Leading Ladies: Reflections from the Most Powerful Women in Nashville


“I always say I was New Orleans raised but Nashville made,” said Mignon Francois, Founder and CEO of The Cupcake Collection and one of our EC board members.“This business couldn’t have been done anywhere else. Nashville is where businesses are born. I went to New Orleans to see if my business had legs and I’ve learned that it has legs to walk around the entire country.” 

This was the response to the last question from moderator Kelly Sutton, WSMV news anchor, on why Mignon took her business to Louisiana in the hour-long Most Powerful Women panel event Wednesday, September 16. Hosted by Nashville Post and Nfocus, four women leaders in Nashville – two from the EC community – took the stage, each sharing unique experiences and perspectives about leadership, mentorship, regrets, overcoming risk aversion and what will bring us out of this pandemic. 

Our CEO, Jane Allen, shared a glimpse into her life as an entrepreneur and the challenges that come with starting a business with three young boys. She adds the business to her list of “kids” and joked that it was often the whiniest.

“There’s never been a better time to start a business, and we’re here to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to increase their chances of success. I’m so grateful to be part of a community where people are supported in the journey to start, launch and grow a business,” she said.

On taking risks and finding your truth, Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, said she was born with longing in her heart, “Love is my truth.” Her stories of women being transformed from their trauma and brokenness into leadership roles sent chills down the spines as unfathomable experiences shaped the women she serves. She speaks to overcoming risk aversion saying, “when it’s mission-driven, those questions get answered organically.”

Inspirational insights from President of Nashville State Community College Dr. Shanna Jackson were tailored to education. She believes in the power of education as a key to economic mobility. In a role where there are few women, she took a nontraditional path to the role.  “When you focus on the work, not the title or pay, the rest will follow.”

So, for those struggling in the midst of this pandemic, Mignon had some words of wisdom to share: “All you need is someone to believe in you. Faith currency is believing that things will come to you. And remember, what’s happening TO you is happening FOR you. If it was hard, everyone would do it.”

Hear more great insights from this discussion in the upcoming issue of the Nashville Post magazine. 

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