Knoteworthy

KNOTEWORTHY: Michelle Heath, Growth Street

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Michelle Heath is an entrepreneurial leader and brand strategy linchpin, recognized and respected for her extraordinary ability to create brand value and build high-performing teams to drive unstoppable business growth.

As founder & CEO of Growth Street, the strategic marketing consulting firm that delivers fractional CMO & marketing advisory services, Michelle is pioneering a new model for her clients. By providing fractional CMO and Marketing coaching services, Michelle’s clients benefit from her problem-solving expertise to close the gaps and build successful brands. Michelle is a game-changer, known for her ability to align marketing, sales and product teams to deliver measurable business results.

Prior to founding Growth Street, Michelle earned her chops in a variety of C-suite roles across Marketing, Digital, UX and Product at Fidelity Investments, Manulife Financial, J.P. Morgan Chase and E*TRADE Financial. She pioneered digital marketing at Fidelity Investments as the internet was igniting new ways of marketing and went on to lead the pivot of J.P. Morgan’s active trader brand and business, resulting in a $1.6B sale to E*TRADE Financial. From there, Michelle challenged herself to leave the corporate world to get her hands dirty and was CMO for several high-tech start-ups, including Currensee, the largest Forex trading social network, that was acquired in 2013 by Oanda.

Michelle is passionate about women supporting women. She is the co-founder of MavenMinds, a non-profit, membership-driven business that gives women founders a new way to grow their businesses faster together. She is also a board member for MITX InfluenceHER, inspired programming aimed at giving women access to advice, education and networking to help them grow in their careers. Michelle shares her expertise and opinions through her well-read blog and is an in-demand speaker for a number of programs and conferences including the Harvard “Women in Business Leadership Conference”, Babson “Entrepreneurship Forum”, Boston College Carroll School of Management, Start-up Institute and others.

Michelle lives in Boston with her husband, two amazing kids, and their dog, Baxter the Boxer.

We asked Michelle about where the idea for her business sprouted, and here’s what she had to say…

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

I founded Growth Street in 2013 after several decades running Marketing in-house for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. I turned the problems I experienced first-hand into a business opportunity.

If you run a business, you must constantly understand the problem you solve for your customers. Articulating the problem you solve is key for people to understand whether they need your product or service. It makes it easy for people to self-select versus having to do a lot of work to figure it out.

The problem Growth Street solves is two-fold:

  1. In a big company, Marketing leaders are spread thin. They are charged with P&L responsibilities, leading and cultivating a team, managing agencies and strategic partnerships, participating on cross-business initiatives, all while trying to keep their fingers on the pulse of the exec team, people, metrics and beyond. When I was in this type of role, I wished I had a “mini-me” that could take some of the strategic projects off my plate and get them done. Not an agency, a real partner that’s immersed in the business, but nothing like that existed at the time.

  2. And, at small companies, like start-ups, resources and budgets are scarce. They typically hire CMOs later in their growth stage. That means a junior marketer is on-deck to figure it all out on their own, or sometimes, they have no marketing staff at all. The horror! I saw the opportunity to be an advisor to the CEO to help them build a marketing team and practice that delivers results. That includes hiring, mentoring, rolling-up my sleeves and delivering results. It also means filling a gap when there is no CMO, whether they’re not ready to hire one or the CMO has left or is on a leave of absence. We fill the gap.

Our business continues to evolve. We recently launched a coaching practice where we help Marketers grow, personally and professionally. A few examples are a Director of Marketing who wants to move up to the CMO position. Or a CMO who needs an advisor and sounding board. I love being able to help people find new ways to grow.

Where do you find inspiration to stay motivated?

Staying motivated can be tough as an entrepreneur. You’re supposed to have the answers and make decisions and grow your business and all that great stuff, but there are times when you need help. Women especially need to support each other to grow, but it doesn’t always happen that way. It’s one of the reasons I co-founded MavenMinds. We’re a non-profit that helps women founders grow our businesses faster together. It’s all about “the power of the pack” and how, with the right people, new doors and ideas open up and the sky is the limit. In just a few short months, we’ve grown our membership to include powerhouse women here in Boston and, for anyone interested in learning more, please reach out to me and attend one of our meetings as my guest!

How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?

Work-life balance is a myth! After 16+ years of juggling work and a family, I know that the only way to make things work is by prioritizing what’s important. I am crazy about lists and every day I make a list to prioritize what must get done before I call it a day. My kids are 16 and 12, so racing to baseball practice or swim pick-up or whatever else, is just part of my day.  We have to do a lot of planning to make sure that it all gets done but I’m lucky my husband is a great partner and cooks dinner most nights. My advice to the people I coach is to stop trying to achieve balance and decide what’s important and just make it happen!


CONNECT WITH MICHELLE:

Website: https://www.getgrowthstreet.com/a-team/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleheath/

KNOTEWORTHY: Kristie Dean, The Soul Project

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Kristie Dean is a Professional Photographer, Mom, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Founder of The Soul Project - a multifaceted mission anchored in Kristie’s desire to use her passion for photography and connection to support women. Her latest launch Soulful Branding provides beautiful lifestyle photography for female owned brands while The Soul Project, her ongoing documentary aims to use vulnerability and storytelling to help women find power in their voices. Kristie is on a mission to promote compassion, self love and tribe while creating images that empower and support women both personally and professionally. We talked to Kristie about how she defines success and more…

What is your mission statement and overall goal for your business?

Our mission at The Soul Project  is to foster emotional growth and wellness for all women. Our supportive community provides a safe platform for women to share and own their story. We promote compassion, self love and tribe by embracing vulnerability and finding our power in it. We believe in always moving toward a better version of ourselves and in fully supporting other women in their journey to do the same.

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

I was sick of scrolling social media and feeling like crap - always comparing, judging and finding myself feeling inadequate . I knew I was not alone. As a professional photographer and lover of storytelling, I  wanted to pair my gifts and passions with this mission to create a space for women to lift each other up and inspire one another instead of tearing one another down. I wanted to create a community that was more honest about the real stuff and loved each other because of it. We all have a story. The project was built with the goal of providing women with a space to be vulnerable, to find power in their voice and a space to connect over something real.

Where do you find inspiration to stay motivated?

The women that share their stories each week motivate me to keep going. I have many moments where I feel overwhelmed and like I want to quit. But each week I get messages of how women are healing and connecting through our community and that keeps me motivated to not only keep this going, but keep it growing.

How do you define success?

To me, success is finding happiness living the life you want regardless of what others think. Putting your head down and pushing through obstacles and critics to find yourself on the other side of your goals - no matter how long that may take. Financially speaking I think success is reached when you're able to create the lifestyle and experiences that make you feel content and full-hearted - what that looks like varies from person to person. Success is subjective, but I think the feeling you have when you're truly successful is universal - it’s a feeling of gratitude, fulfillment, connection and pride.

CONNECT WITH KRISTIE:

Website: https://soul-project.weebly.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesoulprojectstories/

KNOTEWORTHY: Michelle Mercier, Create Honesty

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Michelle Mercier is an international best-selling author, engaging speaker, passionate coach, and experienced business consultant.  Her mission is to help individuals and organizations develop a vision and successfully execute the steps necessary to make that vision a reality. 

Michelle has 15+ years of corporate and professional experience.  She has worked with a wide range of different businesses – from nationally acclaimed nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations.  This wide range of experience has enabled her to become an expert in leadership, change management, scalability, marketing, and technology.  She also possesses an expertise in training and professional development. 

In addition to her coaching/consulting practice, Michelle is the CEO/Founder of Create Honesty, as well as the Managing Director of the Worcester Area Chapter of Polka Dot Powerhouse.

We talked to Michelle about her favorite productivity tips and more…


Can you share with us any information about your business that you would want other entrepreneurs to know?

My mantra for working with clients is “organize, strategize, and monetize.”  Each of those categories can be applied to your business and there should always be a synergy between them.  Whether it’s streamlining your client on-boarding process, setting strategic goals, or pricing your services or products appropriately - they are all equally important to one another and the success of your business.

What's your top productivity secret?

Maintaining a set of habits that set me up for success.  My favorite habit is to “bookend” my day.  The day begins with exercise, meditation and education.  I end my day with a gratitude practice and reading for pleasure.  I may only be able to dedicate 5 minutes to each of these bookends but there’s something very grounding in having them in place.

 How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?

I don’t.  I had been trying for years to “balance” everything but it always felt like I failing.  I had to work hard to shift my thinking to work-life integration instead of balance.  I look holistically at my world whether it's parenting, entrepreneurship, self-care, etc.  Some days the lines get blurred between all my aspects and that’s OK.  I’ve also learned to allow myself the grace and space to be imperfect!

CONNECT WITH MICHELLE:

Website: https://www.createhonesty.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/createhonesty/

KNOTEWORTHY: Robyn Parets, Pretzel Kids

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Robyn Parets is the founder and CEO of Pretzel Kids and The Write Move.

Robyn started her career as a journalist with the Los Angeles Times and Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) and parlayed her skills writing about finance, travel and entrepreneurship to starting her own ventures - first a yoga studio and now The Write Move and Pretzel Kids, a nationwide kids yoga company offering classes, trainings, merchandise and a branded licensing program. Under The Write Move umbrella, she works with companies to craft stellar content that helps drive traffic back to their websites. She is also a funding coach at iFundWomen and a yoga teacher.

We talked to Robyn about how she maintains work-life balance as a business owner and here’s what she had to say…

Can you share with us any information about your business that you would want other entrepreneurs to know?

Pretzel Kids is a nationwide kids yoga and mindfulness company and brand offering trainings, classes and branded products. Our proprietary training course is now offered online, giving those who wish to start a side hustle or business teaching Pretzel Kids yoga an affordable, accessible and easy way to get started right away. In 2019 - after successfully training hundreds via our online Pretzel Kids Teacher Certification Course - we launched our Pretzel Kids licensing program. Think of this like a business-in-a-box, giving our teachers ongoing resources and the ability to instantly list and market their Pretzel Kids classes and events.

Pretzel Kids is more than a training program. It is a business opportunity in the rapidly growing kids mindfulness and yoga industry. For entrepreneurs, Pretzel Kids is a great way to launch a new career or simply earn extra money doing something awesome: Helping kids get fit, live healthy lives and be less-stressed.

How do you define success?

That’s easy: success to me means loving what you do every day, whether that is raising a family, working, running your own business, taking a walk in the woods etc. At the same time, you need to have enough money to pay your bills and live a comfortable life. This is a totally different concept than “being rich.” If you can live a happy personal life and achieve financial freedom - meaning you can pay for your needs and most of your wants, within reason - this is my recipe for success.

How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?

For me, this means building in time for exercise, yoga, meditation and taking vacations! Those are my top four. Of course, I love spending time with family, friends and I also go on a personal retreat at least once a year (I aim for twice!) This brings balance back to my work life. I get super busy at times and something falls by the wayside. It takes practice for me to maintain self-care but it’s important for balance in my work and life.

CONNECT WITH ROBYN:

Website: https://www.pretzelkids.com/

Instagram: @pretzelkidsyoga

Facebook: Pretzel Kids

KNOTEWORTHY: Kerry Railey, Irish Eyes Photography

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Kerry Railey owns Irish Eyes Photography, a boutique portrait photography studio located in Downtown Hingham, MA.  Kerry's goal as a photographer is to capture her subjects as themselves, cheese-filled smiles be damned.  She is also known to be spreading kindness in the world through her summertime kindness challenges or teaching beginner photography to anyone who wants to take their camera off the auto setting.  When Kerry's not behind the camera you can find her trying very earnestly not to yell at her two kids (and often failing) while simultaneously loving them fiercely.  And if she's not doing any of the above things, she's probably performing on stage somewhere.  Seriously if she goes missing that's probably the first place you should check.  

We asked her to share some insight into her journey to entrepreneurship, and here’s what she said…

How do you define success?

Success is obviously different to everyone.  There are people out there working their behinds off to become the next “it” photographer or to have huge amounts of followers on social media.  I realized a long time ago that’s not my style. Naturally, I want to have a large following because not only is it more fun to engage with lots of people, but I’m also a Leo, and deep in my core I need all the attention.  All of it!

But, truthfully, as I get older anyway, I’d rather have the attention and respect of a small group of people that engage with me and care about what I’m doing, versus thousands of followers who don’t.  My approach to life, and therefore my business, is very organic. Do I feel like posting something to social media right now? Yes? Than I post it. I don’t generally schedule things for peak times or try to do all sorts of flashy things. If I feel like it, I add some hashtags.  If I don’t, I don’t. Sometimes, dare I say it, I even post to Facebook without a picture. Just words! Not even a link! Because that’s all I have to say in that moment. It’s real. It’s authentic. Even if it doesn’t give me a boost in followers. I’m fine with that. I’m talking about social media here but it’s a great analogy for all parts of my business.  

I try to truly connect with my clients - and even other business owners and community members.  I meet with clients in person to guide them through the ordering process instead of just emailing them a gallery link.  I leave my studio door open when it’s warm out and I put out signs that start conversations with passersby.

Success to me is when Judy, a woman who walks by every day, knocks on the window to wave to me because I didn’t happen to notice her that day.  Success to me is when my clients reach out and ask me to capture family portraits for a young mother who was given a very scary diagnosis and may not live to see the end of the month. Success to me is when I get an autistic child who is terrified of Santa, to sit, talk, and calmly play with The Big Guy.  I will probably never buy a yacht with the money I make as a photographer. I will probably never win any photography awards (if for no other reason than I never submit anything to any contests!), and I will probably never have thousands of followers in the world of social media (or any other world for that matter).  But when I get real, authentic smiles from my clients, and when they come back time after time after time….That’s my definition of success. And when my own kids tell me they’re proud of me. That of course, beats all.

Where do you find inspiration to stay motivated?

When it comes to being motivated as a business owner, I am driven by my desire to be treated well.  If *I* have high expectations when I work with a business, I can only expect my clients to have the same expectations.  And just like I don’t like to be let down, I don’t ever want to let my clients down. I strive to always be open and honest with my clients so they always know what to expect and give them my very best.  

I get my motivation both from experiences I have that show me what greatness can be - and what the opposite can be. When I have an amazing experience, I process all the reasons why it was amazing, and vow to do the same for my own clients.  When I have a bad experience, it motivates me to make sure I never do whatever it is that caused the issue. So I suppose it's my own expectations in life that drive my need to run a business that people can rely on and enjoy.

Of course, creative motivation is an entirely different thing.  As a creative, I will flop and fail completely if I am not inspired and motivated.  I definitely have times when I flounder - either from burnout or from just needing to add a new twist to keep things different.  Luckily what inspires me most is people, and that’s why I photograph them.

I am a horrible landscape photographer. While I can see and love and appreciate a beautiful scene, I can never capture it in an interesting way, because that’s not what gets my boat floating.  For me, I’ve always been in love with the stories people tell - of who they are. It stems from my career in theatre. I love telling stories. And now I love telling the stories of my clients through images and portraits. I try to come up with new ways of capturing my clients to keep things interesting, but what’s truly captivating to me are the images that don’t have any frills and props - they’re simply portraits that show WHO that person is. And that keeps me going.

How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?

This is a great question because I recognize that so many of us struggle with the concept of balance. My personal goal this year is to find more tranquility in all that I do - which just goes to show that balance is something I’m still trying to perfect (currently working on this interview at 2am!).

Tip #1: Segregate Your Work & Your Personal Life.

In the beginning, I ran Irish Eyes Photography out of my home while working an insurance job, so I myself could have insurance, which meant evening and weekend hours.   When I married my husband and was able to leverage his benefits, I gave my notice. Then I worked full time on the business until our daughter was born 9 months later. From that point on, I was working both as a mother and a photographer, and both full time.  

Because I worked out of my home, there was no escaping either role, and thus was barely accomplishing anything. Still, I plugged along tirelessly working late nights, then had my second child, while still running a growing business. As my family and brand grew simultaneously, it became clear that it was time for me to move the business out of my home and into a storefront studio location.

Even if you can’t manage to have a separate space that’s outside of your home, give your work a designated place and when your work hours are done, shut the door. At my studio, I purposely have all my editing software on my desktop computer and not my laptop so that I CANNOT edit at home. I allow myself time to answer emails and take phone calls outside of my studio hours, but everything else stays within those hours.  It has made ALL the difference. So shut the door to your office - lock it if you need to feel like it’s really closed off - and make sure you get as much sleep as possible. Do your best to adhere to your schedule so you can feel good about your time away from work being YOUR time, but if life happens, then it’s okay to break that rule every so often.  

TIP #2: ENJOY YOUR LIFE!

Make sure your life is worth living and taking time away from your job. Sometimes I never want to leave the studio because it makes me so happy to be here doing what I love in my gorgeous and cozy space.  But then I think about what I’m leaving the studio to do and it brings me joy (most days anyway; let’s be realistic and remember I have two kids) and so I’m happy to walk away from my work to enjoy my personal life.  So fill your life with the people, activities, and things you love, and you’ll reap the benefits on the daily.

CONNECT WITH IRISH EYES PHOTOGRAPHY







KNOTEWORTHY: Boston Women's Market

We had the wonderful opportunity to interview the amazing ladies who are leading the charge at the Boston Women's Market, with questions regarding their journey to entrepreneurship, who they are as a brand, who they serve, and how they spread the good news around town...here's what they shared!

What is your mission statement and overall goal for your business?

We promote the work of and preserve a space for Womxn entrepreneurs and artists in the New England area.

We foster an environment of support and innovation for our community by hosting Marketplaces throughout the Boston area, telling the stories of inspirational Womxn, and providing tools to help Womxn-owned businesses succeed. In doing so, we endeavor to build and knit closer the community around us; fostering a celebration of shopping and supporting local.

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

Boston Women’s Market is organized by a team of four women all with different backgrounds and personal experiences that have inspired and strengthened the vision of Boston Women’s Market.

Molly Leger, Founder
“Over the last year, our steady and sustainable growth has been a function of the incredible team that helms BWM, and the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response of the community around us.”

Taylor Borowiec, Organizer & Editorial Lead

“I am very lucky to have had such a strong support system growing up. My parents gave me every opportunity and helped to show me how to work hard and keep going, no matter the obstacles or failures in my way.”

Africa Rubio, Organizer & Social Media Guru

“The team of Boston Women’s Market has allowed me to meet amazing women from all around the New England area and to be part of something that I believe in. I moved to Boston four years ago from Madrid, Spain. I was looking to be part of the community and to meet great people. I ended up meeting Molly soon after the first Market in September, 2017, and since then have been working together with Molly, Taylor, and Cara.”

Cara Loffredo, Organizer & Marketing and Website Go-To

“I always say I have entrepreneurship in my blood. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs on both my mother’s and father’s side. This engrained a passion for small business in me from the start. I’m a huge advocate for starting your career in small business or non-profit. I’ve gotten to do things and grow professionally in ways I never would have been able to in a traditional corporate environment. I also love mentoring and passing that knowledge onto the Boston Women’s Market network.” 

How do you use social media for growth? 

Boston Women’s Market uses social media to foster a greater awareness for the many local small businesses in the New England area. We promote and support our incredible vendors and their businesses throughout our online channels, in addition to promoting our events. Our goal is to always create an environment that people love to be a part of.  

Social media can be a very positive way to spread ideas and is something that, when used correctly, can have a positive impact on a person's day.

KNOTEWORTHY: Ashley Clay, Eventfully Yours

Originally from Vermont, Ashley Clay is the owner and lead planner of Eventfully Yours, a local event company that offers full hospitality service for any size event. After spending over a decade working in the hospitality industry, this softball star turned event planner comes fully equipped with all the necessary tools for any situation. 

Not only is Ashley dedicated on and off the field, she is also an award winning artist, bringing both vision and craft to play together. In her (limited!) downtime, Ashley likes to travel throughout New England, watch horror movies and and enjoys sleeping in!

Where did your business concept of Eventfully Yours originate from?

I have always known I was meant to work with people in a creative way.  Watching my mom regularly engage and entertain the community as Recreation Director, I gathered my sense of hospitality from home.  

I knew food and smiles were connected, and that I enjoyed everything good that came from sharing it. But how did that tie to how I would make money? All the hospitality related jobs I had along the way allowed to me have a diverse range of knowledge, from making coffee to management style, and I took notes along the way.  

Now I am able to coach our staff from a hands-on perspective that one wouldn't have without professional industry experience. It took the years of learning to really direct me into my goals, that now I could describe my event planning style as energetic & creative with an emphasis on taking care of each and every guest.

What sacrifices have you made that have led to your success thus far as an Entrepreneur?   

For many years, I have had to sacrifice nights, weekends and holidays to make sure that my clients are being cared for.  

I wanted to be the face behind the name, to really put a personal touch on every event we are a part of. I am very lucky to have a spouse who is also in business, and understands when the phone rings in the middle of dinner, that I get up to take a call.  It is a two-way street in our household, and I am very lucky for that level of understanding and support.

Where do you seek and find inspiration as a business owner?

I know the classic answer of "everywhere" is very overused, but it is so true! I really like to learn about my clients as people before I am able to deliver top notch service to them.  From the normal coffee date to cocktail meeting, I am able to gather the knowledge and inspiration I need to operate at a high level. 

I feel like asking the right questions via open conversation is extremely important.  After truly listen to the responses, I allow my inner child to run free. Creativity is something I have always enjoyed and have been encouraged to explore.  

Where there is a vision, there is an event planner with a trick up her sleeve! 

CONNECT WITH EVENTFULLY YOURS:

  • Website: https://www.eventfullyyoursnh.com

  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eventfullyyoursnh/

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eventfullyyoursNH/

KNOTEWORTHY: Dr. Daryl Cioffi, Polaris Counseling & Consulting

Dr. Daryl Cioffi, LMHC, Ed.D is the innovative and modern-day wellness doyenne who is reshaping corporate and institutional visions of wellness. As co-founder of her private practice, Polaris Counseling & Consulting, Dr. Cioffi has harnessed the vision to empower individuals in becoming “well beings” into a practice and company that inspires purposeful changes in revolutionary ways. 

In her consulting work Dr. Cioffi specializes in challenging leaders, audiences, and organizations to redefine their values and views of success, wellness, and work-life balance. Her viewpoints and teachings on wellness have reshaped the way we think and practice well-being both in and out of work.

Dr. Cioffi has undoubtedly made her mark, appearing on national radio and print as an expert on wellness in the Huffington Post, Medical Daily and Social Work Today. Her first book "Be Freud" made the Amazon bestsellers list in 2016. A professor of neuropsychology and psychotherapy, Dr. Cioffi teaches and special lectures at many colleges in the New England area when she is not counseling and consulting across the country.

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

I’ve worked in the field of mental health for over 10 years and have found that while there are an abundance of resources available for individuals in crisis, the same often cannot be said for individuals who fall under the umbrella of something I call “well-ish”. The “well-ish” person is perceivably OK - that is, they don’t have any glaring issues, and they are able to function normally for all intents and purposes. But they aren’t fully satisfied; they possess a deep desire to better themselves and, in a sense, “elevate” their lives. Psychotherapy is often a wonderful option for these individuals, as it is a safe and supportive environment which lends itself to self-reflection, unexpected challenges and important insights. 

My business partner and I designed POLARIS (www.polarisri.com) as a boutique private practice with the vision of creating a haven for the “well-ish” to become whole. By seamlessly combining innovative clinical treatments with the ideals and values of holistic healthcare, we are proud to have cultivated an environment where unbridled wellness is becoming a reality in our client’s lives each and every day. 

As I grow and change, the work that I do is always evolving with me. As part of my doctoral thesis I conducted research on perceptions and practices of wellness among high-ranking executives. It immediately became clear to me that the relationship between wellness and success is a complex one, which is how I started my consulting firm (www.drdarylcioffi.com). It is my hope that by being a strong and steadfast advocate for integrating the concepts of wellness and success, leadership development as a whole will be redefined.

How do you define success? 

Success for me is so multifaceted. For one, it is rooted in wellbeing, in the sense that I would not consider myself successful if my mental, spiritual or physical health were in a state of neglect. It is also freedom - the freedom to create, and plan, and make something happen without restraints. Perhaps most importantly, it is happiness and fulfillment. The second anything starts to feel like work, I know I need to re-evaluate what I am doing because I am not necessarily successful anymore.

How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?

I’ve always thought work-life balance was a strange paradox, especially for women. We instinctively want to problem solve, nurture, and see something succeed, yet eventually we end up resent having to give up our personal time (or at time work) to do so. So I am not sure there IS such a thing as work-life balance, especially as a business owner. For me, the goal is trying to master a work-life “sway”. I know that there will be times when my business demands more of my energy and attention, and others when I need to take a step back and dedicate myself to other aspects of my life. When I have a lot on my plate at work, establishing a concrete plan allows me to visualize my workflow and keeps the tasks from getting out of hand. It also helps me organize my time, and allows me to clearly communicate expectations to my family and loved ones. When I do take a break from business mode, I need to trust that my employees and partner can handle things in my absence. To be honest, this was extremely difficult for me at first but over the years I’ve come to realize that it is something that is essential to my own wellness and sanity. Other times, I need to devote my efforts to myself and own personal development. In these times work, family, and even just “life” in general have no place. This time for me is sacred- it’s reading a book, traveling, reflecting quietly, working out (also known as shopping), or taking time out to “recharge” myself. If I can’t be good to myself I can be good to anyone else at my office or in my home.

CONNECT WITH DR. DARYL CIOFFI:

Website: www.drdarylcioffi.com

Instagram: @drdarylcioffi

Facebook: www.facebook.com/daryljcioffi

KNOTEWORTHY: Amy Larson, Overseasoned Amy

Amy is the Founder of Overseasoned, a multifaceted food venture with a fixation on seasonality. 

Overseasoned began as a monthly publication of handmade miniature cookbooks and has grown to include an online store of rad kitchen accessories as well as catering services. 

Amy is obsessed with orienting life around seasonal food, the British Baking Show and her adorable dog Chowder.

She is a self-declared “pasta making queen” and enjoys tasting her way around the Boston food scene with her fiance Dek.

We asked Amy to share with us some insight into her journey to Entrepreneurship, along with some best practices that we hope you'll find valuable! Here's what she said...

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

I’ve always been completely food obsessed. I spend a great deal of my free time cooking, baking, reading about food or adventuring to new restaurants. So a few years ago, I wanted to find a creative way to share this passion and the recipes I was writing with my friends and family so I began publishing my recipes in the format of a handwritten, mini cookbook (or zine).

I shared 8 - 10 recipes per month that featured a few ingredients that were particularly seasonal during that time for example, strawberries during June, zucchini during August. I accompanied the recipes with watercolor illustrations and, as the project evolved, color photos. My subscribers really enjoyed being able to physically read the recipes in person and have the mini cookbooks out on their kitchen counter to reference or just for display. 

The recipes and aesthetic for the project were inspired by my childhood growing up with an enormous backyard vegetable garden which yielded so much at times that it was overwhelming to attempt to eat everything. (Think attack of the zucchini vibes). So my mom was always getting creative with her preparations of these fresh veggies. I adopted that same creative and fun-loving mentality towards seasonal cooking and I strove to emphasize it in each monthly issue of Overseasoned. My goal was to show my readers how they can celebrate whatever fruit, vegetable or herb is ripe at the moment through simple recipes.  

I published 18 monthly editions of Overseasoned and have since paused production because I’ve now amassed a collection of recipes which I plan to publish in a long form cookbook. 

Where do you find inspiration to stay motivated?

For recipe creation, I’m constantly inspired by ingredients, particularly fruits and vegetables. Everytime I go to the produce section in the grocery store and I see something that’s newly available like fresh figs or garlic scapes or a simple, perfect peach, I am motivated to get to work creating a recipe that will celebrate it. I’m actually over-motivated by produce and my imagination runs wild when I am shopping. I frequently return home with an ambitious list of things to make before my haul goes bad.

I also have a retail component to my Overseasoned business. I designed a collection of kitchen-wares such as tea towels and aprons with my slogan Smash the Garlic and the Patriarchy which I sell and distribute online and in stores across the country from Provincetown  to Chicago to San Francisco. Whenever someone posts a photo of one of my products online, that is so inspiring and motivating to me. I can instantly feel how it resonated with them and touched their life and that gets me so excited. 

What habits have helped make you successful?

Because there are many facets to my business- writing recipes, selling products, catering events- there is a huge variety of tasks that need to get done at any time. I know that I am not always in the mood to take food photos for recipes or assess the analytics of my online store, so I came up with a master list of everything I need to do to run my business and I pick and choose from it depending on how much time I have at hand or how creative I am feeling. I’ve found this to be a very effective way to always be productive.  And as a creative person this is also a forgiving approach because I don’t feel pressure to be inventive and come up with a new recipe or concept every single day and therefore my mind is more relaxed. 

CONNECT WITH OVERSEASONED AMY:

Website: https://www.overseasoned.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/overseasoned_amy/

 

KNOTEWORTHY: Kathryn Ford Richter, Self Care and Mindset Coach

Kathryn Ford Richter is an RN turned Self Care and Mindset Coach. She helps overwhelmed entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, and professionals explore their fears, and increase confidence by taking action and incorporating daily self-care into their lives to feel more empowered and become happier, healthier and ultimately more successful. 

Her background as a nurse, yoga instructor, and essential oils educator reflects in her work with clients, and she loves how her skills complement one another. Kathryn works with clients one on one, as well as offers educational classes to businesses and individuals on how to incorporate essential oils into their lives to improve sleep, decrease stress and improve overall health and wellness. It is her mission to coach as many people as possible so they can feel balanced and have more energy to share their light with the world.

What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?

I wish someone told me that being an entrepreneur isn’t always glamorous or sexy as hell as SM has you believe. Truth is for most people, owning your own business is super hard work. I honestly thought I would quit nursing full-time and within a few months my business would be full and I would be loving life. That could not have been further from the truth. While I was loving life, clients did not just magically appear no matter how much manifesting and positive thoughts I put out to the universe. 

I also realized I had a LOT to learn. Not only did I have to learn how to work from home and peacefully co-exist with my husband who also works from home, I needed to learn a whole new skill set. Coaching, yoga, anything health or wellness related I was super confident about, but marketing myself on SM, learning how to send out newsletters and create opt-ins had my brain spinning. 

I just took it day by day and learned a lot of new things. I realized it was going to be a marathon, not a sprint and continued laying the foundation. I am always learning new things every day and am enjoying the process. Some months are better than others which is always just another opportunity for growth. At the end of the day, I ask myself what one thing can I do today that makes me super uncomfortable, yet will bring me one step closer towards my goal. Then I do it before all the self-talk starts chiming in with reasons for why I should keep myself small and comfortable. 

How do you achieve work-life balance? 

Love this question since this is what my business is all about. There is not one size fits all answer for people. For me, I have found that this ebbs and flows based on the season of my life. One of the most important things I do is schedule in time for myself, whether it is a yoga class, time to meditate or just a reminder to take a break. Sometimes I get so in the zone and find setting a timer super helpful to pull me back into my body and serves as a great reminder to slow down.  

I also know that if I don’t schedule in time for myself, the chances of it happening are slim as the days go on. It is not about finding the time it is about creating and prioritizing time for self-care activities. Some of the things that light me up are yoga, meditation, SUP and SUP yoga, swimming, walks and traveling. I try to make sure I schedule in at least one thing per day. 

I look at my schedule for the entire week or month and see what I have going on. My instinct is to say yes if something comes up and I have an opening in my schedule, however, then I realize that I am jammed for three days in a row. Now, I take a moment to look a the bigger picture and decide how much I want to take on that day. If I have an evening event, then I start my day later, so I am not going for 12+ hours. I am all about setting boundaries with those around me when it comes to my time. If I don’t, who will?

Another useful tool for finding a work-life balance is to know your rhythms. For example, I have way more energy in the morning than I do in the evening; therefore I book my essential meetings, calls or any writing during those hours. I can’t tell you how many clients I see trying to fight their rhythms and wonder why they are physically and emotionally exhausted. I have set hours that I work, and then I shut it down. For me, that works. If something pops into my mind, I will set a reminder on my phone to return to it tomorrow. This works really well for me.

The last thing as I could go on and on, is I don’t take myself too seriously. While the work I do is important, no one is going to die if I take a break to recharge myself. I know myself well enough to know when I need to take a break, switch gears or just laugh at my life and remember this is what I chose to create.

How do you define success? 

Such a great question! This answer has shifted for me over the years. For a long time, I thought success was measured financially. My parents always encouraged me to work hard. I worked my ass off as a waitress and later as a nurse, but was not where I wanted to be financially, and I was not healthy. I loved helping people and realized there had to be a better way to be happy, healthy and successful. 

I now look at success as doing what makes me happy while having an impact on the world. It’s about knowing what lights you up, doing it no matter what and not letting anyone or thing hold you back from doing it. It’s about owning who you are as a person, always being on a mission to learn and grow and to carve your path in the world. 

If I can continue doing that while making enough money to support my desired lifestyle then I feel like I am successful. When I look around and see the clients I have helped, my family and friends, and know that I am happy and healthy, that makes me feel successful. 

CONNECT WITH KATHRYN: 

Website: https://www.kathrynfordrichter.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathryn.ford.562?fref=search

KNOTEWORTHY: Jillian Ayer, J. Ayer Massage

Jillian Ayer owns J. Ayer Massage in Hingham, Ma. She delivers stress-based relaxation massage to women and has advanced training in oncology massage that she gears toward women and children. 

Jillian has been nominated for the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver award twice and for six years has been a partnering massage therapist to Lucy's Love Bus, a non-profit that delivers holistic therapies to children with cancer. As a result of her work with Lucy's Love Bus, Jillian is currently working at Floating Children's Hospital in a pediatric oncology clinic, bone marrow transplant unit and ICU. Jillian's private practice, located on the south shore of Boston, serves women both in optimal health and in cancer treatment. 

Her practice is known for its use of the five senses while delivering a relaxation based massage that is truly both a sensorial experience and deeply relaxing. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in the clients that I work with. Part of my practice is working with women in optimal health, but the other part of my practice is working with women and children that have cancer. Cancer has a way of stripping away all that does not matter and leaving the most beautifully vulnerable parts front and center. It is that kind of beauty, the kind that is honest and

earnest and that is focused on dealing with something out of a soul’s control, that most often builds wisdom and depth in a person. For me, this is what is truly inspirational.

My oncology clients have also helped me create the foundation of everything that I do in my massage practice. Their journeys have taught me how to stand in someone else’s truth whether they are well or sick, to hold deep space for another and reverence for a stranger’s experience while not trying to change it. Their experiences and stories have beckoned me forward, asked me

to sit on the edge of my own discomfort, often while forging a deeper understanding of myself, sometimes causing me to hold my breath but always inviting me to behold the profound simplicity and healing of nurturing touch. These qualities form the soft skills that any good massage therapist should have (beyond their technical knowledge of the body and its muscles).

We build these skills through the life experiences that mature us and the intention to know how to manage our own energy so that we can meet another just where they are. Without these skills, a massage has no depth. 

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

There came a moment when I stopped chasing external success in corporate environments and began listening deeply to myself and the things that made me feel more alive. Mary Oliver, the poet, once said: “ you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” I love to nurture, and getting in touch with that truth inspired me to leave the corporate world and begin my journey as a massage therapist. I think there is a kind of magic that happens when we authentically align with ourselves. I believe that God tucks a love letter into our hearts before (s)he sends us here. We read the love note out loud each time we chose to do what comes most natural to us. Our natural inclinations are like lighthouses to others on the journey. They call in mentors and teachers as we step deeper and deeper into the world with our gifts. I have been blessed that many people have seen the light from my lighthouse and supported my journey. I think that when we just humbly do what we are strongly called to do, when we gently work to perfect what may already be perfect within us, the opportunities and recognition comes; at least this has been my experience. The less striving that I do and the more aligned I humbly remain, the more doors seem to open up for me.

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

As a woman who has raised several kids, is caring for aging parents, and owns her own business, I see how vital balance through nurturing myself is for accomplishing all that is asked of me on a daily basis. The concept of building a business for women was simply born with the intention to help other women nurture themselves so they can find balance and continue to do all they do each and every day. Women wear so many hats and do so much for so many that I wanted to create a place where they could come and be cared for themselves. My massage services are specifically geared toward women.

CONNECT WITH J. AYER MASSAGE: 

Website: https://www.jayermassage.com

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

KNOTEWORTHY: Sonya Highfield, Real World Creatives

Sonya Highfield is a Boston born and bred entrepreneur dedicated to helping artists and creative  entrepreneurs lead successful lives and build profitable businesses.

She started her commercial and fine art photography business in 2012 than in 2015 founded Real World Creatives, which provides business and mindset coaching for women as well as virtual communities and in-person workshops. 

Sonya also provides inspirational speaking on money mindset at conferences, retreats, and other empowering events! When she’s not working Sonya loves to travel, expand her spiritual practice, watch her hubby cook, and search for the perfect margarita.

Can you tell me your mission statement and overall goal for your business?

I started my business with the mission to give artists the business savvy and professional support necessary to thrive in today's economy. However, over the last three years it's evolved to helping creative, entrepreneurial women craft lives they're proud of doing what they love and cultivating healthy, loving relationships with money and their minds. More powerful women doing good work in the world & living abundantly is the goal!

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

I've tried a lot of things over the last few years, put out a ton of different offers, and a lot of them didn't pan out, or didn't get as much engagement as I'd hoped, and some were major flops. For me, it was essential to redefine what failure was, because I was so stuck on all the things that hadn't worked out that I couldn't fully appreciate my successes big or small. Once I was able to say, "What does failure actually mean to me?" I came up with the answer that failure only happens when I stop pursuing my purpose and inspiration. That made a world of difference, and now I view everything as a learning experience, and the things that don't work out are guiding lights to the next thing that will work out. And now I don't feel like I'm continually failing, just following my inspiration and intuition and seeing where it leads! 

Can you share with us any information about your business that you would want other entrepreneurs to know?

You have to make your business fit your life, not your life fit your business. I know I struggled with this when starting out, and it's easy when you're passionate about your work to let it overrule other areas of your life. And it can be scary to say I'm not working 40 hours a week, I'm going to charge more than my competitors, I'm going to unplug and take vacations, I'm not going to get up at 5 am if it doesn't suit me, and I'm still going to be successful completely on MY terms. Entrepreneurship is a really personal thing, and it makes you confront every part of yourself (over and over!), so if you're trying to just "do business" and ignoring the bigger picture of your life, it's going to be hard. Choose easy! Choose spaciousness. Choose your own path. Get to know yourself and find people like me who support YOUR truth and will help you build your dream from there.

CONNECT WITH SONYA:

Website: http://www.realworldcreatives.com/

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

KNOTEWORTHY: Kristen Hollingsworth, Lolo Poke Beverly

Kristen is a 31-year old mompreneur, with two kids, ages 5 and 2, residing in Lynn, MA. I own two businesses and prides herself on identifying super “niche” product and service ideas in today’s market. 

By trade, Kristen is a cosmetologist, and although she truly loves doing hair, she felt the need to reach a little higher and started her own head lice removal clinic in Danvers (Lice Clinics of America- Danvers). Upon getting her first business under my belt and learning a lot, after falling in love with Poke on a family trip to Hawaii and seeing a hole in the local market, Kristen decided to go for it and opened a traditional poke shop in Beverly, MA. 

As an entrepreneur, Kristen’s goal is to learn something new and make more money each day, always reserving more than enough to give back to her local community. Although balancing life and owning two businesses is hard to put it lightly, Kristen is so fulfilled by her two businesses, and attributes her success to her amazing support system.  

How do you use social media?

Social media is by far the most important, and least expensive form of advertising for both of my businesses. I spend very little if any money at all each month on Social media advertising. I primarily use Instagram and Facebook. My approach is to use both of these websites to engage the surrounding community and create awareness actively. Creating posts that result in a “call to action,” Such as posting questions, contests, or even polls, creates a lot of valuable participation and draws a larger following very easily. 

Creating a social media space where the community, and of course our customers, feel truly valued and involved has not only helped my businesses gain momentum during the growth phase but has also provided us with valuable feedback directly from our target market.

What’s your best hiring tip/secret?

I have to say; staffing is probably my strong suit. I have the natural ability to read people fairly quickly. When I hold an interview, I conduct it as an opportunity to gauge whether I think a person has the right personality to work alongside my existing long-term staff, as well as to get a strong vision of how they will interact with our customers. Having a strong skill set is, but it isn’t the most important part of finding the right person for the job. Everyone can look good on paper, but not everyone has customer Service skills and the ability to be a team player. Social skills, in both the restaurant industry as well as the head lice treatment industry, go a long way. I am always willing to train a person from scratch if they are the right person for my customer base.

When it comes to staffing, my advice is to have specific questions in an interview that will indirectly reveal the personality traits you are looking for, don’t hire anyone that you wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving alone at your place of business, and always go with your gut. Being an entrepreneur offers you the chance to have not only financial freedom but free TIME as well, but that won’t ever happen if you can’t get the right staff in place.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

I always say that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. In the beginning, if you aren’t willing to literally drop everything and cater to your businesses needs (I call mine my third child), the growth phase will be longer and more difficult. With my first business, Lice Clinics of America-Danvers, I sacrificed a lot. I missed family events, made large financial sacrifices, missed seeing my friends, and was back at work just five days after having my daughter. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but also my greatest professional achievement to have a thriving, profitable business in the first year.

With business number two, Lolo Poke Beverly, I fell right back into that phase where it’s a constant inner battle of whether or not all this sacrifice is worth it. I can assure you, if you have an amazing idea, good work ethic, and are fortunate enough to have a fantastic support system, you can and will succeed. It will never be easy but it will be worthwhile and can entirely change your life for the better.

CONNECT WITH KRISTEN: 

Lolo Poke Beverly:

Website: https://www.lolopokebeverly.com

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

KNOTEWORTHY: Jan Taylor, Get Lively


Jan Taylor, owner of Get Lively: Mindful Health & Fitness Coaching, is a gal on a mission to help you feel your most “lively” through positive nutrition, movement, and mindset. 

 As a certified health coach, personal trainer, and Pilates instructor, Jan will work with you to uncover what works best for your unique body, mind, and life so that you can be consistent and joyful each day. 

Jan’s studio is located in Watertown, MA but can coaches virtually and can be anywhere online: www.getlivelynow.com  Also check out her podcast “Get Lively with Jan."

How do you define success?

 This is such a good question and one that shifted significantly for me after leaving my 12-year long career as a fundraiser to start my own health and fitness practice.  As an employee at a college, that I loved dearly, I measured my success by my title and salary; and I felt quite successful in these areas. And then I started my own business… I was initially so worried about the financial piece of it all but soon learned that I would be defining success in ways other than title and salary.  

One of the greatest surprises for me as an entrepreneur was the shift from measuring my success in a monetary way to seeing the look on a client’s face when they did something that they did not physically think they could do.  Or hearing the ease in their voice when they finally found a way to release the negative talk in their own head. This has become my currency; this has become my measure of success.

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

 I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive family, husband, and friends.  I’ve been blessed with mentors who have believed in me and encouraged me to nurture my “lively” spirit and always to be myself.  And then there was also some divine intervention…

As I was considering leaving my fundraising career to open my own health & fitness practice, I was wrought with fears and concerns that I wouldn’t succeed, but something kept calling me to do it.  I truly feel that the Universe was guiding me to this place, and I’ve learned that when you resist the path that has been laid out for you, your life gets chaotic. My life had gotten chaotic. A career that I once loved, no longer brought me joy.  I knew it was time for a change, but I was terrified.

So I asked for guidance, and one morning while driving to my 6 am Pilates class, I heard my grandfather’s voice telling me, “Oh Jan, it’s going to be okay.”  I felt him smiling down at me, and that was the day that I decided that I would go for it. That was four and a half years ago… and I’ve never looked back.

What's your productivity secret?

 No secret weapon here as it all comes down to having a plan and being consistent.  One of the best things that I’ve done as an entrepreneur was to hire a business coach.  Even though I felt I didn’t have the funds, I did it anyway. She held me accountable and helped me to find consistency and rhythm to my business.

My productivity really shifted after I determined the “non-negotiables” that would be done every week.  For me that is recording my weekly podcast, sending a weekly eNews, creating weekly fitness plans for my clients and small groups, and blocking my schedule.

I do these four things every single Friday to set up the next week.  Having these items anchored in my schedule each week keeps me focused and from this foundation, I add the layers.  The client sessions, social media marketing, developing content and coaching for my monthly membership group, bookkeeping; whatever needs to happen that week.

It’s been a game changer for me and the stuff I once feared (how will I ever generate enough content to record a podcast and email every week???) has become just what I do. 

CONNECT WITH JAN:

  • Website: http://www.getlivelynow.com

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/getlivelynow/?ref=br_rs

KNOTEWORTHY: Meg Wheeler, One For Women

Meg Wheeler is the Co-Founder of One For Women, an online gift company that sources its products from women makers and gives back to non-profits that support women. She also teaches and mentors women looking to leave their 9-5 jobs and start their own businesses and runs her blog, the Leap of Faith Society. A realtor turned international tax accountant turned startup CEO. Meg is passionate about empowering women, a believer in constant reinvention and never takes herself too seriously.

We asked Meg to share her story regarding her journey to entrepreneurship, along with some questions regarding her business goals, and here's what she shared with us...

Can you tell me your mission statement and overall goal for your business?

One For Women empowers and connects women through easier and more intuitive gift giving and a focus on promoting women-owned companies to catalyze their growth. Our affordable, curated gift sets, designed for the “small” moments in life such as job promotions or breakups, feature products from women-owned companies and our website’s features such as group gift giving and advance scheduling options save the busy woman time. To further our mission of supporting and connecting women, a portion of our proceeds go back to women’s non-profit organizations. Our philosophy is simple: one small gesture can have one significant impact.  

How do you achieve work-life balance?

When I started One For Women I knew that I did not want to run my company the way most startups are – long hours, handcuffed to emails and burnt out employees. I was very intentional about setting boundaries so that the work would still get done, but I would be able to spend time with my family and be a healthy, happy founder. I prioritize two areas – first, I focus on my health. I schedule time every day to work out and take a short nap (crucial to stay productive!), and I create a meal plan every week to ensure I am eating good nutritional foods. It may sound odd to talk about personal health when talking about business, but I am more energetic and productive when I am my best self, and this is the key to big ideas and getting my work done quicker so that I can have that work-life balance.

The second area I prioritize is finding efficiencies in my business. I have set “work” times for myself based on when I know I’m most productive, and I schedule in family/personal time that is sacred. I also automate as much as I can, and for things I can’t (such as responding to emails), I set up systems – for example, only responding to emails at certain times – to ensure that I stay as productive as possible and can shut down during that crucial family time.

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

It all started when a friend had a bad day, which turned into a bad week. I wanted to cheer her up, so I sent her flowers, which put a smile on her face but cost me a cool $80. I realized that I couldn’t sustain sending my friends these “small gestures” on my budget, and thought there had to be a better way. But I struggled to find one resource for small, affordable gifts and figured many other women, like myself, probably didn’t have the time to search for them either.

I almost stopped there. But I quickly realized that I had the opportunity, through the gift sets, to have a bigger impact. To be more than just a gift company. And that’s when the idea of one small gesture, one big impact, was born.

Each One For Women gift set doesn’t just surprise and delight its recipient; it supports women makers and non-profit organizations that help women. Through something as simple as a small gift, I am honored to build a community that supports and empowers women and women-owned businesses.

CONNECT WITH MEG:

  • Website: http://www.oneforwomen.com/

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oneforwomen/

 

 

KNOTEWORTHY: Julie Pelletier-Rutkowski, Feng Shui Services of New England

Julie Pelletier-Rutkowski, MS, RN, is the owner and principal consultant for Feng Shui Services of New England. She is a certified Feng Shui practitioner and has been consulting and educating about the need for a balanced home and work environment since 2010.  She earned Red Ribbon status through the International Feng Shui Guild and a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association. She teaches and writes on the benefits of Feng Shui throughout New England. 

We asked Julie to share her story regarding her journey to entrepreneurship, along with some questions regarding her business goals, and here's what she shared with us....

We'd love to learn more about your business mission and ultimate entrepreneurial goal?

The mission of Feng Shui Service of New England is to share the ancient Chinese practice of adjusting environments for balance and harmony. The goal is to share these Chinese secrets making them relevant for today. My desire is to educate those who want to create a living and working environment that is loved. My vision entails helping others to stay balanced and true to their wishes and desires. 

What inspired the launch of your business?

I have worked as a nurse in many challenging environments that have often been chaotic and stressful. I learned about the ancient art and science of Feng Shui by accident. Although there are no REAL accidents, in my opinion! 

The Feng Shui talk that replaced a professional workshop presenter was the beginning of a journey of learning, self-exploration, joy and fulfillment. The practice of Feng Shui has deepened my commitment to living a harmonious and balanced life that I enjoy sharing with others. 

Can you share with us any information about your business that you would want other entrepreneurs to know? 

My business is working with energy or chi. I have found that I need to keep my own personal energy clear and balanced to be an effective consultant and educator. As a result, I have made my Feng Shui business only part of what I do. I work part-time as a nurse, keeping my schedule open for new Feng Shui opportunities. 

What do you wish you knew before you started your business?

Networking was not easy for me. During networking events, I spent most of the time collecting business cards. I had hundreds, then thousands. I was overwhelmed. What to do with them?  I created a rule I follow strictly: Collect only a few business cards, and give only a few business cards. Also, I always ask permission before adding someone to my contact list; this keeps my email list scrubbed and pure.

How do you leverage your social media channels for growth? 

Understanding the impact of social media is important for every business owner today. I wanted to stay local. Face-to-face contact is important to me. Therefore, I limit my online presence. I have a Facebook page to keep in touch with clients and folks who are like-minded. I announce upcoming events, give Feng Shui tips and inspirational thoughts on that platform. 

I use email as my main source of communication with clients and potential clients. Because applying Feng Shui to a home is a very personal experience, my finest clients are folks I have met directly at various educational talks. Also, client referrals and recommendations have driven my business.  I consider all presentations, workshops, and classes as marketing for my business and services.

What is your definition of success as an entrepreneur?

The definition of success is different for each person/entrepreneur. Not everyone can climb Mount Everest, there is not enough room at the top. You may have to choose a different, shorter mountain to climb; this is your peak to conquer. Success for me is the comfort of base camp surrounded by the beautiful mountains. 

CONNECT WITH JULIE:

  • Website: http://www.fssone.com

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FSSone/

KNOTEWORTHY: Her Data Method

Shannon Ware and Melody Jennings Bowers, Co-Founders of the Virtual Collective, created Her Data Method to educate business owners on the value of data, and more importantly, how to collect it. 

Her Data Method is a series of online courses that teach business owners how to build a data collection framework to help them make smart, data-driven decisions tailored to their business. 

We asked these lovely ladies to share some insight into how they launched their business and here's what they shared with us... 

Tell us, what is your mission statement and overall goal for Her Data Method?

Melody: We teach women business owners how to collect data that will help them make smart, data-driven decisions and grow their business with confidence.

How did you come up with the initial launch concept of Her Data Method?

Shannon: We were seeing the same issues time and again with our clients. They wanted to spend money on marketing without having any data to base a strategy on. We were spending hours reconstructing their sites after walking them through the process of creating customer profiles and researching how to best position them in their industry.

Melody: We created a thorough intake process to walk these clients through so our team would have the information they needed in order to do their jobs well. After we created this process, we kept saying how nice it would have been to have had this for our business when were starting out! That got our wheels turning about how we could use this knowledge to help other female business owners. And now we are ready to launch the “Intro to Data Collection” course and are hopefully going to have the opportunity to help a lot of women get a head start on understanding data collection as they start their businesses.

What do you wish you knew before you started your first business? 

Melody: Every single thing in this course! We teach that which we need to learn most, right? And we have learned it the hard way. We really want this information to help other women avoid some of the startup pains that can be avoided with minimal effort invested on the front-end. While knowledge IS power, you still have to learn which questions to ask...and that can be a minefield for anyone starting a business. 

Shannon: I definitely wish we would have learned how to define our customer personas and the importance of financial planning before we started.

What are some things you're doing as a team to achieve work-life balance?

Shannon: Um, is that even a thing? Haha. Melody and I lead two very different lives outside of our work partnership. She has two teenagers, while I have a 2-and a 6-year-old. I tend to take the “day shift” and try to rush the clock to get as much done as I can before 3:00 pm (when I have to pick my littles up from school). Since Melody’s mom duties start later in the day and she’s a night owl, she takes the “evening shift” and will sometimes stay up working until 5:00 am closing out what I have started.

Melody: One of the reasons we’ve never explored investors for our company is because we never wanted to feel like we needed to apologize for being moms. If my family needs me, I pass the baton to Shannon and she keeps things moving in order for me to disengage and tend to their needs. The same goes for her. Our partnership works so well primarily because of our shared agreement to put motherhood first. It might not qualify as “balanced”, but we’ve figured out to make it work for us.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be successful entrepreneurs?

Shannon: A stable income. Being a self-funded company makes for some financial ups and downs. If you’re looking for stability, entrepreneurship,at least in the first few years, is probably not the best option. 

Melody: And sleep. A lot of sleep has been sacrificed.

CONNECT WITH HER DATA METHOD:

  • Website: http://www.herdatamethod.com

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/herdatamethod

  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/herdatamethod/

  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/herdatamethod

KNOTEWORTHY: Alex Bynum, EmpowHer You

Alex Bynum is the founder of Empowher You: A Healing Center for Women in Brookline, MA where she has led hundreds of people to healing through ancient empowerment tools. She is also recognized locally as a master networker and leader in the Boston Community. Alex proves that you can connect your passion for people to create results. 

 We asked Alex to share some insight into how she launched her business and how she personally defines Success. Here's what she shared with us... 

What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?

Before I started my first business, I wish I had known that there is a Universal Law that states “as within, so without” meaning what’s happening in my internal world is a reflection of what's happening in my external world.

Therefore, when I began my business and was feeling stressed out, anxious, etc. that is what I would get reflected back to me! As soon I began to go more with the flow and let go of fear and doubt, I created peace for myself and thus in my business. 

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

My idea or concept for my business wasn’t mine nor is it anything new. What I mean by that is it’s super ancient!

Once I personally experienced the power of these 3,000 year old ancient empowerment tools that I now facilitate at Empowher You, I was hooked and knew I wanted to help others, too. So grateful!

How do you define success? 

I define success as the ability to help another progress. This isn’t necessarily about just making someone feel better, but what actually serves them in the long run.

Success to me is supporting, nurturing, and loving others as they grow into who they already know themselves to be. 

Whether it's on her podcast, via social media, or at regional events, Alex brings a unique mix of charm, awareness, and discipline to traditional business. 

As a highly demanded expert in the field of healing, her networking and relationship skills have brought her to major companies such as State Street and Whole Foods.

CONNECT WITH ALEX:
Website: http://www.empowheryou.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/empowheryou
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFP14AdRom8X1_vo5b37nzQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/empowheryou

KNOTEWORTHY: Lauren Bateman, LB Music School

Lauren Bateman is the Founder of LB Music School in Medford & Wakefield—an Entrepreneur who took a massive risk in 2010 to leave her secure 9-5 position in the pharmaceutical industry behind to pursue her passion for music. Today, The LB Music School aspires to inspire. They foster creativity and confidence through fun and supportive music instruction, with the goal to help students of all ages develop both life-long discipline and happiness. 

We asked Lauren to share some of her best practices for productivity, and here's what she said...

What's your productivity secret?

I use something called the 5-priority rule. Which is setting 5 things you are committed to completing that day. 3 of those priorities are business related and 2 of them are personal. These tasks can be big or small, but they must be completed by the end of the day. 

A big thing entrepreneurs fall into the trap of, and something I fell into the trap of, is working so much and neglecting some of the personal things in that bring us a lot of joy and pleasure. For me, that’s getting outside and walking by the ocean or hiking in the forest. I love being outside. So once a day, as long as the weather is nice, I will go outside for anywhere from 15 minutes to and hour. Whatever my day calls for. I also like to workout and play videogames. So I throw that into the mix too.

By keeping to the 5 priorities, I ensure that I am moving my business forward every day. At the same time, I am also maintaining my sanity and the elusive work-life balance. And the great thing about the 5 priorities rule is that once those 3 business tasks are out of the way, the rest of the day is yours. If you want to work more, you can. We all know that the work never ends. If you want don’t to work more, you don’t have to but you don’t have to feel guilty about not getting any work done.

How do you define success?

Success is different for everyone. We all have our own definition of what makes us successful. For me, it’s building a life that allows you to get everything you want from it so that you can wake up every morning excited to start the day.

I did that by building a business that allows me the freedom to take time off for my family and myself when I want to. It’s something that grows even if I’m not there every second of the day. Success is inspiring those around me and encouraging them to reach for their goals by being myself and sharing my life them via social media. It’s about leaving people better than when I found them and trying to impact everyone I meet in a positive way. Those are some of my ideas on success.

How did you get to where you are today?

People think it’s weird that I teach music and own a music school but don’t have a degree in music. I used to work for a pharmaceutical company and my background is in Biology and Archaeology. I know, totally makes sense, right? 

In my 20s, I decided that working an 8 hour a day job wasn’t for me. I loved science but it really wasn’t my passion and I was feeling bogged down and unhappy. I really loved performing music and writing songs. So I quit my job (which was about $65,000 at the time with great benefits and a possible yearend bonus) to pursue a career in music. My first month in business I made only $400. 
I know. Totally rolling in it.

The first few years were not easy. I would get up at 5am on Sunday mornings to go flyer cars and I would get to Porter Square at 5:30am during the week to busk in the Subways for money. Whatever I needed to do to get myself out there, promote my business and earn money. I built my business up all by myself until I become overbooked and had to hire someone to help me take on the surplus. Then I had to hire another teacher and decided I should probably move the business out of the house. I moved into a commercial location in November of 2012 and haven’t looked back. 

The biggest people to help me on my journey was my parents. They never said no to me or that I couldn’t do anything. I know they had their worries and concerns, but they know I’m determined when I set my mind to something and that I’m persistent. They taught me about hard work and sweat equity and both of the them own or had owned business at one point. So I kind of learned the benefits of owning your own business from them.

I have to thank my sister who bought me a guitar when I was in high school. My mom told her not to because I wouldn’t do anything with it. I don’t blame her because I wasted my piano lessons when I was younger. I’m really glad she didn’t listen and I’m glad I loved the instrument enough to teach myself how to play it. 

Of course, no business is amazing unless you have the support of wonderful staff. My employees have been through some highs and lows with me and I am forever grateful for their hard work and dedication. They really make the music school the success it is because they are in the school day in and day out making our customers happy.

Last, but not least, I have to thank my fiancé who has supported me the entire way. We had only dated for many 3-4 months when I announced to her that I was quitting my job to pursue my passion. I think most people would have run away. Somehow, she just knew everything was going to be alright and instead of discouraging me, she always encourages me to think bigger and aim higher. When I wanted to get a small commercial space to play it safe, she encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and go big. She has been my sounding board and my biggest support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her input, love, dedication and advice.

CONNECT WITH LAUREN:
Website: http://www.lbmusicschool.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lbmusicschool
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lb_musicschool