How did you turn your business idea into something priceless? At our New York conference, we partnered with Mastercard on our Priceless Conversations panel to ask five of our favorite ladies in business exactly that. Women are contributing more than $3 trillion to today’s US economy, and Mastercard is putting the spotlight on several of those incredible business owners through a new national advertising campaign that celebrates and tells the stories of women business owners who are driving impact. We at C&C are so excited to be a part of the program with our Women’s Business Advisory Council and a small business marketplace at our NYC conference.
Moderated by Cheryl Guerin, Executive Vice President of North America Marketing & Communications at Mastercard, our Priceless Conversations panel was filled with incredible advice from Kelsea Gaynor, Founder of East Olivia; Bliss Lau, Founder of Bliss Lau; Brianna "Breezy" Dotson, Co-Founder of Coco and Breezy; Piera Gelardi, Co-Founder of Refinery 29; and our own Jaclyn Johnson, Founder & CEO of Create & Cultivate.
Want to hear some insider advice from these boss ladies? Read on for some of our fave mic-drop moments from the event!
Jaclyn: You have to start saying, “This is a business, and I’m going to take it seriously.” It completely changed the trajectory of all things Create & Cultivate for me.
Piera: You do need a strategy, but it doesn’t always need to be a five-year plan. Agility and following our intuition has allowed us to deliver what our audience is looking for, work on new platforms that didn’t previously exist, and work with brands as well.
Breezy: [My sister/business partner] and I had anxiety about raising capital. As black women, we were afraid to ask for money. When we started this company, we didn’t know sh*t, and we made it work. Stepping into this new lane of asking for funding and understanding it all makes me realize, I know I’m going to figure it out.
Bliss: If there’s one thing I’ve always done, I always knew exactly down to the penny how much money I wanted to make.
Breezy: Our goal is to take away the anxiety from asking from funding and share our knowledge with everybody else. Know that you are worth it, and it’s OK to ask for money.
Kelsea: I funded my business off relationships and intuition. It was really about staying true to what the brand meant to me. My PTO days were my funding.
Piera: It’s critical to maintain majority control of your business. When you give away 80 percent of your business, you lose the ability to move your business in the direction you know it should go.
Jaclyn: If you’re going to go the self-funded route, there’s a big level of sacrifice. I didn’t pay myself for a very long time. You are the driving force; you are the one keeping an eye on cash flow, but you’re also the one who takes all the flack when things go wrong.
Breezy: Don’t be afraid to fail. Have self-awareness so that when you do fail, you know how to do better next time.
Jaclyn: When my business took off, my mom told me to fall in love with the business side of my company. Not only as a business owner, but as a woman, it’s really important to know your where you stand with your financial health.
Piera: I think about how I can take my strengths into areas that are less familiar for me. I had this pivotal moment where I was sitting in a meeting with all these executives and a lot of people who’d gone to business school and I remember having the most severe imposter syndrome—feeling like a kid at the adults’ table. It was really alienating for me, but I said, “you know, I’m just going to bring curiosity to it.” I would start asking clarifying questions. I thought i was going to be laughed out of the room, but what started happening is people would lean in to hear the answers and thank me afterward, because they didn’t understand it either. That’s when I realized i could take my strengths into meetings and leverage them to grow, learn, and develop all sides of myself.
Kelsea: Be unafraid to partner with people who will support you.
Breezy: It’s important to wear all hats, so when you do hire a team, you can understand all sides. That way, you can be a leader who can delegate well, so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Kelsea: Confidence comes from knowing your worth. When you get turned down, you’ll know it’s not because of you, but because it’s not a good fit.
Breezy: If you don’t know something, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor.