4 Badass Female Entrepreneurs Share Their Keys to Success: Magic Ensues

Updated: Sep 4, 2018

I love being a woman. We are brave, dedicated, passionate and driven. We are capable of creating rich destinies that align with our best selves. We have the power to transcend expectations and objections. We can make life whatever we want it to be without needing to explain or justify ourselves to anyone.

I love surrounding myself with like-minded women in this sense, many who are also successful female entrepreneurs. Some I've known for years, while others only months. Some have attended my wedding, while others I've never met in person. No matter, we all share the same goal: empowering the female leaders of tomorrow.

By sharing our stories and experiences, we show other women that they, too, can conquer. That it's safe to be themselves. That their journey to leadership and success doesn't have to look like anyone else's. That each of our paths are beautifully unique and purposely different.

Seeing the power in this, I invited four colleagues who are truly badass boss babes--founders, CEOs, dreamers, doers, movement-makers--to share their brilliance and influence on this platform. I'm excited to introduce the first edition of my "Badass Boss Babes" panel series.

The Panelists

As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie Majewski is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as Marketing Principal for Trilix Tech. Carrie is a 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” honoree and a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner.

Jen Abans is a NYC-based Life Coach and Founder of Mind On A Mission. She provides life coaching services to educate and empower rock star female entrepreneurs on how to live the life they desire while building their business. She strives to empower those who feel stuck, overworked and underpaid; those who find themselves moving through life without truly living who are ready to go after the things that inspire them.

Elizabeth Stone is a R.I.-based mompreneur who has successfully launched several startups including BioSci Labs and Pepper’s Closet. As Co-founder of BioSci Labs, she is working on a STEAM incubator with the only commercially available wet lab space in the state of Rhode Island as well as a Med-tech startup called BI Medical. As part of Pepper’s Closet, her and her artist/marine scientist husband help spread ocean literacy and awareness through custom crafted apparel.

Kaila Lawrence is the co-founder of ILI Marketing & Design and has been a marketing strategist for 7 years. She specializes in copywriting, social media management, and email marketing. Prior to starting her own agency Kaila worked for some of the biggest brands in the world like Hasbro, Orange, and the NFL. She's currently exploring life as a digital nomad living in a new country every month for a year with 40 other diverse professionals.

Let's Talk...

Q: How are you using your platform to stand up for a purpose you believe in? How are you working to impact change?

KL: I think the 9-5 culture is dying. As the world gets smaller thanks to technology, people shouldn’t feel like they need to fall into place and accept traditional roles. I believe digital nomadism is the future, and it has certainly changed my life for the better. I write a blog about my digital nomad experiences to share my travels and how I run my business. JA: I know how intimidating it can be to start your own business and how lonely entrepreneur life can be at times. I am looking to create a safe haven for those looking to support others on the same mission. Not only that, but I'm tired of women mainly seeing themselves as competitors instead of supporters and collaborators.

CM: Through the Women in Leadership Nexus, we are actively working to shatter the traditional leadership paradigm and co-create a new model. At Nexus we believe in a different type of leadership framework—next-gen leadership. Those that exhibit principles of next-gen leadership reach an amplified level of leadership, capable of positively impacting the organizations in which they work and the people with whom they touch.

Q: When was the moment you knew you had to take the leap as a female entrepreneur?

CM: My path to entrepreneurship was pretty organic. Though I always knew I wanted to start my own company one day, I did not set out to start the Women in Leadership Nexus. Instead, I decided to start a blog. I had just moved to Rhode Island from New York and was passionate about cultivating a community of strong women in my new home. So I created a blog series that profiled local women who were redefining what it meant to be a leader. My series gave me the chance to interview some extraordinary women who were leading with impact, building the winning workplaces of tomorrow, and empowering a sea of new leaders. Talking with these women was nothing short of inspiring.

A dozen interviews later, I decided to hold a meet-and-greet so that all the women who had been profiled to date could meet one another. During that two-hour breakfast on a rainy fall day, something electrifying happened. The vibration in the room was palpable; the energy unmatched. It was as if these women had been starved to share space with other powerhouse women for years.

Sitting there in that moment—watching as new relationships formed and women dared to say their dreams out loud—it hit me that I was on to something. Suddenly, it was clear as day to me that I had a responsibility to create safe space for dynamic women to come together and support one another on their leadership journey. Eight weeks later I started Nexus, a professional women’s association.

KL: I was sitting at my desk in my 9-5 job in early October 2017 and was miserable. I didn’t know if it was the company, if I was in the wrong field or if I was in the wrong city. I was questioning everything, and every solution I thought of would have lead to being in the same situation a year later at a different desk in a different city. I knew I had to do something drastic to discover what I really loved. That’s when I decided to abandon my lifestyle altogether, quit my job, start my freelance business, sell everything I own, and travel the world as a digital nomad.

ES: I can’t remember a particular eureka moment when I decided to jump into entrepreneurship. I really hadn’t even considered working in the business world until I was about 20 years old.

I had graduated undergrad at 18 and had been accepted into a PhD program at Stanford but they said I was too young and needed to wait until I was 21. I’ve always been immensely impatient so I got my MBA instead, and it was the best decision ever. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart. It has to be a calling and you have to love it!

JA: Honestly my journey began with hiring my own life coach. The purpose behind it was, I felt like I was going through the motions. While I enjoyed my 9-5 job, I knew that it wasn’t what I was meant to do for the rest of my life. I was meant to be more and do more. I was courageous, dedicated, motivated and passionate. I knew based off a blog I had a few years before that, that there were people who needed to hear my stories and experiences to be inspired, to feel comforted, to feel motivated or to be pushed out of their comfort zone.

By opening my mouth, I could help to inspire and cheer on the female leaders of tomorrow.

Q: Obstacles are inevitable. What advice do you have for overcoming them?

JA: You need to believe in yourself before anyone else can. You have to push yourself and be committed. You need to learn that there is no such thing as failure if you are able to come out of the situation having learned something from it. Remember to “don’t stop believing,” to hold on to that passion, that vision, come up with a plan and work the hell out of it.

ES: Confidence is key. You are almost always going to be your harshest critic so keep your head up and keep going forward. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.

CM: Don’t lose sight of your end destination. The road ahead will always throw a bunch of detours, speed bumps and potholes but the destination is always within reach.

KL: Everything is temporary. You can always find another job, another apartment or make your money back. Spend more time in the present and less time in the future. Break big problems down into pieces and go step-by-step.

Q: Have you ever faced criticism or doubt? How did you navigate it? JA: I actually have an interesting story about that. A client I had happened to be a friend of mine, someone I used to work with and one day we met up for drinks and her husband came up to me and said, “Sorry for doubting you." Now up to this point I had no idea he did, but he confessed that he thought his wife wouldn’t gain much from our sessions being that we are friends and what our hour together would amount to would be girl talk.

Honey, let me tell you how good it felt to hear “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” Hell, I really didn’t take it personal because people are going to have their opinions, they are entitled to them. However, my takeaway from that was gratifying because it proved to him and to me that his wife walked away with value from our sessions and a different perspective, and that’s one of the things I aim to do with my clients.

ES: HA! I am chronically the only woman in rooms full of grey haired men. There is plenty of doubt. The only thing to do is to bring your best game and show up everyday.

Just because you haven't done it before, doesn't mean you can’t do it.

CM: I like to believe that everyone has something to offer along your journey. Your naysayers and vultures can serve as powerful teachers, providing you with profound learning opportunities amidst the noise. Your champions and advocates are also your teachers, but in a very different way.

Thank everyone who comes into your life, take away something from each of them, and apply the lessons in a meaningful way that keeps you moving forward, instead of looking in the rearview mirror.

Q: What do you do to stay motivated? Listen to music that pumps you up? Purposefully take breaks to refresh? Books? Podcasts?

KL: Joining a digital nomad travel program has forced me to surround myself with people much smarter than me. I spend a lot of time with them goofing off of course, but during the workweek I’m inspired watching them all run their own businesses and crush it at their jobs. It makes me want to do the best I can and always be on my A-game.

JA: I listen to podcasts or YouTube videos I come across with others discussing motivation and personal development. I will tell my boyfriend or my mom about something I am working on so that I am held accountable for completing that project. Sometimes depending on the topic at hand, they can let me bounce ideas off of them or perhaps give some insight and feedback. I love to read so I am always trying to learn from another person’s stories and experiences. Last but not least, I put reminders in my phone and I keep a white board by my bedside so I can always see this week’s agenda beside me.

ES: I try to exercise every day, keep moving, and make sure I make time for my daughter and husband. Still doing yoga and spin 5-6 days a week at 37 weeks pregnant ;)

CM: My three “musts” for rejuvenation:

1. My daily 6 am workout

2. A few dates a week with friends and family who refuel my energy

3. A mindless TV show a few times a week

Q: Do you have any go-to positive affirmations or motivational quotes?

KL: "Well behaved women seldom make history." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

ES: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy

JA: I am more than equipped for what lies ahead, I got this.

CM: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi Q: Are there any women you admire who motivate you?

CM: As the founder of a woman’s organization, this is impossible to answer! Each and every strong, courageous, passionate, spirited woman in Nexus motivates me to show up positively, fight ferociously for betterment and dream bigger tomorrow than I am today.

In addition to my family at Nexus, I am blessed to have an incredible community of friends, family and champions who are my biggest influencers—especially my mom and two sisters!

JA: Definitely my mom. She taught me about perseverance, strength, and how important it is to constantly learn and to go for it. Aside from her Oprah, Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez and my late aunt Nancy. I feel like she taught me how to be the best aunt I can.

KL: My mom and I are very much the same person. I abhorred that thought as a grumpy teenager, but now it’s a compliment. My mother is one of the strongest, most self-accomplished women I know and she’s always pushed me to be the same. I owe my drive, my ambition, and my incredible stubbornness to her.

ES: Honestly, my dad! He has really inspired, motivated and encouraged me along my path to entrepreneurial success.

Q: Be honest: what do you think got you to where you are today?

ES: Definitely hard work and timing. I also wouldn't be where I am today without my amazing support system.

CM: I think I have been really good at spotting and seizing opportunity, even when it presents in unconventional ways. Though I am risk-adverse at my core, my entrepreneurial spirit often overrules my cautiousness and has caused me to take some big, and incredibly gratifying, risks. From starting a content marketing agency at age 25 to starting my own company a few years later, I have been good at truly seeing the opportunities the universe places in front of me, assessing how that pathway can contribute to my having impact, and unequivocally following the path that leads to the greatest reward.

KL: Taking action is the only thing I can attribute my success to. Planning is good, sure, but at some point you have to act in order to move forward. I applied to my travel program. I handed in my resignation. I built my business's website.

I didn’t let analysis paralysis stop me. You have to get out of your own way. Mistakes are part of the process and trying to avoid them is futile. Embrace the chaos and everything will fall into place. Just make sure to never slow down.

JA: I think my ability to connect with others, my dedication, my motivation, my courage and that push from God; that voice in my head and my heart that said, "This is what I am meant to do.” And definitely watching the company I keep.

Q: What’s the best advice you can give women reading this right now who want to make their dream a reality or become an entrepreneur?

KL: You shouldn’t be afraid of failure. Think hard about the last time you really “failed.” Everything worked out in the end, didn’t it? You’re still here, and you’re ready to kill the game. The timing will never be right. Waiting for this or that only postpones your goals. You are the only one who can manifest your own success. Just start somewhere, keep moving, and never look back. You got this.

CM: Do one thing today that will inch you closer to your dream. Whether that is saying your dream out loud to someone or writing down the first idea you have about how to make it a reality, just take one small step today. It’s easy to put our dreams off to tomorrow but it’s braver to start today.

JA: You don’t have to be perfect but you have to get started and I honestly believe that is the hardest part. There are times you are going to feel like quitting and giving up but don’t. Push yourself!! Remember that this is YOUR dream and you need to push yourself because no one is going to do it for you. If you have a bad day then so be it! Tomorrow is another chance to get it right.

Great ideas and magical concepts are just that if there isn’t intention and execution behind them.

ES: It will not be easy and you will inevitably face some failures. Make sure you learn from your mistakes and keep pushing. Also, be sure to take time to care for yourself.

The Moderator

At 24, I became the youngest Director of a prominent, CT-based content marketing agency. Then, I launched a content marketing company from the couch of my one-bedroom apartment. Now, I serve 20+ clients worldwide based out of beautiful Southern California.

As an independent Content Marketer, I understand what businesses want most from their content marketing partner and don’t get. I realize the inherent challenges faced along the journey to success, and it’s my goal to eliminate them by reimagining possibilities and redefining standards. I take pride in helping narrate the profound stories of some of today’s most revolutionary brands.