Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
My life and career have been defined by a series of calculated risks— moving to a neighborhood in transition, managing major sourcing decisions affecting thousands of people, and leaving a secure and lucrative career to launch a startup. By 2015, I knew I was ready for a change. I enjoyed the high-pressure environment of a large corporation, but desired a new kind of challenge. Assessing the needs of Cincinnati, I decided to fill a gap in shared workspaces. After an extensive research and branding process, 1628 Ltd. came into focus. Combining a high level of service and amenities with an inspiring built-environment, 1628 Ltd. offers a co-working culture and community to independent professionals. In addition to being the 1628 Ltd. founder & CEO, I am also a principal in a strategic sourcing consultancy firm, TLS Consulting Group LLC.
How would you define your professional mission?
In this phase in my career, I am focused on being happy, healthy, and surrounding myself with people who are passionate. I personally strive to find the right balance between doing and strategic thinking. I value partnerships and seek to always be clear on setting expectations and mutual goals. I want people on my teams to challenge methods and always look to deliver breakthrough results.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Decision making skills are essential to being an entrepreneur. I have refined the ability to process large amounts of information into digestible nuggets. You must be able to quickly react to the changing environment. I am making decisions with the best information at the time, while also recognizing that information changes quickly. My experience hedging commodities really taught me the value in seizing opportunity but also not getting too worked up when things don’t go as planned.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
As a new business owner, I am constantly looking for ways to build brand awareness for my company. I underestimated the challenge of launching a new product category into a market. I naively thought that the funding resources I put towards marketing would be sufficient. In reality, we have had to spend more time and money educating people on the co-working industry and not near as much time explaining how our business is different. I also am learning the distinct differences between marketing and PR and the immense value that both bring to brand development.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
In 2004 I was part of a small group Cincinnati urban residents who banded together to form the Friends of Northern Row Park. The small secluded park was poorly lit and had fallen into disrepair; it was often used as a place to broker drug deals and to illicit sexual activity. I used my expertise in grant writing to help raise $85,000 and help create partnerships with a number of organizations that enabled creative reuse of building materials that were destined for the landfill. In the spring of 2004, we physically transformed the space. Since then, the park has played host to a number of community events, and was even the location of wedding of two of residents. For me, this project was especially meaningful as I found time to give back to my community during a phase in professional career when I was extremely busy.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I grew up in rural Virginia, the strong-willed child of parents who encouraged my curiosity and fostered a sense of purpose. I was taught that great things come from hard work, perseverance, and valuing different perspectives. My family’s values are rooted in faith, trust, and always doing the right thing. Regardless of education level or title, it’s always about making balanced smart decisions. At a young age, I was empowered with the ability to make choices that were normally reserved for adults. At the time it felt burdensome, but now I realize what a true gift I was bestowed. I attended University of Mary Washington, where I received a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Upon graduating, I began my career in the pharmaceutical industry in Virginia. In 2000, I accepted a position at the Procter & Gamble Company where I spent the first half of my career in the pharmaceutical division based in Cincinnati, Ohio. During my time at P&G, I received a Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Cincinnati. From 2007 until 2015, I was in the P&G purchasing organization where I led sourcing and supply chain projects. Since 2015, I have been focused on the launch of TLS Consulting Group LLC and 1628 Ltd.
What is your morning ritual?
I am an early riser (4:30am). It has taken me many years, but I have finally embraced that I am most productive in the early morning. I generally start my day with a morning workout. A commitment to exercise is important to me so can indulge in eating good food and not feel guilty. My accountability partner is a dear friend and a key member of my staff. So, not only do I get in an hour plus of cardio, I also get in at least 30 minutes of frank business discussion. After getting dressed for the day and eating a light breakfast, I head to my neighborhood coffee shop. The next hour is what I refer to as “me” time. Over an espresso, I generally use this time for strategic thinking, reading various news outlets and relationship management. Once I am sufficiently caught up, I head into the office. I am fortunate to live 8 blocks from work. So, I get another 15 minutes of cardio as I make my way to the office. Once in the office, I have a daily meeting with my staff and am ready to conquer any of the day’s challenges.
What would you say your personal superpower is?
Building effective relationships has always been an area of strength for me. I can seem intimidating, but when people get to know me, they realized I am very approachable and quite a chameleon based on the needs of the relationship. I am fortunate to have life-long friends and individuals that I have done business with many years. I value longevity and am, perhaps, loyal to a fault.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Fail fast and as cheaply as possible. When you lean forward and innovate, there are bound to be concepts that don’t work. This is essential part of the creation process. If you spend all of your time and resources initially, then you don’t have the capacity to learn from the experience and move on to refine the idea to something that will work.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I joined Ellevate as a way to get connected to Cincinnati’s women’s business community. While working at P&G, I had an extensive network. Now that I am running my own business, I am looking to recreate a sense of connectedness by having a group of peers with a common goal. I virtually attended the Ellevate Summit and was impressed by the quality of the speakers and the wealth of knowledge shared. I look forward to finding more ways to connect with other members of Ellevate.