A Note from Sarah and Kelly
All (including the many allies of LWL)
The word of the night in St Louis was authenticity. Being an authentic leader, unafraid to show your superpowers but also your weaknesses and mistakes.
Post our uplifting night in St Louis at the inaugural Ladies Who Launch event for that city, I wanted to reflect for a moment and pay forward what we learned. Always invigorating! Also check out our new website with all the details of Ladies Who Launch - Kelly and I are launching step by step into the world too!
My key impression, even before the event, was a thirst for more of this Community-building. We saw it in our number of sign-ups with >400 people putting their hand up to attend... starting with the inimitable founders of Summersalt - Reshma and Lori - who generously opened up their network, even though we couldn’t make our date work for them personally. Don’t worry we’ll be back for you next year! The audience quality was high - almost everyone I spoke to was already on a journey of running their own businesses. They brought pragmatism, wisdom, optimism, and scars on their back, and were seeking ways to be creative and innovative with their brands. One woman at the end left me with this message “Thank you, this happened at just the right time for me. I was scared to keep going and now I am replenished.”
Tishaura Jones the St Louis Treasurer kicked us off in style. Her entrepreneurial approach to government was clear in how she has funded every St Louis kindergarten student with a $50 start on a college savings account, funded by parking meters and parking tickets! And of course her story of the buffalo, that hunkers down in the storm, but always makes it to the other side!
Kathy Mazzarella’s opening keynote resonated. An amazing leader who has seen a lot, and runs a Fortune 500 company which she started at at just 19, telling her interviewer that her goal was to “run the company”! She was the first talk about being your authentic self. I’m also grabbing hold of the idea to set “unreasonable goals” but in a “reasonable” timeframe.
For the Building with Purpose: Take your passion and make it your business panel, La’Crassia, Zoe, and sister duo Susan and Amanda where the perfect combination, with Stacy moderating strongly and bringing her own experiences to bear with Rise. From Butterlove by LC, to Greetabl, and Golden Gems we heard stories from women in some cases still balancing other jobs, through to multi-year success stories - the breadth was important, showing that this entrepreneurship thing is a journey. We knew the panel was resonating when we saw half the room start to take notes! Here’s just some of the resources suggested:
Resources for St. Louisans
Arch Grants – $50,000 non-equity dilutive grant. They believed in us in 2014 and we owe them every day for it!
Capital Innovators – Fantastic accelerator program under the very talented and helpful leadership of Judy Sindecuse.
Resources for Marketing E-Commerce Brands
Digital Marketer – A fantastic set of courses, podcasts and webinars teaching you everything you need to know about paid social, organic social, creating funnels, etc.
Ecommerce Influence – Podcast put on by Austin Brauner (email expert) and Andrew Foxwell (Facebook marketing expert)
Jon Loomer – Prolific Facebook marketer, puts out great tools for fellow marketers
Hilary Rushford – Organic Instagram growth expert, puts on a fantastic course on growing your following
For Show Me the Money: Business and Financing Strategies for Founders, excellent moderating from Mindy Mazur - and again a moderator who had great personal experience helping women founders with Brazen. Here Shayba’s advice on practicing your pitch for Mahnal, combined with Lisa’s recent Arch Grant work for Big Heart Tea really provided some down-to-earth, practical advice for the audience. Again we saw many notes being taken! Talia’s experience fundraising for Myself Belts from potty training her young son all the way to SharkTank Fame was inspirational. We will all be re-upping our power pose practices.
Our closing conversation with Jenn Labit was very candid, and for once everyone put down their phones, as she looked us all in the eye and asked us to be present. To actually meet the person next to us, take the time to connect. What a journey she is on with Cotton Babies proving yet again that one can do well while also doing good.
One of the superpowers of LWL is helping women see that they are not alone. Business challenges are rarely novel, and the power of mentors is that they have usually walked in your shoes. So while they may not have the answer, they can at least provide perspective.
This time around authenticity of leadership was top of mind and we didn’t get to a discussion on advocacy. That said I’m continuing with my personal goal from Dublin’s LWL to sponsor at least one woman a week - from big to small inbounds.
If you haven’t seen or read Helen Fullen’s work at NDRC - a find from LWL Dublin - please take a look as it adds fuel in terms of quantitative research as to why we do Ladies Who Launch. Summary below. We’re excited to see what else we can do here to bring more quant research to our work.
Thank you all – especially those who volunteered their time and made it all seem so seamless and simple. We could not do this without your generosity of time and spirit. We have a busy fall with San Fran (year 6) on October 23rd and, if we survive, Belfast (year 2) on November 15th. However, really top of mind is that we think through our own scaling and create more ongoing conversations - we’d love any great ideas or advice you all might have on that!
See you soon, and keep on launching!