My first guest in “A coffee date with…” Series is Jessica Foster.
Jessica is a 25-year-old female entrepreneur. After a few years working in SEO for other companies, she decided to open Keys&Copy to bring her own holistic approach to SEO to create a strategy that is custom-built for each business.
As many of my guests in this interviews series, she in part of the LGBTQIA community and we’ll also see her adventures as a pansexual entrepreneur (and former corporate employee!)
R: What specific challenges is your business facing at this moment. Have you faced particular challenges due to your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation?
J: The greatest challenge right now has been around changing my mentality from corporate mode to entrepreneur mode. The things that the resources granted me by an agency just aren’t available to me anymore, so I have had to be more creative and resourceful. I also face some opposition as being one of the SEOs in the business. It hasn’t been overt, but I receive comments about my looks and my work as being “cute”, despite the fact that I carry myself as a professional. These comments are few and far between, but still frustrating. One person even alluded to the idea that I landed a client because of my looks.
R: Yeah, sadly, too many women have found themselves in that or a similar situation -dang tightrope!- Which would you say are the benefits and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur or an employee in your particular situation?
J: While working at an agency, the sexism was much more pronounced. For one, on numerous occasions, I was the only female in the room. I remember one instance where I pitched an idea and it was discounted because it “only pertained to mommy bloggers” – despite the fact that mothers were our target market and there was a wealth of information worth tapping into. We also had one client that refused to work with any women. In that case, the men did all the client-facing, even though a woman was still the head of their account. In terms of sexuality, I did feel that I had to hide my dating life from my peers, even though it was commonplace for them to talk about their relationships. I think it did come up at one point that I also date women, and I was made to feel quite awkward, if not uncomfortable. Now, I just sort of keep it to myself.
R: If you could go back in time, What would you recommend to 16-year old Jessica?
J: I would tell my 16-year-old self not to seek out validation from others. To follow her passions even if they weren’t what was “popular” at the time. To stick with science even in the face of everyone telling her to pursue a more “creative” career.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
R: If I invented a time machine and you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go? And why?
J: Honestly, I think I would stay right where I am because I am the happiest I have ever been and have resolved most of the issues that I have gone through in my past. I am also a fan of the technological advances that we have now, so I’m not particularly interested in going back to a different time period.
R: What’s your opinion on the massive movements for women’s rights?
J: I’m all for it. Gender equality is a necessity, and it benefits all humanity. There is no reason why a certain group should be treated as less-than in this current age. It’s counterintuitive to keep those systems in place.
R: If you could change anything in your own life’s history, would you? What? Why?
J: If I had the ability to change some components of my childhood I definitely would. Without digging into it too much, I do think it has contributed to my insecurity in a lot of things and has hindered my success.
Thank you Jessica for your time. Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did.
To find out more about Jessica and her job, please feel free to check her website, her magazine and her social media.