A Bold Approach: To thrive as a powerful you need a bold approach to life, love, and business. This approach should be a signature way of you claiming autonomy and freedom in the life you choose for yourself.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Shampaigne Graves.
Shampaigne Graves is the CEO of Bold Babes Companies, a multidivisional education and marketing firm dedicated to helping business owners start and stay in business. As both an entrepreneur with a small global remote team and having consulted over 200 businesses with digital footprints she understands the current and future challenges of powerful women balancing everything. When not strategizing with clients, Shampaigne can be found enthralled in a cult conspiracy documentary, spending time with her partner of 6 years, or cuddling with her rescue terrier, Bubba.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
First and foremost, I am an army brat. Born in Hawaii and hopped around the southern parts of the United States since the age of 3. My parents met each other while both serving in Honolulu, and they used the military as a vehicle to launch their current careers. Growing up I always seen their example as a blueprint for alternate paths to success. So, when I graduated from college with a Kinesiology degree that I hadn’t used; My parents were supportive when I decided to become a business owner.
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
After graduating in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, I found myself only landing the same dead end jobs I worked before I graduated. I knew that I had always aspired to be “successful” in the traditional since, but I had no idea how to make my aspirations match my reality. Looking back now, I can honestly say that I feared my own potential, because my potential would require me putting in a lot of work.
Life jolted me into action with the untimely death of my best friend at just 24. It was always his dream to become an entrepreneur. After going from not knowing how to be successful to craving it more than ever I decided to pursue the passion of my best friend and start my first business. After sinking more than 30,000 dollars into a family venture that didn’t pan out, because it was a family venture, I was left with 20 dollars to my name and that same passion.
I used the 20 dollars on a Facebook ad to promote my second business, Bold Babes and the passion was spent on pleading to anyone who would listen to trade their services with me to help me build my dream. Both investments continue to give the company returns today as our bottom line has grown enough to expand with a small global remote team and client network of over 250.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story that has happened since I began my career was when I started my podcast, The Bold Babes Show. The premise of the show is to highlight the stories of women building businesses in their local communities. When I started the podcast, I had no idea how much my guests would open up to me about some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives.
Doing something as simple as asking women why they started their businesses opened a floodgate of stories about resilience, championship, and sisterhood. Being able to provide a space safe to facilitate that kind of storytelling, it was humbling.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I’m a successful business leader but I would be nothing without my tribe of women in business who lift me up. Each of them displays the characteristics I strive to embody each day on the job.
- Confidence, My friend Ro Simmons of Business Lounge Dallas has always been confident in her ability to attract the right people. Without this confidence she wouldn’t have taken the leap and pivoted her fitness business into the number 1 black owned coworking space in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.
- Resilience, Lana Manikowski is a client that walks her talk. After undergoing years of fertility treatments with no children, Lana decided that her life had meaning with or without motherhood. She took that passion and decided to start a community for other women who like her wanted to create a meaningful life no matter what.
- Positivity, Jewels Clark of How to Be Social is a ray of sunshine and carries that energy from the boardroom to brunch. Often as women we’re told that we need to have a hard exterior to be taken seriously, but Jewels manages to dispel that myth. Not only has she scaled her creative agency while juggling a blossoming music career she has maintained a positive attitude along the entire way.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
First, we need to start with the definition of a strong woman. In my opinion, strength derives from vulnerability. When a woman is comfortably emoting and expressing herself freely this makes a variety of people upset. Why? Because from birth, women and femmes are taught to nurture everyone in their lives outside of themselves. When a woman is strong in her ability to trust and prioritize herself, she is not someone who is available for free labor. The free labor of therapizing family, friends, and colleagues without pay.
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
Early in the pandemic as I was trying to pivot our event model from a physical to virtual format, I hired a “professional” that ended up scamming me out of thousands of dollars. As a leader to my community, I couldn’t stay silent about the heart break I endured and what I wanted to be an empowering Facebook live post about bullying dissolved into me bawling in front of thousands of women online. I was immediately ashamed that I had let the veil slip.
I let them see me “sweat.”
But much to my surprise, my community rallied around me especially when I was criticized by trolls on my post.
The people who were upset by my post were more disturbed by my open display of emotions then the fact that my business had been robbed almost to the point of being shut down. This experience taught me so much about strength, what it looks like, and how people react to it when I display it.
To this day that is one of my most engaged with and thought-provoking posts on my account.
I’ll never remove it, even though I full on ugly cried.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
Stay true. As a powerful woman you will never, please everyone but the most important person to make sure is satisfied is you. How do you feel about your interactions with others that are uneasy around you? They shouldn’t bother you, it’s not your job to put anyone at ease about your confidence.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
As a society we need to stop labeling women and give them the flexibility to express themselves freely. Often, I see women holding on to what they were yesterday because of the social pressures of others around them. We must allow women to change their minds about themselves and the world around them.
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
As a black woman who is also neurodiverse, I often must code switch in my communications with other business owners especially those who lack my life experiences. Sometimes this makes me feel that I cannot bring my full self to my position however I also understand that I do this to build opportunity for the next woman. So that she doesn’t feel the need to code switch in the next professional room she walks in, especially if that room is owned by me.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Men don’t have to have to engage in the “have it all” conversation, they get it all. They have a society that supports their career endeavors while allowing them the autonomy to be family men simultaneously. Women on the other hand must make a choice if they desire motherhood. Be a great mom or be great at my job. There are rare circumstances in which a mother has a stay-at-home dad, supportive team culture, and compensation to finance it all.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
Integrating my family life into my business wasn’t my struggle as much as balancing my mental health diagnosis with it. Often as powerful women we don’t let others know our private struggles, but I knew early that I didn’t want to hide any parts of myself from my clients and community as a CEO. Finding the right language and platform to share my day to day as a neurodivergent entrepreneur wasn’t easy but I found my stride and a tribe that embraces me.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
Gratitude and Perspective. Gratitude allowed me to be grateful for the things that were the most important. Perspective allowed me to make those aspects of my life a priority.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
I think that beauty is something that every woman unfortunately must factor into her initial impressions in relation to her career. We know that pretty privilege is becoming more well-known, and I often see this play out in the world of online business. Women are almost always expected to be the face of their businesses and when that does happen, they are expected to have a pretty face.
I don’t believe that physical beauty is something that is of inherent value for public facing leaders. I do believe that society makes it this way. We should be judged based on the values we bring to our organizations not our aesthetics.
How is this similar or different for men?
Men aren’t typically judged on their aesthetics in relation to their leadership abilities.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- A Bold Approach: To thrive as a powerful you need a bold approach to life, love, and business. This approach should be a signature way of you claiming autonomy and freedom in the life you choose for yourself.
- A Team: No one thrives by themselves. Success will always be a team approach and making sure you have the right team in place at work and at home is imperative to succeeding as a powerful woman.
- A System: Success comes with consistency. Being able to have a system in place that allows you to understand how you’re moving towards your goals with clarity is important power woman!
- A Confidant: Having a strong partner is just as important as being a strong woman. Being able to have a personal life that fills your bucket as much as your career will make you a more powerful woman.
- A Higher Power: Faith is something that I personally believe that everyone should have. Knowing that there’s something outside our yourself and your own will guiding you gives me a peace beyond understanding.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Dan Price of Gravity Payments is an entrepreneur that inspires the way I plan the financial goals of my business. When he cut his salary to raise the minimum wage of his employees it inspired me to build a sustainable brand that could do the same. Being able to have brunch with Dan and pick his brain about the logistics of the move would be a dream for my business.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.