreneurial idol is coming to town and I will get some continuing education in.

Maike's Marvels meets Princess Lasertron at the Creative Connection Event

Megan Hunt is a serial entrepreneur I discovered in an issue of Where Women Create, and since then I have followed her various adventures from Princess Lasertron to Hello Holiday to AirBnB hosting and her various speaking events.

On Thursday and Friday I will listen to her and numerous other women business owners about maximizing business ventures. ThinkStartDo was founded by Stefanie Monge, an international yoga and mindfulness teacher and serial entrepreneur, to help established and aspiring female entrepreneurs from around the world to learn, collaborate and grow. ThinkStartDo is designed to promote meaningful connections and collaboration while providing tangible resources and support to entrepreneurial women.

ThinkStartDo Conference

Chicago was picked because it was recently named Best City in the World for Female Entrepreneurs (Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015). On Thursday, registrants can join a traveling happy hour in Wicker Park from 5 – 9 pm, followed by the ThinkStartDo Opening Reception sponsored by the Tech Pilot Fund. The learning begins on April 8 with 2 panel discussions, 9 speakers, meals, and a party to round out the day at Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, 60622.

The speakers include female founders, media personalities, authors, serial entrepreneurs, consultants and innovators from Chicago and beyond. They’ll share personal stories and provide inside tips for success related to topics including: mindfulness and productivity, social media marketing, blogging, optimizing happiness, building a business that fits your lifestyle, startup strategies, attracting investors, and opportunities in tech.

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But the conference doesn’t end there. To maintain momentum after the event, ThinkStartDo will offer conference-goers tangible resources stay on track to achieving goals after the event ends. Conference registration includes access to the ThinkStartDo online community, peer mentoring, accountability groups, one year of free web hosting, plus additional resources. Registration ends on April 5 and you can get a 50% attendance discount via this link. ThinkStartDo is limited to 150 participants to maintain an intimate feel and help spark collaboration.

GoalPursuit

Attending provides the following benefits:

  1. Free resources – Your registration comes with additional resources to help you succeed after the conference ends, including one year of free web hosting from ThinkStartDo Sponsor A2 Hosting.
  2. Learn from others’ experience – You’ll get the chance to connect with entrepreneurs at all stages in their journey as a business owner who can share their experience.
  3. Mingle with investors – You’ll get to meet potential investors and learn from entrepreneurs who’ve successfully raised startup funds.
  4. Be a peer mentor – You’ll have the opportunity to become a peer mentor to other women in the ThinkStartDo network.
  5. Accountability groups – You’ll have access to accountability groups full of other goal-oriented entrepreneurs to help you stay on track.
  6. The speakers are great – You’ll hear from more than a dozen self-made entrepreneurs who can share their tips for overcoming obstacles and thriving in business and life.
  7. Wicker Park is awesome – You’ll get to explore one of the most vibrant and artistic neighborhoods in Chicago – if not the entire U.S.
  8. You can expense it – Be sure to keep your receipts!
  9. You get an instant support group – You’ll become a member of an international community of female entrepreneurs and allies to help support your success.
  10. Fun parties – Along with the conference you’ll get the chance to network and socialize at two happy hour events, an opening and closing party.

Get your ThinkStartDo Conference Passes here.

(ThinkStartDo photos courtesy Stefanie Monge, and the Joy*filled journey deck card is from The Collage Cafe)

Adaptability, a key trait of entrepreneurial women

“All women adapted to what they were dealt and made it work.”
~ Barbara Joan Zeitz

In early October the Network of Entrepreneurial Women celebrated Crain’s Small Business Week with a lovely gathering of small business owners in Glen Ellyn.

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As we perused the menu and got to know each other, Rebecca Sturgeon (LMT, CMLDT) gave us chair massages to relax our muscles and our spirits.

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We ordered delicious sandwiches from Shannon’s Irish Pub’s special menu, which nourished us sufficiently to take in all the information disseminated that day.

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During lunch, Barbara Joan Zeitz presented several historic women who ‘leaned in’ before Sheryl (Sandberg). Relaying the stories of Rose Knox, Helena Rubinstein, Ida Rosenthal, and Olive Ann Beech, we discovered that women can start careers at any age, against all odds, and thrive.

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Rose Knox started a Gelatin business with her husband Charles. The couple refined the time consuming recipe of boiling, straining and clarifying the ingredients for gelatin, and Rose gave away recipes with each purchase. When she was 50, her husband died and Rose took over the business, causing the departure of a male manager. Rose supported work equality by closing the back door so women and men would both enter and exit via the front door of the manufacturing plant. She was  a pioneer in nutrition, test kitchens, labor relations and creating the gel tab.

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Helena Rubinstein brought 12 jars of face cream to Australia from Poland at age 24. She settled in a small sheep grazing village but set about selling style and fashion to the local population. Her cream incorporated lanolin that had an awful aroma for which Helena experimented with scents. 6 years later she had a viable business in Melbourne. Helena pioneered the concept that beauty was a new power. She also established professional standards for beauticians, developed luxurious packaging, garnered celebrity endorsements. After the stock market crash she refocused on establishing salons and developed a financial empire that made her one of the richest women in the world.

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Ida Rosenthal did not buy into the flapper look, which failed to address more buxom women. Her husband, a sculptor, helped her design a bandeau that would offer support within a dress. When the dresses with these built-in bandeaus became popular, the Rosenthal’s developed the first brassiere by joining the two cups together with elastic. Ida’s husband died in 1966, and Ida ran the multimillion dollar company herself until her death in 1973. Maidenform continues to be a popular brand.

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Olive Ann Beech partnered with her husband to establish Beech Aircraft during the era of cross-country air races. World War II called for an expansion to support wartime production, and Beechcrafts became the standard training vehicle for military aviators. In 1950, her husband died. She secured a $16 million loan during the Korean war and expanded her employee base from 2800 to 13,000 that year.  Post-war, Olive Ann focused on space age production in partnership with NASA.

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Barbara recounts the stories of numerous other real life heroines in A Thesaurus of Women and her online column: “CountHerhistory”. Her second book should be coming out by the holidays, and will be a perfect gift for your leading ladies.

“Love is what is selling business”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Janice M Faris, Accountant and Principal/Owner of Janice M Faris, EA, helped us to think about how we pay ourselves as entrepreneurs. It shouldn’t just be about covering costs, but also about the lifestyle we want to establish for ourselves and support in perpetuity. She pointed out that even a not-for-profit pays their employees (and some very well), so that being a non-profit has nothing to do with giving yourself a salary.

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Jan pointed out that it is very important to make retirement part of that income equation, and to take inflation into account as well. Jan can help solopreneurs determine whether to set up as a a sole proprietorship, whether to incorporate or whether to establish an S-Corp and what the tax implications of each are. She and her partner Peggy Goddeau also take a comprehensive look at all your financial inflows, outflows and help project what you will need in the future to sustain your lifestyle.

“We tend to flock.
We have to make our own path and learn from other women.
Just because there is a path doesn’t mean we all fit onto it.”
~ Jan Faris

We discussed how we can improve our brands with marketing strategist Larvetta Loftin. Larvetta’s L3 Eventeurs provides lifestyle marketing, advertising, public relations, and live engagement events to a broad array of clients. Larvetta had us identify our favorite brands, and made the profound statement that the brands we admire share our customers and clients.

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She said that brands that stick to their passion and purpose do better than those who change their business model. It is easy to leave loyalists and brand influencers behind if you do not keep reinforcing your promise to them. Larvetta also emphasized that collaboration is key. Partnering with businesses who share your vision can strengthen both brands. Key questions to ask when developing your brand are:

1. What is our promise?
2. What is our why?
3. What is our influence?

She also stated that branding is not just a logo, and social media is not a strategy, it is a tactic. Branding is a part of marketing and establishes your perceived value. Larvetta enjoys working one-on-one with small business owners to determine their brand and create a strategy with them.

“You can be a small business but a big brand.”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Karen McCormack covered the new guidelines and brackets for health care.  One key change Karen noted is that being a woman is no longer considered a “pre-existing condition”—when previously there was a large discrepancy between health care costs based on sex. Reproductive and preventive care should be free under the new insurance plans. Ageism has also been addressed with Obamacare, no longer penalizing older people for their age.

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Health insurance is now standardized into tiered plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum that vary by the ratio of payments to benefits. This standardization does impact some of the networks insurance providers recognize, so it is important to check with your doctor on what network they are in when making decisions. Penalties for not having health insurance are going up, so it is important to take advantage of the current open enrollment period through Januray 31. As an independent insurance broker, Karen can assist anyone with navigating Obamacare 3.0, whether switching from group insurance to personal insurance, setting seniors up with medicaid and assisting small business owners with group plans. Karen is licensed in 13 states.

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All attendees went home with goodie bags. NEW will be on hiatus through the holidays, but stay tuned for our charity fundraiser in February 2016.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Some photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com.

Charmed by books

Last week we celebrated Women’s History Month at the quaint Town House Books in St. Charles.

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It was a sunny day and we enjoyed a healthy lunch at the Town House Books Cafe, which was merged (from Al’s Cafe and Creamery) and attached to the building in 1996.

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The menu is in chapter format.

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Owner David frequented this book store during his teens. Formerly the home of St. Charles’ second mayor, the Greek Revival style building was built in 1853. It became an antique shop and then a beauty shop, whose proprietors gave the upstairs its 70’s era decor.

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In 1974 Mary Lou Kelly opened the book store, which became David’s dream. He asked “Mrs. Kelly” if she would consider letting him take over the store if she was ever interested in retiring, and the answer was no.

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After some time, however, Mary reconsidered and in 1992 David took on full ownership while Mary planned to stay on for one year. David learned everything about the book business, and over time modernized from the pain-staking paper-based inventory tracking to computerized equipment, while maintaining the traditional book store charm.

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Mary retired in 2013, after having reduced her hours over time. The book store was awarded 1999 “Best of the Best” by the Sunday Post Magazine.

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After our delicious lunch Barbara Joan Zeitz presented a fabulous program which warrants another post. Her books are located in the Women’s section at Town House Books.

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On Thursday we raise pints to St. Patrick and our latest accomplishments at Shannon’s Irish Pub in Glen Ellyn. Join us from 6 to 8 at 428 N Main St, Glen Ellyn and enjoy some speed networking.

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NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup or Facebook.

TownHouseSign