Women have been starting companies at an ever-increasing rate and Ladies Who Launch might just top the list of those we can thank for the trend.
As the first new media company to provide resources and connections for female entrepreneurs, Ladies Who Launch has been paving the way to make the notoriously male-dominated field accessible to every woman. Through events, newsletters, online and in-person workshops, and a strong online community, Ladies Who Launch provides women the tools and encouragement they need to start businesses or grow their existing ventures.
This month, we sat down with some of the brains behind the operation: Stella Grizont and Karla Lightfoot, co-managing directors of Ladies Who Launch in NYC and New Jersey. Both entrepreneurs themselves, they’ve worked with thousands of women to define and pursue their entrepreneurial goals.
This duo shared how they got started with Ladies Who Launch, as well as great lessons for young female entrepreneurs on how to really take off—and stay sane at the same time. Read on for their inspiring advice and learn more about getting involved in the organization!
1. How did you first get involved with Ladies Who Launch?
It was nearly seven years ago. We’d experienced the magic of Ladies Who Launch’s signature Incubator Intensive Workshop as attendees, and we saw first-hand the power of having a community to support start-ups and felt compelled to help the movement.
So we took the leap and invested our money, our minds, and our hearts into the company. The energy of entrepreneurship is contagious! We’ve put over 1,500 women through the Incubator Intensive Workshop and helped over 10,000 women in the tri-state area, and those bright smiles of gratitude are pretty darn fulfilling.
2. What are some of the challenges you’ve met along the way?
You name it, we’ve seen it. From our website crashing with over 60,000 active users to a comprehensive reorganization to operational, time management, and marketing challenges, and tons more. One of our biggest challenges has also been one of our biggest successes—figuring out a membership model that enables us to touch more women’s lives while also freeing up our own time.
But the big lesson we learned through it all is this: You can’t tie up your identity in your wins and your losses.
3. Could you ever go back to a corporate job?
It’s hard to imagine, but if being entrepreneurs has taught us anything, it’s to stay wide open to the possibility.
4. What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs?
Make up your own rules. Everything is made up anyway, and the sooner you realize and accept that the quicker you can move forward and begin enjoying the process. We really support women determining their own definition of success: What makes you happy? What really counts for you? Who are you doing this for? Now, go out there and do it—and do it in a way that makes your heart sing!
Surround yourself with positivity. Having a supportive environment is crucial—you can’t do it alone. Find communities like Ladies Who Launch, or connect with a group of people that you can count on regularly. And choose your confidants wisely. This may be difficult because it might not be those you love the most. Out of protection, sometimes those dearest to you may not want the change you’re embarking on. They’ll come around. But in the meanwhile, just find folks who can see possibilities and set you free. A good gut check is: “Do I feel more energized or less after being with Jane Doe?”
Don’t forget your life. First, create a cushion! Take the time to determine how much you are willing to invest. Ask yourself how long you can go without income, and how much you need to feel safe. Next, make sure you prioritize doing nice things for yourself. Entrepreneurs tend to forget about their lives. Don’t make it complicated—it can be as easy as not eating in front of your computer, taking time out to be with friends, going for a mani-pedi, keeping a gratitude journal, or just making it to the dentist. Do whatever it is that nurtures you. Finally, remember: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
5. What businesses inspire you?
We’re currently most inspired by our own newest ventures! Yes, we have our own projects outside Ladies Who Launch. Karla is a clinical hypnotist with a private practice in NYC. She works with highly intelligent and creative individuals to break through limiting beliefs and co-create more joyous, fully expressed lives. And Stella, through her new company, WOOPAAH, is helping teams and individuals lead happier, more creative lives through immersive art playground experiences.