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Chicks We Love is our new series showcasing, well, chicks we can’t help but just love! Get ready to meet some of our favorite exciting female entrepreneurs and hear all about their wisdom for helping you to succeed too.
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In this article, I caught up with Safety Mom and motivational speaker Alison Jacobson. Here is Alison’s inspiring story and her words of wisdom for you!
Photo courtesy of Alison
What was your inspiration behind starting your company?
Unfortunately, my mission was born out of tragedy. In 1997 my first son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and my subsequent child has severe intellectual disabilities.
There is far too much misinformation about SIDS, disabilities, and safety and my goal is to provide the most accurate information so that families can make the best decisions for themselves.
I also want women to know they’re not alone in their struggles. I went through a bad divorce, remarried a man who, four weeks after we were married, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS and went from walking at our wedding to being in a wheelchair full time.
I was in a really low place in my life but discovered ways to regain my inner strength and find joy.
If I can help one person realize they’re not alone in their grief and struggles or save one child’s life I would have done something in honor of my son.
What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?
I love writing and speaking to audiences. I get jazzed when people tell me that I’ve helped them or given them the courage to make a change in their lives.
I also love when I get to work with companies and brands that are really trying to make a difference and save lives. One brand is Safer Alarms.
It was started by a dad who wanted to improve the chances of people getting out of a house fire alive after he witnessed a devastating fire in his neighborhood where 3 children died. Being a part of something like that is what I love!
What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?
I’m focusing more on my vlogging and YouTube channel. I’m also writing my next book so stay tuned!
Photo courtesy of Safer Alarms
What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?
Probably the most difficult part is wearing so many hats – business development, social media strategist, finance. The key is to find people you trust to take care of the jobs that aren’t your strengths.
What advice do you have for other women that would like to start their own company?
Be prepared to work long hours and get buy-in from everyone in your family! When you have your own company, it requires attending networking events in the evening after a day of working.
Everyone in the family needs to pitch in and help with other things like running errands, checking homework and making dinners.
Why and how did you end up an entrepreneur? Was it a path you always envisioned pursuing?
I opened my first company when I was 26 years old. It was a public relations firm in Los Angeles that specialized in commercial production and post-production companies.
I never had considered being an entrepreneur but my former boss encouraged me. This company was bought by a large PR firm and I went to work for them for many years before going back to my entrepreneurial roots.
It taught me a great deal but also made me realize that I love working for myself. I find it allows me to focus on things I’m most passionate about and evolve as a professional and a person.
What tools do you recommend for other women who would like to be entrepreneurs?
It’s critical to understand finances – learn to read and understand a P&L sheet. Take some classes on business management.
It’s also important to understand social media and be engaged online! If you’re not comfortable speaking in public I would highly recommend taking a public speaking course.
You are the face of your business and need to be an effective communicator.
Photo courtesy of Alison
What is the worst and the best decision you have ever made?
The best decision I ever made was hiring my business partner. We’ve been together for over 10 years and I would not be where I am today without her.
I’m the face of the company and the big-picture thinker. She keeps us on track and gets things done!
The worst decision was starting a project for a small company without getting money upfront. It was a great product and I believed in it.
I put a great deal of time into the project and they never ended up paying. Lesson learned – no matter how passionate I am about a project I don’t start without money upfront.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?
You must constantly reinvent and evolve to remain relevant. Your brand is a living entity.
I’ve evolved from exclusively focusing on baby safety to embracing issues impacting people caring for aging parents, individuals with disabilities and women trying to re-define themselves.
If you aren’t willing to constantly evaluate your business strategy and course-correct you won’t succeed.
How do you overcome failure or fear?
This is the main focus of my speaking engagements and my upcoming book. For women especially, fear and failure are tied up with self-worth.
Studies have shown that men will apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the criteria while women won’t apply unless they meet 100%.
We often face analysis paralysis and won’t take risks. I coach women specifically on ways to manage fear and become kick-ass goddesses!
What habits contribute to your success?
Not necessarily a habit but I recognize my strengths and weaknesses and am never afraid to ask for help.
I surround myself with people who compliment my talents and we work as a team. I also work out physically and spiritually to stay in a successful mindset.
When I start feeling overwhelmed and stressed out I know that I haven’t been exercising or meditating enough.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Work/life balance is a slippery slope and constantly changing. That’s one of the topics I often talk about. There’s a misperception that when you’re an entrepreneur you have more freedom to be there for your kids and more flexibility.
But most women still grapple with the guilt of not being there enough and kids have a way of making you feel guilty. The key to work/life balance is discipline – being 100% engaged when you’re working and then disconnecting – literally.
Put down the phone, stop checking e-mails and let calls go to voice mail. It’s easier said than done I know. That’s where mindfulness meditation comes into play for me.
It’s my way of transitioning from work to being wife/mom/friend. It’s true the women are the ultimate multi-taskers but often that leads to being only half-engaged in any one thing.
How do you stay motivated?
I truly love what I do! From working with new products like Safer Alarms that can save lives to vlogging about how to overcome fear and find happiness and success – helping other people is what keeps me motivated.
What does your typical day look like?
I’ve learned to structure my day around my natural body rhythms. I’m a morning person and I find my most productive/creative time is early so I’m up at 5A before my kids are up.
That’s the time I meditate and do most of my creative writing. I also try and get a work out in as it gets me energized for the day. Any vlogging that I’m doing comes after that when I still have a high energy level.
Mid-afternoon is my lowest energy time and I’m least creative so I focus on replying to e-mails and social media posts.
By 4 or 5 PM I usually have another burst of creativity/energy and am planning more content or making networking calls as I’m trying to make dinner.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
I have to say I couldn’t live without my phone – it allows me to continue working from where ever I am but also I can tune in to podcasts to inspire me and meditation apps.
Bre is a female millennial go getter residing in New York. One part entrepreneur, one part geek, she obtained her degree in Textile/Surface Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.
She has held some exciting roles in both fashion as a designer working for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, as well as in ad tech working for publishers like Ziff Davis.
Today she operates her own luxury label Bre Avery, along with Chip Chick Media which reaches millions of women each month.
Bre is passionate about teaching women how to build a business and be an entrepreneur, in addition to keeping her readers informed of the latest technology trends and exciting products to improve their lifestyles.
You can send Bre a message here.