Your failures will become the biggest moments of clarity and growth. Embrace the failures and the moments that you didn’t do so well and leverage that as a pivoting point to be better and grow bigger. Every time I made a mistake or failed, it served as a platform for a greater achievement in alignment to my business goals.
As part of my series about “companies and organizations making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Violette de Ayala, a Cuban-American serial and social Entrepreneur, Founder of FemCity®, and virtual mentor to over 20,000 women. Violette has been quoted in Success, Entrepreneur,CNBC, Yahoo Small Business, Business Insider News as a small business expert. Violette has also been seen in featured campaigns in People, InStyle, Real Simple magazines. She served as part of The White House: Women Environmental Leaders Program and was a commissioned Keynote speaker for Accenture’s International Women’s Month Event, the SBA Regional Women’s Conference, and Luxury Brand Partners. FemCity has been seen in Gilt, Vogue, AP, Mashable and Fast Company and has over 100 locations in the US, Canada and the Islands. Violette and Stephen and have three kids that span mid 20’s to tween age. Their gracefully aging rescue dog, Cosmo is a frequent pseudo star on her Instagram.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to start on your career path?
I started FemCity in 2009 with the intention of just meeting other small business owners that were women in my community. My intention at the time was to meet with 15 friends a month to exchange ideas, business thoughts and roundtable tips to help one another. The monthly gathering captured the attention of more women in the community and then started to grow to other surrounding areas. Later that year, a few women requested a FemCity chapter in their backyard after seeing photos of our gatherings on our Facebook page. That led to our movement into other communities.
Did you set out to start a movement? If so, what was your vision? If not, what did you imagine would be the impact of your work?
I initially only intended the impact to serve a dozen women in Miami. I never envisioned FemCity chapters around the world. I recognized that we were doing good work with creating community that was connected to gratitude and positivity. But I did not envision it becoming a full time gig for me nor having thousands in our communities with requests from women to launch a chapter in their backyard.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The first time a woman requested a FemCity chapter in her neighborhood, my response was “Why?”. I honestly had no idea why she was requesting a chapter. At the time we were gathering for lunches and clearly anyone could do that coordination. I had no understanding of what the perceived value was at the time of a FemCity chapter.I found myself asking questions on how she saw my gathering to be revolutionary. It took someone else to share the value before I could see how it could serve others in a larger way.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We believe the best route for women to take in order to create the life they want and leverage great wealth while helping others is through launching and growing a business. We have inspired thousands of women to make the leap into launching a business or a few businesses and their action inspires others to do the same. We hold their hand and help them to not only have the confidence in themselves but also through an abundance of support through local community and our online classes. Our greatest joy is seeing a woman launch a business and achieve her dreams because we played a part in her journey.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
One of my biggest mentors is Joan Barnes, the Founder of Gymboree. She has been a cheerleader for women and an icon in how big a business can grow. She is someone who has been a strong advisor in moments of shifting into bigger growth to serve more women.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
We would love to see more equality in women seeking funding or small business loans. We would also love to see more movies and shows depicting women as collaborators with one another vs the mean girls angle. Thinking back on even Disney animations, it’s rare to see two women being friends in a child cartoon movie. These would all be a great shift to help more women set their mindset into bigger business visions and more profound connectivity with one another.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership to me is taking a platform and inspiring others to move forward with their own super hero talents to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Sharing the platform so others can shine and become leaders is the ultimate leadership role and responsibility.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Your business will evolve. When I started out in business the first time around, my business evolved and I grew tired through its changes. I didn’t realize that part of the journey is to grow through your business and stay ahead of how you can serve your clients in a bigger and better way. It’s part of the process and it’s best to embrace the flow and harmony through the various challenging paths.
2. You encounter more and bigger challenges along the way. As I achieved greater goals that initially scared me, more goals that have larger fear components seemed to be on the horizon as I excelled. As you up-level your business, more risk and grit are required.
3. Your failures will become the biggest moments of clarity and growth. Embrace the failures and the moments that you didn’t do so well and leverage that as a pivoting point to be better and grow bigger. Every time I made a mistake or failed, it served as a platform for a greater achievement in alignment to my business goals.
4. Your circle of influence dictates your success. Hang out with the people in action, those thriving and pushing their limits. Vibes are contagious and when you hang out with people doing big things, it rubs off on you and you will start to do big things as well.
5. Balance is the key to success. I was a workaholic at the start of my entrepreneurial journey and worked until complete fatigue and utter burnout. It hurt the bottom line, my vision and my decisions. Taking time off doesn’t say you are lazy or not interested in growing business. Balance through taking the weekends off or a few days in a work detox process gives us the power and the balance to do better in all things. Rest can be your best friend.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I always say Onward and Upward. I don’t know who said it or where I heard it first but I think and say it often. Life and business doesn’t always work out the way you planned, sometimes challenges arrive when you are already knocked down but the truth always lingers in the words “onward and upward”. You have a choice to move forward and keep moving to higher playing fields. That’s where the beauty of life really lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media? Instagram is @violettedeayala
Your work is making a massive positive impact on the planet, thank you so much!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.