Happy Women’s History Month!
At BK, we’re honored to have so many uplifting and powerful women on our team and as clients. Whether they’re starting a business from scratch or carrying on the legacy of the women before them, these ladies really know how to make an impact.
This month we took a moment to chat with each of our female owners and operators to learn more about how they got started in their industry and what it actually means to be a “Girl Boss.”
For more on each of these fabulous women, feel free to follow the links in each of their sections.
“I started out as a Mom who loved to cook,” said founder and CEO Charmane Andrews Skillen of s.a.l.t. Sisters. She started a journey to keep her family healthy, which lead her to mineral-rich sea salt.
Coincidentally, her 4 daughters’ names make up the acronym s.a.l.t. which she swears wasn’t planned. Her fascination with sea salt evolved, leading her to give cooking classes locally and start selling salt.
“Back then, I couldn’t have dreamed that big,” she told us of her successful business that has now expanded from its grassroots as a household brand in the food industry. “If I’d seen the whole pie, it would have been overwhelming.”
When asked about challenges, Skillen said the biggest hurdle was overcoming self-doubt, or as she aptly put it, “calming the evil b**** in my head.”
Luckily, she wasn’t alone. She started seeking out mentorship through a women’s group on Facebook and connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to bring other people in, to ask for advice. You can hire the experts you need for the things you need. It doesn’t make [you] bad at your job. It’s about getting what you need to scale.”
Her advice to up-and-comers: “I’m big on gut feeling and intuition. So do things when they feel right to you, then bring in the experts with confidence and find people you can ask questions to.”
Outside of her successful biz which sells to stores across the US, Canada, and internationally, Skillen hopes to encourage other women to live their dreams through public speaking, workshops, and seminars.
We’re inspired already!
In case you’ve been living under a rock (we won’t judge), tarot has become quite popular in the past few years — especially during the pandemic as more women look for self-care items online.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” said Sheila Ellis of Writual Planner, a tarot journal and community which started as a passion project and has rapidly grown into a wildly successful brand in the spirituality and tarot industry.
She might not have intended to grow to over 20K Instagram followers and thousands of customers clambering for the newest collection of tarot planners, crystals, and accessories — but with a solid team and an entrepreneurial spirit, that’s exactly what she got.
“It’s open to everyone,” said Ellis of the brand’s community called The Writual Society which houses over 700 members through coursework and tarot resources. “It’s a space created by women, for women, and with women.”
Ellis also credits living in a pocket of female business owners and entrepreneurs for her success, which was a safe place for her to talk to other women at different stages of the process.
Her advice to up-and-comers: “If you want to create a business or be an entrepreneur, start with something that you really love. The rest will follow if you have that passion for what you’re doing. There will always be days, weeks, or months where it’ll be a grind, but if you love it, that will carry you through those hard times.”
Sporting goods is a male-dominated industry, but that doesn’t stop Sissel Himle of Kari Traa, an outdoor apparel company based in Norway with global reach.
“I’ve been lucky,” said Himle. “I work for a brand who has a vision to challenge the established.”
With a role model like athlete Kari Traa, the queen of mogul skiing and Olympic medalist, it’s hard not to be inspired. When told she couldn’t train with the men, she did it anyway.
“She had the courage and guts to do it her own way. When entering into the male-dominated world of sportswear, she brought her uniqueness from the slopes with her and did it with feminine colors, fit, and design.”
Traa’s “bad-ass attitude” plays out in many of the brand’s campaigns, including the #GirlsWillBeGirls campaign which encourages women and girls to push themselves past obstacles.
Himle says the brand is also supportive of women leaning into what makes them different. “I’ve been fortunate to have male coworkers who acknowledge that and are supportive to a feminine mindset.”
Her advice to up-and-comers: “As women, we should not have to suppress our feminine side in order to please a more male-dominated world. We have to cheer on each other, be supportive, and continue to challenge what has been established in a male-dominated industry.”
Being a female business owner in the outdoor industry was a dream of Kay Martin’s since she moved to Boulder and started working at Pearl Izumi over 30 years ago. Today she runs BOCO Gear, a company that creates custom running hats and athletic gear for extreme sports.
But unlike many who start businesses early in their careers, she took a more calculated journey. “I got my feet wet by working for a variety of entrepreneurs that ended up educating me on the do’s and don’ts of business,” she told us.
By the time she started BOCO, she already had a 20+ year career learning the industry and how to run a successful business. So when the opportunity presented itself to create BOCO Gear, Martin knew how to fill the void she was seeing in the industry, who the players were, and who she needed to have on board to help build the business.
Mentorship was incredibly valuable to her as well. “Luckily for me, I had the support of many mentors who encouraged and helped me along the way.”
Her advice to up-and-comers: “Don’t work for jerks (we all have and trust me, move on), network like crazy with everyone and anyone you can, each week, every week, network. Read Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock. Always ask, the most someone can say is no. And most importantly, inventory will kill your business so negotiate mins with your factories. Pay the surcharge but don’t let a factory put you out of business before you can get started.”
We’re committed to lifting women up and empowering them to follow their dreams, whether they’re our bad-ass clients, our talented employees, or just the women in our own lives.
We encourage you to find and follow inspirational women this month and every month! And if you’re a female business owner yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the incredible women on this list for mentorship or support.
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