Redefining Connection, Community, and GirlTalk with a glass of Champagne

Alex, along with co-founding and running SHE x SHINES with Anna Laura, is a 31-year-old, full time speech-language pathologist working in the home health setting in the city of Philadelphia. She’s originally from Queens, NY, loves a glass of champagne with friends, and is a big believer in doing the things you want to do-- even if it seems weird or crazy.

Anna Laura currently lives near Austin, TX, but grew up as a farm girl in Arkansas. She has always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning with a scrapbooking business she started as a kid. After venturing down many career paths, including speech therapy and personal training, she found a true passion for brand photography for women-owned businesses-- which is what she now does full time, in addition to running SHE x SHINES with Alex. You can most likely catch her saying y'all, sipping bubbly, and hanging with her hubs and her dog, Lucy.

SHE x SHINES is a platform for women to support and learn from other women through Connection, Community, and GirlTalk. Whether you're a career woman, a side business queen, or a full-time entrepreneur, our goal is to connect you with your local fierce crew through live events and online resources, so we can all grow professionally and personally... with a glass of champagne in hand!

Alex felt there wasn't a space online for career women and professionals who were also growing businesses outside of work. So, she started SHE with Alex Wynter, a networking group for professionals looking to connect outside of work with like minded women. Through The Shine Studio, Anna Laura filled the need for female entrepreneurs who were looking to showcase their brand and talents through professional photography. They decided to combine forces, knowing that they could reach a unique group of women: not only entrepreneurs and creatives, but professional women, side business queens, and in-betweeners.

It took over a year (and even a failed attempt at hosting an event) to figure out who they wanted to serve and how that would look. They’d experience stuffy, card-swapping networking events, and they really wanted to streamline the process of the fun, champagne-filled way of how they met. Ultimately, they launched SHE x SHINES in January 2019 with their first event - a vision board & brunch party in Philadelphia, and have since expanded to Austin and soon other cities, as well as online through our digital SXS Academy.

Question 1: Tell us about the She Shines Academy

THE SXS ACADEMY is an online hub with the mission of connecting, educating, and equipping women with resources to turn their ideas into the business or career they dream of creating.

Together, we have over a decade of experience building brands, learning from our mistakes, acquiring new methods, and achieving financial & personal success. Anna Laura taps into her knowledge & experience transitioning into full-time entrepreneur, growing a business from the ground up. Alex brings her practical understanding and skill set of working full-time while maintaining a side business.

Combined with our Guest Lecturers (AKA your most-admired female creatives, brand powerhouses, and career go-getters), we've been there, built that, and are ready to pay it forward!

Since we began the Academy, we have helped our members define & captivate their ideal audience/customer, rock public speaking from the boardroom to the stage , grow their social media management biz, ensure stress doesn't get in the way of professional growth, craft an enticing mission statement, stand out in an online world, increase engagement with captivating captions, and more, as we drop a new course every month!

There are 3 levels to fit your specific needs (and budget!), along with the opportunity to work 2:1 with us, with a private business & branding call where we’ll complete a social media & site review, answer your questions, and provide advice and resources for professional and personal growth.

Question 2: Tell us about planning and marketing your society sessions. How do you find and reach out to the female entrepreneurs highlighted in your society sessions?

Our Society Sessions are a monthly intimate business and brand mastermind in top boutiques, studios, and restaurants in the city, highlighting female professionals and business owners. We also highlight a spotlight guest at each event. For these spotlight guests, we actually listen to our community to determine who they’d like to learn from-- this is also how we find our Guest Lecturers for the SXS Academy. For marketing, this process is something we continue to refine as our community grows, we have always utilized both email marketing and Instagram marketing heavily for promoting our events, as this is where our community lives and thrives! If you’re planning and promoting an event, we’ve incorporated a few more tips below!

1 - Send a personal video or audio DM! A little personal touch goes a long way.

2 - Offer a gift. Use attendee’s event tickets as 1 raffle entry. Maybe it’s for a private service with us, or a complimentary item, or free admission to the next event!

3 - Include some light bites. We’ve all said this at any meeting or event and it instantly makes your time there, so much better.

4 - Email marketing. We send reminders to our email list that includes important event details - the date, time, who will be there, what the ticket includes, travel/parking directions, and RSVP link. As well as info on the raffle we’re holding!

5 - Phone a friend. We like to partner up with our favorite girl bosses or brands to incentivize people to come to the event space, or network with a certain group of women, or even come home with a swag bag of their fav products.

Question 3: What are things to keep in mind when reaching out to brands for partnerships and sponsorships?

Here are 5 tips that we recommend when reaching out to brands for partnerships and sponsorships.

1. Bring the Value // Highlight your community, the kind of exposure you’ll give, and the skills/qualities that will make the collab successful!⠀Attaching an inspo board helps your pitch receiver to visualize your idea, and is a great way for you to give them a taste of your brand presence! Canva is a simple tool for this.

2. Share Your Similarities // Are your missions aligned? Do you serve a similar community? Can you reach a unique group combining your brands?

3. Pay Attention to Detail // Spell check, double check names, verify social media links & handles, and confirm dates & locations. Most people don’t read every single line (...guilty!). Bold or underline the most important information in an email, such as dates, locations, and info requests to let the reader know what the most important details are!

4. Include Your Mission // Share your mission statement in your initial contact! (*keep it short & sweet)⠀For more detailed information such as your prior experience, publications, and skills - include all of that with a media kit.

5. Come Prepared. // When reaching out for a potential collab, don’t leave your future partner guessing. Explain the details of the collaboration you have in mind, expectations from both parties, and a time frame! Include appropriate reference links in your email. For example, if your collab includes a specific location request, or you mention a product/service on your website - link it! This makes it easier on your pitch receiver so they don’t have to google every detail.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Let’s be honest - emails and DMs get buried daily. If a week has gone by with no response, send a follow up to ask if they saw your email. Confirm their email address as the best contact method, and offer to resend!

Question 4: How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

At our first event, we forgot to check in all of our guests. It was a little messy and confusing for us - thankfully none of the attendees noticed, but we were scrambling a few times during the event to figure out who purchased a GA vs VIP ticket, who shouldn’t have been there, and who was missing.

From that first event, we made sure to keep a list of things that we wanted to improve upon for each event. That list has turned into a big google doc called Lessons Learned. After every event, launch, recording, interview, etc, we keep track of what went well and what needs improvement. It helps us not to repeat the same mistakes and to continually grow and improve our methods… We’ve also made sure to hire help for check-ins! ;-)

Question 5: What have been the most profound lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Don’t sweat it. // You can’t take things personally if your idea didn’t get picked or wasn’t a favorite. You have to tackle your ideas, content, and strategy as what’s best for the business and brand.

Celebrate the wins. // It’s important for us to lift each other up if we have messed up individual tasks. Even though we may have messed up/forgotten to do XYZ, it’s important to look at all the great things we did and great things to come.

Lead with confidence. // When we started, we didn’t have a solid mission statement, IG posting schedule, or know if we would sell all our tickets but we knew we had a great idea, we had run events & businesses before, and most importantly we were excited to share SXS with other women.

Question 6: What does the future of She x Shines look like?

1- We plan to continue to grow our library of courses & guest lecturers at The SXS Academy. It’s been a great addition to our business to reach even more women across the country and connect professionals & entrepreneurs.

2- We have more Monthly Society Sessions on deck with plans to expand to new cities! Let us know what city you’d like to see a Society Session in next!

3- We’re launching our own podcast in early 2020, where we’ll be diving into conversations with women who’ve been there, built that, and are ready to pay it forward by sharing their lessons and experiences, so we can all grow together!

Question 7: What kind of leaders do you want to be?

As leaders, we create an environment for our community to thrive in their unique way. We recognize there’s more than one right way to get the job done- so long as clear communication is in place.

Leaders encourage others to seek their own version of happiness, whatever that may look like.

We want to motivate women to pursue their passions and show them that it is possible to juggle all the facets of your life doing what you love with a fierce community behind you. Through all of that we aim to stay authentic and keep it real with you - from sharing our own failures, to bloopers, to wins.

Fun Question: Is there something you’ve always wished you could learn? If She x Shines had a mascot, what would it be and why?

Alex: I’ve always wanted to learn to tap dance. It was the one style of dance I gave up as a kid.

Anna Laura: I’ve always wanted to learn to play the cello!

If SXS had a mascot, it would be some sort of combination of Lizzo, Beyonce, or Freddy Mercury wearing a crown… with a glass of champagne in hand (obvs!)!

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