Year: 2016

Maple syrup is part of Dori Ross’s Canadian birthright. She grew up on a farm in rural Ontario, where tapping trees was simply a weekend hobby. After a twenty plus year career in marketing, when Dori moved to Vermont she couldn’t contain her passion for maple. She found herself tapping her Vermont trees with her three kids, who would run off the school bus every day to check the taps. Then they’d spill three quarters of the sap while running with full buckets up to the house. (Keep in mind it takes over 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!) Fortunately, this was not yet a business. It was just fun.

It seemed inevitable that any food business Dori started would involve maple. But instead of tapping her own trees and selling the maple syrup, Dori realized that she wanted to use her marketing experience to help hardworking sugar makers and to elevate the status of maple, which is a true luxury food.

So she teamed up with local sugar makers in the Mad River Valley. They supply her with single-source syrup, some of which she sells. The rest gets delivered to a group of local Vermont artisan candy-makers, who transform the liquid staple into solid and truly unique goodies in the Tonewood line – a maple cube, maple cream and maple flakes.

Her Philosophy

  • Keep things really focused and rework things all the time to drill down.  Keep it simple.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Don’t be afraid of taking risks. Everyone just has to realize that they’re not alone. It’s scary for anyone that takes this job if they feel fearful. That’s OK because it is a scary thing to do.
  • Jump off that cliff and and do it because you’ll regret not doing it you won’t regret failure because at least you took a risk.

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Candice N. Mackel is a graduate of Morgan State University, a full time entrepreneur, owner of Candice Nicole Public Relations (CNPR) and Creator of Women Who Hustle, which is a women’s organization that recently celebrated one year. She started CNPR 9 years ago and has worked with some of the top talent in music and film including Spike Lee, TI, Meek Mill, Big Boi, Tika Sumptner, Marsha Ambrosius + many more.  Candice is also the VP of Marketing for the Alliance of Women in Media (DC Chapter) and the Author of “The PR Puzzle”.

Starting a business takes more than desire.  There must also be a willingness to act.  It’s impressive that Candice started her PR firm right out of college and I wanted to better understand how she was able to find the courage to start a business at such a young age.

Her Philosophy

  • Always remain a student.  Always have an open mind to new things.  Never ever think that you know too much.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Have thick skin.  If someone tells you “no”, you have to keep on pressing on.
  • Know that being an entrepreneur doesn’t happen over night.  It takes time to build you brand.  Never give up on yourself.
  • Always remain a student in your industry.
  • Realize that you will always have to answer to someone, whether it’s your boss or your customers/clients.
  • Condition yourself to be able to multi-task at the beginning.

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Seema Alexander is a business strategy coach who empowers purpose-driven women to make the transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship.  She does this by helping her clients to maximize their credibility, productivity and profitability in business.

I wanted to talk to Seema to get her thoughts on what it takes to successfully transition from a corporate environment.  Not only has she made the leap herself, but she’s also coached many women to success.

Her business philosophy: 

  • Do what you love and do it often.

Her advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t start a business just to make more money.  Focus on purpose first.
  • Have a strategic plan or blueprint in place for your business.  Consider the products/services align to your market and how you will get your message out there.
  • Invest in yourself and hire someone in a strategic capacity to help you.
  • Build a community by creating authentic relationships with other entrepreneurs.
  • Be mindful of what it will really take to create a business.

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Mariquel Waingarten has been an entrepreneur since she was 24 years old.  For her first venture she created and managed a boutique hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, her hometown.  Most recently, Mariquel is the co-founder of Hickies a new lacing technology that turns any sneaker into a slip on.  She is also the co-founder of Sudacas, a company that brings South American design objects to the rest of the world.

When it comes to new product development, curiosity is key. We must constantly question industry norms in order to create differentiated products and services.   During our interview, Mariquel provided wonderful examples of this and I felt really inspired after listening to her speak about her journey.

Her Philosophy

  • Work with other women who have driven personalities and powerful ideas along with capabilities for management.
  • Change something that is not done in the best way.  Don’t impose unfair things on your customers.  Focus on details that will completely change the experience of your customer.  Place yourself in the shoes of the customer and change little things that are unfair or are not done in the best way.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Take the leap of faith.  Take a chance and try.  Amuse yourself with what you could become.
  • Give yourself the opportunity  of being something different, of being fearless.  Prove to yourself that you can do it.  You deserve that chance.  You deserve to give yourself that opportunity.

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Emmaly Knecht is the owner and designer of eba totes. Eba totes are eco friendly bags produced in LA and feature two inside compartments and a waterproof lining. Emmaly strives to create a business that promotes a better ethical standard for fashion accessories and empowerment of women in the business world.

I believe that the best new product ideas solve a problem by using a unique and creative approach.  Oftentimes, we know that a problem exists just from our own daily lives.  However, the challenge is in figuring out how to solve the problem using your own unique voice.  Emmaly has embodied this approach in her creation of Eba Totes and I wanted to learn more about her product  development process.

Her Philosophy

  • Be honest with your customers.  Realize that people want to know who you are.  They really want to know who they’re buying from.  Emmaly’s philosophy is based on creating something that’s eco friendly and made in the U.S.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Read.  There are many different tools and things that you can read to learn about business.
  • Have a plan but know how to pivot if you needed.  Be humble enough to say, “this is what my future customers would want.”
  • If you believe in something, make it happen.  Consider other ways approaches.  Read and figure out how others have done it.  Be realistic but continue to pursue your dream.
  • If you’re starting your business as a side hustle, be well organized.  Make a list if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take the time that you need to learn about the industry and how to create your product.

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Cheryl McCants is a bilingual, award-winning, communication and marketing professional with more than 25 years of integrated strategic development and global crisis communication experience.  Throughout her career as both strategist and spokesperson, she has worked in the educational, real estate development, retail, footwear, telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, construction, nonprofit and media industries.  She is an articulate and compelling story-teller who is passionate about business, branding and community building.

Our conversation was very enlightening as Cheryl gave great details about the importance of story telling.

Her Philosophy

  • Everything will be okay in the end and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Once you have your business plan in place, create a strategic communication plan.  This will make it easier to stay focused on your business objectives.
  • Leverage your resources.  There are small business development centers across the U.S. that are federally funded and they give free or low cost services.
  • Use your network to identify connections that can introduce you to clients.
  • Work with other women and lift each other up so that we can all succeed together.

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Kim Ades is the president and founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and JournalEngine™ Software.  Author, speaker, entrepreneur, coach, and mother of five, Kim is recognized as one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought mastery. By using her unique process of integrating online journaling in her coaching, Kim helps her highly-driven clients to examine and shift their thinking in order to yield extraordinary results.

During our conversation, Kim talked about the importance of documenting thoughts and patterns that occur in your life so that you can better understand how to become more resilient from an emotional standpoint.  I believe that processing thoughts in this way can really boost one’s chances for success and I actually walked away from our conversation feeling a difference in my mindset.  So, I think that Kim’s approach can be very meaningful.

I’m curious about your thoughts.  If you find this conversation at all intriguing, please leave a comment below.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Start to challenge your beliefs and trade them up for something more aligned with your actual goal.
  • When you’re faced with conflict or stressful situations, ask yourself, “What do I want and is my approach getting me there?”

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Sarah Kunst is founder and CEO of Proday, the celebrity personal training fitness app. In addition, Kunst an investor and entrepreneur who has worked at Apple, Red Bull, Chanel and Mohr Davidow Ventures. She is also a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine. Her philanthropic interests include Venture for America and The US State Department’s Tech Women program.

Sarah is on the 2015 Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 list, a judge for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 and named a top 25 innovator in tech by Cool Hunting. She has been recognized for her work in Business Insider as a 30 under 30 Woman in Tech and Top African-American in Tech and Marie Claire Magazine named her a Young Gun to watch. She also writes for Techcrunch, Fortune and Entrepreneur.com. Marc Andreessen named her one of his 55 Unknown Rock Stars in Tech.

I wanted to talk to Sarah to learn more about the steps she took in creating a mobile app and I was also wondering how she was able to collaborate with celebrity trainers.  Our conversation was very enlightening.  For example, we discussed the importance of building credibility and leveraging connections in order to build a successful brand.

Her Philosophy

  • Be unimpeachably good.  Be good in such a way that no one can deny it.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Be clear on what your bigger goal is and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Whenever possible how to build your company.  Do this work beforehand.
  • Don’t quit your job before you start figuring out a business model or how you’re going to grow your company.  Spend time learning what you need to know and learning about the market.  Start building out relationships and even closing deals before you quit your job.  Look at your time and determine what you can devote time now to building your company.

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Today’s Queen Bee travels the world and spends countless hours in search of beautiful objects that have cultural meaning.  Jessie Ricci is a jewelry designer whose hand crafted collections are both provocative and eclectic. 

As an inventor, it can sometimes be difficult to find your own voice in launching new products.  I’m intrigued by Jessie’s creative process.  She finds her inspiration through travel and culture and translates her finds into beautiful pieces that reflect her perspective as an artist.

Her Philosophies

  • Be incredibly passionate about what you’re doing.

Her Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

  • Put your ego aside for the creative process.
  • Be relentless
  • Do your homework.  Find out everything about your competition and your market.
  • Find out what your mission is and really commit to that.  Everything should come from that mission.  Avoid getting lost and spreading yourself out too thin.
  • Even if others think your idea is ridiculous, realize that no idea is ridiculous.  Even if it seems far-fetched, look at the idea from different angles and find a way to do it.

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Maggie Sinclair is a serial entrepreneur who has numerous patents.  She is a designer and inventor of Maggies, a powerful magnet and metal ring that is redefining the way that women wear scarves and shawls.

I wanted to talk to Maggie because she has created a wide variety of products and she has a wealth of knowledge about what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Maggie says, “Faced with the dilemma of how to wear a sarong, I knew that there had to be a better way to secure fabric without tying bulky knots. I decided to experiment with magnets and found that a ball magnet combined with a metal ring provided the perfect solution to replace the safety pin (invented in 1849). In December 2012 I filed for my 8th US Patent which was finally granted in April 2016.”

Her Philosophies

  • Be incredibly passionate about what you’re doing.

Her Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

  • Plan your growth based on your income.
  • If you have a patent, be prepared to defend it.
  • Really know and test the product that you plan to sell and check out the demand for it.
  • Consider how much overhead will be associated with your product (i.e., inventory space requirements, etc.); High overhead costs affect profitability
  • Think about how long you want to be in your business and think of exit strategy.
  • Build a good website so that people can find your product.

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Maggies

Maggies

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