Last night, cozied up tight in a room full of spirited, local powerhouse women, and a few equally successful men, I attended a unique and brilliant event at the Foundation For The Carolinas. The event, Elizabeth Street Capital, is the brain child of American fashion designer, Tory Burch, CEO & Designer of Tory Burch. Elizabeth Street Capital is an initiative set forth by the designer's foundation and Charlotte's own Bank of America, designed to provide women entrepreneurs in the U.S. with access to affordable loans, mentoring support and networking opportunities. After vino, passed hors d'oeuvres and crudites, a brief panel discussion was led by the three you see below, Tom Montag, Co-Chief Operating Officer and Andrew Plepler, Corporate Social Responsibility Executive, both of Bank of America, and of course, the gal in the middle, Tory Burch.
Following the discussion, 14 of the Queen City's most successful female entrepreneurs and leaders in their respective fields shared brief personal tips of advice and wisdom for all prior to leading two round table discussions. I wanted to share a few that resonated most with me.
- Prior to founding the Tory Burch brand, the designer was the President of the internationally known luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. It was when she worked there, pregnant with her third child that she decided to switch gears and launch her own brand, working from her apartment. She let us know she asked for help, a lot of it and from a lot of people. The answer wasn't always yes, but she was tenacious.
- My friend Joanne O'Brien Beam, Chief Development Officer & Director of Non-Degree Programs, Wake Forest University Charlotte Campus (her own Alma Mater), insisted don't take the YES people. It's the NO people who keep you hungry, learning and successful.
- Dee Dixon, CEO/Publisher, Pride Communications, hit a home run with the crowd when she delivered "Ladies, it's okay to want to make a LOT of money!" I don't Ms. Dixon personally but I can't wait to give her a high five the next time I see her in spin class at the Dowd Y.
- Clary Hilliard Gray is the daughter and business partner of Liz Hilliard, Creator & Owner, Hilliard Studio Method. Liz shared the duo's well known brand and philosophy encouraging women to Be Powerful. Clary politely encouraged "don't be afraid to get rid of the people who are not supporting you and your goals," something that really resonated with me.
- Leeann Shattuck, Chief Car Chick, Women's Automotive Solutions, explained that 80% of the time you may reach and not achieve, but it's the 20% of the time you do that makes all the difference.
- One of my round table discussion leaders, Sherre Demao, CEO/Strategy Maestro, SLD Unlimited Biz Growth Inc., shared her personal experience in running a business included a shift to the "General Contractor Model". She encouraged small business owners to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and allow people on your team to do the high level stuff. She also spoke of understanding your Psychographic; the reality of your market. It is important to know how your potential clients live, how they breathe and how they view money... who is truly going to buy your services
- Last and certainly not least, one of Charlotte's most well known leading women, Joan Zimmerman, CEO, Southern Shows, Inc. through relational humor stated, "There has been an alarming increase in things I know nothing about!", and "The future is for learners because the learned wake up in a world that no longer exists."
Below is a picture with two ladies I am proud to call dear friends and part of my inner circle! Dianne Chipps Bailey, on the left, leads the nonprofit organizations practice group at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. She is THE Queen City's leader for representation of nonprofit organizations, senior management and their philanthropic leaders. Anne Pipkin, on the right, is a former Wall Street Investment Banker turned entrepreneur and founder of too many small businesses to name in one blog post. If you want to know, however, who keeps my skin a healthy glow off season and who styles my tresses for all important events, that, of course, would be two of Anne's baby's, gorgeousGLO and Blo ouT.
What could be more stylish than a room full of brains, beauty and all around awesome women?
Be Powerful, Supportive, Beautiful and Kind, and you will ALWAYS be In Style.