SDH 013: Stop, Collaborate & Listen with Melissa Jones
Melissa Jones is the Chief Encouragement Officer at theCEOffice, a management consulting boutique with a goal to create opportunities for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners to flourish and be successful. Along with running her consulting business, Melissa runs the very popular Creative Chic Coffee and Collaborations events, a unique and intimate networking event for creative female entrepreneurs.
“Seeing women support each other. That’s where my excitement comes from.”
Melissa started in corporate America when she was 19 and moved to management upon turning 21. She has 13 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies leading teams and honing business and management skills.
She attended 2 creative conferences that were catalysts in her decision to move forward with starting her own business. She spotted a need within the small business industry for assistance with building strong teams and took her skills from CA and applies them to small businesses.
Creative Chics: A monthly networking event (4th Saturday of every month) that allows creative entrepreneurs and small business owners to come together and collaborate.
Goal: For women to share their goals and come away with tangible advice that they can implement within their business and be inspired
Planning: Look for a coffee shop (venue) that will allow her to host an event for minimal to no cost. Eventbrite to set up the event ($25 per attendee) to cover costs for venue, gifts for attendees, and other miscellaneous items.
Price Point: Setting a price that will apply value to what you’re offering and target a specific type of attendee. Someone who is willing to put the investment out there because they are investing in themselves and their business. $20-$25 is the easy mark that is still affordable. Not a huge loss if do not attend, or unsure for a first timer when not knowing what to expect. Not free because having the financial investment shows the attendee’s seriousness in their business and collaboration with others.
“It’s not free because we want someone who is serious about their business and about their growth and helping other ladies.
Interview email: to get to know the attendee a bit better. Gives Melissa an idea of who the attendees are, but also markets the event through sharing info on social media while also marketing for the individual, their business and their brand.
Gifts: Purposeful and intentional gifts that can actually be used within business and daily life. Melissa mentions some of her favorite gifts like the Make it Happen Journals by the Lara Casey Shop.
Facilitation: Set the tone when the event starts. “We’re all here in a collaborative environment, not to compete with each other, but to collaborate with each other to help build each other up.” Providing a safe environment for the ladies to share their concerns, challenges, struggles and to know there are other ladies there that have been through similar struggles of their own who will share advice to help them build their business. Helps people walk away feeling inspired because there are other ladies out there that want to support them and see them do well.
Follow-Up: Continue the conversation through a private Facebook group or having one-on-one coffee meet ups. Going into the community to support individual ladies when they have their events.
“I wanted organic growth because I wanted people that were about helping other women.”
Biggest Surprise Thus Far: Positive feedback. Requests for Creative Chics to come to other cities.
“Being brand new, it’s been very encouraging to see people be so supportive and helpful.”
Melissa will be consistent on making sure the event is in a small business-owned venue.
“Because the heart and focus of my business is supporting small business owners, that’s where I draw the decision making in vendor collaboration.”
Changes: Making sure the gifts and companies Melissa collaborates with are in line with the mission of supporting small businesses and helping women become more successful. Knowing the mission for the event and identifying which products will fit into the market.
Challenge: Awareness – Which comes with time.
Advice for Events: Make sure that you have the capital. Set budget accordingly because attendee numbers can fluctuate greatly. Allocate a certain percentage of the budget to expenses and don’t go over that.
“At the end of the day you’re running a business, and people find value in the content.”
Staying Organized: Day Designer by Whitney English and Good Ole’ hand-written to-do lists!
Creative Chics Coffee and Collaboration happens the 4th Saturday of every month. Melissa will be taking it on the road to Kansas City in April at The Roasterie and back in Kansas City in June at Cocoa Dolce. Other locations for this year are Phoenix, AZ and New York City. Fill out an interest form for Melissa to bring Creative Chics to your city!