Boss Like A Lady – Women Entrepreneur Series – Liz Gutman, Jen King, Joan Baker, The Confectioners
Concluding the series of hand-lettered and illustrated series of some women making history, I am presenting a group of women that work together. All of the women I interviewed and drew own their own creative businesses and make them successful despite many obstacles, including their own occasional self-doubt. I hope they inspired you to make a little history of your own! I’m ending on a sweet note…
Liz Gutman, Jen King, Joan Baker
Liz Gutman and Jen King shared passion for sustainably produced, fresh, superior-quality ingredients and sweets, their talk of starting a business together became a reality in early 2009. After gaining a vendor slot at the famed Brooklyn Flea Market and garnering some early publicity, Liz and Jen are humbled and thrilled to be lucky enough to spend their time sharing their love of sweets with their unbelievably awesome customers. Liz also spent 2 years writing for the James Beard Award-winning blog Serious Eats; and she and Jen co-authored The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook (Workman, 2012), a 2013 IACP Cookbook Award finalist. Liz and Jen were also co-honorees of ICC’s first-ever Outstanding Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship, and Liz was a Zagat “30 Under 30” honoree for NYC Food & Drink. Both Liz and Jen live in Brooklyn, NY. – See more at Liddabit Sweets.
I interviewed Co Founder, Liz Gutman….
What do you think your greatest mistake was or is? Underestimating myself. I still do it, even after 7 years of growing and building a business from nothing. I often hear, particularly from other women entrepreneurs and investors, that this is heartbreakingly common; and even though I’m cognizant of it, I still have to fight it every day. I hope to be able to inspire other women to march to the beat of their own drummer and take some risks!
What is the worst advice you ever received? This is a really tough question. Maybe I forget all the bad advice I get? …I do think that it’s dangerously simplifying to say things like “all you need is hard work and perseverance, and you’ll succeed.” That’s absolutely untrue. Yes, you need hard work and perseverance, but you need a slew of other things like family and spousal support, money, access to resources, time, planning tools, credit…you get the idea. Work hard and persevere; but know there are a million other factors at play.
What is the best advice you ever received? When I was stressed out not too long after we’d started Liddabit, I asked Rhonda Kave, my former employer and current mentor, if running a business ever got easier. She said: “No. But it becomes your new normal.” It’s certainly the most honest advice I’ve ever gotten!
What is your best source of inspiration? My dumb brain when I’m falling asleep. All my really good ideas come to me when I’m in that liminal wake/sleep mode…and then of course I have to grab my phone and type it all out or I’ll forget it, which wakes me up again.
What do you do when you get discouraged? I take a deep breath and take a break. And ask for help. That’s incredibly difficult sometimes; we feel like we need to shoulder everything ourselves or we’re not ‘enough’. That’s a fallacy, and it’s crucial to be able to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. Otherwise it’s Burnout City, population You.
What do you do when you doubt yourself? – I look at my list of accomplishments. I keep a running list of stuff I’ve done over the past year to two years. It sounds cheesy, and it’s not always a magic bullet; but it really does help adjust your attitude when you see all the amazing things you’ve achieved written down in black and white. They don’t have to be earth-shaking, either; start small (“brought in my own lunch every day this week”) and work your way up (“cleared a billion dollars in profit yesterday”).
Finish the sentence, “Being a woman and owning a business is…” – An uphill battle. It’s hard enough building and running a business when you’re figuring everything out on the fly; but it can be difficult to get taken seriously in some environments. There’s a lot of pressure to be just right at everything; put together (but not trying too hard), smart (but not a showoff), assertive (but not mouthy or bossy), cool and calm (but not an ice queen). It’s more difficult to have any kind of personality when you’re a woman in business, I think; there’s a tendency to chalk up anything outside of formal businessy-business behavior to “ladies be all [hormonal/crazy/emotional/etc]” type of generalities. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. I think we all just need to keep forging ahead and making that change from the ground up.
Liz, Jen and Joan…
When one or two women are gathered….We work on changing the world.
Working together requires….Patience.
You never…Put each other down.
You always….Remain honest and open.
.You knew we were successful when…We know we ARE successful when we all come into work every single day ready to kick ass and take names 🙂
You can buy their sweets thru their shop and various locations in Brooklyn and New York. They also work out of Sunset Park’s Industry City, where you can visit them at their Cafe/Store!