Shoppe Spotlight

Female Founders Who Inspire Us


The Women who Inspire Us

In celebration of Women's History Month were highlighting the female founded brands on City Shoppe.

EMBR | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?
 
For me, my greatest challenge is definitely managing my own timelines! As a self-employed designer, there are a lot of projects that don’t have a deadline or some external accountability attached. Whether it’s a website or a wedding ring, it’s so easy to keep perfecting, revising, and tweaking a project plan before actually starting. The pressure for perfection can be useful as a motivator, but can also hold us back when it keeps us from taking the leap of faith it often takes to make a goal happen in real life. I’m not an entrepreneur if I plan great ideas but never finish them!
 
What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?
 
Know your worth, both in terms of your finances, and your time. Identify your core values and make sure your business life is honoring those as well. It’s easy to put sales first and yourself last, but ultimately your goal should be to build a business that respects your real worth. Also, more doing, less hesitating. 🙂
 
What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in?
 
Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?
 
My local SCORE chapter was always there to clear up confusion with taxes, licenses and registrations. It’s a lot to learn alone! Mostly, I’d just recommend reaching out to build community with other local creatives. It’s always good to have a team for collaborations, inspiration, or just supporting each other through referrals and shout outs.
 
How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
 
Managing a healthy work-life balance is still a growing point for me! When your passion, your hobby, and your work all intersect, it’s easy to just never clock out. I’ve found that scheduling time off works well for me, especially spending time with a friend who can keep me accountable to not working. Spending time in nature, exploring the great PNW, and away from screens always helps to keep life in perspective.
 
What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?
 
It’s everyone’s job! I love that female voices and leadership are finding more and more time in the light, and it’s everyone’s job to make sure that spotlight keeps growing. We can all commit to educating one another on the tools and conversations needed for equality, to normalizing conversations on inclusivity, and to recognizing and calling out inequality in our own lives. The more we can grow this positivity for all marginalized voices, the better for everyone.
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Rose Quartz Ring

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Portland, OR

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Arched Mobile Kinetic Earrings

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Portland, OR

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Portland, OR

Nora's Kitchen Granola | Portland, OR

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

To be transparent, as a woman it’s been running a business in a male-dominated world. Don’t get me wrong women are killing it in changing that, but it still doesn’t mean it isn’t a struggle we deal with day-to-day. More and more we see women stepping forward bringing their craft to life and to market, but it takes a lot of patience and determination to make those dreams happen. Entrepreneurs build their businesses from the ground up which means we have invested more than just money, but we have invested ourselves emotionally and mentally to essentially lose it all at any moment. This puts a heavy burden on entrepreneurs. I’d say the second thing is curving the habit of doing everything myself. There is so much strength and power in community. I’ve learned that when you reach out or put yourself out there for getting the help you need there are people ready to do whatever it takes to support you. That’s been a beautiful thing to experience and see.


What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full-fledged business owner?

I’ve been told two things that have always stuck with me which are “Have the conversations that matter” and “Leverage your strength”. It’s important to wear many hats, but it’s more important to learn your strengths and focus on them. The conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs and small business owners are something I will hold with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned so much from hearing other people’s experiences and struggles. Something I would tell my younger self that I learned later in life and practice every chance I get is, “The amount of learning we are capable of is endless.”


What types of coaching programs, business development associations, or clubs did you participate in?

Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? I make sure to join small business groups on Facebook, follow networks on Instagram that focus on small businesses, stay up to date with local creative network groups like Creative Mornings and have virtual “coffee dates” with Portland Made members. I will FOREVER recommend looking into Creative Mornings. They have networks all over the world and bring something really special to each city they work in.


How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

One thing I really started working on after the pandemic hit was to set a time Monday-Friday to completely turn off all my devices that involve a way to keep me working (phone, computer, etc.) and spend time with myself or my partner. If the sun is out I schedule a time for myself to get outside even if it’s for 30 minutes. I’ve started focusing on tackling one thing at a time because I found it helps manage my anxiety and stress. Another big thing I started bringing to the forefront is focusing on my mental health. My business won’t succeed if I can’t take care of myself. A big challenge for me is continuing to practice, “Is this helpful, and is this helpful RIGHT NOW?” Most of the time the answer is no. Learn to listen to yourself and make the best moves not only for your business but for yourself. We become so consumed in our businesses that we sometimes lose ourselves. We have to learn to practice that balance to be successful long-term.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

It’s hard to say whose job it is or point fingers when the job is for us all and it needs to be done as a team by everyone. I’d like us all to use our strengths to not only empower and develop female entrepreneurship but expand into lifting LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC entrepreneurs. If you haven’t worked this into your life already then the time is now. It’s time to be an ally.

Esteli Body | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey? 

Getting started, gaining enough confidence to believe I could do it. 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

 Don’t wait till you’re ready. I started because my sister had rented a booth at a street fair and asked if I’d like to sell my skincare in a section of her booth. Just having that set date is all I needed to make it happen. Prior to that I was reading books to get inspiration and educating myself which I justified as essential for my preparation but when I was honest with myself, realized it was procrastination. 

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

  •  I was part of the regional Etsy group which was great for finding out about events and opportunities as well as seeking advice from more experienced entrepreneurs. I also attended a couple local workshops with other makers who gave advice on selling at various craft fairs, trade shows and wholesale.
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  • How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
  •  It is challenging at times especially as a new mother but I made it happen with the help of family and really late nights. My biggest challenge has been trying to make time for adequate sleep and exercise. To be completely honest, I’m still working on that by trying to go to bed early and waking up early but I’ve been a night owl all my life, so it isn’t the easiest habit to break.
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  • What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it? 
  • I’m a strong believer in personal responsibility and being the designer of your own life. I think the best thing one can do for oneself is find people that you admire, collect mentors and listen to their podcasts or read their books. It doesn’t even have to be someone famous, look at the entrepreneurs in your daily life and observe those things they do, ask questions. One thing that I did to help me get more confidence in my abilities was by looking at the social media accounts of entrepreneurs who I admired. I saw how they evolved from their first instagram posts to today’s. It is helpful in seeing that they weren’t an overnight success and it took months or years of smart work to get them to where they are today.
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Portland, OR

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Portland, OR

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Portland, OR

Lindauer Confections | Portland, OR

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

At different times of business development, there are different struggles. Initially, there is this tension between believing in your products and doubting that you have what it takes to be successful. There are also so many facets to making a business work, especially in the first years. I think you find out very quickly what are your strengths and and your areas for improvement that need more education and learning. Bottom line, you have to wake up every day believing in yourself and the reasons you want to share your products with consumers.

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

Don’t quit — keep going even during the hardest moments when you think you can’t.

Looking back on those initial first years, I would strive to better understand all of the different business channels out there and what is the best fit/culture for my products. This is usually a work in progress, but there are so many types of retail accounts, corporate partnerships, DTC, and e-commerce opportunities. It is good to get clear on where and what target consumers your products do best with and why. I would urge myself to dig in and understand the COGS in that first year too so that the price points for retail and wholesale are crystal clear for the business and the different types of accounts/channels you want to attract/be on. Find a few trustworthy, smart partners/mentors with a food business background or who have finance and accounting experience who believe in your ideas/product and want to support your business and growth.

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

I completed the Get Your Recipe to Market course offered by the Food Innovation Center, Portland Community College, and New Seasons. It was a fantastic way to get the basics of developing a food business. One of the best parts of the program is having a built in mentoring and networking community with some of the smartest and most helpful fledgling and mature food entrepreneurs, and expert resource partners. Everyone is so supportive. If you are food/beverage entrepreneur/founder in the NW, I would strongly encourage participation and membership on the PNW Food & Beverage google group. This is an amazing group of knowledgeable, savvy, open and generous entrepreneurs who are dedicated to learning and exceling at their craft: pnw-packaged-food-bev@googlegroups.com On the financing and investment side for womxn entrepreneurs, I would highly recommend XXcelerate, a wonderful organization for peer support, resources, and investment specifically designed and founded by womxn.
https://www.xxceleratefund.com/

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
My four essentials for attaining good physical and mental health are sufficient sleep, daily outdoor time (hiking, biking, walking), healthy eating and foods, and quality time with family and friends! Of course, those are great goals and I try to go after all of them on a regular basis. However, working towards having a profitable business and achieving those goals aren’t always compatible and usually an aspect of the business or quality time with friends gets sacrificed. Small and tiny business owners approach this balance on an individual basis. I try to make sure I get this balancing act right, but I don’t think I have achieved it well and every week is different and offers new opportunities for trying to get it right.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?
All womxn entrepreneurs have a responsibility to reach out and encourage other womxn who are interested in exploring if they want to develop and share their passion product or idea with others. Also, we need to be starting early in middle and high school and in after school enrichment programs. Girls Inc is a fantastic empowerment and educational program for girls ages 5-18 and provides mentoring opportunities with business and professional womxn to share their stories and lessons for how they discovered their paths.
The most important thing we can do is urge our sisters to make the effort and at least try and find out if they truly want to pursue the very challenging path of being an entrepreneur. There are many groups/classes/training programs/grants/investment offered for womxn and womxn of color. We need to share those resources widely and provide encouragement and motivation. Our communities desperately need more womxn developed small businesses. Sometimes they just need a nudge to take that first step and search their soul to find out if it is the right fit and lifestyle.

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The Assortment

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PORTLAND, OR

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Plum Ganache

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PORTLAND, OR

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Sea Salt & Walnut Caramel

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PORTLAND, OR

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Whiskey Walnut Truffle

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PORTLAND, OR

KS Jams | Brooklyn, New York

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

 

For an entrepreneur, wearing many hats can be challenging. 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

Reach out to your peers, and pay it forward. Network more. 

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

I specifically recommend the Harlem Local Vendor Program (HLVP, in collab with the Harlem SBDC – Columbia University) in NYC. This year long program really helped my to get on the map. Also Start Small Think Big and Score are great resources in NYC. 

 

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

Before that, I have been in the corporate world for over 25 years. I have learned to watch out for myself. It is important to take time to re-charge, burn-out is a real thing!

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

There are a lot of resources available already. I recommend to get certified Women Owned Business, and make sure you network extensively with other women.

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Handmade Gourmet Orange Marmalade 8 Oz

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New York, NY

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New York, NY

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New York, NY

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Handmade Gourmet Pear Vanilla Jam, 8 Oz.

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New York, NY

Goddamn Man Co. | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?
 
The hardest (and most rewarding) part of my journey has been learning how to do new things like building SEO or marketing and making lots of mistakes. Sometimes, there are problems to be fixed and I have to figure it out because I can’t pay for professional services. A huge benefit of this is that I know how to do every part of my business.
 
What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?  
 
Walk, don’t run. There are many times when I just wanted to get through something but had to slow down and do it right.  I would have benefited from this advice when I was younger too.
 
What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?
 
I took a 10-week introductory business class from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at PCC that was very helpful. The class includes several hours of 1:1 advising as you develop your business. Regarding programs for women, I highly recommend Xxcelerate for their peer support and other business development programs specifically for womxn. I participated in their peer support program and benefited from being around other female entrepreneurs on a similar journey, goal setting, accountability, and connection to consultants with expertise to help move me forward.
 
How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
 
Is there such a thing? When I started this business, I was pursuing joy. So, I have been trying to make decisions that make me happy rather than distressed. The biggest challenge is taking time to recreate, even when doing business stuff is fun.
 
What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?
 
Little girls need to grow up already knowing that they can be and do anything and that they have equitable access to opportunities regardless of where they come from. This is everyone’s job.

Svona Studio | Cleveland, Ohio

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey? -The hardest part for me was letting go of all of the side gigs. That sense of security is really hard to part from but once I had a plan in place and moved forward, I knew it was the best decision.

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

 I always quickly worked my way to leadership positions throughout my adulthood- leading the arts department when I taught highschool art, General manager of a fast growing brewery, assistant manager of a local pottery shop, etc.- I learned less from advice and more from the examples led by the business owners/administration of these various fields. I intentionally would develop a close relationship with those I admired to continuously learn from their ways. would tell my younger self to stay confident in myself, keep working hard, and to trust the process. 

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

 I highly recommend finding online business courses through your community college and taking them for non-credit. This is hands down the cheapest way to find mentors, peers, and have valuable information at your fingertips. I did this before I quit my formal teaching career and it laid the groundwork for my business knowledge. I also knew this was an unbiased and fact based course.   I did participate in various online courses taught by other artists and joined communities but found the information and connections lacking genuine depth. Throughout my years, I’ve learned and connected best by meeting people in person and having authentic and candid conversations. Online, Ive developed stronger relationships with fellow artists by opening up and being vulnerable on my own platform. This has allowed for personable communication and the vulnerability that comes with reaching out and/or providing advice. 

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it? 

Hmm this is a tough one because Im single and live alone so my life does revolve around my work. But it is also what truly fulfills me and makes me happiest.  My studio has become such a cozy and chic space so my friends will often come by to hang out for a drink. I designed my studio this way to make it easy to work in but to also hold events, host friends and fam, or just lounge with my dogs watching tv.  My biggest challenge was letting go of my side gigs that were time consuming and unfilling. This has opened up my schedule to comfortably fit in managing the house, staying active, and a social life. 

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it? 

I believe this starts with children when they are young. At various ages, the responsibility lies upon the adult in which they interact with- parents to encourage the bold and outspoken traits, teachers to embolden girls to take leadership positions and make decisions, mentors and managers to break down obstacles that may prevent a woman from being promoted. I teach creative entrepreneurship through a nonprofit and my first step is always to dismantle the preconceived notions of what a “entrepreneur” looks like (its often a white man in a suit walking downtown). The angle I take when teaching this mindset is less focused on business and more focused on creating a profitable career and lifestyle based around what you are passionate about. As girls grow into young women I think its important to help them differentiate between what they “like” (ex. soccer, horses, cheerleading, theater) and what they truly connect with based on their values (ex. standing up for their friends, exploring new places, working with their hands, making a difference). So rather than “picking a major based on their favorite subject”, these young women will start to figure out the various paths on how to build an authentic life and career. This realization is often the reason so many women quit their day job and chase their dreams resulting in being an entrepreneur. 

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Fearless- Print

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Cleveland, OH

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Power - Print

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Cleveland, OH

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Rise - Print

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Cleveland, OH

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Gold - Print

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Cleveland, OH

Simple Alchemy | Newberg, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

Knowing when to take calculated financial risk is really hard. We feel like we can research forever, but at the end of the day, some investments are going to pay off and some just aren’t. When you don’t have investors, or much start-up money to speak of, it’s a lot more difficult to be cavalier. In addition, growing a following is an ever-shifting challenge! We rely on social media, written reviews, and word of mouth. With constantly changing algorithms, it can be tiring to keep up!
 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

 We both owned other businesses prior to launching Simple Alchemy, and Bee has been self-employed her whole life. We’ve never been cut out for 9-5 office jobs, and feel like it would legitimately drain the life out of us if we had to do it. We’ve received loads of little advice nuggets over the years, and they’ve all culminated into the core values we carry now. Never do it just for the money, or you’ll never be happy, and craft a business that supports your values. We would tell our younger selves to have the audacity to believe we can change the world. We would say, “Channel that white male privilege, and approach everything you want with the belief it’s already yours!”
 

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

Oooooh, we are not good people to ask this question. We haven’t paid any of the fees required to participate in any programs, associations, or clubs. We’re also queer, and living in a small church town. Options are a wee bit limited.
 
How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
 
Neither of us thrives when we force ourselves to adhere to strict schedules for longer than a couple weeks. This is a lesson we’re still learning, but approaching work and life in seasons seems to work best. In most businesses, everything happens in seasons anyway! There are months where we work long hours every day, and don’t have very much time off to speak of. But it’s always balanced with slower weeks where we can take our time, and enjoy weekends off. Perfect balance between life and work doesn’t have to happen within 24 hour blocks of time. The balance clock doesn’t reset at the end of every day. It’s cumulative. The trick is to make sure we’re resting and refueling enough before burnout hits. That’s the biggest challenge for sure. We’re in our late thirties now, and just realizing we need to set alarms to remind us to eat.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

There are thousands upon thousands of incredible women with amazing ideas, tons of drive, and all the gumption in the world. What they lack is support, and capital. Even running a successful crowdfunding campaign takes time, and money. Not everyone can afford business coaches. Loans are rarely given to new businesses, because they want a documented history of high profit earnings. Where does that leave the women with solid business plans who just need a little help to get off the ground? Self employed small business folks are also taxed unfairly. We’re big believers in democracy, and definitely believe in paying our taxes and supporting social services. If you’re making less than 50K a year though, the bottom line is you should not have to send 30% of your income to the government. It’s a supremely biased system, designed to keep poor people poor, and rich people richer. Deep change needs to happen, and we’re excited to see so many strong women working in government and speaking out!

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Solid Lotion

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Newberg, OR

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Citrus Burst | Soy Woodwick Candle

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Newberg, OR

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Newberg, OR

Overcup Press | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?
 
The hardest part has been understanding the nuances of book publishing. I was extremely lucky to find a wonderful female mentor who had been in my shoes. 
 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

 

The best advice was to approach business challenges with an open mind to solutions. 
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High-proof Pdx: A Spirited Guide To Portland'...

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Portland, OR

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Tolly

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Portland, OR

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Portland, OR

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The Tall Trees Of Paris

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Portland, OR

Flip the Script Studios

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

The toughest part of being an entrepreneur has been prioritizing. I am a wife, a mother to 3 young girls, and have a corporate job in addition to running my business. I wish there were more hours in a day!

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

I have a business coach whose favorite phrase is “just get over yourself’. I repeat that to myself all the time! Running a business really requires you to put yourself out there, be visible, and do things that scare you. The fear of criticism is real, but the risk is totally worth it.

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in?

Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? Most of the coaching programs I participate in at this point are virtual, and they have been a great way to find like-minded business owners to collaborate with. That said, I am a huge advocate of networking in your local community. My first job was as a Business Development Manager for a local Chamber of Commerce, and I saw first-hand the strong relationships that were built through in-person connections.

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

Balance feels very elusive, but I’m working toward it every day. My biggest challenge is making sure I’m mentally present with my 3 kids. It can be so easy to let your mind dwell on business challenges even during family time, but I’ve found that when I split my attention like that, I end up not doing anything well. Thank goodness I’m a night owl, because I usually put in a solid 4-5 hours of work on Flip The Script after my kids are asleep.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

I think teaching and promoting entrepreneurship from a young age is super important. My twin daughters are 7, and they love helping with “Mommy’s store”. I want them to see that entrepreneurship is a viable career path, and I would love to see curriculum in schools reflect that possibility. I think it’s especially important for girls to see the independence afforded by business ownership, so they know that their future is in their own hands.

Handful | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey? 

 Honestly there are too many things to list I don’t know where to start.  Time, Prioritization, Resources.  Time:  Never enough – we all used to work other jobs and did Handful part-time on the side (as young moms!).  It was hard and never felt like we could get enough done personally or for the business.  Prioritization: So many things on the list of “should” “want to” “need to” – not knowing what to tackle first (or ever).  Resources:  Finding partners that fit well to work with whether it is hiring an employee or a partner to contract services with.  And money –it has always been tight and we have always had to juggle to get what we want in the pipeline.

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? 

If you really stopped to think about what you are doing and how much money you aren’t making, you will quit.  So don’t do that.  And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner? Do what you love, the rest will follow.

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in?

Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? We’ve been involved in a lot of organizations as we’ve gone.  One in particular is StarveUps here in Portland. It has been instrumental in guiding us, answering our “dumb questions” or just providing other like minded people to vent with and cry with (when necessary).  We’ve had so many things go wrong….and so many things go right.  We always say, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” and we really try not to.   Other supportive networks for us have been some of our investors and our advisors.  We have an amazing team of people who have helped us with their guidance and expertise beyond our wildest dreams.

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

We work hard and we play hard.  Sometimes its hard. There are only 4 of us and we each wear a lot of hats.  I hadn’t taken a real vacation where I wasn’t at least on email for years.  I’m not joking.  This is the hard stuff when you have your own business – I finally went on a trip to Europe with my family for 3 weeks and unplugged.  My team held it all together but that was a huge strain on them since we are very small and no one has “extra time” on their hands.  We all love what we do and we’re flexible – that is really the only way it works. When I worked in corporate America, I was in from a pretty standard 8:30-5:30 kind of day.  As an entrepreneur, I may take my kids to school, work for 3 hours, take the dog on a walk, run errands, work, pick up kids and then log back on in the evening.  No day is the same but its my day.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

 We have to be honest about what it entails, provide resources to help women entrepreneurs get there (the inability to get funding easily is a HUGE obstacle) We all need to be encouraging each other – We rise by lifting others.  I firmly believe this.  We always take the time to meet with women who have questions or need help because we had amazing women do this for us to.  Its an ecosystem. 

Laura Bennett Designs | Los Angeles, CA

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey? 

 
I’d say the start, but the past year and half has been SO tough! This is no surprise, but COVID really hurt small creative businesses. In addition, I run a full time design studio as part of Laura Bennett Design and making sure I’m not giving half of my attention to just my product line or my design projects is really hard! It’s a lot of hard work but when you enjoy it, it’s totally worth the challenge.
 
What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner? 
 
To be honest, I didn’t really ever plan to be an entrepreneur. I had a dream of doing what I do now, but I never thought of myself as “business minded”, rather only creative. I didn’t realize that to run my own brand as a designer meant I actually needed to take on the identity of an entrepreneur. If I could give my younger self advice, I would say be inspired by those around you but focus on what YOU do well and run after that while not comparing yourself to brands 10 years and 50 employees down the road from you. Also Progress > Perfection. 
 
What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?
 
 I personally reached out to mentors or designers I looked up to in my area, asked my connections to connect me, shared my work often online, and learned that there is A LOT I don’t know. Social Media is a great tool to connect but it’s also a great place to waste lots of time (which we don’t have excess of as a solo-entrepreneur).
 
How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it? 
 
Truthfully, I’m still learning this lesson. COVID forced me to slow down, and I hope to take that rhythm into this next year. I’m a believer that I’ll fill the allotted time I have with the work I have. I know that I function better in my business when I’ve taken care of my basic needs, mental and emotional health, and made sure my friends still know I’m alive and well. Also do chocolate and wine count as a valid answer?
 
What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it? 
 
Wow loaded question. My mind goes straight to the gender wage gap, but I think even showing young girls that they are qualified and capable of being an entrepreneur one day just by having the example of women in the industry today is a great start. I think it starts by intentionally supporting and encouraging the females in our life and community who are currently entrepreneurs. Creating that awareness is so impactful, and it’s a ripple effect. 
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Kate's Magnets | Seattle, Washington

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

Every day is different, and navigating that as a parent and spouse in my overall life is definitely a balancing act

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

Best advice I was ever given is that you overestimate what can be done in a day, a week, and a month, but underestimate what can be done in a few years. I try to keep that in mind when I am frustrated by how slow it is taking me to realize the vision for our business, and making sure to every day make intentional steps no matter how small towards the overall goal. I would tell my younger self that owning a small business requires a lot, but the joy of building something that is yours is so worth the effort!

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in?

Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? We have joined a lot of Small Business Facebook groups. It can feel lonely as an entrepreneur, and being able to connect with other like-minded individuals is so important for mental health. No specific mentoring program in our city, but I would recommend finding Facebook groups, podcasts, and following small business Instagram accounts to stay connected.

How do you manage your work/life balance?

What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it? We really try to run our business as a 9am – 4pm Monday – Friday, and then a half day on Saturday. Knowing that this is the schedule our family can work around that. We also take Holidays and school break times seriously, and limit any work. The biggest challenge is that the business has its own ebbs and flows that sometimes don’t coordinate with our family’s schedule. However, since Kate’s Magnets is really our family business, we try to make it fun with everyone helping out and listening to fun music when it is outside of those regular scheduled times so it feels like we are still connecting and the kids get to be part of it. Also, not waiting to hire an employee until you are overwhelmed!

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

I think the biggest thing that can be done to develop female entrepreneurship is showcasing more women entrepreneur stories of running their own business, and the positives that impact their family. I know that I didn’t realize how amazing it would be to have our kids be part of the small business, and they have gotten the entrepreneurship bug. They talk about owning their own small business someday, and that makes my heart happy that they see it all as a positive experience. I think it is all of our jobs as female entrepreneurs to share the positive outcomes and how life has changed for the better. That is why I am excited to be part of this conversation!

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Lux Reve | Bend, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

The hardest part has been marketing and sales. Sales are the most important part to having a successful business. Without sales you have no revenue and no revenue means no business. Figuring out how to generate sales without a large marketing budget or any marketing background has been so difficult. I still struggle with it every single day. If you know the secret please tell me haha

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

Don’t let fear and perfectionism paralyze you. Just get started and it will evolve with time. I wish I would have taken a branding/marketing class or online course before I transitioned my hobby into a side hustle. 

Yes I have taken a lot of online courses through the years and I have gone on a few women entrepreneur retreats. I am a Pangea Dreams Alumni and a member for the Bend Boss Babes. I definitely benefited from all of those experiences however my advice for others is to find  a style that fits you and first and foremost really try to define what your goals are for your business. I did a year of business coaching with Rachel Hollis. I also have done some Expanded Manifestation courses with Lacey Phillips. Both of those women have podcasts that you can listen to for free and see if it resonates with you before investing in their courses.  I have also taken a lot of Udemy Online courses. Those courses have been the most cost effective. They are great resources, easy to do on your own timeframe and you can usually find them on sale as well. 

My biggest challenge to overcome was deciding to go all in and turn my side passion into my full time job. That decision was by far the scariest & hardest decision I have ever made but the thought of never trying to go for my dreams; always wondering “what if” ended up scaring me more than the fear of failure itself. I also truly believe when you push yourself out of your comfort zone you are forced to transform & grow in ways unimaginable therefore whatever happens you never really fail. Knowing & believing that gave me the courage to quit my job as a Physical Therapist and commit completely to Lux Rêve. Taking that terrifying leap of faith was a big step forward towards making my dreams a reality however with that decision has come many more challenges, sacrifice and stresses.

As for overcoming those day to day challenges my advice for any small business owner is to remember to celebrate the small victories along the way. Take time to reflect and see how far you have come. Surround yourself with an amazing support system. Try to stay positive even when you’re extremely scared or stressed. Find an activity that forces you to be present and takes your mind off of your business. I know that is harder than it sounds being a business owner is a 24/7 job. Surfing has become that activity for me. When I am out in the water I am truly present and my mind clears. Last but not least always practice daily gratitude. I am so grateful for any day I get to put my toes in the sand & splash in the ocean.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

I think the job is up to us as women. We need to continue to empower each other and always lift each other up by celebrating one another’s accomplishments. We can do this on social media platforms by; liking, sharing posts and or leaving uplifting comments/messages. Sharing our experiences and being honest and authentic with one another can help gain awareness and remind us we are not alone.  There is someone else out there who sees you, hears you, and understands you. I also truly believe that one woman’s success can and does help empower the success of another woman.  We need to look at female entrepreneurship as being part of a big team. A team that can learn to work together in supporting each other rather than competing. There is room for all of us on top! 

Essance Skincare | Portland, Oregon

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 What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

Oh mind, we can talk about this for hours. Being an entrepreneur; you will learn at the early stage that can feel very lonely. Some day you’re on top of the world because you have the support from family and friends. Once that support run low and thin; you feel drain because you’re at the dark end of the tunnel with limited resources from financial to staffing, to administrative needs. The first 3 years was the hardest because you had to figure out many elements of the business to build it up. You have to decide which is the best strategy to utilize in order to generate income. You had to figure out where to funnel the channel for customers to find you and refer others to you.

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

I would tell my younger self to enjoy the journey. As I looked back I actually love knowing that I was able to build something spectacular without pitching for an investor to support us. It almost feel like I was on the backpack journey and discovered the road map along the way which identify the destination ahead. As my young self I would take a moment to enjoy each stop along that journey.

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

There is one in Portland with the Xxcelerate for Women that I was a member for 6 months.

How do you manage your work/life balance?

This is one of the thing that I know how to do best and teach others to incorporate into their life.

Daily Mindset

At least 7 hours of sleep no matter what

Lots of Water

Stretching such as yoga or short walk in the wood.

15-30 minutes complete silent or meditation to reset.

What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

Biggest challenge is learning more and incorporating what you’ve learned. Knowledge serve no purpose when it’s not putting into action. Ironically the best way to learn is to unlearn what you’ve learned.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

Female entrepreneurs have to develop very thick skin especially for the POC community because you’re often being turned away or not even giving the same amount of attentions. I had to teach myself to focus on what has already been achieved than to feel discouraged or invincible when we’re not being noticed.

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Beverly and 3rd Candle | Chicago, Illinois

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

The hardest part of my journey has been to realize I cannot wear all the hats, all the time. It can be very difficult growing a business, raising a family and taking care of yourself. 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur?

And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner? The best advice I got is to not compare yourself to others. You cannot compare your beginning years to other companies that have been here for several years. It all takes time and with focus and motivation you will get there! I would tell my younger self to take the time to build relationships with customers and other business owners. 

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in?

Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? In the beginning I was trying to figure it all out on my own, but the more research I did, I found some groups on Facebook that were very helpful. Now that I have been in business for several years, I have other small business friends that are always there to answer any questions to. I am also really loving the different groups on Clubhouse.

How do you manage your work/life balance?

What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it? I feel like I am still trying to figure this one out. The biggest struggle for me is to get all of my work done and still have the energy for my personal life. I could easily work 7 days a week, but I have learned to set work hours for myself that I try to stick to and I have recently realized how important weekends are. I need that short break to be able to reset and enjoy time with my family. 

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

I really think everyone needs to be supportive of females who are interested in entrepreneurship! It can be a hard journey, but females are capable of so much! 

Bebenca Organics | Seattle, Washington

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

When I was starting out as a bootstrapped startup, wearing multiple hats and juggling between roles constantly seemed very arduous. I particularly found myself struggling with social media ads and marketing in general. 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner

My father is a business man and he always said that initially, every new business needs atleast 1000 days of perseverance and patience. It is like tilling the land, sowing seeds, watering the soil and waiting and waiting…

This advice is always a good reminder to continue working hard and not give up when you are new and results are slow. To my first year self, i say, i am proud of you for staying laser focussed and not giving up. Perseverance wont disappoint you 🙂

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

 I did reach out to mentors for finance and accounting advice from SBA SCORE mentors and once for legal. I did watch lot of SBA videos on how to start a business. I am part of a few groups on linkedin to network with people from my industry and few facebook groups of women founders. I also joined a subscription based training calling Startup Fashion. They provided much needed knowlege pertaining to fashion industry and starting your own fashion brand. I made amazing friends on its community group and we continue to support each other. I also listen to business podcasts, take ecommerce trainings, marketing vidoes of Neal Patel and attend webinars and lecture series on sustainabiliy and fashion. I have not joined any group in the city yet. 

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

To be honest, i am struggling with work/life balance at this stage of my business. Since the company is new and in its infancy, i am unable to put it down. My biggest challenge is to delegate and let someone else do it. I am slowly warming to that idea. It is one of my goals this year to set aside some time to meet friends or taking a weekend getaway. 

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

 Collectively, as a society, we can all welcome and encourage female entrepreneurship – starting with family, friends, communiyt and Government. Its everyone’s job. More of free mentorship programs can help immensely when a woman is even considering entreprenuership. If the trianing on all aspects of starting a business is easily accessible along with easy funding options and resources, it will help women to put any hesitation aside and pursue their dream. Market places dedicated to women entrepreneurs, could give a special platform for them to showcase their products and services.

Tamara Kelly Desgins | Seattle, Washington

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

I think the hardest thing about the journey is the constant pressure to do your very best and to alway succeed at what you put in front of you 

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

I best advice was to get a good accountant and financial adviser .  I would tell my younger self never give up always take time for yourself and recharge that is very important .

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?

none at the moment but if there was time probably metal smith program

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

I think the hardest thing is balancing work which is from home so its easy to work when you can , which is never enough and the day to day family , cooking, sports, budgeting and having time for myself.  Somedays are very stressful , and other are rewarding just gotta keep going and revising where you can.

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

I think it is important to keep you mind open for opportunities in life and share and compare with others in a similar situations, the job should be everyone’s to keep the lines of communications open.

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Rachel Escoe Glass | Portland, Oregon

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?  

I first and foremost became an artist because I love to create. I always want to be creating new work and  sometimes I wish that’s all I could do, but staying focused on marketing strategies and social medias has  thus far been the toughest thing to run when it comes to my business!  

Being creative about collaborations and realizing that obtaining a fresh set of eyes on my work helps me  think outside of the box and enlightens me on other people’s perspectives.  

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur? And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

-“Keep a sketchbook around at all times to stay creative.”  

-“Don’t apply to grad school until you have had at least 10 years of real life art and business experience!”  

I would tell my younger self to not get bogged down and keep the inspiration station going!  Team work makes the dream work and helps to make new ideas flourish.  

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in?  

I am a member of Portland Made, which has helped me exponentially with meeting other local makers,  gaining connections for business collaborations, obtaining skills/connections on marketing strategies and  getting advice on things like shipping/receiving, website development, markets, wholesale, etc.  

I have recently started to get involved with Portland Public Schools when it comes to teaching workshops  and mentoring our youths. I would recommend any female entrepreneurs to get involved with youth  programs as they are the best way to be inspired and inspire our next generations. What better way to  bring our female voices into the spotlight then with our youths!  

How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

I recently just had my first baby almost 2 months ago! So right now I am going through how to navigate  maternity leave, recovery and family life with my business. It has been a challenge, but also has given me  a fresh and positive outlook on the intricacies of being a women in business; all while running a family at  the same time! I have the utmost respect for all of you women out there running their own businesses and  raising a family. You rock!  

What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

Women teaming up with other women on collaborations and such can really help bring awareness to the  masses. The mindset of it always being a competition needs to end. There isn’t enough support for each  other. Let’s work together ladies!  

Also, more inclusion of female perspectives from other businesses would really benefit the cultural  outlook for how people see women in business.

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Darrellene Desgins | Plano, Texas

What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

My business is over 13 years now and I think the hardest thing is keeping up with the technology and how to market yourself when you are a small company with limited resources.

What is the best advice you received as a budding entrepreneur?

To surround yourself with positive people who can mentor and encourage you. They can also hold you accountable.

And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?

Embrace the good and the bad and learn from them. Keep moving forward and learn from your mistakes. That is how we grow. I also hold my plans loosely and I’m open to changes and new directions.

You don’t have to be perfect, just move forward. : )

What types of coaching programs, business development associations or clubs did you participate in? Are there any specific mentoring programs in your city that you recommend a female entrepreneur get involved in? I am part of Teri Johnson’s Refine Community and I’m on weekly coaching calls with the group and it has been instrumental in moving my business forward. It is a group of like minded women who can related to what you are going through. I’m also part of an SOS Ecom Academy to help with the technical side of my business. You can’t do it alone. There are people who are going through what you are going through and we can come alongside each other and build each other up.

 How do you manage your work/life balance? What is the biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

It is hard at times, but at this point in my life I realize that family and relationships are the most important thing in life. I am a Christian and I know God is in control, not me. I want to use this business to encourage other people and spread the love of Christ and encourage people with my art. I just make sure I’m in the word every morning and excited about the day ahead. You have to fill up your cup, so you can be there for others.

 What do you think can be done to develop female entrepreneurship, and whose job is it?

 I think it is our job to support our fellow female entrepreneurs and help each other. “Be a giver not a taker” Terri from refine always asks “How can I bless your socks off?” I think we all need to have that attitude. I appreciate the support of family and friends all these years. Don’t be afraid to spend money to invest in yourself and your business.  There are resources out there to help, don’t be afraid to use them and support those friends who have a local small business. You will bless their socks off. : )

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