News from YLGG Founder

Hey Girl Gang!

You may have noticed that we’ve gone quiet on some of our channels recently. I have some bittersweet news. In July, I will be relocating from Cleveland to Denver, Colorado. My fiancé and I are both from Colorado originally, and we moved to Cleveland for his job in June 2015. I fell in love with Cleveland pretty quickly. We planned to be here for two years, but we stayed because the city sucked us in. I’ve never loved a city like I love Cleveland. I actually didn’t know it was even possible to love your city before I came here. I’ve been fortunate to meet so many incredible people and I have made a lot of friendships and connections that I know will last forever. But it’s time to move closer to our families, and take on a new challenge.

What this means:

  • The Girl Gang will continue to grow here in Cleveland. We’re not going anywhere. The beauty of YLGG is that the business owners who host events, the people who attend, and everyone who supports this community is what keeps it going strong. With some boots on the ground (see bullet point 3) and some time-zone management on my part, the community will continue to grow.

  • The Girl Gang is expanding to a new city! You can keep an eye out for a list of the women-owned businesses of Denver coming to the website soon. I’m so excited to start growing the directory in a new city because it means new networking opportunities for everyone, the chance to invite more women into this community that we’ve all built together, and the opportunity to build a small bridge between two of America’s greatest cities.

  • Our first intern, Emily, will be the new Social Media and Event Coordinator in Cleveland! She will be the person planning and executing our monthly events. If you would like to host an event at your business, she’ll be the person to reach out to. I will also be traveling back for events as often as possible.

My love for Cleveland isn’t going anywhere. I remain committed to helping Cleveland thrive and I plan to continue to do so through empowering women to start and support local businesses and championing entrepreneurship in Cleveland as a whole. I am also on a couple of boards—the Jumpstart Leaders Council and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Cleveland Advisory Board—both of which I will remain part of.

The past two years are truly just the beginning. Cleveland has been such a wonderful place to start the Girl Gang, and the support, advice, constructive criticism, and encouragement from all of you has helped prove that a community like this is worthwhile and wanted. Thank you all for being part of it thus far. Cleveland will always be the first!


Working Women Wednesday: Jessica Davis

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working and wonderful women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Rebuilders Xchange (RBX), Jessica Davis.

Photo courtesy of Judith Vegh.

Photo courtesy of Judith Vegh.

Your Local Girl Gang: Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Jessica Davis: Rebuilders Xchange (RBX) buys and sells construction material and architectural salvage from ordinary to extraordinary. RBX’s mission is to generate wealth and resources for individuals and businesses by creating  a vibrant market for reusable materials. Oh, and diverting tons of awesome reclaimed material from landfills. We officially opened our doors for business June 8th, 2017.

Along with the success of RBX, Davis also founded her own design and fabrication business in 2012: Davis Industrial Services. This is what led her to create RBX, as she saw there was a market for salvaged construction material.

She was also a Bad Girl Venture Finalist in 2015 and in 2016 she was honored as the German Marshall Memorial Fellow. She has also built homes with Habitat for Humanity in Guyana, Botswana, Nepal, Costa Rica and Yumbel, Chile.

This information was provided courtesy of the RBX website.

 

 YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?

JD: While working on construction and demolition job-sites, I quickly learned you never saw metal in the dumpster. There is a cash market for scrap metal. However, windows, doors and hardwood floors would end up in the trash (unless the property owner wanted them “donated” to a place like Habitat for Humanity Restore). I also noticed a trend of exclusivity in architectural salvage businesses: ‘by appointment only’...I thought, “What if the individuals who had access to building materials (contractors, laborers, builders, demolition crews) could get cash for a wood carved entry door like they could copper pipe?” Pretty much a love child between: HGR, Home Depot and Habitat ReStore...

 

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

JD: Lifeguard.

YLGG: What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

JD: I had an opportunity to meet with Marsha Serlin, Founder of United Scrap. Marsha basically said you will do better when you go out on your own.

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

JD: Try not to make the same mistake twice, but make a lot of mistakes.


YLGG: What do you like most about your workspace?

JD: The PEOPLE!  The people I work with, the people who bring in materials (vendors) & our customers. Our customers are creative and they are all working on improving and transforming materials.  


YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

JD: Laughter.


YLGG: Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

JD: All the women!

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Amy Schultz

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is Money Coach and CEO of SmartGirlMoney, Amy Schultz.

YLGG: Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

 AS: I launched SmartGirlMoney in July 2018 with the mission of building financial confidence in women. In addition to one-on-one financial coaching and group workshops centered around developing a healthy money mindset and good financial behaviors, I have recently expanded my business to offer financial wellness programs for corporations. My goal through SmartGirlMoney is to help women overcome the barriers to personal and professional success that result from poor money management.

 

 YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?

 AS: In early 2018, I began researching ways I could use my skills as an actuarial wealth consultant to follow my true passion for promoting gender equality in the workplace and in the economy. As it turns out, financial confidence is a key driver for women’s personal and professional success and, statistically, women have less financial confidence than men. Women also face unique financial challenges that often aren’t addressed with standard financial help or financial wellness programs. After learning this, I knew I was meant to use my financial skills and experience to help women find financial success – and the personal and professional benefits that come with it.  

 

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

AS: When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a feminist. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant career-wise, but I was sure my business card would read “supporter of women’s rights.” I read book after book about the women’s rights movement and every paper I wrote in high school was about topics like the pro-choice movement, gender inequality, and the dangers faced by women in third-world countries. As I got older, I knew I wanted to enter the “business world” with kick-ass high heels but wasn’t sure how to bridge this goal with my feminist aspirations until I launched SmartGirlMoney.


YLGG: What characteristic do you most admire in other entrepreneurial women?

 AS: The female entrepreneurs I admire the most are the ones who are unapologetically themselves. Whether that means they don’t cover up their full-sleeve tattoos, or they share their struggles instead of pretending everything is perfect, or put “mom life” ahead of “work life,” I am always striving to match that level of confidence. When a woman sees other women being themselves, she is more likely to think “oh, I do fit in there” and feel more comfortable taking whatever professional leap of faith she’s been afraid of.  


YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

 AS: Even if you aren’t sure exactly what your business model is going to look like, get started spreading your message on social media! Today, female business owners face a lot of pressure to be “social media influencers” in addition to the every day challenges of running a business. The earlier you can build a social media presence and learn how to market your product or services through the applications your audience uses the most (like Instagram or Facebook), the better! A good place to start is to find someone to help you with creating a brand instead of just a business model.

 

YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

 AS: Spending time with my family. I live nearby my parents, sister, and cousins and try not to go more than a couple of days without seeing them. I prioritize my son over everything else in life and encourage other women to do the same with their own families! It makes our world a better place.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Lora DiFranco

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Free Period Press, Lora DiFranco.

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Lora DiFranco

Owner of Free Period Press

Your Local Girl Gang (YLGG): Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Lora DiFranco (LD): Free Period Press makes nice paper things for a thoughtful and creative life.  In a world full of technology designed to steal your attention, we create tools to help you slow down, take care of yourself, and focus on what’s most important to you.  Our most popular products are our Habit Calendar, Self Care Zine, and Schedule Magic Notebook.

We launched in 2013 with a series of adult coloring books and evolved over time to be more focused on grounded productivity.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

LD: I don’t think I had one job in mind, but I knew I’d be trying to make the world a better place (as cheesy as that sounds). I remember considering being an artist, teacher, joining the Peace Corps, and becoming a nun!

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

LD: I highly recommend creating a support group of other business owners, collaborators, and friends that will hold you accountable, provide advice and feedback, and give you a pep talk when you need it. Don’t be afraid to make it official-- set up a regular time to check in with each other. It can be so easy to get stuck in your own head with business stuff-- but you’re not alone!


YLGG: Have any mistakes shaped the way your run your business today?

LD: Um, YES. For the first four years of running Free Period, I made a ton of money mistakes. I would “reinvest” everything I made into my business, but not in a smart way. The book Profit First really helped me view my business finances similar to my personal finances-- I created guidelines for what to pay myself, what to save for future projects, and what to put aside for operating expenses. I highly recommend that book to anyone starting a business.

 

YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

LD: To-do lists! I feel totally lost at sea without them. I’m trying to be better at enjoying an unstructured day, but… I’m a work-in-progress. :)


YLGG:Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

LD: I find a lot of inspiration from women like Miranda July and Janelle Monae who don’t try to fit in, but rather totally own what makes them stand out.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.



Working Women Wednesday: Barrie Spang

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Sapphire Pear, Barrie Spang.

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Your Local Girl Gang (YLGG): Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Barrie Spang (BS): Sapphire Pear is a full service interior design studio and home decor store which opened in November of 2015. Sapphire Pear is all about color, good design, and getting our clients to challenge their design comfort zone a little bit.  

We help clients from something as simple as selecting wallpaper for a Powder Room to all design decisions for an entire new construction home. It is very important to get to know our clients, truly listen to what they are looking for, and design their spaces with them in mind.  We learn how they live, who resides in the home (kids, adult parents, pets), what they like to do, what their interests are. All of that plays into how we design a space for our clients. We design for the life our clients are living. If you look through all of our design work, you will see a lot of variety, and I am so proud of that! That means we are capturing our client’s personalities in their homes and delivering something unique.

YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?  

BS: I think I always thought I would eventually own my own business. I had been working at another local interior design studio for 20+ years when I started to dream of starting my own interior design firm. The idea grew and evolved over time and eventually became what Sapphire Pear is today.

The space where we are now became available and I just knew we had to rent it. It was the perfect location & size. It also opened up the opportunity to have a storefront which led to our Home Decor Shop. Coming up with the name was far more difficult. It took months to find something that fit, was memorable, and wasn’t already a taken handle on social media. I had been thinking about colors and how they really represent what I wanted to the company to be about. I started to think of my favorite color, Pear Green, and I reached out to Ashleigh Clark, the designer who has been with the company from the earliest stages, and asked what her favorite colors were. She responded right away, Sapphire Blue and Coral. Sapphire Blue,  I knew we had the name right away! I immediately jumped on social media to grab the handle, purchased the domain, and started to imagine the branding.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

BS: Honestly, it was always interior design. My dad remembers over hearing me when I was about nine  years old telling a visiting cousin that I “wanted to make people’s houses prettier”. After our family cookout that day, he pulled me aside to ask me about what I said and told me that is an actual profession called Interior Design. He then made it more real by explaining that Lee and Quen, men I knew well as they helped us with building our new home, were interior designers. It made it clear to me what that meant & I started to dream about being an interior designer.

I would sit for hours on the floor of Lee & Quen’s design studio looking through wallpaper books as my parents met with them about our home. We moved a great deal when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time in their studio. My dad sells real estate and I think my parents were “flipping houses” before that was actually a thing. I am sure that helped form what I wanted to do for a living as well.

 YLGG: What characteristic do you most admire in other entrepreneurial women?

BS: Organizational skills! As a creative person, I am often scattered, jumping from project to project, getting interrupted by phone calls, drop bys, and work emergencies. A lot of times, I  feel like I am not organized. I grow envious when I read about female entrepreneurs and they reference their flow charts, planners, color coded calendars, scheduling tasks, white boards, etc… I yearn for that skill.

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

BS: It will be the hardest, most time consuming thing you ever do, but it is totally worth it. I knew starting a business would be hard and a great deal of work, but I completely underestimated just how hard and just how much work it would be. That said it is completely addicting. It is a rush and I am so glad I did it. There is nothing more rewarding than building a business, creating systems, putting protocols in place and then see them start to work. Opening Sapphire Pear is the single thing I am most proud of in my life and I highly recommend to anyone thinking about it to go for it.


YLGG: What do you like most about your workspace?

BS: I love that our space feels like a home. We have had clients and shoppers comment as they come in that our store feels so homey and I love that! We have actually had a client fall asleep on one of our sofas. That is a true compliment to my book. Having our office spaces with in the store makes our workspace so creative.


YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

BS: Coffee with Simon. Every morning I get up early with my dog Simon. While he eats breakfast, I make coffee and then we cuddle up on the sofa in my Living Room during cold months or the one on my screen porch in the Summer. While he goes back to sleep, I sip my coffee while  I scroll through emails and texts, check my to do lists, brainstorm design ideas, watch a little news, and all that helps gets me mentally prepared for the day. It is a ritual I really miss when I travel.


YLGG: Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

 BS: I have always admired my business partner, Betty Kemper, the founder of Kemper House, since I was a little girl. Having been family friends for decades, I watched her raise her large family of five children with the appearance of ease and always with a lot  humor.

As her children grew older I got to witness her transition into a business owner. After watching her mother-in-law suffer almost two decades with Alzheimer’s, she recognized the need for better care for memory support.

She created Kemper House and broke the mold on how to  design a living environment where the memory support residents can feel safe, happy, and stimulated. I was beyond excited when she agreed to be my partner in Sapphire Pear. I most admire her for her hard work, kindness, and grace in which she runs her businesses. She is kind to everyone and that has left a huge impression on me.

COME BACK EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW #WORKINGWOMENWEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESSES WHO MAKE UP THE GIRL GANG AND THEIR HARD-WORKING OWNERS.