November 30, 2022
Lateva, Starla, Laura, Melanie, and Kate are amazing leaders with great stories and insights to share. Each of them entrepreneurs and visionaries. Each also with challenges, but a willingness to share and collaborate to inspire others.
I think I speak for the entire room of attendees when I say – we could have sat there for hours and absorbed their knowledge, stories, and energy. From ah ha moments of having a work bestie to laughing at U-Haul mishaps (the bridge is fine… everything’s fine… lol), this was a fantastic forum.
MEET THE PANELISTS
Lateva Woolfork is the founder of Socially Coordinated (SoCo), a brand management and coaching company. Additionally, she is the co-founder of Create Connect Collab with fellow panelist Starla Kay Mathis. As if that isn’t enough, she is also “a mother to six, wife to one husband” (said through laughter) and runs the blog The All Purpose Woman. Because finding and living in purpose has been foundational to Lateva, her gift to the world is supporting other women to not only find their purpose, but also lean into it by becoming purposely powerful.
Starla Kay Mathis is the co-founder of Mathis Media with her husband. Mathis Media provides photography, filmmaking, website design, and marketing consultation. As the co-founder of Create. Connect. Collab., she and Lateva provide creatives, leaders, and entrepreneurs the accountability, resources, and connections to make ish happen. She and her husband have two kids. Starla also shared with much joy the signing of her first modeling agency contract!
Laura Lachowecki is Owner and Pastry Chef of Filigree Bakery. Filigree offers custom French macarons, cakes, and various other desserts. She even offers consultation packages to share her food and pastry knowledge with other businesses. Previously working in the food service industry while her husband is in the medical field, Laura found family time with their two children tough. She loves the freedom and flexibility the business has provided to her family.
Melanie Allen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Green Loop Marketing, specializing in a digital-first approach to marketing. She and her team see clients as partners and work with them on content marketing, social media, paid ads, email marketing, and more. Melanie and her husband have two sons.
Kate Elliott is the founder of Koti Designs. She laughed as she shared the unconventional path she has taken to becoming a home staging and interior styling expert. Her roots in Michigan, she began as a wedding photographer, fulfilling her creative side. However, a move to Indiana put her into the Tech scene in customer success and sales for about a decade. With the desire to get back to her creative roots, Kate recently took the plunge into home staging and interior design consulting. She and her husband have three kids but will soon be empty nesters.
WHAT INSPIRED THEM TO START THEIR RESPECTIVE COMPANIES
A common theme in what inspired our panelists to start their companies was the focus on personal freedom. Stepping into their calling and sharing their gifts and talents with the world… on their terms. They each shared some specifics about this.
Having six daughters, Lateva wanted to break the cycle of trauma from her own upbringing and show her girls they can live out their purpose. Ironically, showing her daughters this purpose driven life led Lateva to supporting other women to find and fulfill their purpose as her profession and business.
Starla is a creative through and through. She offered this advice – when you experience the 3 am wakeups with your mind in overdrive, listen to what it’s saying. That’s what led her to set up a savings goal to make the leap into Mathis Media full-time. Starla also credits her grandfather as a motivating force for her creative endeavors.
Laura has been baking since a very young age. And while her family supported this creativity and passion in her youth, making a career out of baking was quite another thing. She was driven to continue her passion for culinary arts to prove the nay sayers wrong.
Melanie saw a gap in the market for the marketing services Green Loop could provide. And while that was the cleaner answer, she went a bit deeper. Sharing her own desires to prove to others she could make it. Melanie came from a small town and was told on more than one occasion, college probably wasn’t for her. She felt a deep drive within her to not only graduate college, but to succeed in whichever professional path she chose.
Kate was born an entrepreneur. In Michigan, she started her wedding photography business to make ends meet and have flexibility with three small children. This morphed into other avenues for Kate. After her stint in corporate, it became clear to her she is most true to herself when she is creating and independent.
CHALLENGES THEY FACE
One theme within the challenges they all face centered around creating and sticking to boundaries. Everything from managing time effectively and mom guilt, to knowing when to say NO.
“Trust yourself. Trust your intuition.”
Lateva shared how positioning herself and her company became something she had to learn. “Ensure you are positioning yourself in a place that’s good for you and your company. Sometimes it’s better to say no. That’s hard to do at the beginning.”
Self-doubt and finding a way through that self-doubt is key for Starla. This self-doubt can show up in a lot of ways including worry over money, mom guilt, figuring out how to spend time effectively, etc. She gets up early to create focus time for herself. Additionally, Starla leans on people around her for support and inspiration.
Laura shared the challenge of getting those around her to understand she now has a BUSINESS, and her bakery is not a HOBBY. She has been challenged to set the boundary of saying no to friends and family. As well as NO, to giving her services (and delicious treats) away for free. Laura continues to reiterate her view as a businesswoman with family and friends to drive the message.
Melanie finds challenge in people who don’t take marketing seriously. For instance, while most people have some form of personal social media, it doesn’t mean they know how to successfully market a business on social media. She now recognizes this as a red flag for her company. Meaning a potential client not seeing the value of marketing may not be a good fit as a partner with Green Loop Marketing. “Saying no to things that aren’t right for you means saying yes to another good thing. Trust yourself.”
Kate also runs into this challenge as well. In general, people not understanding or seeing the value of home staging. It then takes time and energy to explain and show the value add. She also is actively working on delegation. Learning that she can thrive, but it doesn’t have to be thriving in chaos.
ADVICE FOR STARTING A BUSINESS
Each of the women shared amazing tips for anyone looking to start a business or finding themselves overwhelmed. Here’s a summary:
- Think outside of what’s here and in front of you now. Get introspective. Take the time to go deep and understand yourself whether through prayer, meditation, journaling, whatever works for you.
- Have a support system. Know your weaknesses/gaps and find someone who compliments them.
- Boundaries are key. Establish them. Stick to them.
- Have a work bestie. Someone you can collaborate with and who will be honest with you.
- Find processes and tools that work for YOU. It’s okay to be different than your peers. What works for them may not work for you and your business.
- Figure out what the red flags are for your business. And don’t compromise your no’s once you realize it’s a red flag.
- Find someone 3-5 years ahead of you and collaborate. Get vulnerable and ask.
- Where possible, put processes in place before you need them.
- Find your energy and know when it works for you. Lean into that.
- Invest in yourself.
These 5 women truly have a collaborative spirit. Watching them share, you could witness lightbulb moments between them of how they will begin to collaborate just from sitting on this panel together.
As the Linking Indy Women community, we can support them through referrals and following their journeys on social channels.
Want to build a strategy and share your story? Check out @theallpurposewoman as well as @createconnectcollab to connect with Lateva.
Establish a relationship with Starla and reach out to this self-proclaimed introvert as she would love to meet you! @starlakaymathis and @mathis.media
For mouthwatering imagery or to plan your next event, connect with Laura and Filigree Bakery on Instagram @filigree.bakery
Melanie challenged us to trust and respect the marketers in our lives. Know someone who respects and finds value in marketing? Refer them to Green Loop Marketing. Follow her @greenloopmktg
Referrals are always welcome for home staging and interior design. She also loves to talk business and collaborate, so connect with Kate! Follow her blog and see design inspiration @kotihomedesigns
Thank you, ladies, for a wonderfully inspiring morning. Your collaboration, vision, and ability to share even the hard stuff was a blessing to all of us. Truly five visionary women!