An interview with a business owner Shampaigne Graves

Shampaigne Graves is the founder of Bold Babes Companies LLC, an education and networking platform helping millennial women start and stay in business. Bold Babes provide digital resources, tools, education, and connection opportunities to women who engage with the brand. Shampaigne started her first business with only $20 to her name because she wanted a space where women who were low on funds and high on passion could exchange services and leverage their individual values to grow collectively. She remembers how being broke at the time led her to be laughed out of the mastermind, networking groups, and formal business memberships, who were certain that she will not be able to do anything unless she had a 5 figure startup budget.

Shampaigne worked hard and built most of her own brand by herself, while relationships with other women in business enabled her to launch the rest. Being full of determination, Shampaigne managed to save over $48,000 in startup costs, partner with amazing nationally recognized brands like Nothing Bundt Cakes, eventually hire her current team of six, and now live on her own terms. We asked Shampaigne to tell us a little bit more about her story, experiences, and attitudes that led her to where she is now: 


Have you encountered any difficult situations while working for yourself that you could share with us? What have you learnt from these experiences?


The most difficult experience I’ve had in working for myself was just meeting my basic needs. Because I am an entrepreneur at heart, I don’t mind taking risks but many young people in business make the mistake of paying themselves last. The best thing that I did for my business was actually securing my 9-5 job. 


The financial freedom allowed me to make decisions in my business with more clarity simply because they were no longer being made out of desperation. I have to admit, though, that I got really lucky. My job is in higher education which comes with amazing benefits, my superiors are very flexible and sought me out through LinkedIn because of the work that I was doing with my business. So I would always suggest talking to your company about your entrepreneurial pursuits as well as showing them how you manage your time. This will give them peace of mind in knowing their workload can be handled along with the work that has to be done for the business. 


How did you prepare for your business? Have you spent days researching and trying to figure out the best ways to start and run the business, or was it something that you simply started and thought you will figure out later?


I’ve never really stopped preparing for my business but I haven’t let my research keep me from launching. I’m a huge believer in pre-launching and giving your community an authentic look at your work behind the scenes. This is why I often flush out ideas as I’m launching them. 

Bold Babes Co is my second business and I made the mistake in my first of believing that I had to be someone I wasn’t in order to be successful. This business has taught me continuously that my value is appreciated now. So do your homework but don’t let the homework keep you from the real work of putting your ideas out into the world. 


What was the most difficult thing to figure out before starting or while running your business?


Sales! I still haven’t figured them out honestly which is why I delegate that work out in my business. Because I launched with so little in the beginning, I did everything myself which allowed me to avoid sales. Once I truly sat down, admitted I sucked at sales, and decided to do something about it did the meter really start to move with our company’s sales goals. 


Do you have any worries about the finances? Do you earn enough from your business to support your lifestyle or do you still have financial worries that many founders experience?


I always worry about finances, it’s just in my nature. My business supports 5 part-time team members and takes care of overhead for all of our systems and operations but I have personally chosen not to be paid from my business. I’m fully committed to hiring my team full time, and continuously building a brand worthy of selling. 


Does your business let you live on your own terms or do you need to find compromises? 


I don’t make any sacrifices that I’m not comfortable with ever, life is too short for that. This is why I don’t suggest anyone getting into business for the money, it takes too long to make it. I see it as an honor to be able to run this business and provide for others through it. I’m also able to leverage the education I get as a business owner to develop other sources of revenue for myself. Something I suggest every business owner do. 


Did you have any inner demons you had to fight with to be where you are right now?


Wow, this is a deep question, honestly, this isn’t the life I planned for myself. From the ages of 17 to 24, I was absolutely certain I was going to get married, have two kids, and live in the DC suburbs with the love of my life. When he died, all of those dreams died too and I almost gave up on life itself. But one day I decided to read some old text messages from my love and the words literally brought me to my knees. He saw the life I’m living now, something I never even considered. He saw me being an entrepreneur, helping women through my work, and changing the world. I’ve been trying to live up to that idea for my life ever since. 


What tools helped you grow your business the most?


Canva is the #1 tool that helped me grow my business because it allowed me to create a brand that looked more polished than it actually was. As a broke 25-year-old, pitching to million-dollar brands, the only thing I had to showcase was my website and marketing materials. I spent hours online researching and drafting up a cohesive aesthetic for our brand in the beginning and, honestly, it’s still evolving. But one thing that has remained is the level of sophistication of our branding, which started out in Canva. 


What is your lifestyle like as a young online business owner? 


Busy! As the saying goes with high rewards come high risks. Much of my time now is devoted to high-level collaboration and partnerships for our brand, which means meeting with potential partners for our brand and discussing collaboration details. I also am the person in charge of showing up for media appearances, public speaking, and taking on the bulk of written interviews.

Being able to manage all of these things while staying humble, maintaining a social life, and time to sleep are key in my life. I’d suggest that anyone who wants a life like mine, get really excited about lists, calendar notifications, and telling folks “you’ll put them on the schedule.” 


What is your definition of success?

 Living life on your terms and enjoying it with people who love you. 


Knowing what you know about life now, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Be kinder to yourself and everyone else around you. Soak up everything around you, never take a moment for granted. 


Have you ever thought of giving up? 

Sure, every day, but I usually just go to sleep, wake up and start again. 


Has working for yourself changed you as a person? If yes, in what ways?

Working for myself has allowed me to make decisions with confidence because most of the time I can only rely on my intuition to guide me. There’s no board of advisors, I make decisions about the directions of my business by myself. This has enabled me to utilize this confidence in all other aspects of my life. 


What do you love the most and what is the most difficult thing about running your business?

I love that I have created something that has helped other women. Every time we get a new subscriber on our list, a buyer of our products, or a member in our community, I honor that woman. I thank her out loud by name for investing in my God-given vision and ask the universe to bring more like her. 

The thing I used to hate about running my own business was doing everything but now I’m a delegation machine and I have the most amazing team that does a much better job at running the systems I’ve built. 


What skills did you need to master in order to be successful in what you do and how you live?

Time Management and Focus were the two skills I needed to master in order to become successful. Especially as a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I found myself doing a new thing daily and never finishing anything. It wasn’t until I really started analyzing how I spent my time, finishing tasks with intention, and being careful about what new tasks that I took on, that I became successful in running my business.


Finally, could you share a piece of wisdom with us (about anything that you have learned along the way)?


Stop looking around and stay focused on your goals. Comparing your business to anyone else’s should only happen for market research purposes. No one ever gives the complete story about what is happening behind the scenes so stop thinking that you’re behind, or less than, or doing worse than anyone else. 


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