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Since attending a lunchtime networking meeting a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had three coffee dates with three remarkable women.
This morning Shahrina Ankhi-Krol and I met at Dean & Deluca’s midtown to find common ground. For this archaeologist turned lawyer, it was a piece of cake . Digging into things is what she did before opening her law practice. We discovered a mutual love of museums, all things creative and NYC, of course.
She’s incredibly smart, wise beyond her young age, personable and professional. The hour flew by. We covered our passions, our families, our hopes and dreams.
By the end of our date, I knew I’d be delighted to refer her to anyone seeking legal advice, especially around trademarks, copyright infringement and or simply setting up a business entity. It was less her credentials (which are impeccable) and more her way of being that impressed me. She’s an attentive listener and connector.
I particularly enjoyed reading an article she wrote that has attracted a lot of attention. I identified with her underdog status and how she’s made it work so well for her company’s growth. Starting with her headshot in which she is smiling: Real Lawyers Don’t Smile–one piece of advice she was wise enough to ignore. Here’s a smiling lawyer I’d love to work with and refer.
Last night I had dinner with my Mastermind Group. I capitalize it because it’s that important in my life.
We’ve been together for over 20 years although the membership has shifted some. Doesn’t matter.
Every significant growth step in my business is a direct result of having this form of support in my life. Being a part of a Mastermind Group and leading them for others are constant sources of inspiration and motivation to me.
This is primarily because I hear others talking about business development along with its trials and tribulations. I feel NOT alone. Trials are not happening just to me, which as a home-based business owner I could deduce.
And the results in my own group and those I lead reinforce the power of the Mastermind–products designed, new clients signed on, studios built, income increased.
I get to be on the ground floor of others’ big ideas, risks and rewards, baby steps and giant leaps. I am privileged to watch others prospect, aim high, succeed, fail (occasionally, and it’s very educational) and most of all, stay in the game.
It is in this intimate, structured and safe environment that the real issues of being an entrepreneur get spoken of, witnessed and resolved. Where else in a business owner’s life would she have that opportunity? The cashier at Whole Foods isn’t interested. My kids love me, but don’t necessarily want to hear about my latest marketing gambit. This dedicated group has been there for me for decades.
My next venture is my first NYC-based Mastermind Group offering starting in September. In the late ’80′s as a new business owner, I took two courses in NYC to help me grow. I know the power of going to any lengths for my business and want to offer that opportunity to those in the metro area who are looking for the same.
Here are the deets.
My clients are not women who are complacent with the status quo. They KNOW they are meant to do something important.
They see something they want and are looking for support to go and get it. IT can be a boost in their business or a change in their lifestyle – the common denominator is passion and vision.
Which is why I am so excited to work with the women who are my clients.
My current client roster includes business owners who are looking to make a difference in:
- home health care
- the environment
- personal image & style
- entertaining and enlightening audiences
- interior environments
- inspiring and educating kids
- and many other disciplines and industries
I know how to create a life for myself that is balanced, energizing, fulfilling and helpful to others. One of the ways I do this is by limiting my practice to a manageable number of clients and groups.
I will be starting a new Mastermind Group next month for up to eight women who are passionate and know what they want, and who desire being part of a committed group to reach their vision. That’s my promise.
If you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself that sounds something like: “This is my time, my year, my turn to manifest my dream,” then join me and watch that dream come to fruition. Here’s a link to my offer on my website. It’s filling fast, so please grab a spot if you’re interested.
I’ve never invested in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but when I heard about the newest version of CSA – Community Support Art, I’ve reconsidered. Begun in Minnesota and now spreading throughout the country, these organizations are bringing art to local areas in an affordable and sustainable way.
The New York Times did a feature article on the movement yesterday which I wanted to share with you. But the bigger thought here is that THERE IS A WAY! Similar to Kickstarter, I’m thrilled to see other creative forces at work providing oportunitites galore. As the old guard ways of doing business are collapsing around us (I mean, really, Jeff Bezoz buying the Washington Post?! ) it’s vital to realize we’re not in Kansas or anywhere near it anymore.
I believe that there is a way to produce and market whatever you’ve got to offer. That inspiration is all around us and that tapping into your deep creativity, artist or bookkeeper, will provide a solution and a market for you.
My one piece of advice : give yourself time to tap into that inner wisdom via meditation, journaling, or simply connecting with your source.
I am delighted to share the story of this entrepreneurial success. This piece originally ran on FreeEnterprise.com, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce digital platform.
“It is true of the nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Knitting and crocheting have dramatically increased in popularity in recent years. In fact, according to the Craft Yarn Council, 38 million consumers knit and crochet today. It’s a market ripe for an entrepreneur like Nicole Snow.
Snow started Darn Good Yarn out of her home in the remote town of Sebec in upstate Maine. She hires women in India and Nepal to craft reasonably priced, high-quality yarn using reclaimed materials such as silk. Then she ships the finished product to customers around the world. Using materials that would otherwise be thrown away, Snow’s business helped save 10,000 pounds of waste in India and Nepal last year. In addition, her 300 yarn crafters earn between $10 and $16 per day in communities where most people live on less than $2 a day.
“A big reason why the yarn is so important to me is that it’s being made by people who are super impoverished,” Snow says. “These people usually wouldn’t have work. It’s a beautiful supply chain, and one that nurtures people. It’s not a charity but, rather, conscientious capitalism. And it’s a great way for people to make money using their hands.”
Snow, who won the 2013 FedEx Small Business Contest’s $25,000 grand prize, didn’t set out to become a yarn shop owner. After serving a brief stint in the military, a move to California with her husband sparked an interest in artistic design. She became an importer of women’s clothing and accessories made from reclaimed materials. Though her business experienced success, it just wasn’t where her heart was.
A big reason why the yarn is so important to me is that it’s being made by people who are super impoverished.
Nevertheless, it was that first business that helped incite and fund Darn Good Yarn. While she imported these items, Snow discovered the recycled yarn and developed connections with various Indian co-ops that manufacture the material. She then experimented with the niche market under the Darn Good Yarn name. It became an instant success. Today, Snow sells 350 yarn varieties, and her business has grown 1,500% in the past four years.
Snow has developed a diverse client base, ranging from yarn shop owners to independent, mixed media artists. Her website attracts more than 40,000 customers each month, which account for 60% of sales. The other 40% of her business is wholesale, primarily to yarn shops around the world.
“You need 10,000 people that really love you, and that’s what I really live by,” she says. “If you can take a niche and be the best, you can pay the mortgage and have a really thriving business.”
Snow puts a premium on customer service. “When people buy Darn Good Yarn, I want them to know that they are getting a piece of me,” she says. “Everything gets wrapped in a bow and comes with a personalized letter. I want it to seem like a present from me.”
She hopes that her success will inspire up-and-coming business owners. “My goal is to have people look at me and say, ‘This is someone who is marching to the beat of her own drum, and I think I can do that too.’”
Company: Darn Good Yarn
Address: PO Box 536
Dover Foxcroft, ME 04426
Year Founded: 2009
Chamber Member Since: 2013
I first received money for my artwork the summer of 1970. My co-designer, Noonie Shear, and I were encouraged by our Professor/Producer, Jim Cavanaugh, to display and sell our pen and ink drawings for patrons during the premiere season of the Mount Holyoke College Summer Theatre. Our prices ranged from $2-10 per piece, and we did brisk business.
It was a few years later that I displayed and sold my Ukrainian Easter eggs at the Pink Tent Festival in Stamford, CT. At that time I regarded myself as a freelance artist and operated in that manner, waiting for opportunities to come to me and taking advantage of them when they did.
Then, in the late-80s, I joined the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network (EWN) and discovered that I was actually a small business owner who had been operating in a void that EWN quickly filled.
There I began to meet other women business owners and to learn how to give an elevator pitch, set a goal, write a business plan and lead remarkable women. More important, for this entrepreneur, I learned that I had acquired knowledge that others sought and was invited to share that knowledge with my peers. That early participation on panel discussions and leading workshops for my colleagues gave me the confidence to seek other networks and associations with whom to demonstrate my newfound expertise. And, more important, to seek out and create opportunities rather than passively wait to be asked.
Many women from EWN have become lifelong friends, trusted vendors, exceptional clients and mastermind partners. I was inspired, at numerous lunch events, by hearing other successful women share their stories and strategies for success. I’m grateful to them all.
This week we members received notice that EWN would be closing its doors. Like many institutions that have shut down in the past few years, EWN suffered from lack of volunteers willing to take leadership roles, dwindling attendance and a vastly different workforce than when it was formed 30+ years ago when it was the only show in town.
Six women began gathering for lunch back in 1982 and exchanged ideas and suggestions for how to improve their small companies. The group’s original purpose was to help one another by talking about and sharing problems. At the time, their only competition was the local Chamber of Commerce which supported small businesses with different demographics and needs.
EWN was born from the need for women to talk to and hear the voices of other women. Lucky for us they found each other and founded a network that would live to benefit so many over its 30+ years of existence. My Soul Proprietor’s Coaching Program continues to serve that need via a virtual community of women business owners.
Just last week I had the opportunity to attend at least four different women’s networking groups, each with a different focus. This broad a selection was unheard of when I started my business. EWN was there first (for me) and served its membership nobly and well.
I cherish my the relationships formed there and mourn the loss of that special niche that EWN filled.
I was such a novice when I first walked into the doors of the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network (EWN) 20 years ago. I didn’t even knew what the word networking meant back then. A colleague had mentioned that there were other women business owners in the Fairfield County area, and would I care to join her for one of their meetings.
In my youthful arrogance, having been in my own business for about 10 years at that time, I thought, “Sure, maybe I can teach them a thing or two.”
It’s only when we enter new arenas that we get to see what we really know. For one, I had no idea how to go up to a group of women and introduce myself. I was incredibly shy, but fortunately had a business name that attracted attention. “What exactly is An Egg by Jane?” I got asked over and over.
I learned that each time I replied and took note of the listener’s expression, my description (i.e. 30-second commercial which I’d also never heard called that) changed and improved. I got to define what I did and for whom.
The thing I most valued about EWN then and now is meeting women who could help me in business. From our membership I created my own Mastermind Group that is still going strong today, found graphic designers, computer instructors, marketing consultants and communications experts who have continuously helped me grow my business. I’ve also attracted clients from our midst, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
It’s always an honor to be asked to speak at any organization, but it’s particularly rewarding to be invited by the network that fostered my growth. Some of my earliest public speaking opportunities came through EWN when I spoke on panels and at morning roundtables. To have the honored spot for an evening event is truly a cherished dream.
I hope to see a lot of familiar faces on Tuesday night and would love it if you would join me then. I’ll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned in my 30+ years in business, plus answering questions from the group that they’re dealing with on a daily basis in today’s marketplace.
One lesson I included in the first edition of my book Soul Proprietor was how important image is. I remember looking up EWN in the phone book (that’s how long ago that was) and seeing an address on the Post Road. “Wow!” I thought. “Real estate on the main drag of Westport, CT. This must be a sizable organization.”
Turned out the address was a Mailboxes, USA postal box (before these were ubiquitous), but it got me to the next step of the relationship, and that’s what creating a big appearance can do for you. Once we met, a fancy address was less important that the quality of its membership, which I’ve enjoyed for all these years.
She’s the author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, and a great speaker. She presented some astonishing facts–that Baby Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, and that we’re heading toward a world where there are more walkers (as in the metal kind) than strollers!
Marci shared some of her own story. I had read her columns in the NYTimes where she was a highly paid (by her own admission) freelancer. And how, in 2008, she was shockingly let go despite the popularity of her blog. In publicly sharing that story in the Times, she received an outpouring of response signaling her to investigate this trend–figuring out what to do next– more deeply and leading her down the path of Encore Careers.
That’s a smidgen of the day’s events. Read more about BA50 on their website.