Plymouth resident Kelly Hartman started the Boss Ladies Referral Crew to help lady entrepreneurs network and build relationships. We asked her all about her business and found out what makes this lady a boss!
By Hannah Owen
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m the creator of Boss Ladies Referral Crew which I started dreaming up in February 2017, executed as a passion project in March 2017, then launched as a membership business in January 2018.
I’m a believer blessed with the gift of connecting.
I start my mornings with prayer and a 5- to 10-minute meditation and end each day listening to sleepcasts on the Headspace app. It really helps with my anxiety and not to get on my phone as soon as I wake up.
I’m a Christian and my nationality is Assyrian. I have an older sister, Katie; younger brother, Michael; a niece, Victoria and nephew, William, who I love very much!!
I love getting to know people and finding out what we have in common. My team calls me the “Chief Matchmaker,” not the romantic kind — The Boss Lady kind! I love referring, connecting and watching ladies live their best life.
2. What is the Boss Ladies Referral Crew? We are networking and support for women entrepreneurs. We are currently in the Detroit, Plymouth, Ann Arbor and Bay City area.
The core of Boss Ladies Referral Crew is our Connect and Personal & Professional Development (workshops and webinars), but we also support all women, so once per quarter we have a large networking night for any and all females to attend. It’s always a lot of fun!
3. Why are these Connects important for entrepreneurs? The real ticket is meeting in person. You can start building a relationship online. However, once you meet in person the relationship definitely starts to grow even more. One of the reasons I do things the way I do is to make it more comfortable and spur natural/organic referrals. It’s more relationship building. Our “Connects” are for connection between women entrepreneurs, bringing online connection to real-life connection.
After our Connects, I encourage the ladies to get coffee, tea, dinner, a drink or just meet up one on one to get to know each other even better.
4. How has your education and work background prepared you to create the Boss Ladies Referral Crew? My work background is in sales, marketing, advertising, startup companies and startup franchise concepts. I went to school for nursing but ended up in marketing/advertising and sales. I love to help people and have found many other ways to implement that.
5. What inspired you to launch this business? I started networking when I was 18 years old to build relationships and my book of business. Networking was my favorite thing to do and was proven by my sales records. However, I was ready to change the way of networking.
BLRC started as a passion project in March 2017. I thought it would be fun to build a sisterhood where anyone who identified as a female, all generations, ages and races would feel welcome and comfort like they were hanging out with friends.
I was over attending male-dominated networking events that felt more like speed dating than networking. Instead of early morning, once-a-week formal meetings, I was ready for a laid back experience, building relationships organically.
6. How did you go about starting the Boss Ladies Referral Crew? After moving back to Michigan from Florida a few years ago, I started a successful wine club with a group of friends. It was an instant hit, so I took the same laid-back, comfortable format along with music, drinks and snacks to evolve the group into the first Boss Ladies event with some of my entrepreneur friends. What started as six ladies in my condo living room has quickly evolved over the past 24 months into a community spread over four major Michigan cities with over 100 members and hundreds involved on other levels.
7. What do you love the most about your job? My favorite part of all of this is creating something from nothing. It’s exciting and a thrill!
8. What does a Boss Ladies event look like? Have you had any especially memorable experiences? We host multiple monthly events where members are given a chance to host and showcase their businesses, all while enjoying a relaxed evening out with other Boss Ladies in the area. There is clearly a need since most events sell out!
Every event, I leave feeling invigorated. The most memorable to date was the first Connect in Detroit at Ashe Supply Co. in January 2018. I was driving there and got high on life thinking I created this networking event in Detroit, and it’s sold out!
9. Do you have any networking tips? Especially when it comes to networking online? Networking is much different than it used to be…which is good. You can start by making connections online (via social media), then meet in person to build on that relationship. I have found that a lot of women entrepreneurs are ambiverts, meaning a combination of extrovert and introvert.
Instagram has made a platform for people to connect and also for businesses. It’s both appealing to the eye, and you can capture people with hashtags as well. When people follow you, check them out and send them a quick personalized message letting them know who you are and a little about your business. I have found it very beneficial to also include a quick video showing what my business does. I also keep it short and sweet. If they are interested when they reply, I send them more info on next steps. Keep it short and simple.
10. What would you tell women coming to one of your Connects? Look at the list of who’s coming to see who you definitely want to introduce yourself to. Come wanting to have fun and just be yourself.
11. What’s next for your business? We have plans to be in more cities, states, offer more personal and professional development, more membership options for all ladies and a BLRC retreat in 2020.
12. Do you have a role model or people who inspire you? Heather Feldkamp. I have known Heather since I was 9 years old. At that time, she went to high school full-time, along with working three jobs — lucky for me, one of those was for my dad’s carpet business. She would take me shopping and quickly became my role model! Fast forward nine years, she started as the manager of the classified department at The Ann Arbor News. She had an opening and hired me. Again, I looked up to her. She was always full of energy, well-liked, positive and would work hard with her team to make their goals. She is a true leader. We both moved on to different departments, but always remained friends. In 2010 Heather was working at Belfor Franchise Group and again she hired me. I didn’t know anything about franchising, but I knew with Heather as my boss that it would be a place I’d want to work, and she would make sure that I was successful by teaching me everything she knew. She’s a teacher. Heather has been my babysitter, friend, sister, boss and mentor. The most optimistic person I know. It’s not about the places we work, it’s about the people we work with.
Heather was diagnosed with cancer for the first time a few years ago. She is now fighting cancer for the third time and throughout all that she has been through, has remained the most positive, encouraging and hard-working person I know. She is truly an inspiration to all who know her.
13. What career advice do you have for those who want to make it as entrepreneurs? Find a community (even if it’s not BLRC). You need true support from like-minded people, a way to grow your network and personal and professional development.
Your Local Love List…
14. What are some of your favorite places to shop in Metro Detroit? I don’t love malls like I used to. I prefer to shop boutiques or local online shops, like Ferne Boutique, KaraLyn Street, Good Neighbor, Kilho & Co., Madison Boutique, Crafty Life in Style, Divine Dimes, Little Pops Bow Shop, Rebel Soul Apparel and Small Moments.
15. Favorite local restaurant? My favorite restaurant is Pizza e Vino in Plymouth. They have the best gluten-free pizza crust baked in a wood-burning oven! The perfect combo is to start with the baked goat cheese, mista salad, misto salumi pizza with a glass of Malbec. End with their tiramisu.
16. What do you like to do in your spare time? Church at Woodside Detroit, working out at Applied Fitness Solutions in Plymouth, spending time at the spa getting a massage or facial at Indigo Salon in Canton. I enjoy cooking and entertaining friends. I love doing my friends’ makeup and hair. Listening to books on audio, meditation — in the morning and before bed. I love to travel! I prefer hot weather. My mom was a travel agent, and my first flight was when I was 6 weeks old. My past careers blessed me with many adventures. Tampa, Florida is my home away from home.
On to your style…
17. You’re never fully dressed without… A spritz of my favorite perfume, Chance Eau de Parfum by Chanel.
18.. You never leave the house without _____? I’m always carrying and using Doterra Essential Oils. A few of my favs are Serenity mixed with Balance to sleep, Orange mixed with Peppermint for focus, and Peace to rub over my heart and wrists when I’m feeling anxious.
19. Favorite quote or words to live by? I absolutely love and live by uplifting and Inspiring quotes! “It doesn’t matter how oversaturated the market is. If God called you to it there’s room for you!” You will also see the hashtag #PrayWaitTrust around my neck on the necklace that I wear every day, shirts that I wear, pictures at my home and more. It is the phrase I started using that led me to start BLRC.
20. How can people learn more and get involved in the Boss Ladies Referral Crew? You can find our current events at bossladiesreferral.com/upcomingconnects and follow us on Instagram at @bossladiesreferral. You’re definitely going to want to be a part of the Crew!