Boss Babe Interviews

#MontanaBoss Friday: Stacy Townsend of Townsend Collective

Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

I'm Stacy Townsend of Townsend Collective. Townsend Collective is a three-part business offering branding & graphic design, professional photography and jewelry design.

How did you start your boss lady journey?

I have always felt that I would start my own company at some point, but I was never sure what it would be, or how it would come to fruition. A little over a year ago, I couldn't imagine continuing to work with my employer at the time, and beyond that, couldn't imagine what "real job" would leave me fulfilled. At that point, I decided to lean on my abilities as a graphic designer and photographer to fill my days and hopefully my bank account (with a little jewelry design added to the mix).

Have you gone full-time with your business?

Unfortunately, I was busy pouring 110% into every job I ever had, which never left the time (or the energy) to truly focus on a freelance career on the side. I quit working for "the man" last October, and have been full-time ever since.

Okay, let's talk about the DNA behind Townsend Collective. Were you one of those women with entrepreneurship basically in your blood that we always hear about?

Entrepreneurship is 100% in my DNA. I knew it would happen eventually, I just wasn't sure how.

How do you build an income and a life through Townsend Collective?

Graphic Design - 50%, Photography - 30%, Jewelry Design - 20%

What do you LOVE about being your own boss?

Well, that's an interesting question to answer after spending my Saturday in the office.  But the answer?  Everything. The good AND the bad, but mostly the freedom. Not in the "I take days off and hit happy hour whenever I want" sort of way (although, that's pretty great when it happens). The freedom that I appreciate most is getting to build my business the way I want. There's no blueprint.  No protocol.  Nobody else determining what fits in my job description, or what's above or below my pay grade. When I should work, and when I should go home.  If it's worth it to put in a couple extra hours on a project or not.  

The best part, is that every project is more than a "job." It's a new challenge, and there is always great purpose.  As a designer, I feel lucky to help people bring their dreams to life.  And as a photographer, to capture the monumental moments in life.  The pressure is high, but it's also so incredibly rewarding.  I struggle to find the words to describe what it feels like to hear a client squeal with delight when they see a design that perfectly fits their vision, or for someone see an image from their wedding day that takes their breath away and reminds them of just what it felt like to say "I do," or to see someone wear a piece of jewelry every single day because it's their favorite.  I haven't found a lot of situations in life life that bring me that kind of joy, and now I get to experience it often.  

So, the answer? Everything.

What was your most expensive mistake?

My most expensive mistake is a mistake I continue to make. I am constantly putting my own business development on hold while I focus on each of my clients' needs, and do myself a disservice by doing so.

What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

The sweatpants? Yes, the sweatpants. It's not all ankle boots & fancy business meetings. Sometimes it's long days, making it work, while somehow, you're still in sweatpants. The hustle is real.

Stacy Townsend photographing like a champ!

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

In another year, I would love to be booked out at least two months. In five years, I would love to either have a well developed jewelry line with great retail channels deserving of my full-time attention - OR - to have a client list and active projects that allow more collaboration with (or possibly the hiring of) more designers.

How would you define a Boss Lady?

A creative and passionate ladypreneur who isn't afraid to collaborate with, support and motivate her tribe as she bosses her biz.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

You got this. (Editor's Note: PREACH!)

Want to get in touch with Stacy? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)

What is a "Boss Lady"?

Forgive me if you've seen this already on Instagram, but in a moment of sheer genius (aka after about 3 dozen Christmas cookies and a flight of Maker's Mark), I decided that it was time to actually DEFINE this #bosslady business.

(And Maker's + Christmas cookies always helps when you're trying to get deep into the soul of your business, amiright?)

Because the truth is...

...being a BOSS sounds good in theory, but it's actually quite difficult.

...being a BOSS means doing the hard thing (blogging, devoting time to marketing, pitching a new client, creating a brand new set of events) when there's no one telling you to not do  the easy thing (watch Netflix, screw around on Facebook, paint your toenails, did I mention Netflix?).

...being a BOSS isn't just what you do all day. It's how you live your life, how you share your unique gift, and what you tell the haters (which absolutely should be one word: BYE!)

...being a BOSS (and I guess here is where I make the gender qualifier) LADY means:

1. Being serious about your business...whatever serious means to you. 

The biggest indicator of a woman deserving of the title "BOSS" is someone who wants the life of working for herself, and pursues it endlessly.

Which sometimes, can look like laying down the hammer for a year while she gets her marriage in order.

Or takes care of her young children.

Or works on herself.

Or travels...because she always promised herself she would.

Or works part-time because that's really all she wants to work.

The best thing about being your own BOSS is that YOU get to decide...not your mama, not your best friend, not your husband.

YOU, sister.

And whatever being a boss to you looks like is exactly what you should be. 

Ain't nobody got time for apologizing. There are empires to build, and states-of-the-business to run.

Be a BOSS...and be utterly dedicated to doing it. The rest will come, so long as you're loyal to your own vision (which will probably change...hourly. Just go with it).

Note: There is nothing more powerful than a Boss Lady who owns her vision. So if you find yourself taking endless meetings with people who you think are going to give you the secret of business ownership, and then immediately after complaining to your friends about how "you maybe are going to change directions" and "you're not quite sure about pottery" and "maybe next year when you have more time"...I'm going to side-eye the holy hell out of you.

Boss Ladies do ONE THING and that is COMMIT...to saying YES, to saying NO, to moving in a different direction, to moving to a different state. That's all I'm asking of you: commit to your mission and forget everybody else. 

2. Being so completely in love with what you're doing that you don't even have time to be jealous.

Which, fair enough, is easier said than done. The one thing that destroys me about a lot of networking groups is that there is this underlying tone of competition...and I'm here to tell you that women who are BOSS don't worry about competition.

Competition keeps the market healthy, and the minute you start spiraling into that "Well, but she's totally stealing my clients by being in business!" is the moment your BOSS tiara gets snatched off your head.

Her success does not mean your failure. Her success simply means you get to cheer her on while you flip your hair and continue killing it.

3. Cheering loudly and wildly...for yourself AND for others.

You cannot serve the world by playing small. So yell your achievements loudly, take huge risks and tell us about them...we'll be there cheering right alongside you.

4. Not letting the boys have all the fun.

I've gotten a lot of flack over the last year for not creating an "inclusive" group and opening my community up to a larger market (read: men).

You know what I have to say?

FUUUUUUUUCCK THAAAAAAAATTTTT. 

(Let me compose myself here for a second. And if you're not a swear-er, I promise that's the last time I'll say it in this post.)

Because there are TONS of opportunities that are co-ed and I've been to them and, quite frankly, I think they're terrible. I think they're fake and I think that when you try to play by men's rules, you're still playing by someone else's rules.

You know what's not terrible? When you get a bunch of women in a room together and you talk to them about being supportive and not taking any nonsense and lifting each other up.

THAT is what a tribe of sisters can do when we push each other up the ladder.

Inclusivity be damned.

Note: Keep going to those inclusive events, though. I'm not hating on networking events that are co-ed, just events in general that waste my time because we're all conforming to these weird, established rules when really I want to talk about how badly I'm killing it and have three women high-five me and not try to tear me down by saying "Oh that's good! For a woman!"

AND FINALLY!

I wanted to let you know what you can expect from this blog every week.

I'm going to post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

You'll hear from some AMAZING female business all around the state of Montana and how they make it work in this great (though somewhat resource lacking) state.

There will be educational posts (do I need to file for an LLC? What's the  best website template to use?) and the latest entrepreneurial news from around the state (which I'll have to hire a liaison for because while I'm a Jedi at social media trends, legislation

And to be honest?

You should stick around because this is the ONLY place in all of Montana (and possibly all of the Mountain West) that gives sassy, location-specific advice and story-telling.

And who doesn't need more of that?