Shoppe Spotlight

Women’s History Month

It’s time the world got to know more Women Founders

We caught up with three women-owned businesses on City Shoppe to learn more about their entrepreneurial journey, how they started their careers and found success as a woman in their industry.

Habitude Paper

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

My biggest struggle has been juggling my creative work, manufacturing, and all the administrative parts of being an entrepreneur. Before I began my career in stationery, I was in the process of completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications Design and remember realizing at the end of our last semester and final exhibition show that, “Oh right, I’m suppose to follow the same path like everyone else and get a corporate job.” I spent about 3 years working as a brand designer for small and large corporate firms, when I realized that I wasn’t a good fit for that type of environment. Ever since then, each day feels like a new challenge in my entrepreneurial journey which I enjoy much more! I’ve always loved a challenge, even if I don’t know where it will take me. 

 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 was given was to not be afraid of rejection, and to always enjoy the process and not the final result. I would probably tell my younger self that it’s totally fine to make mistakes because that’s how you develop your own style and voice. I would also tell my younger self that developing a brand takes time and patience. You have to put the effort in to make it work!

 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?

At the end of 2019, I attended the virtual coaching program with Katie Hunt, in her Paper Camp Course, (otherwise known as Tradeshow Bootcamp) in order to branch into selling wholesale. I found tremendous success after completing the program and also gained an amazing network of like-minded stationers in the industry. 

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

I feel like sticking to a routine and a regular stopping time at the end of the day has really helped me manage my work/life balance. Not all days are perfect, and I have more on my plate than I did even a year ago, but I do notice I tend to complete more tasks if I am ensuring there is enough quality time to spend in the evenings with my Fiancé and my little Pomeranian Pixel. 

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

Empowered women of course! I also think it’s important to believe in the women in our lives and let younger women know it’s okay to speak up and voice your opinion. 

Tan Tan Foods

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

The hardest part of my entrepreneurial journey has been trying to find the right balance for all the roles that I play: restauranteur, start-up founder, entrepreneur, #ladyboss, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend…the list goes on!

 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?

That getting our sauces into retail markets was only 50% of the work and that the other 50% comes from keeping those products there. It’s a good reminder to never rest on one’s laurels and to keep hustling. And what would you tell your younger self now that you are a full fledged business owner?  I would tell my younger self to take the time to have fun, even if I need to schedule on the calendar. Working non-stop with an average of 3-4 hours of sleep a night isn’t sustainable; the emails and DM’s will be there the next day. I’m actually still working on this so there is still room for improvement!

 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 fortunate enough to have gone through the Getting Your Recipe to Market course taught through the SBA where I learned how work with our recipes from the restaurant and had the opportunity to pitch our sauces to buyers at the “final”. It laid such a integral foundation for what Tan Tan Foods has become today. Also, I was part of the first cohort of the Built Oregon Accelerator where I received so much support and mentorship to help Tan Tan Foods progress to the next level. Portland has such a vibrant community and we have lots of resources here to support including: XXcelerate, Portland Made, MOB Nation, Portland Mercado, Prosper Portland, Mercatus Portland, Built Oregon…the list goes on! I would love to help connect, please reach out to me!

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

I am still working on this work/life balance. I do find that I am so much happier when I can do each aspect individually rather than try to multi-task! The biggest challenge for me is that I constantly experience Imposter Syndrome. Despite this honor to be featured by CityShoppe or having had my story published, I often feel like I’m not rightfully earning these accomplishments. I’m working on graciously accepting credit and have found that I can channel my own self-doubts towards amplifying and elevating others through mentorship and collaborations.

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

 I truly believe each and every one of us is responsible for developing female entrepreneurship. Everyone, regardless of: gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, age, abilities is capable of support. This can include (but not limited to!) reaching out to tell someone how much you appreciate their hard work, offering to share networking opportunities or simply being an ally to show support in solidarity. We can’t expect others to make the change, but we can make the choice to be the change. Community over competition!

Harlow Jewelry

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

I’d say the hardest part of my journey (which is almost 12 years now!) has been the weight of uncertainty that comes when owning a business. There are major ups and downs and sometimes all in the same day. Being able to trust that the next opportunity will come can be difficult because you can’t guarantee the future. 

 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 comes from Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic. She talks about not being able to force inspiration, and that our job as an artist is to just keep showing up. Then inspiration will appear if you just keep showing up.  I would love to tell my younger self this: Lots of things will go horribly wrong and feel like an emergencies. You will figure out how to work through every single emergency and obstacle that comes up. Trust yourself, you’ve got this.  Don’t waste time in worry. You are amazing and will build such a beautiful life for yourself. It might not look like other people’s success, but for you, in your life, you are wildly successful. Also, I love you, you are magic, and don’t forget to stop every once in awhile to just appreciate that you get to put beautiful things out into the world. This is such a gift.  

 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 lucky enough to meet people along the way who helped guide me through. About 6 years in, I found the PCC Small Business Development Center in Portland. It’s a free program where you can find mentors in whatever areas of business you need support in. As a solopreneur, it’s so helpful just to bounce ideas off of another person and to actually work through things out loud. Sometimes just the smallest shift in perspective can give you answers you weren’t able to see before. I also went through a lean manufacturing program and had a consultant I worked with at no cost through the Small Business Development Center. It completely changed my manufacturing process and productivity. 

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

 This is a tough one because in running your own business there are always things that still need to be done! Working from home is especially challenging because it’s always there. I do need to take more breaks in terms of days, but I am good about putting in a good solid days work. So, by 5:00 I’m usually wiped out! I’ve found if I try and push myself to work past that, I end up making mistakes and making more work for myself in the future. Another big one to learn as a woman is that it’s OK to disappoint people. That may sound crazy, but it’s essential in setting boundaries to take care of yourself. 

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

 Putting money and resources into women’s hands is essential. It’s a historical and societal issue, so who’s job it is will take awhile to unpack 🙂 The short answer is all of us.  

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