More than 50 women sat in a circle inside the entrance hall of the St. Petersburg City Theater on Friday morning for a meeting of St. Pete Girl Bosses.
Taylor Adams, director of communications for the Networking Group, stepped into the circle with a microphone. let’s do it. “She started the meeting.
“We are the largest, fastest growing, sexiest group of female entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay area,” she said of the group.
The Theater Hall was a step up from The Crislip Cafe on Central Avenue, where the St. Pete Girl Bosses began gathering about a year ago. As word of mouth spread, network organizations grew beyond the space — female business owners were flocking to be cheerleaders for each other in their ventures.
The St. Pete Girl Bosses Facebook group has grown to over 3,100 members since its inception. About 160 people have joined the paid membership program, which was launched last summer. The group also started their own podcast called “Bosscast” at the end of the year.
Each week, the St. Pete Girl Bosses gather in the Theater Hall on Friday mornings to discuss specific topics. In early December, they focused on the subject of social media use and other online his tools. The conference started with leaders promoting the first Wellness Passport. Members could purchase access to nearly a dozen Life Her coaches, energy leaders, or psychics, all female.
They then split into small groups, paired with women from a variety of industries, including real estate, coffee bean distribution, CBD retail, and yoga, to write down their advice on pink sticky notes. You shared a note anonymously with a person. The two discussed their accomplishments this week, the online tools that help them run their business, and how chasing money can distract them from their mission.
Many women came for networking, but some members said they stayed because they found someone who understood what they were dealing with. The sense of community in the group made it a safe place to make friends and get feedback on their work.
Founder Sandy Bean, 45, says she started the group after going from being a teacher to owner of an academic enhancement center for gifted students.
While psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs prioritizes safety and consistency, Bean says new entrepreneurs typically turn the pyramid upside down and focus on self-actualization to achieve their business goals. Sacrificing safety. Having a trusted community is key to rebuilding the safety net, she said.
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Bean said he’s tried other networking groups but struggled to make real friendships. She noticed that she couldn’t hear some women’s voices.
“The women in these network groups are very talented, but they don’t always speak,” Bean said. “It’s totally different when you’re in a crowded crowd. I’m not trying to throw a man under a bus, but it’s totally different.”
So Bean invited five other women he already knew to a coffee shop and “ironically” chose the name St. Pete Girl Boss to create a Facebook group. She probably wanted 20 people to sign up. A few days later she said the group had grown to hundreds, then a thousand. Now we have women coming to our meetings from Dunedin, Sarasota and even Lakeland.
“We started doing in-person workshops and volunteer events, and (St. Pete Girl Boss) quickly became a business, but I never expected it to happen so quickly,” Bean said. said.
Clara Clayton, a 57-year-old wellness coach, said many of the networking groups she attended were closed due to COVID-19 and never reopened.
First, Clayton joined a Facebook group and started attending Zoom coworking sessions. After that, she started attending happy hour events, after which she attended large weekly meetings.
The group helped her acquire new clients and gave her advice when she needed it.
“It’s not just about exchanging business cards. It’s about building a deep relationship,” Clayton said. “It’s not for me to pass the cold lead.”
Many local women entrepreneurs suffer from a lack of education in non-specialized business practices such as sales, marketing and product pricing, or lack of access to community investors and resources, St. Pete said. Girl Boss Jennifer Schultz said. Vice President and owner of The Merchant gift shop attached to The Crislip.
“Thanks to the magic of this group, I’m able to find subject matter experts who can help educate me and perhaps other women in areas that are not our forte,” Schultz said. I never want to be the smartest person in the room, I want to meet someone who can help me learn or help other women learn.”
In addition, many women collaborate and visit each other’s stores and hold book sessions with each other.
A health insurance agent shared with her small group that all the bookings she had made in the past seven days had been booked by a female boss, her highest value of the week.
When Central Avenue decor and gift shop The Canary opened in November, owner Allie Padin credited the group with helping connect him with commercial real estate agents, small business attorneys and general contractors. bottom. ground.
Schultz supported fellow “girl boss” flower arrangement business, The Roaming Petal, by hosting a pop-up at her shop during the holiday season.
Roaming Petal’s Erica Holland, 29, says the group has tripled her network in a short period of time and opened up new opportunities to collaborate with other local businesses.
“I run my business all by myself. It’s just me,” Holland, 29, said. His experience in entrepreneurship really helped. ”