Welcome to the Get Gutsy interview series! Each month, I interview people who are getting gutsy– stepping outside their comfort zones to reach their goals and live a life that makes them truly happy.
Here’s a quick story about me and Christie:
A few months back, I got an email from a company called UChic asking me to be interviewed in their new Live Your Dream (#LYD) blog interview series. I looked into the company, fell in love with their mission and quickly agreed to be interviewed. After the interview, I was invited to participate as a featured guest during their #LYD Star Twitter chat. It was such a pleasure and honor to work with this company and when I “met” the company’s founder Christie Garton via Twitter and email, I knew I had to bring her story to you!
1. Hi Christie! Thanks for being on the blog today. Could you please give us your best Twitter-style introduction? (140 characters or less!)
Fun question! From my Twitter profile: Social entrepreneur, author & founder of UChic. Contributor @HuffPo @EntMagazine @USATodayCollege.BIG supporter of dreamers#LYD!
2. Tell us about how you are getting gutsy.
Going full-time on my startup in 2014 with the launch of branded UChic product aiming to fund the dreams of real young women in the U.S. through our product sales!
3. You launched a company called UChic in 2008. Can you tell us about UChic?
I launched an early version of the brand with a website catering specifically to the information needs of young women getting ready for the college life stage. We provided a platform for young women to get published while providing their hard-won and best advice to young women coming up behind her. It was a “for her, by her” model from day 1. The website became a best-selling guidebook to college for young women, which just came out in its 4th edition.
Now, all of this activity was essentially a passion project for me as I was working full time in the media industry. Last year, I took the plunge and became a full-time entrepreneur with the expanding “1,000 Dreams” mission of UChic – to continue to provide inspirational information on the web and through our books to young women in high school and college while introducing new products she needs that help fund scholarship for underserved young women in the U.S. through our 1,000 Dreams Scholarship Fund.
4. Why is it important to you to support young women to help them achieve their dreams?
Not every young woman has access to the funds she needs to fully go after her dreams.
Those talented yet underserved young women need support so they can reach their full potential as contributing members to our society and the economy. I’m excited to be behind an effort to help raise awareness for this need through my company’s 1,000 Dreams Mission – to fund the dreams of talented yet underserved young women in the U.S. through our sales. 1,000 Dreams is our company’s short term goal.
Once we reach it, we will set our next big goal because know how important that kind of support is at this critical life stage.
5. It sounds like UChic has evolved over the years! What was it like to pivot and change your goals/plans around the brand? Was that scary for you?
As I mentioned, I have not focused full time on the company until last year when I decided to launch a scholarship fund that would be supported by the brand’s books and product sales. Having worked with hundreds of young women over the years on our books and speaking at conferences, I kept hearing how funding is such an important need at this life stage. That’s when I had the “aha” moment that we could connect our evolving business and sales growth to a social good mission and need (or pain point, if you will) that isn’t being addressed yet in a similar way. In fact, I’d love other brands to join us in this mission!
6. I’m sure there have been many challenges along the way. What’s your approach to tackling setbacks?
Keep the blinders on and stay focused on the end goal. It can be easy to get sidetracked by setbacks, but by staying focused, you won’t worry so much about those hiccups but the opportunities that are right ahead of you.
7. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar path?
Enlist all the support and advice you can from those working in your intended field. Surround yourself with mentors and supportive experts who believe just as much as you do about the potential for you ground-breaking idea.
8. What does your life look like five years from now? More importantly, how do you hope to feel?
I have a 2 year-old daughter who is the love of my life. I can’t wait to see how she grows and evolves into her own woman. I hope in some way my efforts to work “outside the box” inspire her to have the courage to follow her dreams.
9. How can others get involved with UChic if we want to support your mission?
Please consider donating to our 1,000 Dreams Scholarship Fund, which directly supports our mission, at uchicfoundation.org. You can also buy one of our UChic books or tech cases and know you a helping fund awesome young women as well!
10. What does getting gutsy mean to you?
Having the courage to know what you love to do and are truly good at and to build a life and career around that self awareness.
Want to connect with Christie and UChic?
Know someone you think I should chat with for the Get Gutsy interview series? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments below!
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