Entrepreneurship

Be Bolder™: Q+A With Amber Williams - Founder of PunkyFlair

The Marie Hunter brand is built upon one philosophy, “Confidence Speaks Volumes”. Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The Marie Hunter Modern Muse is a woman who is a guiding spirit and source of artistic inspiration in life and business. 

Today we’re featuring Amber Williams, Founder of PunkyFlair. PunkyFlair is a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. I had the opportunity to ask Amber 5 questions and here is what they had to say.

Q+A with MH Modern Muse Amber Williams

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Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: It’s interesting. This is always the hardest question for me to answer, mostly because it changes with every life stage. Also, I try not to summarize who I am solely through my professional endeavors. 

I’ll sum it up like this: 

I am a dreamer.

My parents raised me to have a high degree of irresponsible ambition, to dream beyond reality’s limitations, and to have the audacity to pursue anything.

I’ve chased every dream from becoming a famous fashion writer in NYC at the peak of the economic recession in 2008 to training to be a top-notch cyclist in 2012. The first dream, I significant progress on, landing a position after undergrad at one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the world - Armani. The second - well - I didn’t make it past two cycle classes before realizing those skinny seats weren’t for me.

Now at 33, I’ve channeled that habit of dream-chasing to build a few things. The first is a family of four. I married my college sweetheart, Errol, in my mid-20s shortly after finishing graduate school at Northwestern. Then, we had two kids who seemed to have come back to back: Carter, my 4-year-old who goes by “Black Panther” these days; and Cayden, my 2-year-old diva who has completely stolen my heart.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve also built Punkyflair, a brand storytelling shop that thrives on the sole philosophy that people do not buy products or services; they buy stories.

As a CEO and startup mentor, I have the great fortune of helping other entrepreneurs uncover the stories that make their brands special so they can harness the power within those narratives to connect better with their audiences.

I truly love what I do and am beyond grateful for the family I have alongside me that continues to inspire and motivate my growth.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to wake up from the dream of being a wife, mom, and branding beauty, fashion and lifestyle businesses for a living. 

Q: What is inspiring you right now?

A: I’m reading “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis right now and it’s totally inspired me to be even bolder in my entrepreneurial journey. It’s an inexplainable hustle to balance babies and business and I’m always super inspired by female CEOs who seem to be doing it with grace and sheer unapologetic-ness. What I’ve come to learn is that there is no such time as work/life balance when you’re managing the needs of your house, husband, children, and your business. There is only the art of shifting between what requires your attention the most in any given moment. For me with Punkyflair, writing compelling narratives for my clients and having up-to-date brand-building advice to offer is vital to my success. So instead of sharpening those skills while my kids are home with me, I carve out time at 5am every day before anyone in my family wakes up to read, research, write, and take in inspiration so that I can show up for the entrepreneurs in my community the way they need me to. 

Likewise, when I pick my kids up from school or when I’m hanging with them on the weekends, my laptop is shut, my phone is down, business books are put up, and “fun mommy” is 100% on for the rest of the evening! I carve out time to be fully present with them during these precious toddler moments when kids actually want to be with their parents.

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Q: What was the defining moment that made you want to launch PunkyFlair?

A: Three months after giving birth to my son, Carter, I knew that I didn’t want to return to my corporate job. I had previously excelled far beyond my counterparts, but was cheated out of an anticipated promotion right around the time I found out I was expecting. 

During my annual review, I sat down with my manager who pulled my file that was full of glowing recommendations from my peers, directors and VPs across 4 different offices within our company. To say that I exceeded expectations in just one year would be an understatement. I had done so well in my brand marketing and reputation management role that I was to the point of ghostwriting communication for the CEO. 

But for some reason, I was offered a promotional raise without the title, office, or the view. And for me, that translated to a complete a total lack of respect. It felt like “hush money.” I later learned that upper management believed that promoting me above my male peers after just 12 months, although I had earned it, would have caused friction.

Walking out of that room was a defining moment for me. From that point forward, I knew that my days were numbered at the company. I mentally checked out and began plotting my exit. 

I vowed to never again allow any person or any company to dictate what I deserved or would be “allotted.”

After soaking up every ounce of my maternity leave, I resigned with a sting two days before my scheduled return. Whoa - it felt so good!

So since 2015, I’ve officially called myself “CEO & Master Brand Storyteller.” After consulting for, advising, coaching, and teaching over 500 startups in five years, I can confidently say that I’ve earned that title.

Q: What advice would you have for a female entrepreneur ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

A: Many women make the crucial first mistake of attempting to follow in someone else’s footsteps when starting a company. We see this all the time with short-lived copycat brands that launch on the basis of popularity or trends. If you want to leap into entrepreneurship and build a brand that means something to people and will withstand the test of time, the first thing you must do is ask yourself WHY? 

Why does the world need what you have to offer?

Why should people care about your brand?

Why do you care? 

Why is the problem that you solve for happening?

Why now?

Why you?

As an entrepreneur, knowing your WHY? keeps you grounded and focused on the greater mission of your business. It’s what will shape your decision-making, your innovation, your team building, and the story you’ll ultimately tell to get your ideal customers to buy from you.

Before taking the leap, figure out your WHY? Then, write it down somewhere where you’ll be reminded of it every single day.

Q: What do you love most about Marie Hunter Beauty? 

A: I love the modern-day chicness of Marie Hunter Beauty! When I first came across the brand, I immediately got Chanel vibes. All black is my jam, so to have my makeup bag filled with tiny little black tubes of purples, pinks, nudes and reds is a total reflection of my own aesthetic. 

But, I think what I love most about MHB is the ideals behind the brand story. Being bolder is a sentiment I constantly try to affirm within myself as an entrepreneur. And what better way to do that on a daily basis than through a Boss Lady super pigmented red lipstick that says “I’m in the room. Pay attention.”?

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Remember a few months back when I first reveal our new brand story? Amber was the mastermind behind helping me to develop our new story! When Amber first reached to me about her services I was a little skeptical, but after listening to her free resources I was SOLD and needed to know more so I joined her 6 week mentorship program and it was worth every penny!

Amber became a Marie Hunter customer after discovering our line at our retail partner BLK+GRN so the fact that she saw my brand had so much potential meant a lot to me. Juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship isn’t easy, neither is being a woman in a male dominated industry as she described in her defining moment. Amber’s passion to help small woman owned businesses grow their brands through storytelling is inspirational and for that she is an MH Modern Muse.

Interested in learning more about storytelling and how it can help your business? Amber just recently launched her new podcast The Share which is now live on Stitcher and Spotify as “The Share: Storycraft for Startups” so be sure to subscribe and leave a review!

You can follow Amber on the following platforms:

Website: PunkyFlair

Instagram: @punkyflair

Spotify: The Share Podcast

Be Bolder™: Q+A With Shelby Comstock Britten - Co-Founder of Rainhouse Co.

The Marie Hunter brand is built upon one philosophy, “Confidence Speaks Volumes”. Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The Marie Hunter Modern Muse is a woman who is a guiding spirit and source of artistic inspiration in life and business. 

Today we’re featuring Shelby Comstock Britten, Co-Founder of Rainhouse Co. Rainhouse Co. makes music for film, TV, ad and video games, as well as curated EP’s with artists. I had the opportunity to ask Shelby 5 questions and here is what she had to say.

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Q+A with MH Modern Muse Shelby Comstock Britten

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Q: Tell us a bit about yourself? 

A: I am a co-founder and the creative director of Rainhouse Music and Sound Design. I started Rainhouse alongside my husband, composer and producer Alex Britten. We love being a husband and wife entrepreneur duo. It’s been fantastic to work side by side and really build our dream careers step by step. We’re really proud of what we’ve created with Rainhouse and the clients we work with. 

Q: What was the defining moment that made you want to launch Rainhouse Co.? 

A: Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to start my own company, even before I knew what industry I was interested in. Alex and I met in the early stages of our careers and have worked many jobs together before founding Rainhouse. I would have to say our defining moment was actually on our honeymoon in Seville, Spain. That’s when we really let ourselves talk seriously about what our dream career would look like and how we could get there. Previously, we had been working side by side for other companies and that system no longer made sense for us. We were excited to begin our own company and invest in ourselves. One year later, we launched Rainhouse!

Q: How did you conquer fear when building your brand?

A: Fear is always a part of taking a risk in business. I think it is especially true when working for yourself. I’ve had to become comfortable with the fear rather than conquer it. It’s helped me to release anxiety surrounding fear, like what will people think if I do this or that. I like to remind myself that what matters is if the idea is in alignment with our goals as Rainhouse and if we are proud of it. That’s what gets me past the fear and on to the next decision.

Q: What advice would you have for a female entrepreneur ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

A: I always advise trusting your instincts. It was very difficult for me to stop doubting myself and my ideas. Once I did, my goals started becoming my reality and I was able to take bolder risks.

Q: What do you love most about Marie Hunter Beauty?

A: I love that Marie Hunter Beauty takes an active interest in people outside of their industry and features female founders and entrepreneurs. It’s so important to take a look at our larger community and find ways to connect and bring each other up. I love it!

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I always admire couples that are able to tackle entrepreneurship together and live out their dreams. Shelby is a rockstar and is redefining the music industry with her husband by her side and for that she is a MH Modern Muse.

You can follow Rainhouse Co. and Shelby on the following platforms:

Instagram: @shelbycbritten and @rainhouseco.

Facebook: @rainhouseco.

Website: Rainhouse Co.

Personal Website: Shelby Comstock Britten

Be Bolder™: Q+A With Torey Lehman - Founder of Reigning Grey

The Marie Hunter brand is built upon one philosophy, “Confidence Speaks Volumes”. Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The Marie Hunter Modern Muse is a woman who is a guiding spirit and source of artistic inspiration in life and business. 

Today we’re featuring Torey Lehman, Founder Reigning Grey. Reigning Grey is a unique, modern and sophisticated jewelry line handmade in NYC. I had the opportunity to ask Torey 5 questions and here is what she had to say.

Q+A with MH Modern Muse Torey Lehman

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Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: My name is Torey and I hail from Philadelphia/NJ. I've lived in BK for 6.5 years and started my company Reigning Grey two years ago. We're a female owned and operated brand that focuses on inclusion and empowerment. My background is in design, small business and luxury retail management. My favorite days consist of getting my goals crushed, swimming or running, hugging stranger's dogs, laying in prospect park and dreaming of our brands bright future every chance I get.

Q: What is inspiring you right now?

A: We have a really exciting collaboration coming up for mid august with a fellow female BK artist that we can't wait to share. We're starting to source and concept our 7 collection so my brains going deep on structural shapes, tonal colorways and fresh designs.

Q: What was the defining moment that made you want to launch Reigning Grey?

A: It always seemed to be a side hustle for my creativity in some form or another but it wasn't until I was about 3 years into being in NY I felt this surge of inspiration flow. I knew my space was limited in NYC from my studio in NJ. Jewelry just made sense on multiple levels. It's wearable art, not size conscious, personality defiant, unlimited in design and very accessible to everyone.

Q: What advice would you have for a female entrepreneur ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

A: Dive in scared. It's that moment when you hit the water and your body adjusts to the temperature and you go "ok this isn't so bad" and you learn to get stronger and stronger. No one has it figured out so lose the idea of perfection. Be kind to yourself and help foster that by doing some research to link up with other females starting too. There's never been a time like this in our history that women are taking the leap. If you've felt that urge, just jump. You will 100% have to sacrifice things whether that's time, money, lifestyle choices - be prepared and stay focused. Surround yourself with people wanting to support your mission.Community and company are everything.

Q: What do you love most about Marie Hunter Beauty?

A: Female founded baby! Raw power is a woman owned business on a mission and Marie Hunter Beauty is doing that and so much more.

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Reigning Grey is like Marie Hunter in the sense that we both are are inspiring and empowering women through products that are so personal to each woman. Torey’s desire to empower women through her handmade jewelry is inspiring and for that she is a MH Modern Muse. You can shop and learn more about Reigning Grey here. Follow RG on Instagram @reigninggrey and @reigninggreyaustin.

Be Bolder™: Q+A With Erin Halper - Founder & CEO Of The Upside

The Marie Hunter brand is built upon one philosophy, “Confidence Speaks Volumes”. Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The Marie Hunter Modern Muse is a woman who is a guiding spirit and source of artistic inspiration in life and business. 

Today we’re featuring Erin Halper, Founder & CEO of The Upside. The Upside supports the success of best-in-class independent consultants and connects them with companies seeking flexible, scalable and on-demand senior-level talent. Our mission is to change the way working works in America.” I had the opportunity to ask Erin 5 questions and here is what she had to say.

Q+A with MH Modern Muse Erin Halper

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Q: What was the defining moment that made you want to launch The Upside?

A: Quite frankly, the 2016 election. I had this sinking feeling that the corporate world would not improve for women fast enough for me to ever see it. I had built this distinct skill set and track record of success outside the traditional 9-5, so I decided to launch a mission-based business to change the way working works in America.

Q: Who are 3 people that inspire you and why?

A:

1. My husband. He is a business owner as well and leads with such humility, humor and kindness. He is also my closest advisor and biggest cheerleader!

2. Oprah. I mean, come on, if she can rise up to where she is today with the cards she was originally dealt, then we have no excuse for failure or giving up.

3. Anita Hill. She spoke up and spoke out when no one else was doing that, and risked it all to fight for what was right. She was way ahead of her time and gave up so much to break the seal that we are now slowly rising out of today.

Q: What advice would you have for a female entrepreneur ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

A: Understand the problem your business is solving. Like, really understand it. Keep your eye on that problem and know every single aspect of the world surrounding that problem. And if your business doesn’t solve a problem, go back to the drawing board!

Also, it’s so easy to give up when things get tough in business. And they will get tough! Allow yourself a set amount of time to keep going, even when things get hairy. Set a date and tell yourself, “I will not even entertain the idea of giving up until X date.” This way, when you have the crappiest of days, you still have your eye on that finish line. 2-3 years is reasonable.

Q: What makes you feel most confident?

A: Great skin!

Q: What do you love most about Marie Hunter Beauty?

A: Just the variety alone is so inspiring. But the names of the colors...Boss Lady, Gracious, Mastermind...they set my intentions in the morning and give me that extra wink and high five I need to help kick start an awesome day!

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Erin is making waves in the corporate world to help women thrive and for that she is a MH Modern Muse. Follow Erin on Instagram and Facebook @betheupside / @betheupside and learn more about The Upside here. Got LinkedIn? Follow their company page to stay up to date with Be The Upside.

Be Bolder™️: Q+A With Jessica Hill - Founder Of The Parent Collective

The Marie Hunter brand is built upon one philosophy, “Confidence Speaks Volumes”. Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. The Marie Hunter Modern Muse is a woman who is a guiding spirit and source of artistic inspiration in life and business. 

Today we’re featuring Jessica Hill, Founder of The Parent Collective. The Parent Collective offers evidence-based prenatal and parenting classes designed to help couples establish friendships among others living local to them and due at the same time, all while skipping the judgements and agendas of some of the other classes out there. I had the opportunity to ask Jessica 5 questions and here is what she had to say.

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Q+A with MH Modern Muse Jessica Hill

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Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: I'm a mom of 2 boys and I moved to CT about 5 years ago after living in London where my husband and I started our family. The support I received when I had my kids there, gave me the inspiration to start The Parent Collective. The Parent Collective offers evidence-based prenatal and parenting classes designed to help couples establish friendships among others living local to them and due at the same time, all while skipping the judgements and agendas of some of the other classes out there. We have always hoped that couples taking a TPC series will cultivate a social network through weekly participation, build a solid prenatal/parental support system and of course, gather playmates for the little ones on the way. Recently we have expanded our offering to include an online version of our highly successful in-person classes so that more couples can access the education that we feel is so important.

Q: What is inspiring you right now?

A: I am inspired by the increasing attention being paid to the support women receive (or don’t receive) during the journey of having a baby in this country. Whether its maternal mental health, the racial gaps in maternal mortality, or paid maternity leave these conversations and the level of attention they are receiving inspires me and will hopefully lead to some much needed change!

Q: What was the defining moment that made you want to launch The Parent Collective?

A: I decided to start The Parent Collective back in 2017 after hearing from countless friends that they spent their early months and years with their baby feeling lonely and isolated. Because I was lucky enough to have my boys in the UK and benefit from a program called The National Childbirth Trust, my experience was wildly different, and I wanted to give a similar feeling of support through education to others. Quite simply – I don’t know how I would have gotten through the early months of my first baby without my village of NCT moms who got me out of the house, listened to me vent when I was struggling, swap strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that crop up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship. Everyone needs that support and I hope that TPC will fill this need.

Q: What is your personal mantra and why?

A: My mantra is ‘it takes a village’ because we are so much stronger, happier and healthier when we have someone to lean on.  

Q: What do you love most about Marie Hunter Beauty?

A: I love how Marie Hunter Beauty empowers women through beauty.  You have created something quite special and I wish you all the success!!

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As a mom of 3 I personally resonate with the feeling of feeling isolated and wish I could have known about TPC during my most recent pregnancies. Having 10 year old and two under 2 is no joke and it truly does take a village. Jessica is redefining the stigma behind parenting and for that she is a MH Modern Muse. Follow TPC on all social media outlets @theparentcollectivetpc and check out The Parent Collective and learn more about prenatal and postnatal courses here.