"The common ground is greater and more enduring than the differences that divide." - Nelson Mandela
In launching our CEO Monday blog series, we promised interviews with women that are striving to change their communities, break cultural norms and ultimately empower a new generation of female leaders. As ZOPHIA relocated to the innovative working space of the Affinity Lab, we've met so many inspirational people from different industries and fields. We have worked some crazy late nights and feel bonded by our drive to change the world around us. The first person we met was the fabulous Laurin Hodge. Her smile and ambitious personality is contagious to say the least. She recently launched a project that will help former inmates become entrepreneurs and innovators through the use of technology.
What drove you to take the bold step of starting Mission:Launch?
3 years ago I was looking for the right next step and the decision to start something of my own was a mixed one. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur at some point, I knew I wanted to do something that would benefit others and I also knew that there was a need to make smarter, more efficient solutions for prison re-entry. The personal story behind the organization is of course there but in the end I made the decision because I knew I wanted a career that I could grow into, love and one that would be bigger than myself.
Has your life changed since then?
I often say that if you want to really get to know yourself, start a business. In the end I've discovered my strengths and weaknesses in a whole new way. There is no one to blame but myself so I can't hide for me. As a result I've learned how to deal with my fears, manage my insecurities and also celebrate my talents and know my own worth. I am a better woman because I started my business.
Now shifting to the glamorous grind, do you feel that as a woman, you have difficulty finding pieces in your wardrobe that accurately reflect your lifestyle?
Yep, all the time. There are times where I don't have the brain space to put together cute outfits because I am so focused on work. Those are the times when I want things to just work, to look nice and to be easy to put together. I actually like getting dressed up but when work gets crazy I need things that flatter and just work.
What was your first impression after trying on the CEO PowerSkirt?
It is amazingly soft! One of the things that I've grown into is wearing clothes that feel good. For me the fabric fits well and is breathable. I feel like it is structured without being restrictive -- it just works, just what I need.
Any words of advice to aspiring young female entrepreneurs?
The sooner you make the decision the happier you will be; and, the sooner you learn to trust the process the more peaceful you will be. In the end when you know you are capable of being the boss nothing else will make you happy but there is a cost to being the boss. The days are long and sometimes stressful but know that everything will work out, even when it seems like things are falling apart. No matter what, the world won't end -- even if you fail, all is still right with the world.