Geek Girl Con 2011: Women Running Geeky Businesses
The ‘Women Running Geeky Businesses’ panel was literally the last thing I did at the convention. Unfortunately, I had to book it out of the con before 3pm and catch my flight back to L.A. I wanted to check out this panel to pick up some tips from women who knew what they were doing, personal business-wise. The women on the panel were Megan Gaiser (Her Interactive), Jenn Fujikawa (JustJENNDesign), Stephanie Ogle (Cinema Books), Chrystal Doucette (Digital Soaps), Jo Jo Stiletto (Jo Jo Stiletto Events) and Erica McGillivray (Geek Girl Con’s CEO) as moderator.
I am not a business-minded woman. I’m kind of all over the place and it’s a little bit of a miracle I’ve managed to actually get Defective Geeks up and running for as long as it has (almost five years!). Of course, with the help of my close friends, things have picked up around here. Still, if you ask me if I’ll ever figure out a way to monetize Defective Geeks, I will probably slowly sink to the floor.
I admire anyone who are smart enough to be able to turn their own passion and interests into a self-sustaining career… but it’s just that much more cool to have these geek girls talk about their own success. It was also a unique panel where the audience heard different success stories from women of all ages and very different career and life choices.
I met Jenn literally a couple of days before the convention. Her recipe website and her creative Star Wars themed party food is very popular among geeks. I actually remember discovering her Star Wars recipe and excitedly forwarding them to Pilbeam. I wanted to throw a Star Wars party with Han Solo in jello! So. Awesome.
Jenn revealed at the panel that she was actually an architect by trade but was laid off. She took it as an opportunity to really push her hobbies into more of her job. She was already creating recipes for her kids, who are her inspiration (“What they like, I like,” she mentioned) but realized that other people have taken an interest in her geek inspired food too. Now, you’ll see Jenn’s desserts at comic book store events and parties around Los Angeles.
She also creates her own stationary which you can see at www.justjenndesigns.com
Gaiser said that when she first started working for her company, people did not know how to market to women. They thought that women were afraid of computers and the only way to get them to touch one is to make it pink and sparkly. We owe it to Gaiser for working to break down this stereotype with the success of Her Interactive with inspiring games aimed at young women. Right now, Her Interactive produces the Nancy Drew series of PC gaming.
During the panel, Gaiser said that she succeeded by setting her mind on what she knew she can do. She found mentors to keep her on track and she didn’t run away from her own fears. She advices that mistakes does not mean failure and one just has to take accountability and learn from them. She surrounded herself with a good team who didn’t give up because they all believed in what they wanted to accomplish.
“Do what you have to do,” Gaiser told the audience.
Jo Jo Stiletto
Miss Stiletto brings the sexy to the nerdy by producing burlesque shows including Whedonesque Burlesque. She has been working with Geek Girl Con, producing a series of nerdlesque in Seattle. If you’re lucky enough to be in the neighborhood, check it out! I hear it’s quite a good time.
She joked around during the panel and claimed that she might be the “worst role model” when it comes to someone’s ideal of a superwoman (which is I guess they interpreted as someone who is a business AND family woman?). I beg to differ because I would personally love to have her extrovert personality and ability to organize theater and all these big events. I can barely organize my own birthday party. She seems like a powerhouse of a lady and has the natural ability to put together amazing shows while having absolute fun.
Jo jo advices the audience to “follow your obsessions” because it can lead to amazing things, even if the going is a little tough.
Stephanie Ogle is amazing. She founded Cinema Books back in 1977 and is one of the first women to publicly geek out over movies. She said her inspiration came from reading the film books on her father’s bookshelf and then thinking to herself, “There’s gotta be more.”
She loves that she has met so many like-minded people through her bookstore and realizing that she is not alone in her passion. She found so much support not only locally in Seattle but internationally. She paved the way for a lot of people, especially for women who were interested in film.
Gotta love Doucette’s nerd soap business! From game cartridges to Companion Cubes — she’ll make soap that will keep gamers squeaky clean. I also loved her heartfelt story from when she had to move back in with her parents one Christmas and it was her mom who stepped in and helped her keep her business running. “It’s great to see people wanting you to succeed,” Doucette said.
Doucette’s sound advice is for people to jump right into whatever business or goal they want to pursue because there are times when too much planning equals procrastination. She didn’t have a business plan and she improved her business by constantly listening to her customers and from experience.
I’ve seen a lot of nerd related soaps online but Doucette’s products are definitely of high quality. The details on the soap are amazing. www.cleangeeks.com
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