64 Female Entrepreneurs Share What They Are Most Thankful For In Their Career

64 Female Entrepreneurs Share

What They Are Most Thankful For In Their Career

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One of the most amazing holiday traditions is those that make us stop for a moment and take stock of all the things we are thankful for. Thanksgiving is special for so many reasons, but for many female entrepreneurs, it gives them an opportunity to reflect on their own business journey and appreciate all those little moments that made a difference. Here, from celebrities to small business CEOs, and many in between, female entrepreneurs share those pivotal parts of their career that made all the difference.

 Sarah Michelle Gellar, Actress, Chief Creative Officer of Foodstirs

“There are so many moments that I am thankful for on this journey. I would say one of my proudest thus far, was the moment my kids saw Foodstirs on the shelf at their local supermarket. For so long, it was an abstract concept to them, but when they saw a tangible product on the shelf, they truly understood the long hours and hard work.”

Lisa Richards, Co-Founder of RPZL 

“I am most thankful that my entrepreneurial career is never stifling or, worse, boring.  I am challenged every day, excited to explore new business opportunities and ideas, learn new skill sets, fail and learn from my mistakes and continue to grow both personally and professionally.  My adrenaline pumping job keeps me excitedly popping out of bed each morning, instead of pulling the covers over my head. I never feel like I have settled for a job/career.  And finally I'm thankful to have gorgeous hair every day."

 

Deeanne Akerson, Founder of Kindred Bravely

“I think what I'm most thankful for is the opportunity to really make a difference in mom's lives. Wearing comfortable clothing is a tiny pleasure when you may be sleep deprived and otherwise depleted by the rigors of momhood, and I love connecting with customers and making their days brighter. I remember the moment when I realized Kindred Bravely could actually be something more than just a side job - it was when I launched my first bra, and sales finally started coming in. Now that we've grown, I get to make a difference not just in my customer's lives but also in the lives of my employees, almost all work-from-home-moms.”

Stephanie Oppenheim, owner of Quilted Koala

“When I started Quilted Koala, I was afraid that the fashion world would be all "mean girls" but instead I've found a network of incredibly supportive women that are willing to share their experiences. I'm thankful for their advice, support and encouragement.”

Nicole Pomije, Founder of The Cookie Cups

“All of the connections and friends I've made along my entrepreneurial journey. From my online networking groups to local event connections I have made lifelong friends that understand the process of building a business and have been a constant support system for me over the past few years. I am thankful for the opportunity to expand The Cookie Cups brand with a retail storefront this year and expanded product line."

Jacqueline Harris and Charna Zucker, Designers and Owners of I Love Tyler Madison

“We are animal lovers. Our business is named after our two dogs, Tyler and Madison. We always donate a portion of ALL sales to the ASPCA & SPCA but last fall, after a really successful season we were fortunate enough to sponsor a big fundraiser that our local SPCA put together.  This was the best night of our careers….the moment we realized that all our hard work had paid off.  We are so thankful we are able to give back in such a tremendous way to help our furry friends.”

Kristen Baird, Founder and CVO at Kristen Baird

"Last year I found out about a national grant competition for emerging jewelry designers called the Halstead Grant. It was PERFECT for me and I qualified for it on every level. With the deadline approaching, I put my head down and went to work, pouring my heart and soul into that application. Fifteen very difficult questions later, ("Detail your sales goals for the next three years in both revenue dollars and piece quantities. Also detail your anticipated business costs." - these questions aren't for the faint of heart), I sent in my application. A month later I received word that I was not the winner of the grant. I placed top 5, which was great, but the panel of industry experts all agreed that my jewelry, while well crafted and beautiful, was "all over the map". Being a creative, that was hard to hear (devastating actually). Of course, they had so many wonderful things to write about me and my work but that one statement haunted me. I'll admit, it took me a while to bounce back, but once I had my "pity party", I determined it was time to make drastic changes. After all, these judges said there was so much potential and they gave great insights. It was up to me to change my mentality and spin this "failure" (in my eyes) into a success. And spin, I did! I spent the next 9 months making huge changes in my business. I cut the dead weight, focused my collections, and elevated my branding. I poured everything I had, all my mental focus, all my creative juices, every bit of my heart, into my business. I challenged myself, and in the back of my mind, I had my sights set on this grant, round 2. I gave it another try, and this time, I won the grant!  Not only was it a huge accomplishment, it was also a stamp of approval from a panel of jewelry industry experts...something this "newbie" really needed! This Thanksgiving, I look at the past 18 months and I'm thankful for that failure. I'm grateful for my husband and team who never stopped encouraging me to make the hard changes in my business, do the things that needed to be done, and try again. I'm also thankful that while I could have given up, I turned the judges feedback into motivation and created my 2017 goal of winning the Grant. This year, after winning the grant, I found out my jewelry collection had been denied entry into a very prestigious jewelry show... so guess what one of my 2018 goals is? And here we go! #justdoit"

Wendy Lewis, Founder and President of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd and Global Aesthetics Consultancy

"As a solo female entrepreneur, raising a daughter on my own, it has been a long ride but I have a lot to be grateful for. I founded my eponymous company in 1997 and am most thankful for the plastic surgeons who took a chance by inviting me to do my first professional lecture on practice marketing to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) not long after I starting my consultancy. They saw something in me and were generous enough to invite me to their meeting and to present to their members and colleagues. I now speak on panels and conduct workshops, webinars, and slide presentations all over the world for groups of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, aesthetic nurses, gynecologists, aestheticians, medical spas and industry analysts, and I am very comfortable in front of audiences large and small. I just published my 12th book, Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age (CRC Press) and I owe a lot of my success with growing my company to the individuals who gave me a platform in the early days."

Harper Spero, Business Coach and Consultant

"When I started my business, one of my biggest fears was not having coworkers to bounce ideas off of. Shortly thereafter, I met three phenomenal New York based coaches who filled that exact role. We have different client demographics and there's zero competition between us. We're here to support each other and help each other succeed. They're the best people I could have asked for to have in my network when I started and continue to grow my business.  When I started my business, I was unsure of who my ideal client was. I was anxious to secure clients and start helping people. Over the years my ideal client has changed. This year I am thankful for getting clear on my niche and sticking to it. I love serving people who want to live, work and earn on their own terms. I am capable of helping people with other life challenges -- but I light up working with entrepreneurs and people who want to become entrepreneurs."

Leigh Winters, Neuroscientist & Holistic Wellness Leader

"For me, I look back with gratitude for one of the hardest moments I've experienced early on during my career. When I was a senior in college, I was interviewing for a prestigious internship at a bank in New York City. I arrived at the lobby of this massive bank only to be greeted by a hundred other hopeful future employees. I was dressed head to toe in business casual, an outfit my mom had so graciously bought and presented me with just for the occasion.  I felt enormous pride and joy just having the opportunity to fly from school to partake in this event. The day was chock full of interviews and I remember sitting in my third and final one thinking it had gone well when the woman interviewing me asked to go off the record. I instantly agreed and was curious as to what she could possibly bring up after this whirlwind of a day. She proceeded to tell me that my entire outfit— taken straight off the Banana Republic storefront mannequin— was informal and unprofessional. She also told me that I should have opted to wear high heels, and not the comfortable yet stylish ballet flats I was wearing. My interviewer closed the session by telling me that my more casual look might in fact hurt my chances securing the internship. I could feel my fair face flush from utter embarrassment. After hearing her words, I felt my throat constrict and remember thinking to myself that if I said anything more than "thank you for your time," she would undoubtedly witness my impending waterfall of tears.  I remember feeling ashamed— for supposedly not having a good enough outfit. I was annoyed at my mom, too. I mean, after all, she was a savvy business woman, why would she let me wear this if it truly didn't cut the mustard? But above all, I felt confused. In that moment, I felt part of my mental model of the world shatter. I had worked so hard to get to that one-on-one interview room. I prioritized this chance— flying all the way from North Carolina for less than 24 hours, even missing classes and work. I shared ideas about the world and my experiences and the only feedback I got was on what I was wearing. Did she hear anything that came out of my mouth? Or, was she just fixated on my shoes and jacket? Flash forward a few months. I took the internship and turned down the full-time work offer at the end of the 10 weeks. Friends thought I was crazy. People would come up to me and ask me why I gave up that astronomical starting salary, benefits, the whole nine yards. The truth is, my mind would fixate itself on the way I felt during that interview— the negative energy, the mortification, the fact that I was not a 19 year-old human soul, but maybe just a cog in the machine that didn't fit the bill.  Ultimately, I opted to believe in and invest in myself. I turned down the full-time employment offer to pursue graduate studies at Columbia University. What truly matters is what's inside of you— heart, gumption, compassion, the want and ability to make a difference in this world. What you wear is a completely inaccurate measure of potential and spirit. What I learned from this experience is two take-aways. Firstly, psychological projection is real. Take what people, often strangers— and in my case, an interviewer, say to you with a grain of salt. It's healthy to maintain the perspective that you have no idea what battles they're fighting or why they choose to engage with you in specific ways. Secondly, the flip side is true, too. Just because you're not always privy to a person's situation or personality doesn't excuse their behavior. Power dynamics have very real effects. Speak up for what you think is right! Aligning with what truly matters to you is where the best work flows. Without this negative experience early on during my career, I can't say that I would've pivoted to entrepreneurship and academia as quickly as I did. It opened my eyes to a whole other world where people were valued for their ideas and kindness, and not how they superficially presented themselves."

 

 Keri Lassalle, owner of Lulu Dharma 

“As a female entrepreneur, I am most thankful for the moment when I knew I would never need to work for anyone else again. Up until that point I was designing and building my business from my dining room table. It was the end of the second year of being in business with my Jewelry and Accessory Brand, Lulu Dharma, that I hit my first $1M in revenues."

 

Lee Caraher, President and CEO of Double Forte

"My most thankful moment was when I decided to let go, and take care of myself so I can take care of my business. It happened when I came back after the six weeks I took off to have and recover from my hysterectomy. My doctors and I had no idea how sick I had been until after the surgery – I just kept powering through. The first two weeks after my surgery, all I could do was sleep. I felt so much better at three weeks that I thought “Hey, I think I got this – I feel awesome!” and I went into the bathroom to get dressed to head into the office and start again. Then I looked in the mirror. And I looked like a meth addict. Sunken eyes, hair everywhere, my clothes were inside out and backwards. That’s when I knew that I wasn’t ready to go back to work, that my team had it covered, and I needed to take care of myself first if I wanted to “take care of” my business. I called my colleague and said, “I’ll see you in 3 weeks.” Two days before I came back I called my colleague again and said, “I need two lists – one list is what’s been great about me being out. The other list needs at least one thing on it – what have you missed about me being out.” When I did come back, I worked four weeks half-time, and worked with an executive coach for three months to help me articulate and restructure the work so that the company would be stronger going forward. I created the vision for the restructuring thanks to the space that was created following the surgery – the time out, the half-time back, the list from the leadership team, and the time with the executive coach. It helped me create the go-forward plan that we’re on now that charts a much healthier business model than the one I had before the surgery."

Barbara Soltysinska, CEO and Co-founder of inda Hash

"Well, I think the moment in my career that I’m most thankful for is when I decided to make my first hire. I felt a great responsibility for them because I was used to the feeling that previously someone else was responsible for me. Now that I employ over 130 people across the globe, I still hold on to this feeling because I feel responsible for each and every one of them."

 

Liz Toombs, C.I.D., and President of  Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors

“Looking back, the most pivotal moment in the growth of my business was when I was asked to do an out-of-state sorority project for one of my clients. It turned out to be the start of a great niche market for me; now my team and I travel the country working on these types of projects. At the time, there was a lot going on in my life and I was nervous about how it would all play out. My mother’s battle with cancer was becoming increasingly difficult for her, and my client asked me to go to Maryland for them although they weren’t sure when the trip would take place. I said yes and prayed like crazy it would all work out. There were a lot of unknowns for the next couple weeks. While my family and I sat with mom taking her final breaths, I heard my phone in the other room buzzing. When I checked the phone later, I discovered it was my client. They were ready for me to go. I would never have gone if I was still needed at home.  I would give anything to have my mom still here, but since I can’t control that, I choose to focus on being grateful for what’s transpired since losing her.” 

Krysta Manning, DMD, MBA; Owner & Dentist, Solstice Dental & Aesthetics

"For three years, I worked as a dentist in a nonprofit clinic, which I enjoyed. In 2016, I was brought into a conference room with the CEO and other executives of the organization and told that they could no longer  support my salary. My position was being cut back to part-time. I was blindsided. I had triplets in preschool and didn't know how we were going to make ends meet. I always thought that, when bills were lower, kids were older and I was ready, I would start my own dental practice someday. I am so grateful for the moment when my job was cut because it was exactly the push that I needed to make ‘someday’ happen. Now I've built my dream office and I have the opportunity to give back to my community like never before. Out of desperation came the hope and success that I had been putting off for years."

Bethany McDaniel, Founder of Primally Pure

"As my daughter's due date approached a little over a year into starting my business, I was faced with the decision of whether to take a break from Primally Pure and risk it possibly fizzling out, or make a push to go big with it (hiring a full-time employee, moving the business out of my house, etc.). I chose the latter and was able to move Primally Pure into an office/warehouse space and train my first full-time employee, all within the last few months of my pregnancy. If it weren't for my daughter, I'm not sure if I would have had the same motivation to take my business to the next level and hand off certain responsibilities to capable individuals. Today, I have a team of 9 and while I'm still busy as ever, I'm able to pick and choose what to be involved with (to some degree) and take time off to be with my daughter and husband when I need to."

 

 Shannon Zappala and Regan Kelaher, Co-founders of GOVERRE

"Regan and I are thankful for so many moments in our business journey, but the one that stands out most is attending our first large trade show in January 2016, NYNOW. This trade show took our business to the next level! We went into the show with 25 accounts accumulated over 1 year and left with 85 more in just 4 days. Additionally, we met, and later hired our first sales rep team. NYNOW truly gave our business and product that 'stamp of approval' and we couldn't be more grateful!"

Rosie Mattio, runs one of the top Cannabis public relations agencies in the country 

"Discovering the burgeoning Cannabis industry has been the most rewarding and gratifying experience I have had professionally. I am so thankful that I decided to take on a Cannabis client, after 10 years of working with mostly food and lifestyle clients. That initial account, opened my eyes to an entirely new world of media contacts and businesses that I had never been exposed to. I have learned so much about this industry and the wonders of the holistic plant that helps so many. Every day I learn something new. Additionally, over the past four years, I have grown my business to be one of the top Cannabis firms in the country, representing some of the largest and well-known Cannabis brands in the industry."

Marcie Greene, Founder and Proprietor of Gifted & Present

"I am truly thankful for every opportunity I have had in my career - I believe in taking learnings and experience from every experience. But honestly, I'm most thankful for getting laid off from my full-time corporate job three years ago when my position was eliminated. I would never have had the courage to quit to consult and start my own business, and I didn't realize how much I needed more flexibility. As a working mom, flexibility is key. So while the job and company I left were amazing and I'm grateful for what I learned there, I am even more grateful that they pushed me out of the nest since I've never been happier than I am today!"

Annie Tevelin, Founder of Skin Owl

"I am truly blessed to have found the team that I work with. From start to finish, SkinOwl has always had a strong team that embodied strength, ambition, and kindness. Working with my team on a daily basis has made me a better person. We are a family and it makes it fun to go to work every day. Every month we go on a "Self-care Day" field not just because we need to take a breather, but also because they deserve a moment to just kick back. In the end, teamwork makes the dream work and SkinOwl is living proof."

 Karen Hansen, President of Bullseye Communications

"I’m most thankful for the courage to walk away from decades of corporate life, with my last in-house job leading communications for Travel Channel, to begin my own PR agency.  This was a career changer that has led to large-scale opportunities, industry awards and even the honor of having my business recently named The Best Place to Work.  Our solid team means incredible results for our clients.  We have grown exponentially in terms of our resources, national clientele, and media relationships.  Being an entrepreneur in any industry is not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn’t change this experience, the challenges or immense appreciation I have for this career chapter."

Lizzie Brown, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Yoga Wake Up

"I am so thankful for that moment when Apple featured us on the App Store in July of this year. It was such a gratifying moment for my husband (co-founder) and me to be recognized by this “Holy Grail of all Features” — after taking such a massive leap with our time, livelihood…savings! It felt amazing to have the support and it gave us the confidence to charge forward on this start-up path that can so often kick you in the face and throw you down."

Trae Bodge, Founder of Trae Bodge Media, LLC. 

"The moment I'm most grateful for is being laid off in Q3 of 2015. I had served as the spokesperson and senior editor of a coupon site for 3+ years, and while it was an incredible learning experience - and absolutely essential to where I am today - I wasn't completely fulfilled there. While they kept me busy, I was underutilized and had a lot of ideas that never saw the light of day, as is common when you work for a company.  Being laid off gave me just the push I needed to start my own firm. And while it was scary at first, I began to find my footing in a matter of months. It's been two years I haven't looked back since! To my mind, there is no better time for entrepreneurs. The opportunities are there for the taking if you have the tenacity, and the patience, to find them."

Jessie Crawford, Co-founder of Aged & Infused

"That’s a tough one. As a small business owner, there are so many things (and people) to be thankful for. A year into this journey, the biggest standout moment for me (and my partner John) is the initial support from friends, family, peers, and co-workers as we took the leap into entrepreneurship. By no means was creating Aged & Infused a one person process. The wonderful people in our lives volunteered to help with everything from packing kits to snapping photography to working our booth at street festivals… and we couldn’t be more thankful and appreciative. It’s because of our amazing community that we’re able to continue working towards this little dream of ours."

Dr. Karena Wu, Owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy 

"As a female entrepreneur and solo business owner, one of my most thankful moments in my career was when I finally got over my fear of hiring a full-time employee to share the patient caseload. I am a physical therapist in New York City and patients can get very stuck on you as a healthcare practitioner and individual. I was so concerned that my patients would feel like I was abandoning them and that they would not work with another peer. I was also concerned about being able to pay the full-time employee salary, if their schedule sat empty. When they started filling another therapist's schedule and I had more time on my hands, I then was able to focus on other aspects of the business to take it to the next step and eventually led to me opening another facility thousands of miles away in Mumbai, India. I also saw that the increase in revenue from another available schedule was well worth the investment into another practitioner. It also helped enhance the clinical care in that another practitioner could bring another style of therapy or different techniques to the table. Patients, employees, and owner all win!"

Melody Pourmoradi, Creator of the GiRLiFE Empowerment Series and Life Evolutions Coaching

"Surprisingly, one of the most instrumental parts of my entrepreneurial journey to date was the people who challenged the potential success of my vision. When I first felt inspired to create the for GiRLiFE Empowerment Series, as we all do, I shared the idea with all of those around me. Although initially, their feedback made me question my idea, ultimately they fueled me to get moving on making my creation a successful and impactful reality for young girls and women worldwide. It was at this moment that I learned how important it is as an entrepreneur to trust your own intuition and move on what you know to be true for you. It's not the responsibility of others to understand and implement your vision, it's yours."

Emilie Hoyt, CEO and Founder of LATHER

"Years ago, a business mentor said to me “ you really need a tagline”.  We had a few different ones that we were using but nothing really made the impact we needed. I took a day off and spent it at the beach and it came to me “Clean Skin for a Radiant Life”.  At the time the word “radiant” was overused in the beauty industry (still is!) and it was all about “radiant” skin.  It occurred to me that what people are truly after is a radiant life- a life that radiates warmth and wellness to those around them and creates beauty.  That tagline was a defining moment for me and our company. Now, all of us at LATHER strive to “Live a Radiant Life” and hope our products help our customers do the same.  Becoming a mother helped me be more committed to my business ironically.  Even though I felt guilty at times, I feel more passionate than ever after becoming a mom to not only my passion of creating wellness products but for being a small part of the female entrepreneur movement - making sure there will continue to be women business owners."

Trisha Okubo, founder of Maison Miru and Experimental Jewellery Club

"While I'm definitely thankful for the happy times - the handwritten love notes from happy customers, the ability to help other women creatives and entrepreneurs achieve their dreams - I'm even more thankful for the experiences, however uncomfortable, that push me forward.  Sometimes it's a crisis - like a moment I found myself in a few years ago, marooned overseas in London after suddenly leaving a job that just wasn't right.  I had been working for startups for years, always thinking that I was going to start my own business - someday.  That day, the ever-elusive Someday crystallized into Today, as I willed my idea for Maison Miru Jewelry into reality.  I sketched out the concept on the back of my exit paperwork, and within the week, I had the paperwork for my own company.  It's been a rollercoaster ride since that day - and I'm thankful every day for that little shove that got me started."

Ashley Viola, Founder of Meridian

"Being an entrepreneur can be tough. The days are long, the stakes are high, and even if you're surrounded by a stellar business support team, it can sometimes feel isolating. That's why I am thankful for my family. My husband and 6-year-old son are "all in" when it comes to being supportive of my venture. They have slogged away on long-haul flights, taken power naps in strange airports, eaten mystery meat to help close a deal, and even worked 12-hour photo shoots on the weekends. I'm also thankful to have had two entrepreneurs for parents. At a young age, I saw them work hard to achieve their goals, and I hope that I'm able to pass that ethic down to my son.”

Belena Stanford, Founder of Geese & Ganders

"When first launching my company, I am thankful for my mother and sister - who are both career working mothers and were so encouraging.  My mother went to law school days after my father died and not only graduated top of her class but became one of the first females to make partner in her law firm.  My sister started her career picking up laundry and answering phones in order to pursue her love of children’s television, and she did it with a smile.  She is raising two boys and has never lost her commitment towards her dreams.  She was just promoted to President of Television for The Jim Henson Company. In short, I am grateful that I have had the fortune to be in a family of strong women who have never been afraid to have it all.  They inspire me to keep working towards the launch of my brand while raising my three kids.”

Taylor Wilkinson, Founder of Taylor Wilkinson Designs

"I am most grateful for the most difficult times. It's so cliché, but those are the moments and/or lessons that teach you the most about who you are, the type of business woman you need to become, and the what you will and won't do for the success of your brand. I wish I had taken more time to research some of the groups and people I would be working with. One, in particular, was not the right fit for me. So countless hours and dollars later, I made the decision to move on. It was a tough pill to swallow- as an entrepreneur, a woman, a designer, but ultimately, having the proverbial balls to cut the cord with that group, has given me more fire in my belly to succeed in this business."

Amy Stringer-Mowat, Founder of American Heirloom

"I am most thankful for an understanding family and a flexible husband.  He completely fills in the gaps when I can't do pick-ups or need help getting the kids to activities and play dates. He always makes it possible for me to do something last minute if I need to, and makes it possible for short deadlines and next-day projects to happen.”

Irene Lee, Owner of Bash + Sass

"I'm most thankful for just starting this company. It took me a long time to overcome the fears of leaving the stability and comforts of a corporate job and doing something on my own. Starting a clothing line was always a “dream” in the back of my head for years. I was an Art Director in the fashion industry before I entered the tech world and loved the idea of potentially creating my own one day. I just never had the balls to do it. After becoming a mama, I knew if I didn’t do it for myself and to show my kids to go for what they feel passionate about, I would regret it forever."

Lisa Elia, Media Trainer

"In the late 1990s, I had been working for a celebrity fitness trainer, helping her to run her company and getting her lots of publicity. I had taken this job because when I moved to L.A. from N.Y. a couple of years earlier, I knew it would provide me with an opportunity to learn some of the ins and outs of the very unique culture that is L.A. There came a time when this trainer took a position as a contributing editor and could no longer do much other press, and I had created the operational structure in her company, so I knew it was time for me to move on. I wrote on a piece of paper one day: Reduce hours at work. Pick up more freelance work. Earn more money. Two days later, I ran into Michelle Ebbin (formerly Michelle Kluck), a massage therapist who I would chat with in the gym where the trainer I was working with had her office. Michelle said she was ready to launch her Reflexology Sox and asked if I could promote them for her. I said yes. Got her an interview with a major magazine the next day and lots of national press soon after. Within two weeks, Michelle had referred me to many of her friends and I was able to wrap up my work with the trainer and fully launch Lisa Elia Public Relations in Los Angeles. A few months later when I accompanied Michelle in a meeting with Gaiam, I met Gaiam’s president who soon hired me to do Gaiam’s PR, which helped to quickly grow my company. I had a busy boutique agency for many years, and eventually transitioned to focusing solely on media training, presentation training and pitch coaching, but that moment when Michelle offered me the opportunity to do her PR was pivotal. I am eternally grateful for her and the opportunities she created for me. I’m still in touch with Michelle. I recently connected her with one of my media training clients, Soothe, who hired her to be their spokesperson. Michelle and I are having lunch next week."

Andrea Mullan, Founder of Victory Public Relations

"The moment in the journey of my career that I am most thankful for is getting to the other side of my two maternity leaves. When I started my career, and eventually, Victory Public Relations, I did so with the intention of becoming a mother. I had a very specific idea of what I wanted working motherhood to look like and despite an (ongoing) uphill battle to get there, and a lot of reinvention, I feel like I'm settling into it now.  The reason I'm so thankful to be here is because there were many times I honestly didn't think I ever would be. There is so, so much talk about how difficult it is to be a working mother and before I had kids, I naively thought I understood it. And then I had kids and the logistics and emotions of it all just overwhelmed me at times. Thankfully I have a tremendously supportive family and team at VPR who helped me navigate that time and I made it to the other side! One lesson I learned that I hope other working moms (and dads - it's not easy for them, either!) understand is that you are seriously capable of so much more than you ever thought. Just take care of yourself and keep a good attitude and I promise you, you'll surprise yourself with what you can do."

Melissa Mitchner, CEO and Owner of The Bark Shoppe

"I am most thankful for having this platform to allow young adults that were recently incarcerated or at risk of not graduating to learn about pet care and receive on the job experience. I am most thankful for being able to hire a previous intern and pushing him to obtain his license with the department of health for pet care. When we met he didn't have direction on what he wanted to do with his life and what he wanted to do career-wise. I am also proud when my interns receive jobs and stop by to say thank you for believing in them or requesting a job reference. This is what I'm most thankful for."

Julia Harper, PhD, MS, OTR/L a wife, mother, occupational therapist, business owner, psychologist, life coach mentor, speaker and writer

"The importance of gratitude is not when you are getting what you want, it’s when you are NOT getting what you want…what I call a ‘don’t want.’ This is when gratitude picks you up and allows you to rise to the occasion. There was a point that my business faced a challenge, a big don’t want.  I created a school program that was designed as an interim to prepare lower functioning children for regular school.  The need was there, but I found that the business model was not sustainable. For three years I tried to maintain this program, but the cost was creating a burden on the business and we were bleeding money, losing staff and the business was sinking. I had to make a decision to close the program to save the business. This was a public failure for me. I was embarrassed because I had never failed at anything professionally. That failure brought up fear, all of my demons. As a result, I struggled with myself, my staff and I reacted in every direction; at work, at home with my children and even in my marriage. The pain of that experience brought me to my knees and made me realize that it had nothing to do with what was going on outside, it was inside where I was failing most.  I realized I had to see myself and walk a different way. That ‘failure’ was my greatest gift. It was the impetus for me creating the W.A.Y (What About You) model that says look at yourself first. This experience got me to walk my WAY. I learned how to become a more responsive human being.  I am eternally grateful for that failure. It changed my business, it changed me, my parenting and my life and caused me to be where I am now."

Amanda Robinson, Founder of IRIS+WEST LASH CO. 

"Three years ago, I left Idaho to pursue some type of work in beauty and grooming. I realized that natural lash extensions reflected my persona as someone who values the idea and practice of natural beauty routines. Along my journey, as a small business owner in one of the most competitive cities (when it comes to self-care), I am most thankful for the hardships I've faced. I'm grateful for allowing myself to put myself out there, leave my comfort zone and start something on my own. I am grateful for having to do it on my own, pay rent, run my own social media, build my own website and obtain my own clients- on my own. The perseverance and dedication led me to a team who shares the same values and have the same passion that I have for IRIS+WEST LASH CO. and it's all been worth it."

Cheve & Chika Chan, Co-founders of Make-up Pro

"Working in the fast-paced and ruthless world of fashion and beauty is tough yet inspiring and rewarding. When starting Make-up Pro, Chika started it as a passion for artistry and the yearn to educated and mentor aspiring makeup artists. As the workshops filled up and a team was set in place, business was good and it was time for Cheve to step in and help her sister, Chika grow the company, from workshops, to product and now a full team of makeup artists who have worked over 50 runway shows in this past year. We're grateful, for each other. We work together, are honest with each other and keep each other accountable, at all times. We're grateful for our sisterhood."

Stefanie Michaels, Founder of Adventure Girl

"Being one of the first 1500 commercial sites online was challenging in itself. Being a self-confirmed nerd, coding something called a “website” was something of an anomaly for me, more challenging than I could have ever imagined it would be. I ended up hiring and working with a great team out of the Silicon Valley, who in the beginning really taught me the ins and outs of this nascent digital space. Then came the pop of the “internet” in the 90’s. Everything I had worked for was decimated. I went back to journalism, my trade, awaiting for the world to come back to embracing technology and trusting online again. With my business up, then down, then back up, then crashing, it was nice to stumble upon this little thing, called Twitter. It literally saved my business, connected me with like minded people, and there began the journey of a new business phase for Adventure Girl, my brand. I am so very thankful to the founders for creating this for all of us to share on, and to be frank, I don’t know where my business would have landed without them. Grateful. Everyday. For. Twitter."

Dasha Minina, Founder of Maxus Nails

"Maxus was named after my brother Max, so it means a lot to me for the memory of my brother to be able to live on. The first time I was written up in a major lifestyle publication (InStyle), was one of the turning points for the brand!"

Victoria Elf Raymond, PhD, LMFT, Licensed Psychotherapist

"In my journey starting a business and developing a private psychotherapy practice, by far the most meaningful moments are when current or former clients refer their close friends and family to me.  I'm so thankful that they are pleased with the progress they've made in therapy and trust me to help the people who are most important to them."

Bessie Goldin, Health and Wellness Executive

"For over a decade I relied on trains running properly, the competency of those around me, office closures and keeping my work week at under 60 hours to devote some moments to my children awake. With the flicker of a switch and a major layoff, my life shifted drastically into the area of serving others and helping people reach their goals. The ability to work from anywhere, with whom I want and when I want is incredible. #corporateamericadropouts #lifestylesofanetworkmarketer"

Andrea Syrtash, Founder of Pregnantish Inc.

"I've been an entrepreneur (as a relationship author & speaker) for years; but this year I added the title of CEO, as the Founder of pregnantish Inc., the first lifestyle platform helping people navigate the personal and practical parts of infertility and fertility treatments. I'm grateful that I'm being trusted by women and men (single and partnered) as they navigate this challenge, as I know first-hand how isolating and tough the experience can be. I get letters every day from readers who say they feel less alone and more supported. This is hugely gratifying. Everything I've done in my work is about helping people live and love more authentically -- and
pregnantish is an extension of that..."

Shira Berk, Founder of GOODIE GIRL COOKIES

"I was in a high-power job but I needed to see a fertility specialist to have kids and I couldn’t take the time I needed there. I am thankful that I realized being a mom was the most important thing in my life, and left that job to find my true self and calm down. It enabled me to get pregnant, stop freaking out that I wouldn’t ever have kids, and focus on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

Marie Force, New York Times bestselling author

"I’m thankful for the opportunities provided by book retailers, including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo, that allow authors to publish directly to readers who want more of their books. I’ve had the most extraordinary career thanks to what my retail partners have made possible for me and other authors. More than anything, however, I’m thankful for the readers who love my books and given me this dream career!"

Megan Shea, Co-Founder of The Soulfull Project 

"Throughout this past year launching The Soulfull Project, we have met with food banks all across the country. I'm incredibly thankful for the people working at these organizations and those who volunteer and donate. It’s been an amazing experience building relationships with our giving partners and the communities they serve as we work to support our mission of making high-quality food available to everyone, regardless of social or economic status.  Starting a new company also requires a lot of hours spent at work and on the road. All of the travel and long hours can really take a toll on you personally, especially with two young kids at home. I am also very thankful for my family and all of their support as I’ve focused on growing The Soulfull Project."

Kara Skaflestad, Founder of Fighting Pretty 

"Getting a breast cancer diagnosis at age 26 was certainly not something I would have ever asked for. It was scary. I was afraid. I had no idea what life would bring. But looking back on it. None of us know what life will bring. It may sound cliché, but having cancer opened up my eyes to truly appreciate every moment. I didn’t expect to have cancer. But I also didn’t expect that I would move across the country to Portland, Oregon – the most beautiful place in the United States, start my own non-profit organization called Fighting Pretty to help thousands of woman battling cancer feel strong an beautiful, and work full time at a cancer hospital improving experiences for patients as they undergo cancer treatment. I never really thought I would be so incredibly happy and proud of myself. Especially during Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my amazing family, my incredible “tribe” (my best friends all over the country) and my will: my will to fight to be strong, beautiful and happy. I am so thankful for getting cancer, otherwise, I never would have had this perspective."

Amy Kolodziej, Owner of Sunshower Photography

"The moment I'm most thankful for is actually my breaking point. The moment that caused me to make the choice to JUMP and go full time.  I was trying to balance motherhood, full-time government career and building my business and barely staying afloat in all three.  Serious mommy guilt and lack of focus were daily challenges.  Once I realized that "something" had to give and of the three there was no way I could live inside a cubicle until I was 60... my decision was made and I've never looked back. It was the most difficult and yet most rewarding decision of my life."

Jacy Ceccarelli, Founder and Designer of So So Jelly 

"For my latest brand So So Jelly, it was important to me to find a meaningful way to give back to my community. I live and work in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and I’m super grateful that I’ve been able to partner with the amazing Lower East Side Girls Club. It’s a great organization and a perfect fit for us - a portion of all our profits is donated to help empower young women in the community, and I’m also involved directly with girls as a mentor and junior board member. The ability to use my business to give back and help raise up the next generation of female entrepreneurs is really powerful stuff.  Hellz yes girl power!"

Nina Berenato, Founder and Metalsmith of Nina Berenato Jewelry 

"There are so many moments in this journey of entrepreneurship that I’m thankful for, but more and more, I’m thankful for how vocal my community is in their support. Having a small business can feel like one of the loneliest things in the world, so many times you feel like you’re all alone, forging this path into the unknown, totally out of your depth and just hoping for the best. It can be so scary and it can be really discouraging. But I’ve been so lucky to have supporters around me who are always cheering me on. And they’re loud about it. They make sure I can hear them. The community has always rallied around me and let me know that they believe in what I’m building, that they appreciate and value what I do, and that they are rooting for me. Sometimes an email from a customer can feel like a warm hug, and it’s just what I need to keep pushing forward. This is what has kept me going over these eight years in business and it’s what I’m most thankful for."

Kerry Benjamin, Founder and CEO StackedSkincare 

"I am most thankful for the moment when we started to generate enough revenue that I could afford to hire such an amazing team of women to help build and grow the brand and company globally!"

Jillian Lorenz, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of The Barre Code

"This is tough because I'm grateful for EVERYTHING - the good and the bad. Our best lessons have come from our most challenging times, so we have learned to embrace the chaos or the challenging times wholeheartedly knowing that something great will eventually come from it. We call them FINS {aka "False wINS"} and they may hurt at the time, but down the road, we are better because of them.  

I would say what I'm most grateful for during this 7-year journey is where we are right now.  Maybe it's because we teach that the present moment - the NOW - is all you have; or maybe because you learn early on in the entrepreneur world that there is no looking back, questioning or regretting (otherwise you will be miserable).  I am so grateful for today, for our leadership team, for our franchise owners, for our staff -  we are stronger than ever. Each team member brings their unique style and personality and they each embody the mission behind The Barre Code. We are approaching a big milestone in the coming weeks and I couldn't be more excited and grateful for our team who has gotten us to this point!"

Christina Russell, President of Camp Bow Wow

"People think of their pets very differently today than they did even a decade ago. You used to hear people say, “He’s just a dog.” That mindset isn’t socially acceptable anymore. People now think of their dogs like their kids. They are members of the family. That trend is growing because millennials are waiting a lot longer to have kids, and many of them get dogs instead. As this generation’s earning power increases, we anticipate they’ll continue to increase spending on their pets. The industry reporting estimates 5 to 7% growth in demand into the next decade. I’m proud to lead Camp Bow Wow, which is the leader in the pet boarding and day camp sector with over 140 locations and more than 40 in the process of opening. I’m proud to say that we’re driving continuing double-digit unit-level revenue growth, as well as record franchise sales, and we also have customer satisfaction scores that are higher than Nordstrom’s. My goal is to keep building and innovating to keep our pet parents and franchisees delighted, and dominate the industry worldwide."

Samantha Elandary, MA, CCC-SLP, Founder & CEO of Parkinson Voice Project

"In 1999, I began my quest to provide people with Parkinson’s the opportunity to improve their speaking abilities through intensive speech therapy.  It was challenging, due to insurance restrictions and financial limitations.  In 2008, Joan and Bart Bartholomew, two of my patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s, made a $400,000 commitment to Parkinson Voice Project which enabled our organization to begin offering all of our speech therapy services using a “Pay It Forward” system. Insurance would no longer be billed, and patients would not be charged for services.  Instead, every patient would receive as much speech therapy as they needed and would be given an opportunity to make a donation to help the next patient receive treatment.  For nearly ten years, no patient has ever been denied treatment due to insurance restrictions or financial limitation.  I am extremely grateful to Bart and Joan Bartholomew!"

Erin Robertson, Owner of Ta-Ta Towels

"When Ta-Ta Towels went viral, and I got over 55,000 orders in just the first day, I knew that I needed to ask for help. I looked around at all of the really smart, strong, hardworking women I knew and surrounded myself by them. I'm truly thankful to them for coming to my rescue, helping me out with managing and organizing orders, packing and shipping, customer relations online, and so much more. When you think everything is going to fall apart and you start to doubt yourself, just take a look around at other empowered and inspiring women. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to provide a solution to so many customers with my Ta-Ta Towels!"

Zlata Faerman, Founder of ZlataPR

"After leaving the agency world, I spent a long time consulting and freelancing for other companies.In time, I started getting a lot of personal business referrals thanks to word of mouth recommendations. It was then that I decided to start my own company, ZlataPR. My moment of gratitude is a collective one to all of the people who put their name on the line by recommending mine. Paying it forward and being supportive of other people's success is invaluable."

Alex Fine, Founder of Dame Products

"So much. I'm thankful for my business partner, for my parents/friends/community, and for my team! They are awesome. I am amazed by my peers and grateful for their support. I’m also incredibly grateful that crowdfunding exists, and that Indiegogo and Kickstarter allowed us on their sites. Sometimes I still can’t believe it! Dame wouldn’t be what it is today without those platforms."

Michelle Mannix, Founder and CEO Cook Space 

"I’m thankful for something someone said to me that changed the trajectory of my path both emotionally and in terms of how I approached things.  Closing my cafe, Ted & Honey, was bittersweet.  While it was my choice, I knew I was going to miss it and quite frankly I was scared I was going to be a bit lost.  During the celebratory days leading up to our closing, a regular customer of ours repeatedly kept saying to me “you’re like magic.  You’re like magic.  I can’t wait to see what you are going to do next!”  Truthfully I had no clue.   And I’d never had anyone say anything like that to me before.  For whatever reason, that special combination of words pushed me both emotionally and in terms of action.  I began to ask myself what I really had to say, what I had to contribute and how I wanted to go about doing that. I also took steps by following up with people, joining an entrepreneur accountability circle, writing a book proposal - all ultimately leading up to Cook Space while I didn’t even realize it.  I owe a lot to hearing those words and I’m so thankful they hit me the way they did.  It’s a nice reminder to celebrate what is great in others.  We have no idea how our words may impact them. Hiring Nini and Lara have impacted the evolution of my business (Cook Space) in ways that are still unfolding - but that is definitely beyond what I had initially imagined and planned for.  It is still sometimes hard to believe how perfect each of their skill sets complements each other and the variety of needs and focus’ at Cook Space.  Having two strong leaders owning areas of focus enables us to look at our business in broader terms.  The team dynamic is also very engaging and motivating. We each seem to elevate each other. And we laugh. A lot."

Vickie Howell, Owner of The Knit Show

"I sometimes think about how if I could, I’d go back and tell my 15-year-old self to embrace the qualities that made me feel different or weird, as those are the same traits that would set me apart from the crowd in the future — that as an adult, they'd ultimately help pave the way towards an amazing career. As a creative entrepreneur, leaning in to what I call, one’s "quirks of special” is as much expected as it is smart strategy. It’s also, sometimes, a huge vulnerability. It involves taking risks, and the willingness to fail. The moment I hit “live” on the campaign to crowdfund a project that I’d spent my entire professional life preparing for, really put an exclamation mark on all of those points for me. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but the opportunity to create a career on my own terms — a livelihood embedded in my passion for creativity, that also works for me as a woman, wife, mother, sister, and friend — well for that, I’m extraordinarily grateful."

Micheline Gaulin, Co-Owner and Partner of Left Bank 

"I’m thankful for all the connections and friendships I’ve made over the years being in the business. One friendship, in particular, was the previous owners of the space that is currently Left Bank.  Through word of mouth they learned we were looking for a space and were able to help facilitate us securing the lease. What I'm really thankful for is my health, and how after working in the industry for over 30 years, I can still find time to work out everyday! "

Sandra Shpilberg, CEO & Founder of Seeker Health

"Two years ago, I founded Seeker Health with the goal of bringing technology and efficiency to the clinical trial enrollment process. Clinical trials are the sole way that new medicines come to market. Yet, patient enrollment is often the most significant barrier to conducting clinical trials and failure to enroll a sufficient number of patients can result in costly delays or even cancellation of the entire trial. And so, at Seeker Health, we have been harnessing the power of social media and technology to find patients in an accelerated fashion, and connect them to a clinical site for enrollment. In that process, we developed the Seeker Portal™, a clinical trial patient lead management cloud software system. And since, then we’ve been helping dozens of drug developers accelerate the development of new medicines. This Thanksgiving, I’m most grateful for the team of advisors, who have consistently supported Seeker Health and helped me steer the company in the right direction. Shortly after starting Seeker Health, I recognized that our product and service design would benefit from varied perspectives. And thus, I immediately formed a Board of Advisors. To build this team of advisors, I looked no further than to a clinical trial itself, which involves a number of stakeholders: patients, doctors, ethic committees, and drug developers, among others. First, I reached out to a patient advocate with a rare disease, and then to a physician who’d been involved in several clinical trials throughout her career. Then I rounded my advisory group out with an Ethics expert and a seasoned biopharmaceutical executive. In addition, I’ve set up less formal advising relationships with other colleagues who are experienced in the process of building companies and developing technology. Today, I’m most grateful for Seeker Health’s advisors’ individual and collective expertise and counsel, which has been a foundational part of our growth and success to date in bringing technology and efficiency into the clinical trial enrollment process and accelerating the development of new medicines for serious diseases."

Dawoon Kang, Co-founder, COO and Head of Marketing of Coffee Meets Bagel 

"One of the most grateful moments I can remember is when our first employee, our CTO Adam Berlinsky-Schine, said "Yes" to joining Coffee Meets Bagel. I was so grateful that he put his faith in a first-time entrepreneur, and a team of three sisters, and for believing in our mission to create meaningful relationships in a very competitive space. Life of a startup can be full of doubts, especially in the early stages. It meant a lot to me and inspired me to do more."

Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter

"I am thankful for time. This year the universe forced me to take time and make time and literally be still and in that stillness, I learned the importance of just being."

Aly Walansky

Aly Walansky is a freelance lifestyles writer based in New York City, who contributes regularly to iVillage, SheKnows.com, xoJane, Huffington Post, and The Fashion Spot as well as many other print and web outlets.

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