Nicole Abboud's story starts off like most of our successful millennials' stories: a "blissfully ignorant" ingenue pursuing her dreams in 2008. Abboud's dream - or, at least, one of them - was to be a lawyer. Until she realized that she was wrong.
As a lawyer, she started her own practice and differentiated herself by branding herself as a "fashion lawyer." After a few months, however, she shut down the practice. She realized that her heart was not fully in it.
"And I went through this whole self-discovery phase of just moping around and complaining to anyone who would listen - to my family [and] my friends about this thing that I was feeling." Abboud felt like she was the only one who was feeling it, but she soon found out that she wasn't alone in feeling unhappy.
In March of 2015, she launched her podcast, the Gen Why Lawyer Podcast, in an "effort to reach out to other millennial lawyers across the U.S. to see if they felt the same way - if they were unhappy - and just what they were doing about it."
LISTEN to learn about how Abboud demands what she’s worth and how she plans to change the landscape of the millennial workforce.
Maddy Hasulak, the Chief Love Officer of Love Grown “gets to spread the love all day every day.” She may seem like another female founder, but she’ll be the first to emphasize that she’s a female co-founder of a company with a male co-founder - her husband, Alex. The pair started a business at one of the worst times to start a business - during the 2008 recession. Between the two of them, they were working five jobs while trying to build Love Grown. One of the jobs was at Wells Fargo, where the managers of City Market, a subsidiary of Kroger, would come in regularly. Alex approached one of them for advice on how to get on their shelves, and the manager requested a sample of the product, which was based on Maddy's mom's granola recipe. Two months later, Love Grown’s products were on an end cap of one of City Market’s aisles. "We sold so well the first month that within six months we went from one store to eighty King Scoopers and City Markets in Colorado, and quit our jobs to take the biggest risks of our lives and pour ourselves into growing this business."
Maddy’s marketing approach was unique and very odd. She and her mother took guerrilla marketing to another level when they purchased an RV, covered it in diapers, and drove it across the country while working through Teach For America to “educate kids on the importance of eating breakfast, what whole grains are, and start delivering educational seminars to groups of kids throughout the country.”
It’s this same unique drive and ability to be passionately odd that allows Hasulak to think outside of the cereal box. “We didn't want to just be a Raisin Bran or a Cheerio; we want to innovate in a category that's really been stagnant. And so that's where we got this concept and idea that we could take beans - navy, lentil, and garbanzo beans - and make cereal out of them. And so we totally revolutionized breakfast by making the first wheat-free corn-free breakfast cereal, which has higher protein, higher fiber, and they totally taste delicious!”
LISTEN to learn about what sets Love Grown apart from its competitors, what Maddy Hasulak thinks is the most important aspect of a business, and whether she regrets driving across the country in an RV covered in diapers (spoiler alert: kind of, but not really).
"As an entrepreneur, the reason why we are entrepreneurs is because we're not following a rigid set of structured processes and procedures. We're creating. We're bringing about new innovative business."
Leslie H. Tayne, founder of Tayne Law Group P.C. and author of Life & Debt, is no stranger to debt herself. Having graduated law school with $80,000 in student loan debt, which doubled because of mishandled payments, she now runs a very successful law practice to help people in similar situations.
Immediately after she finished law school, she started as a criminal defense attorney before moving on to being in-house counsel at a national debt company. She found herself disagreeing with the owners of the company on several compliance issues, and they weren’t as established as she’d felt comfortable with, so she left. She felt she could do it better, so she started her own practice. "I said, ‘I can do this and I can create a service that's out there that will really be meaningful.’"
Keep in mind that Tayne decided to start her own practice as a single mother with three children, all under the age of five. She found herself “grappling with the parent-entrepreneur roles” often, but she kept pressing on. "I'm a decision maker. I'm not one to ever sit on the fence. Once I make the decision I just go with it without looking back."
To build a strong entrepreneurial foundation, she used resources she already had to build her business, such as professional connections. "I found somebody who was a mentor to me who I could call up on a regular basis, ask questions about not only the business structure but dealing with certain business-related issues and that was really important to the success of my business - that I had somebody I could go to." Once she started to say, "what's the decision I would make," and then have her mentor confirm that decision, she felt like she didn't need a mentor anymore.
LISTEN to learn more about how to find your own mentor, Tayne’s tips on starting a business so it lasts, and her advice about applying for loans (spoiler alert: don't).
"I ended up being bullied because I was so socially awkward [that] I didn't know how to talk to people because I was homeschooled, so I had to drop out of that. I went back to homeschooling." When she re-enrolled in school, the bullying continued, but she decided she wasn't going to take it anymore. She enrolled in pageants because she wanted to prove her bullies wrong. "I can be better than this; I can be beautiful."
Pageantry prevented Opie from going down a self-destructive path that most people take to cope with bullying. "It helped me build confidence. It helped me stay in shape. It made me just focus on what I wanted out of life, and not what other people thought.”
While she didn't place in Miss Virginia, she had such a good experience that she wanted to continue competing. Because she couldn’t afford to buy one, she designed her own swimsuit, and then was asked to design a national swimsuit. She realized that this was an excellent business opportunity, and that's how Vizcaya Swimwear was born.
“It was the bullies. I really have to thank the bullies out there because I just wanted to prove them wrong. Just being up there on that stage and showing them that I can be confident-- even the opportunity to share my story.”
Listen to learn more about how she's taking a unique promotional and marketing approach by launching her Miss Vizcaya campaign.