On Thursday evening, we hosted our biggest event yet at Jack Studios here in New York City. Our squad came together to get vulnerable, get sweaty, get inspired, and boss up. Couldn’t make it? It’s all good. Here’s what you missed:
The evening started with some mingling and some beverages courtesy of Dear Mom, Dirty Lemon, and Flow. We gifted each attendee with a pair of Adidas shoes. Then, after a few words from our founder, Ally Love, we took some time to work out with her friend Adriane Grace. Afterwards, it was time to fuel up with some snacks from Cava, Hu Kitchen, Doughnut Plant, and Luna Bar. Our attendees took their seats and our panelists were introduced: Corinna and Theresa Williams, co-founders of Celsious, an eco-conscious laundromat in Williamsburg; Erin Condren, founder of Erin Condren Design; and Dani Beckerman, founder of Jars by Dani. These four extraordinary boss women sat down with our founder and the rest of the Love Squad to discuss branding, building and bossing up.
The first topic our panel tackled was how to finance a young business. Although Erin doesn’t necessarily recommend her initial financial strategy to everyone, she found that using her credit worked for her. When she first started out, she would buy her supplies with her credit card, ship her orders and pay off her credit cards each month. Since she worked in the apparel industry before starting her business, she was knowledgeable about inventory, profit margins, and purchasing, so she knew how to utilize her credit without putting herself in debt. Though they have very different business models and operate in different industries, both Theresa and Dani stressed the idea of putting pen to paper and creating a business plan in order to stay on track during growth in the early stages.
Next, they discussed the importance of negotiations and building a team. For Erin, finding a trustworthy business partner was scary but extremely beneficial as she faced exponential growth. “For me, it wasn’t a financial investment; it was giving up half my company.” To anyone she told before our panel, and the entire Love Squad audience, that sounded crazy. Fifty percent?! Yes. She always answers with, “Fifty percent of a lot is a whole lot more than 100 percent of nothing.” She admits that it was scary but the best decision ever made because her business partner was able to bring the financial expertise that allowed her to operate with more efficiency which allowed her business to grow even more. Teresa and Corinna had to negotiate under different circumstances because they needed a brick and mortar space and contractors. Failed negotiations almost completely took them out of the game. However, once they found the ideal space in Williamsburg, they actually held out for a few months and ended up getting a deal they never thought possible. They learned, “You need to be able to accept that some things might not work out, but you still keep going.”
When it comes to the modern business world, effective branding is crucial. With platforms like Instragram, you can communicate so much in one quick post. How your page, your ads, your space makes people feel is vital. For the Williams sisters, they landed on the color yellow as their business’s main color because it’s gender neutral and cheerful. They also wanted their space to feel like home so people can relax and enjoy themselves while they wait for their laundry, so they included a lot of earth tones and plants in their space. Ally spoke about the importance of a color scheme and having a “look.” She prompted the audience to think about what feeling their business invokes and to ask themselves, What color is this feeling? What logo represents this feeling? In the days of social media, appearances are important. You have the power to change your look because it is your business, but Ally recommended thinking about this stuff early on: “You can have a fire business and no one knows about it because you didn’t brand it correctly.”
Dani and Erin had different branding approaches. Dani stated, I didn’t want people to just want jars; I wanted them to want Jars by Dani.” She admitted to loving color and patterns and vibrancy, but she considered them secondary. She wanted the jars to speak for themselves. How? By utilizing platforms like Instagram to tell a story: “It’s hustling. That’s is what my brand is. More than my colors, more than my logo, it’s the story that I tell.” Erin, on the other hand, found that asking other people what they understood her job to be was a great way to gauge whether or not she was effectively branding herself and her business. She joked about asking her son what he tells people when they ask what she does for a living and how he said “I don’t know. She makes calendars and pajamas and stuff.” You know what you do, but does your target audience know? Clarity and conveying the message you want to convey is key.
Being a woman in the business world.
There were a few questions from the audience and one woman asked our panelists how being a women in a male-dominated industry effected them. All five bosses placed an emphasis on being knowledgeable and ready for anything. Corinna and Theresa had to work with contractors and had to operate in an industry they were unfamiliar with, so they studied calculations and building codes and knew if they were on top of things, they would earn everyone’s respect. If someone made a mistake, they corrected them; if someone asked a question; they had the answer. Ally, Erin, and Dani also discussed how to play their gender to their advantage. For these women, it all comes down to confidence in yourself and your business. Being a woman in the industry can be tough but if you can use the fact that you are different, you will be unstoppable.
Learning from mistakes.
Our last question of the evening was about the boss’ biggest mistakes along their journeys. Dani said signed some bad contracts early on and learned to read everything very carefully and consult with advisers before making those kinds of decisions. For Erin, “Scalability was my biggest challenge so over-promising was my biggest mistake.” Though she wanted to get products delivered in a timely manner to satisfy customers, she learned it is so much better to tell people their order would take a longer time and meet the deadline than to tell them it would be there in a shorter time and miss the deadline. Theresa and Corinna said “playing by the rules” too much was their mistake. They wanted to do things by the book, but sometimes being so clean and efficient slowed them down. Finally, Ally advised people to be “slow to hire, quick to fire.” Even though firing people can be extremely difficult, you are doing them and your business a disservice.
After the panel, attendees were able to chat with our panelists and each other, grab some more food and try out various stations. There was a facial station provided by Ducalm, a company specializing in post-workout skincare. Our selfie station was provided by Burrow. Lastly, we had a negotiation station, which was a product of a partnership with Luna Bar to educate women on equal pay and negotiation tactics. Finally, on the way out, everyone was given a gift bag with products from Biohm, Quo Active, , Supergoop!, Summer’s Eve, Hu Kitchen, Ducalm and Erin Condren.
Thursday evening was quite the experience. We hope to see you at the next Love Squad event!