International Women’s Day is this week and I am humbled and grateful for women who have paved the way. We have further to go, but we can celebrate for what is. I cannot help but pause to reflect upon my own journey, specifically as a woman in business. I am proud to be a part owner of a company who is influencing how people think, how they engage, and the choices they make with their businesses that ultimately impact their livelihoods. I love leading a fantastic team of talented, giving and passionate people.
I am a work in progress, but I’ve come a long way. It certainly hasn’t happened overnight. Our company continues to grow, ebb and flow. Through each phase, I’ve had endless sources of support. I’ve squeezed drops of wisdom and energy from so many people, projects, and experiences, but today I’d like to simply say, “thank you” to the women who have so profoundly impacted who I am and the work that I get to share with the world.
Jill was my Chapter Advisor as an Alpha Chi Omega at Ball State University. I met her as a freshman and eventually, I became President of our Chapter and worked much more closely with her. Through some of my most formative years, when you’re truly navigating who you want to be when you grow up- Jill was it. Apart from my own mother, she was my first real mentor. Not only is this woman smart, articulate, and dynamic, but she’s also giving of her time, talent and money. She’s a philanthropist in every sense of the word. She’s sacrificed so many things personally for the betterment of so many. Her imprint on the world can’t be measured. Jill supported me to ‘speak the truth; even if your voice shakes’. She has this mama bear way of making you feel okay. To this day, I still want to be a combination of she and my mom when I grow up.
Takeaway: Speak up. Be decisive and protect your people.
Stephannie Sack Bailey
When I worked for Stephannie she was Executive Director of Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity. Nearly 9 years later, I’ve yet to see her combination of intellect, poise, vision, and precision. She so clearly knows who she is and it’s apparent in every exchange. It’s inspiring. She’s the ultimate player-coach. She’s unrattled. I’m not sure I’ll ever know anyone else who says so much by saying little. She always speaks to improve the silence. As a leader, I watched her empower those around her to better themselves. Iron sharpens iron. Stephannie develops the best people and processes because she makes you believe that you can. Who doesn’t want to play on that team? I’ll forever root for that kind of a coach.
Takeaway: Seek first to understand. Protect your mind by choosing strong influences: your people, the things that you watch and read.
I’ve known Katie for ages, but about 6 years ago she became a major player in my life. Katie did what Katie does best, she connected the dots between myself and her then boss, Jayson Manship. Katie thought I’d be a good fit for their growing team and I came on board. It was a roller coaster ride adventure working together. We were learning a new industry that was technical & fast-paced, navigating a business model in flux, and a growing team. We did it all together. The company essentially grew to a point where two distinct teams and, eventually, two separate companies emerged. Katie now leads as CEO at Generation Moonshot and I’m a partner at Kicks Digital. Things work out as they are meant to. Loyalty, genuine friendship and transparency are defining traits of strong character. I know what it’s like to have someone pulling for you, Katie does that for me. As a leader, I aim to challenge the idea and not the person. Katie will challenge your thinking, but she’s not challenging who you are.
*I also want to make mention that while I’m uplifting women, it’s important to lift up the men who celebrate and reward women for the work they do- Jayson Manship and Matt Turow have been that for Katie and I. Endless thanks to the both of you for who you are. You surround yourself with balancing influences by design and the world is better for it.
Takeaway: There’s always a way. You may not have the people or processes in place to accomplish “X”, but there is a way. Business is a bit of a Rubik’s cube, look at all the configurations, assess, and then iterate to get all of the pieces in place.
I met Dawn a few years ago. Technically, we’re competitors. She and I have always worked with companies that have overlapping services in the same geographic area. By all norms, we wouldn’t hit it off famously and continuously root for each other on the sidelines, but that is in fact how it has ended up. I hope that every woman in business meets a ‘Dawn equivalent’ match at some point in their career. People say that we are similar. I take that as a great compliment. Dawn is a force. Her energy is unmatched. She has the unique ability to make you feel like the only person in a crowded room. She’s invested. She seeks to understand and then to clarify. She cares so deeply about her role in a process and consistently focuses on what she can do to improve the outcome. I aspire to match her drive, but also her likeability and innate awareness.
Takeaway: Never underestimate the power of one: one person, one voice, one decision, or a single action.
One of my favorite people, Abbigail Jones, introduced me to her friend Fran one night at the HI-FI. They met at art school and Fran now owns her own art studio, Line + Form Atelier, in Irvington. Fran embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. I have so much respect for her. As an artist and a business owner, she has hustled her way to success. She’s jumped in head first- navigating her way through finances, business model, inventory, marketing, event planning, customer service and retention. She’s created brand awareness largely on her own. She’s quite literally rolled up her sleeves and built something worth talking about, worth sharing, worth buying (ON REPEAT) for kids and adults. I admire her commitment to building something better and beautifully installing her own voice in her business’s brand. She inspires me to trust my own voice and to lean into what I know to be true.
Takeaway: Use and exercise your talents. Be vulnerable and tell people how they can help you if they ask.
Last year Rachael and I connected as she came on board to work with an existing client of ours. We met for coffee and we knew instantly that this would be the first of many coffee talks. Rachael owns Coverdale Consulting where she is able to lead her clients through the plights of P.R. and Marketing. Rachael is results-oriented. She has a knack for quickly surrounding herself with facts and very easily identifies gaps. Her thinking is so measured. It’s fun to watch her manage a project start to finish, making connections between the missing pieces and assembling a plan of attack, complete with the dream team to execute. I love that Rachael finds the best thing about every person in the room and finds a way to leverage the strengths and mitigate weakness. She’s the best mix of realism and optimism and I couldn’t be more pleased that our paths have crossed.
Takeaway: Know your worth. Find ways to further causes that you care about using the talents and resources you already have.
These and so many other women have influenced how we do things at Kicks. If you’ve worked with our team, been apart of our team, or have randomly brainstormed with us we appreciate every exchange, large or small. I’m thankful for the mark you’ve made on me and our business.