I remember the first $40 check I received in my first small business. I took my family out for a mexican dinner and I couldn’t have been prouder. Then I took my extended family to Disney, on my dime. This small business was making a big impact on our lifestyle and my potential. I became more confident in the value of the knowledge and services I had to offer. While I grew in my confidence, I was encouraging other women to find that same confidence as I sold advertising to promote their budding businesses. Years before Vend Raleigh had a name we were creating this unique professional group. These early years of founding businesses were seeds creating a network of women exploring passions and creating revenue for their families. All really exciting stuff. But also scary. That’s why we needed one another.
A friend assumed once that letting go of the things I created must be hard for me. Actually, no. That may sound like a nonchalant response, but I truly there’s a lot of strength in that answer. I’m a visionary. My gift is gathering people and listening to their needs. I’m able to create what the market wants. I have just enough guts to promote it and invest in it. And I can usually get it right.
I don’t do anything alone. I love and need community. I’m good at spotting gifts in others that I don’t have and I cling to them by continually inviting them in. This is a mix of vulnerability, willingness to learn, and covering all the bases when the next big thing comes up and skills are needed that I don’t possess. And being a true extrovert, people (women) bring me energy.
It’s been a decade now that I have been starting small businesses and dedicating a lot of time to women’s ministry. I founded my nonprofit Designed For Joy in 2017. DFJ is the perfect marriage of my business and mission experience. We hit 6 figures in our first year. Now, I’m not a numbers girl, money doesn’t motivate me. (My husband wishes it would.) But 6 figures for our first year was an indicator that I found a unique need in our community and people believed in the work we were doing. I needed to take this seriously – I wanted to take this seriously. Honestly, I’m head over heels in love with the work we are creating for the most vulnerable women in Raleigh.
Vend Raleigh, you give me life like no other business has. When you come up to me at meetings and share that you have been desperate to find a community like Vend and wished you learned about us sooner. You remind me how far you’ve come in business and how Vend supported you and that you continue to show up to provide the same support for women just coming in and starting their businesses. We cry together. We give attagirls. We remind one another that we are strong enough, smart enough, brave enough, and talented enough. At every event I have a buzz moment when I feel like I truly belong and I’m sure we created a special place for female entrepreneurs.
I’ve been driving both of these large communities, Vend and Designed For Joy for two and half year now. It’s been my pleasure and a true source of courage and strength. This is a season of change for me, it’s exciting and going to be great for everyone. Come back tomorrow for some good news!
As Vend Raleigh expands, Cary will continue to foster the welcoming, warm, diverse environment that attracts more than 3,000 individuals and business partners to Vend Raleigh.