Katie Mehnert: Seeing Pink among the Oilfields

Katie MehnertIt’s no secret that it’s a man’s world on the oilfields of Texas and around the world. But former energy exec and marathon runner Katie Mehnert has plans to change all that. In Pink Petro, she has created an online digital channel that aims to empower women in the sector through mentoring, networking, and sharing of information.

“I want to bring Silicon Valley to the energy sector as a whole to power a fresh approach to female development in what’s been a very male-dominated industry. Women need more seats at the STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) table and Pink Petro will be a vehicle to that end. Together we’ll use our collective voice to reenergize the sector and its reputation,” she explains. (more…)

Julia Erickson: Pirouetting Her Way to a Better Barre

ericksonSo many little girls dream of becoming ballerinas, and Julia Erickson was no exception. But unlike most of us who eventually shed that dream, Erickson trained from the age of seven and worked her way up to become a principal dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Unlike many of the stories we share at Career 2.0, this one is not about leaving a job to pursue a passion, because dancing is Erickson’s passion. “Ballet is the love of my life,” she explains. “I would not leave my dance career for anything at this point.” Unfortunately, a ballet career is a finite thing, and there will come a time when Erickson will have little choice but to hang up her pointe shoes. So when inspiration struck, she was not about to look the other way. (more…)

Libby Zemaitis: The Climate Scientist Turned Sustainable Entrepreneur

Libby MurphyWarning! This is not a traditional Career 2.0 story. This woman did not plunge into a new profession after years pursuing another career. This is a story about doing what you love, finding your passion and going after it, no matter how big or overwhelming it may seem. It’s also a great business idea that we just can’t resist sharing.

For someone who is intent on revolutionizing the manufactured housing industry, it’s pretty ironic that Libby Zemaitis lives in the same house where her grandfather was born in New Paltz, not far from the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York.

But really it isn’t all that surprising that a woman who aims to bring affordable, modern and eco-friendly homes to the masses cherishes her old home and the sense of belonging.

“Our housing market is so broken, environmentally, socially, and economically. I want to build homes that are light on the earth and on your wallet. We are not aiming for niche. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a beautifully designed and sustainable home, not just higher income people. This is our chance to change all that.” (more…)

Caren Magill: Flexing Her Muscle with the Perfect Protein Pancake

Caren MagillIt began, perhaps, with a fitness competition, which Caren Magill did not win. She finished, she says, “in the middle of the pack”.

Or maybe it began further back, when Magill was a teenager. “Growing up, healthy living was not a part of our general household conversation. I sustained myself on canned soup, white Kaiser buns, and processed cheese. From the time I got home from school until the time I went to bed, I was on the couch eating. By the time I left high school, I weighed over 200 pounds.

“I realized in my early 20’s that not only was being overweight uncomfortable, but it was going to limit me in all sorts of ways. When I finally lost the weight it made me realize I could do anything I set my mind to. It raised my level of self-efficacy, my pride in myself. It really did change the course of my life.”

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Carrie McIndoe: A Passion for Creating Opportunity

Carrie-McIndoe-head-shotCarrie McIndoe read a great quote once and, although she doesn’t know who said it or if she’s even quoting it right, it spoke profoundly to her: “‘Savor the time you spend with the people you love and on the parts of your life that matter the most, so much so that it makes you so happy you could dance in the street.’”

After a long career in strategic business planning and financing for start-ups, McIndoe is living those words as the founder of Economic Ventures, a not-for-profit dedicated to entrepreneurship. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons, many the hard way, and want to share these to help others transform their lives. I can’t imagine doing anything better.” (more…)

Emily Stinchcomb: Between the Sheets

head shot - cropBrowsing the bedding aisle of any major department store, you would be forgiven for thinking, like cereals on the supermarket shelf, there are enough options in the world already. But Emily Stinchcomb would disagree. After the birth of her second child, she quit her full-time job to invent a new integrated bedding and sheet system that gave her the comfort and ease of a duvet cover, with the ease of washing just a sheet and not the whole cover.

But more about that in a minute.

Stinchcomb, a native Oregonian, moved to Vail, Colorado, after college to ski.  Of course, she had to earn a living too so she landed a job as a sales and events coordinator with Vail Resorts and Hyatt hotels. She liked her job but never felt that she had a career path that she was uber passionate about. So a decade later, after she had her first child, she went part time and a few years later, when she was pregnant with her second child, her family moved to Boulder and Emily thought that would be a good time to think about doing something new. (more…)

Jill Bossi: The Would-Be Senator Risking It All

JBossi Photo4What does a woman who has been at the height of her professional game do after 30 years on the job in both the private and public sector? Why, run for the U.S. Senate of course. And if that doesn’t work out? What next for that 55-year-old with no job or income coming in? Should she get a job? Consult? How about working endless hours for no money and with a great risk of failure? Yes, you guessed it. She launches a start-up.

“I’ve bet my entire retirement, we cashed out everything. I really want to give this a go and think the gamble is worth it. If I am successful, at the end of the day I can shout ‘woohoo, I created a legacy that will go forward.’ If I am not successful, at least I’ll be a happy pauper who knows she tried,” Bossi laughs.

As it does for so many people, Bossi’s career started more out of necessity. As a single mom with no college degree, she was lucky to land a good job in procurement at MGM Studios after moving to LA from Arizona. (more…)

Tina James: Championing Women on and off the Dance Floor

Tina James_ballroom compressedTina James’ heart and passion lie with women’s empowerment and, in case you doubt her credentials, she’s got two businesses to prove it. FemTECH, a support program for women-owned tech-enabled start-ups, helps African women take charge of their destinies by creating growing businesses. On a lighter note, Dancing Divas, a non-traditional dancing school targeting more “mature” ladies, builds confidence on the dance floor that translates into clients’ daily lives.

“I am so fortunate to be involved in two businesses that I am absolutely passionate about. The dancing caters to my creative side and through femTECH I can offer support services to women that inspire them to make their visions a reality. Out of what was not a very nice situation seven years ago, so many wonderful things have happened.” (more…)

Gurjot Sidhu: Making Business Women Feel Glamorous, One Suit at a Time

feb11_27One question we love to think about here at Career 2.0 is whether women initially avoid pursuing a career doing something they love most because of what is expected of them? Are there expectations of women, especially highly educated women, about what’s a “proper” career path? That’s that question I was thinking about while interviewing Gurjot Sidhu, founder of Gurjot New York, a high-end custom clothier for business women.

Gurjot started sewing with her grandmother when she was seven and she was hooked. “Oh my gosh, I loved it!” she says of her favorite childhood hobby. She took sewing lessons and sewed gifts, pillows, fashion and anything else she could dream up.  But when it came time to find a job after college, it never occurred to her to think of it as an option. “I thought, I’m going to go to college and then to work. I never thought of fashion school as a path to that.” (more…)

Babou Olengha Aaby: Building a Crowdfunding Business around her Authentic Self

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Babou Olengha-Aaby at Crowdsourcing Week Europe 2014. Courtesy of Sebastiaan ter Bur

Babou Olengha Aaby is convinced the biggest market opportunity lies not with India, China, or Brazil but rather women. But she wants to be clear on one thing: female entrepreneurship is not a gender issue, it’s an economic one. Women-owned businesses make for good business sense and smart economics: they start small, grow slowly, and fail less. And yet they attract only 1/3 of all venture capital. The Norwegian-based Olengha Aaby wants to change all that with her new crowdfunding platform specifically aimed at what she calls “mumpreneurs”.

“My big fat dream with Mums Mean Business is to provide all entrepreneurial mothers with a triple A service: access to finance, access to mentoring, and access to inspirational role models. Our goal is to provide aspiring mothers with start-up ambitions much-needed guidance in their critical first year of business to help get them to the next level.” (more…)

Yael Benamour: Crowdfunding Music à la Française

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Starting a new business is hard enough. Leaving an entire life behind and moving to a foreign country in order to do so would be nearly unimaginable for most of us. And yet that is exactly what Yael Benamour did. “Every single day of this process was a leap of faith,” she says. “Nothing was easy.”

So what made her do it?

Yael Benamour began her career in France as a singer and songwriter. “After performing for many years, I decided to become a producer. I’d always been interested in the production side of the business and having had the experience and perspective of being a performer ultimately made me a better producer.”

So Benamour worked as a producer for several large studios as well as smaller independent labels. “While working in-house, I was approached by Marie Paule Belle, a well-known French singer. She had become disenchanted with the music industry, and asked me to manage her career. I had no intention of turning down such a wonderful opportunity, but I couldn’t do it while working at another label. So in 1998 I created my own label, Beny Music.” (more…)

Sandy Slade: Basketball-Spinning Queen Turns Game Entrepreneur

4 x 6Sandy Slade has lived a colorful life. The former basketball handler has rubbed elbows with the likes of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul Jabaar and even sparred on the court with Hollywood star Benjamin Bratt as Halle Berry’s stunt double in Cat Woman (yes, really). She can spin up to eight basketballs at one time, and dribble four basketballs at once and has appeared on national TV many times including a Nintendo Game Boy commercial during primetime over the holiday season.

But Slade’s real achievement has been her success in breaking down any sport and making it easy for children to enjoy. Her oversize board game business, Skillastics, has gotten school children moving and now she’s aiming to get you and your kids off the couch.

“To be able to do something so unique and make a living at it, it’s something I will never forget. But in a way, doing my performances and all the things I did with basketball has been the training ground for bigger ventures. I’ve redefined myself now three times, from entertainment to education and now to the consumer-based market. I just feel like I have a bigger purpose … to make a shift in the way we view physical activity as a society. In my own small way, I am trying to ignite that change.” (more…)