The Alimond Show

Barbara Kriss Owner of AWL Creative

March 28, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Barbara Kriss Owner of AWL Creative
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feel the pulse of triumph and the ache of challenge as we welcome a visionary woman who has carved out a niche for herself and countless others in the competitive world of female entrepreneurship. It's a journey that transforms the loneliness and lack of tailored educational resources into a cohesive community brimming with knowledge and support. Our special guest shares her story of shifting from the rental space in the wedding industry to birthing a community and educational hub for women in business. Thriving through adversity, we uncover the raw truths behind her success and the indispensable cohort program she developed to shepherd new entrepreneurs through the complexities of launching their ventures.

Embark on the strategic voyage of business growth and scaling with us, as our guest unveils the insights that propelled her brand to new heights. You'll understand the pivotal role of resonating with your niche and the synergy that sister locations can offer to an already flourishing enterprise. Hear firsthand the critical importance of establishing robust legal protections to safeguard your hard work. This episode doesn't just skim the surface; it provides a deep appreciation for the legal underpinnings that fortify a business against potential financial storms.

Finally, we're putting the spotlight on life beyond the boardroom – the intricate dance of managing time with loved ones while nurturing the demands of a blossoming business. Our discussion gets personal as we address the guilt of missed moments and the overwhelming nature of entrepreneurial commitments. We stress the importance of team reliance and the courage to disconnect in pursuit of mental clarity and true presence. And as we recognize the pervasive role of social media in shaping our views and mental health, we leave you with a thought-provoking invitation to re-evaluate your digital consumption for a more fulfilling, authentic life experience.

Speaker 1:

If you have a product, seriously, all you have to do is just like find some girl in a basement to like, hold it and dance with it. Yeah, that's it. That's the magical formula.

Speaker 2:

I was gonna say I think it's a pretty easy hack. Then, though, right, yeah, but it's like you find the person Lazy, so lazy. You know what, though? I would rather take the lazy route than the route that the rest of us have to go through, sure, but like then what happens is like then you're just a fad, like it's not sustainable, you know.

Speaker 1:

So it's like you get a massive surge of sales and then it's like it's the journey where you learn all the the journey, the tribulations.

Speaker 2:

I know, I know. So how have you been Good Yourself? How's everything going? The studio it's great, it's wonderful. I'm at the studio. What are you doing over there?

Speaker 1:

Everything, nothing, all of it, everything in my time. I mean, honestly, we are focusing more on education for female entrepreneurs now than we've ever had before. We're kind of pulling, we're finding out like what doesn't work and pulling that out, kind of like taking care of a plant. You know, you cut off the dead pieces so the parts that are actually healthy can kind of grow, and we find that the educational aspect is really what's needed more than anything, so that we don't have to learn off of TikTok.

Speaker 2:

What did you do? What were the plans that you had to? What were the things that you had to like?

Speaker 1:

That's the million-dollar question. Okay, so I don't know if you remember, but when we first started it was just rentables. Oh, that's, when did you put that on me? She's a magician, I tell you. Oh, my god, sorry. When we first started it was just rentable space.

Speaker 2:

You're necklace, not that it matters, but there we go.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Nobody ever tells me that, and I'm like, why doesn't anybody tell me that it was just rentable space and now it's Okay? So like when we first started, it was rentable space for women in the wedding industry, right, because like that's all I knew, and I knew that the concept was needed, the resources, the support, the community, the education, but what happened was it actually turns out that it's needed by all women and not just that particular sector. So immediately right off the jump, like the name didn't work anymore. What?

Speaker 1:

was the name A wedding loft. People thought that we were in an event venue and we are, but only by accident. And then this side of COVID, we actually we still rent spaces, but it's not needed like it was before COVID. It's really the community and our membership base that is thriving. We're busier than ever and we're building out the educational program. We have something called the cohort program, which is basically like if you want to start a business and you have no idea how, or maybe like you're in the first three-year phase, which is the hardest, which we've all gone through.

Speaker 2:

That phase, right, right.

Speaker 1:

It's like you have a business license, but is it the right one? Or you're paying taxes, but are you paying the right taxes? But it's also more. It's Is that cohort aspect where you don't feel like you're doing it alone. We have educators that are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, because they believe in our mission. They believe in the concept and giving back and also fixing what's so wrong in the educational system for female entrepreneurs currently.

Speaker 2:

Wait, pause, what are those things? So I just jumped down around and hold it.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, yeah, but it's fine because that's exactly like what we're doing to fix it is. When I was starting one of Any of my businesses, I could go to a class, but I was always one of the only women in the class so I felt stupid asking a question, especially because my businesses were in the wedding industry. So it was always cute or fluffy, pretty in pink and nobody ever really took me seriously in the classes or I always felt like the people that I hired to help me were always in it for themselves, never really guided me in the right direction because it was the right thing. It was more of like how many billable hours they can get. So it was really hard to figure out who I could trust and if they were even doing it the right way.

Speaker 1:

Because what I've come to realize is just because somebody markets themselves as something doesn't necessarily mean they have any idea what they're doing. Those have been really hard lessons to learn. So it's fixing that, it's the fact that it's really lonely those first couple of years. You don't have your network, you don't have your support system. You feel like you're doing it all alone. You feel like you're doing it wrong. You feel like you're not making any progress and you don't know what you don't know. So we've put together this program that literally is like class one is how to get your business license and your insurance, and so we have really trusted experts that I've worked with that I know are good, reputable and informative that teach the classes and level one goes through business license and insurance, bookkeeping 101, how to set up a website. There's in contracts and so everything in between not branding social media.

Speaker 2:

How about sales, how to bring the money in?

Speaker 1:

So we have our class. Number two is actually a target market and sales funnel. Yeah, because they need to know who their target market is, which is fascinating, because most don't. They're like anybody that will pay me, but it's not true, yeah. So, and we've run that class a couple of times and so now we're really building that out, so that's kind of what the company is becoming, which is really cool. That's exciting. Totally different than rentable spaces, yeah.

Speaker 2:

But that is part of the journey that we're all doing, right?

Speaker 1:

I believe they call that a pivot.

Speaker 2:

Pivot. I know, yeah, I do that quite often in terms of, like, I always stick to the foundation, which is photography video. But, how I kind of market it and how I go about it is. I just have to consistently reinvent myself.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And whether it's the wrong way or the right way, it's worked for me for 15 years. Yeah, but I always love slash hate when people are like so what are you up to now?

Speaker 1:

And you're like how much time do you have? Where did I leave off?

Speaker 2:

last time. That's like what do you know? When was the last thing?

Speaker 1:

that you saw, yeah, and what's also happened is that our market, our target market, has grown so much because of what we're offering is needed by so many different types of women or females in general, so we have really struggled to be able to fulfill all of it's a supply and demand issue. So the demand is there, but the supply has been just really hard because staffing or funds or consistency. We haven't even been able to do projections because of COVID, because of our recession, because we opened up right before COVID and then we had to quickly figure out what we were going to do because all of our customers they lost all their customers. So the wedding business I did, I sat through 65, I think it was 65 weddings in April of 2020. And I started it to get out of weddings. Wow, it's mind blowing, yeah, so we don't really do weddings there anymore.

Speaker 2:

Now is this all in-person, virtual, a mix of both.

Speaker 1:

So I don't do anything virtual.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I feel like it. Why is that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because it doesn't translate. You get more out of like human-to-human contact, right Face-to-face. You pay attention. I personally will end up doing the dishes, or I'll have a kid just like peeking in through here, or I'm really bad with keeping myself on track, like task management. It's horrible. And so we also have incorporated weekly accountability groups and those have helped a lot. That's actually our secret sauce to the program, yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's really what people need. Yeah, you know all the things, but then you don't do the things Right.

Speaker 1:

So you have somebody that's like writing your ass and like did you do this? Why didn't you do that? That's not a good reason, right? And also you know. So you want to be able to check that box each week, and so we set big goals and small goals what the students want to accomplish during their time in the program, and then each week they have individual smaller goals. That's great.

Speaker 2:

Now, what's your expand? What's your growth plan look like? Because if you're constricted to one space and it's local people who can drive into the space, how does that?

Speaker 1:

help. Yeah, we're actually working on that right now. It is a I don't really want to say too much about it, but technically it's a complete overhaul of the company, because the name didn't work. We also started a sister company called AWL Creative, and that was more for the female entrepreneur, and that's confusing too. So what we're doing is we're essentially just like breaking everything down and rebuilding based on like, what we know works and getting rid of the things that don't work.

Speaker 2:

Well. So my suggestion I didn't want to say it, we're like, yeah, we're already doing that is something to consider as you're breaking it down and pulling it all back together is having a whole bunch of like remote sites where you build a concept and you're like okay, this concept works here, and so now what I can, you're like I already got it yeah.

Speaker 2:

But it's a great idea. Yeah, if it were my business, what I would do is then find, like you know, start somewhere where you could pop in and make sure things are happening, like regionally, have 10 to 15 sister locations where they're in charge of running it, and then kind of expand. It sounds like you've already had the spot process, if I even told you that my the plan is to have.

Speaker 1:

This is so stupid the plan to have one next to every Wegmans that exists oh that's smart, Because if you think about it like they are target market. Yeah, they're target market is like me. So, yeah, I like that idea. I should do that, but yeah, and like I said, like it's a huge project.

Speaker 2:

Especially because you want to keep it in person. I think that's the hardest but the most magical piece about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we're working on the concept to be a household name, like the go to brand for women that want to start their business and set up on a structure that is sustainable and real, if they want to go from just a hobby or like a side hustle to oh it's grown bigger and I need to file taxes.

Speaker 1:

What do I do and I don't think that a lot of women think about that too is they just think that it's a side hustle but they don't think about, like the liability that they're carrying delivering a cake or walking a dog or doing makeup. They think it's just. But if you're taking money for that service, like that is a business operation. So if you do that enough and you make enough money, like you just need to have contracts and you need to have insurance because somebody like the risk is just too much. And I don't think that women, I just don't think people. But in my experience like women just don't think about that and it's not really that hard if you have people that can help you do it or just you need to know that it needs to be done.

Speaker 2:

Like you know what I mean. Like once you realize, oh yeah, like that could cost me this much.

Speaker 1:

It's a horrible story so I don't sorry. I had one of my best friends just told me that she knew somebody that hired somebody to walk their dog while they were on vacation and a bad storm came through and it kept the dog walker from being able to have access to the house for like three days. Oh no, yeah no, and she didn't have insurance. She didn't have. I mean, she wasn't so like you could lose everything, right, and you don't even mean to, and I know like there's a lot of dog moms that would just be like I'm gonna take everything you have because you know the worst happened.

Speaker 1:

But, you'd never think about that. So I think those types of real situations are enough to scare. So if I say that story enough times, you know. But I think that it's just easy to do. So, just you know, take the time register, get your license, file your taxes, then you won't lose your house.

Speaker 2:

It's like one of those insurance commercials where they're like showing you all the worst things that can happen to scare you and getting the insurance You're like, okay, sometimes that's what you gotta do to get people to.

Speaker 1:

Well, yeah, and especially like in the wedding industry, I mean, that is like a cut. I've only cried twice and both times, in like the 15 years I was in the industry, it was by moms. Yeah, like that, and you know it's really hard because that's an emotional industry. So if you mess up, you better have coverage. Yeah, this went down a really weird route.

Speaker 2:

No, no, no, I think, because I was going to ask you what are some tips that you would give to business owners. So that's definitely a big tip is get insurance, because the worst will happen. Do you know? It hasn't happened yet, but it will happen, and when?

Speaker 1:

you're not expecting it. Yeah, yeah, contracts. I live and die by contracts.

Speaker 2:

See, there's a big following followers group like photographers, and she preaches no contracts. And she says that because so I want to get your take on this. Ok, where is it going? She says this, she teaches this because you're now basing a relationship on a negative stance, because people get super uncomfortable when you tell them here, sign. And they're like what am I signing? Like why is there all this legalese that I have to read in order to get my pictures taken by you? And she says that it starts the relationship on a very negative tone. And she's had her business for 15, 20 years, never had contracts and she's always been able to use empathy as her big thing in order to result.

Speaker 1:

No, I'm being serious. That's nice that that works for her, but that is not. I think that I mean there's a lot to unpack there, but I'm not quite sure. Maybe I'm wrong, but maybe she hasn't had something bad enough happen to her, Because you will feel really uncomfortable standing in a courtroom as a judge. It takes away everything that you have. So I think it's just a matter of just protecting yourself. It's like a pre-nup. It's not because you don't love the person. It's because you just prepare for the worst, expect the best. I don't. Why wouldn't?

Speaker 2:

you have a contract, I think that's all it is In the beginning of your business. You have nothing. So you're thinking, if I lost everything, what is that going to be?

Speaker 1:

But if you show it well. I mean, you have a car, you have a house, you have savings, you have everything that you have personally. Is at risk People don't realize that.

Speaker 1:

Right, and yeah, exactly, Because you're like I'm just baking this cake and or these cupcakes, cake pops, and I'm delivering them to a birthday party, Cool. But if you give all the kids food poisoning, salmonella, something, chances are there's going to be a mom that's pretty pissed off. And so, if you're not an LLC, at the very least to have that liability, that protection, say goodbye to everything that's a bad mini van.

Speaker 1:

I know. But yeah, and I think lately that's kind of in my mission is to just to wake people up at the risk and it's like, oh, it won't happen to me, ok, let's find out. But it's also like it's $10 a month for insurance and it's like it can be $10 a month. Ok, it depends Like if you're just starting your business and you don't have a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes.

Speaker 1:

I mean Geico will cover you, and but that's also why we exist now too, because we have really great experts that can guide you through what you need based on your business, and that aren't there to sell you anything that's one of our rules Is everybody that walks through our door. The connections that are made are all organic. They're there to help and not to sell. So because I hate being pitched or sold or pressured, so it's really important to me that that rule exists Because I want all the women that come in to feel like they're supported, they're safe and they're not seen as dollar signs or something to be preyed upon. So we've had to nicely ask members to leave when we find out those situations are happening, because, overall, everything inside of our building it's seen as a safe space to be vulnerable, to ask the stupid questions, and so we don't want somebody that is there just to sell to see those sitting ducks and then our reputation and then the mission just becomes crap. So we call it our no-sharking policy.

Speaker 2:

So you allow people to sell. It just has to be done in an organic way. Where it's not yeah, oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's how businesses grow inside of the space. We have a bunch of network Through the co-working, the networking events, just the membership. You meet people and then you're like, oh, you're a florist or you're a copywriter, I need a copywriter, or my best friend needs a copywriter. So that's how the collaborations and the connections happen. But more than anything it's personal connections. I've had so many members that have gotten pregnant and then had their babies together, raising their babies together.

Speaker 2:

Real community yeah yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome and it's funny because Eric Bird yeah, so he's my business coach and when we were first whiteboarding the concept, he goes to like so what you have here is a community, and I was like, oh, I hate that word, don't say that word. But it turns out, when women get together and they have a shared bond or something in common, especially something as big as business ownership, they don't leave, they'll stay, and the community kind of just formed naturally.

Speaker 1:

It's not like I set out to start a community, but since our door is opened we've had I think when the last count it was like over 5,000 women that have walked through our door in the past three years to utilize one of our services or build their business in one way or another.

Speaker 2:

That's nice to know that you had a hand in, even if it's a small hand, in some phase. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I just want to make it easier, for I just want to make it the experience different for my daughters if they ever want to go into business ownership, like I don't ever want them to experience, like what you and I have experienced. I don't know what your journey has looked like, but it's really. It's hard being a woman in business.

Speaker 2:

What are some of the hardest things that you've had to overcome?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, not being able to be there for my daughters all the time because I'm a single mom. So I, you know I can't do it all, Like I can't, like there's no way, and so you know, having to have to go to work instead of all the things that the mom you know, being a mom that's you say moms, yeah, but like they see it, you know they come into the space and they see what we're doing and I think they get it now they're old enough. So I think the hardest thing is the sacrifice, like sacrificing the life, that or the moments, I think, with the girls. But I know this is gonna sound really stupid, but I know it's for a greater good, right, Like I know that we're making change and so that way, if one of them does decide to become an entrepreneur, like it'll be easier for them, Then it'll all be worth it. I think yeah, but I don't know.

Speaker 2:

No, I think that's it's true. I think that would probably be. The hardest part for me is kind of similar to what you said is when I'm looking back on it, not when I was in it, because when I was in it it wasn't like a rational decision.

Speaker 1:

It was like gotta go do this, like I was waiting for me.

Speaker 2:

I gotta go. I started loving it, but now, kind of looking back at it, it's like how many years did I miss out on my kids' special moments? They don't even think about it. I've asked them yeah no, they don't. It's not a way it's normal to them, right, they don't care. But for me I'm like, was it worth it?

Speaker 1:

in my case, like, oh, I don't know Well and I think okay, so you're right about that. Because when I was in the wedding industry and I was popping out babies, I remember thinking one night like, as I'm helping other people celebrate something, I'm missing my life, right, like. And it I was like, why am I doing this? Like I'm missing great moments in my own life to help you have a great moment, like that's when I realized I was like this doesn't work for me anymore and so, but with this I can see every day the impact that we're making because it's allowed other women to quit their like nine to five and like have the flexibility or the lifestyle or the confidence that they want to be better moms, wives, sisters, whatever they want to be, yeah. So I see that every day and that outweighs like any. It just makes it worth it. Yeah, you know, yeah, that's awesome.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I guess to kind of clarify I said, the beginning stages of building the business at this point I've got such an amazing team and support system around me that when I need to take two days or a day or God, that's hard.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right, like how long did it take?

Speaker 2:

you to get to that point? Probably the first seven years I was grinding like nonstop.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's hard to find a good, like good people, yeah, and I've had Ray at her.

Speaker 2:

I've had oh yeah, me too. My team has been with me for eight years. I've gone through phases and they're not that there are any of them have ever been bad People, just not been good fit for this team here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right, and I think that it takes. They have to be able to understand the way that you operate and you have to understand the way that they operate Like it's a. It is really a human thing and so, yes, I finally have the team that's going to get me there and keep me there and that's been. It's just a shift that you can't explain, because I know that I can just call one of them and be like you can handle it. Yeah, like I went on vacation for a week unexpectedly and I texted them. I was like I'm going out of the country, you got it, good luck. Yeah, and they're flawless, like they can pick up and run it. Now that is liberating. Yeah, that was the first time ever, but just, I think it's.

Speaker 1:

Also, I'm extremely transparent with them, all of them. We talk about what our numbers are, sales, all of it. I don't believe that there should be any secrets. I also I tell them when they're doing things wrong, but I really tell them when they're doing things right and so that way they know that it's not bullshit, like it's real. I talk to them like people, not employees. I'm going to call them employees. I think that makes the biggest difference. It's a we, not an I, and it's nice not having to make all the decisions anymore. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I'm like, hey, we need to get this thing taken care of, Because my team now knows it's like we, as in me, I do that at home too. We need to get the dishes done, guys, yeah.

Speaker 1:

No, I don't do that. What I will do is I'll be like if something comes on my desk and I'll be like that's great, Tell Stacy, yeah Right, Like I'm really good at like redirecting because I've just learned my limit. Yeah, and I know that I mean to be able to have people that you trust is huge. So I know that if I don't use them, I lose them. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it's kind of like your benefits, they use it or lose it. Yeah, they are my benefits, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's funny. So if you had like one message just to kind of wrap things up, if you had one message to the world.

Speaker 1:

To the world, or it could be the people that you already speak to. Put your phones down. Put them down. No To who it could be, either to your demographic.

Speaker 2:

I thought that was really your thing. Oh no, I mean because that would have been a good one.

Speaker 1:

No, honestly like yeah.

Speaker 1:

I think it like. My immediate go to is like, stop comparing yourself. But I think it's bigger than that. I think, ultimately, what, just because I think this is what it is, just because you can, doesn't mean you should Right Like, just because you can do something you know, you doesn't mean that it's ultimately the best for you. And sometimes you need to admit and face the fact that, like it's just not working and either put it down or figure out why it's not working. Right Like, just. And then also the other thing is is stop learning everything from TikTok, put the phone down. So, yes, okay. So I think that that's ultimately like what it is. It's just put the freaking phone down, man, you know.

Speaker 2:

Do you find people are learning all the wrong things on TikTok? Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, where did you learn about the no?

Speaker 2:

contract. Thing.

Speaker 1:

Facebook Uh-huh.

Speaker 2:

I'm not on TikTok though.

Speaker 1:

No, I'm not either. I don't even have a TikTok account.

Speaker 2:

I have it just so I can look at my daughter.

Speaker 1:

I don't. Yeah, yeah, I'm waiting for those days, but, yeah, I think okay, all right, there it is. Yeah, put the phone down because there's nothing good on it. Like, literally, you just compare yourself for you look at what you're missing out or you think you're not doing good enough. But I do have to tell you, the people that are the most successful are the ones that aren't posting because they're too busy, and then also, if they are successful, then they have a team that posts for them. Yeah, like, it's, it's just all it is. It's just all it is, it's just all, it's just all, it's just all, it's just all. It's just all, it's just all, it's just all, it's just all. That's sad, yes, and I really just want people to stop looking and see how good it is for their mental health if they're just not comparing themselves.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I will say it's like a detox, though, because I've had people take me up on the just deleted the apps off your phone and sign on just for a month. They don't have businesses though, these people, so that's the hard thing too, I know, yeah, because I've told people that businesses are like. I would love to, but I can't hire a team right now to post for me and if I don't post, that will affect my bottom line, which is true, it is true.

Speaker 1:

I'm fortunate now that I don't even I don't have any social media on my phone, just because I know for myself like it's not good for my mental health so I've taken it off. But I also have a really great team that I trust and I don't this is gonna come off really bad, but I don't value social media like some people do. I don't see for our business. It doesn't translate like the ROI is not there, so it doesn't make sense. So I tell my marketing girl I'm like post whatever I don't care.

Speaker 1:

I don't need to review it. I don't care like post pictures of snails, I don't. You know what I mean. Like it doesn't matter. You know people, our business, like what we offer is just word of mouth and experience and nothing we post online is gonna like make them wanna come in. If they don't want to come in, you know yeah, so just put your phones down, put your phones down, love it.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for being on the show.

Speaker 1:

That was a lot. I'm so grateful. No, I loved it, it's gonna like hit home with.

Speaker 2:

I know so many people.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah.

Female Entrepreneur Journey and Education
Expanding and Growing a Business
Put Down Your Phone
Social Media's Impact on Mental Health