Member Spotlight – Courage

Jul 8, 2024

Tell us about a time you used courage as a woman business owner to level up, overcome a challenge or take a risk in your entrepreneurial journey.

Carmen Londoño

The Insurance Pros, LLC

The past five years have been a rollercoaster of challenges and growth. Rebuilding my business from scratch amidst toxic partnerships (both personal and professional) and the chaos of COVID-19 was incredibly tough. And by tough, I mean “Who needs sleep or sanity anyway?” tough. Facing these pressures created an extraordinarily dark period. Yet, looking back, invaluable lessons were hidden in that adversity. Spoiler alert: the universe has a wicked sense of humor.

Firstly, the drastic actions of my partners, though painful, unexpectedly freed me from toxic relationships. Secondly, an amazing network of strong, supportive, and authentic individuals rallied around me, offering unwavering support. It was like having my own personal Avengers team, minus the capes but with just as much bravery and solidarity. Lastly, becoming the sole owner of my business brought immense responsibility but also incredible freedom. I no longer worried about losing what I had built. Turns out, flying solo isn’t as scary as it seems – once you get over the initial freefall, it’s pretty exhilarating.

These challenges pushed me to grow in unimaginable ways. Today, I have a stronger sense of independence and deep gratitude for the support network that made this journey possible. Plus, I’ve got fantastic war stories to tell over coffee. Moral of this story: Lean into your support group. Groups like NAWBO Chicago are the reason I survived and thrived.

Jacqueline Ruiz

Fig Factor Media & JJR Marketing

One of the most prominent examples where I had to gather tons of courage was when I decided to start The Fig Factor Foundation. Being a young Latina woman entrepreneur faced with many challenges—one of them being securing funding, overcoming skepticism, and bearing the responsibility of making a sustainable impact—my unwavering passion for empowering young Latinas pushed me through those hurdles.

The initial phases were intimidating.

Many times, moments of self-doubt and pressures from external sources would make the journey seem insurmountable. But inside, there was a deep-seated belief in being able to contribute to the vision of providing mentorship and educational leadership to young women who, like me, would aspire to break barriers and pursue their dreams. That was a courageous decision I took back then to risk investing my resources and energy in this cause, which not only helped me overcome these initial obstacles but also contributed to creating that lasting platform supporting and uplifting young Latinas. The success of The Fig Factor Foundation has been a living testimony to the power of courage and conviction. It taught me that despite the obstacles you go through and facing them head-on while continuing on your mission, you can turn it around to work in your favor. This journey has not only defined my entrepreneurial path but also further supported my belief that courage forms the foundation for growing toward change.

Claire Simon
President & Director of Casting
Claire Simon Casting

Twenty-eight years ago, I’d have said leaving a reliable job (with a steady paycheck and mediocre dental insurance) to rent a space, buy equipment and cute chairs with money I didn’t have, hoping to get hired, took courage. But for me – after slugging through a debilitating six-month industry strike and then being the collateral damage of a huge budget cut – it resulted in a crushing loss of confidence, which in my experience took the most courage of my career.

To put one foot in front of the other when you feel defeated, to let yourself feel the loss and then get back up and get back to basics when the gerbils in your head are telling you you’ll never work again, took the most courage and resilience I could find or borrow. It takes a few years to feel successful and sure that you deserve to take up space in the room, and it takes a mere 10-minute conversation when someone says they don’t need you anymore for the whole sandcastle to get smooshed.

Courage is walking the walk when you aren’t feeling it, acting like it’s going to be ok when you are sure that you should apply to the local CVS. Taking actionable steps to build back makes you feel in control – and having great sisters and friends cheering you on doesn’t hurt either.

Lisa Smith

SMIT co.

Courage is the strength to face pain, grief or fear. In June 2023, I confronted my biggest fear: my business was failing, and I was the cause – and potential solution. The economy was slowing, inflation was rising, and all my early entrepreneurial mistakes caught up with me. My revenue dried up, plunging my accounts into the red.

Faced with the prospect of business collapse, I thought of the women I help. Their needs fueled my resolve. I reevaluated every aspect of my business and sought advice. It took every ounce of energy and courage I had to turn the company around, yet I persevered. I not only saved my business but turned it into a platform that continues to empower women.

That experience taught me that courage is not just about facing our fears; it’s about building the resilience to keep going. To every female entrepreneur, remember this: your greatest challenges could be the gateway to your greatest achievements. It just takes courage.

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