Stephanie Burns and Jody Coughlin, Chic CEO, Women Entrepreneurs
How could I not be intrigued by a company called Chic CEO? Stephanie and Jodi are trying to help women like themselves understand the process of starting a business from scratch and growing it. How to write a business plan, how to find a good lawyer, how to name your business or how to use social media as a platform. The most important part of their business is the events where other women get to network and learn from each other. The business model is definitely girly and geared towards women in their 20's and mid-30's. I really enjoyed hearing about how they got into Chic CEO.
Jody grew up in Oregon. She said when she went on a tour of colleges including the San Diego area. She knew she had to live in San Diego the minute she saw it. She wound up going to University of Oregon first. During a spring road trip through San Diego, her second time through the area, she was convinced she had to transfer. Her girlfriend and both of their boyfriends transferred to California State at San Marcos. She majored in business administration with a minor in marketing.
When Jody graduated she got a marketing job for a company selling privacy software. She stayed for awhile but eventually moved to do marketing for a GPS network company. She said it was interesting being a woman in two companies that were predominantly male oriented. At trade shows, men would ask her if they could speak to someone about the product because they had absolutely no interest in talking to her. She would say, "yes I'd be happy to talk to you about the product." It was a great learning experience.
Even though she was working full time, she had her own business on the side. She was doing personal shopping for women. It grew through referrals. It was through that business that she met Stephanie. The majority of her business were female attorneys who needed help putting their wardrobes together.
Stephanie grew up in Nebraska. She went to the University of South Dakota and majored in vocal performance and advertising. When she realized she was not going to be an opera star she got a job at a casino in night and weekends and in advertising during the day. In the advertising firm her clients were in the fleet oil and aviation business including a large hockey stick manufacturer. Between advertising and the casino she was entrenched in a mostly male world. She decided that she needed a MBA and got her degree at the National University through an accelerator program. She worked during the day and went to school at night.
It was at graduate school where she had the idea for Chic CEO. She thought I am in business school and I couldn't tell a person how to start a business from scratch. She presented the idea to her Dean and the board of the school. It was the only idea they actually said they would invest in. Instead she graduated and got another job in advertising.
She had met Stephanie about seven years ago. She had gathered all her girlfriends into her living room, about fifteen of them, to discuss how to file taxes for a new business, how to incorporate etc and that was how the business was formed. It was about a year after graduate school and she was laid off. It was 2011. So she pulled out the business plan and embarked upon Chic CEO with Jody.
They raised some money from friends and family. Six months later they were featured in Forbes as a top entrepreneurial site for women. It has been completely organic trying to make a name for themselves and grow the business.
The information at Chic CEO is anything from referrals for the right CPA or lawyer to social meda help. The networking events have taken place in San Diego, NY, Portland and Dallas. As they say, women network differently and these events are exciting. They are giving ground level information on different topics around business and women. They want to be a resource. Colleges are starting to refer to them.
An interesting business model and one that is helping other women become entrepreneurs. Impressed with both Jody and Stepanie. Look for a Chic CEO event coming to your town sometime soon.