Finding Strength in the Storm with Nashville’s Women of Retail

This week, we had the pleasure to host three amazing entrepreneurs, as part of our virtual Women of Retail Roundtable: Judith Bright, Marcie Van Mol, and Mignon Francois. In one amazing afternoon, these women shared their stories before starting a business, why they started a business, and how they have adapted to survive – and even thrive – during these challenging times.

As I listened to their stories, it became clear that these entrepreneurs have a few things in common:

They are hard workers. They dedicate long days, filled with long hours to their businesses with the faith that the hard work they put in will pay off.

“One of the things that we did, that we’ve done in the past but were really heavy on during the shutdown, is anyone who ordered anything from us, we wrote a personal thank you note to them. That’s a lot of notes,” Bright said. “It was really important for us to thank anyone who ordered from us during that time and supported us.”

They are fighters. No matter the obstacle or the challenge (or the pandemic, as this year proved) they will keep swinging to try to make their business work, continuing to iterate, pivot and adjust as needed.

“We were constantly adding. I got my liquor and wine license in less than 10 days, which is unheard of in Nashville,” said Allen, whose cafe not only pivoted to curbside service, but also expanded their menu, began serving cocktails and invested in outdoor seating that hadn’t existed before. “But it was the ability to constantly add things, to pivot.”

They believe Nashville is the best place to start and grow a business. All three believe that when we come together as a city full of entrepreneurs, support and pull for one another, that the rising tide will lift all ships.

“I love that Nashville supports its own. This is why – I believe – we’re the ‘it city.’ We allow ourselves to embrace whatever ‘it’ can make of it. I heard someone say once that Nashville is not a place, it’s a time. Never again will these people be together, creating what they are creating right now,” said Francois.

And finally, they are good listeners – they listen to the customer to help them know how to move/steer their businesses.

“Just because a storm hits, just because there’s a pandemic, doesn’t mean the celebration has to end,” said Francois.

There are so many things that make this trio so successful: Their amazing products, their intelligence, their humor, their talent for telling stories… But what truly stands out is the grit that makes them excellent entrepreneurs, and we are honored to have shared that with our community this week. Listen to the full event here.

Jane Allen, CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center

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