December 30, 2013
To all Her Corner members who were part of our community in 2013,
I wanted to take a moment to pause and start by saying ‘thank you’; not only for being a part of this growing community, but also for being the community that sustained me personally and professionally in 2013.
While 2013 brought me the most beautiful gift of all, a little boy who has brought so much joy to my family; it also brought challenges that I am sure many of you could relate to as well. As a business owner I spent several months looking at Her Corner’s future. Was there a business here, a sustainable business, or should we have structured as a non-profit? We are still evaluating some of these questions, but so many of you shared your insight and your expertise as we worked through the different growth models, and for that I thank you sincerely. As a family, I faced difficult decisions and choices about the life we wanted to live & the financial choices we would make for our family. During my Her Corner group meetings, I was able to share my concerns about these decisions and I received such wonderful support and reminders that these things would work out. And recently my husband’s health has brought me to my knees with worry and a sense of helplessness. Again, the women of Her Corner have been there to bring a smile to my face (or even sometimes just a bottle of wine or a good workout!)
2013 was an amazing year for the development of Her Corner. We grew from our original 30 founding members to over 225 members, at a rate of 650% growth. I would not call that “managed” growth, by any stretch of the imagination, thus the need for more strategic thinking going into 2014. But through this growth we learned a lot – what works, what doesn’t work, and how we can grow while adding value to our members, and expanding the community without diluting the heart and sole of who we are – women business owners who are committed to growth in our established businesses.
I am looking forward to sharing over the coming months some of our plans for 2014, some of which include the opportunity for members to launch their own groups, a new program for more mature businesses, continued work with sponsors for our ‘Commit to Grow’ program, and the development of a member-only portal for better collaboration and member tools.
In January we will kick off our meetings with a reflection on 2013: a moment to acknowledge what we achieved before jumping into 2014. Some of our members will have amazing stories to tell about 2013. In particular, Dr. Tara Coles, who after two years of learning, building, and sometimes rebuilding, launched Cluster Art – it brought tears to my eyes to see this vision turn into an amazing business reality. And Mariesa Dale, who quietly and ambitiously tackles the problems around her, like bringing more women into technology ventures and launching Washington’s only Device Lab (and getting the Mayor to help pay for it)! And Susan Jones who works tirelessly to raise awareness, get funding, and potentially position herself for an acquisition for her remarkable business application, Quad2Quad. And Ferrall Dietrich who opened her first store in April, Core 72, a place that immediately drew raving fans, exceeded expectations and is an amazing place to shop. But my favorite Her Corner development in 2013 was the member-driven subgroup formation. The women in manufacturing, women in tech, women in health and healing, and others, are new subgroups that were formed independently as a way to further collaboration across the broader community. I love this organic development, and hope that we will see even more groups form. (How about a subgroup for women supporting non-profits, or women in professional services?)
I also love the generosity of this community. The class that Christina Daves taught to our members last month on how to get more publicity for their business, the ideas and feedback when people ask a question on Facebook, and the connections, introductions, and business referrals that our members share with one another so that we can succeed together.
I remain inspired, every single day, by the women in Her Corner. The women who have joined have brought with them a generosity and collaboration that I have never experienced elsewhere among women. I know that we still have progress to make to improve the Her Corner experience, and I can’t wait to get back to work to do so!
Finally, I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to my strategic partners, Christina Taylor and Amanda Weathersby for their work on our Speaker Series, Commit to Grow, and our Simply Profitable Retreat. Christina and Amanda allowed me to bring our members even more resources and events than I would ever have been able to deliver on my own. I also want to thank our facilitators, who run our meetings and get to know each and every one of your businesses. Their positive attitudes, experience and optimism are why and how we have been able to extend our reach and to bring more women into Her Corner. I have a small internal team who has been working very hard this year to make our community grow. Kylah who has recently left to take a semester abroad, Amanda who helps me run the business and manage the community, Laura who helps with recruiting and new group launches, and Christine who helps me with strategic initiatives including the development of our licensing model. They are a remarkable team and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.
I wish you all a peaceful and calm transition into 2014 and a year ahead filled with professional and personal successes. One of my favorite quotes as we enter the New Year is by Helen Keller:
Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
Thank you, sincerely, for supporting Her Corner.
With love and gratitude,