Do The Damn Thing: Community Building with Christie Horan [Video]

· 23 min read

Are you thinking of starting a new business but wish that there was someone that you could turn to for help or even just motivation when it comes to figuring everything out?

Fortunately, this type of support group for new business owners already exists!

During this week’s episode of Do The Damn Thing, Laura Foy speaks with Christie Horan who is the founder of a thriving online business call Babes With Brands… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands website…. Together they discuss how this business empowers women entrepreneurs through a sense of community, social events, and even branding.

You’ll learn how Christie uses Babes With Brands to empower women throughout the country to connect and collaborate through a confidential space that both inspires and educates.

But how did Christie getting her company up and going? What challenges did she face, and how did she overcome them?

Be sure to watch our video now to find out how she Did The Damn Thing!

Read the script:

Laura: Hello everybody. My name is Laura Foy. And welcome to another episode of Do The Damn Thing, the weekly show where we talk to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs – whoever is out there and doing it. And so this week we have a very special guest. I am talking with Christie Horan, who is the founder of Babes With Brands… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands website…. Christie, welcome to the show.

Christie: Thank you so much, Laura. I’m so happy to be here.

Laura: Awesome. And we’re happy to have you. So, before we get into your story, which I am excited to tell – tell us a little bit about what Babes With Brands is.

Christie: Babes With Brands is a community of women entrepreneurs. And our mission is to connect, collaborate, inspire, and educate through the community, social media, and events. We started about two years ago, and now it’s become bigger and bigger and bigger, especially on social media. Of course, our in-person events had to wait for a little bit, but I’m excited to get back to those as well.

Laura: So, did you have a brand and sort of just took your circle of friends and turned it into a community? Or how did this get started?

Christie: Yeah, that is such a great question. So I started a business. I’m a dancer and choreographer. And I started my dance choreography business in May of 2015. It’s called Powerhouse Danceworks… opens in a new window to Powerhouse Danceworks website…. And I go around and I teach high school, middle school, college, pro, semi-pro dance teams for either competition routines or for game-day presentation routines.

So that was my business. And I started it in 2015. I was working full-time as an inside sales rep. But, I hated it.

Laura: It’s not your dream, Christie?

Christie: I did learn a lot, which is great. So I started Powerhouse Danceworks back in 2015. I got a little nervous about being a full-time entrepreneur. So I did choreography during the summer, which is actually the season to do it. It’s when schools are out and everyone’s planning for the school year. All the choreography usually happens in the summertime.

So then I actually went back to work for a marketing firm for almost two years. Then I was like, “You know what? I’m going to do it! I’m going to become a full-time entrepreneur.” That happened in January 2017, and I’ve been full-time ever since then, which is awesome.

Laura: Do you make money off Babes With Brands or is it just a community where people can sort of engage and share wisdom? Or is there a business behind it?

Christie: There is a business behind it. That’s such a great question. First and foremost, it’s a community. There is a business behind it. We used to host events, so that’s actually how we started. They were fun, creative networking events in Washington, DC, because that’s where I’m located.

So one of the things that I really did miss about my sales job when I was doing the dang thing as an entrepreneur and when I was first starting out was this – I had a lot of friends cause I was working in the fitness community and performing as a professional dancer in DC. So I had these teams of friends. However, on the weekends when I was home or during the week when I was home alone working, I was getting really lonely, and I wanted a community to bounce off ideas, struggles, and successes. And that’s kind of where I had the idea to start Babes With Brands.

And one day, I had the opportunity to do it. A PR firm reached out to me and was like, “Do you want to host a cocktail hour at this local restaurant?” And I kind of just jumped on that opportunity. I was like, “Yeah, we’re calling it Babes With Brands. We’re doing it.” It’s a fun networking event.

So it started off. The first event was super successful back in April 2018, I believe. I invited all of the women that I knew in DC who either had a brand or a business or wanted to start one. And that’s kind of how we started with the events. And then I tried to keep doing that. I try to make them free by having sponsors or just really affordable to go to because I want to get as many people in the community as possible.

So we definitely did start out with events. One of our most successful events was actually July 2019. It was called The Summer Bash, and there were around 60 women who came. And we had vendors. They had a wine tasting. So we definitely started out in person. Long story short, to answer your question, we definitely started out in person, and now we’ve moved to more digital courses.

So we definitely are a business. However, I have a Facebook Group… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Facebook Group… for the community. We interact online on Instagram… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Instagram page…. And then also through email and in-person when we can get back to it.

Laura: Nice. Now we are live. So if anyone watching out there has questions for Christy about Babes With Brands or about how to start your own community, feel free to enter them in the chat. We have a lot of people just loving that you Did The Damn Thing, and they’re commenting. You can go back and watch the comments cause I don’t think you could see them. I see them, and they’re really loving your story.

I would imagine that with coronavirus, while it was a negative thing because you had to stop doing your in-person events – I personally have seen a rise of female entrepreneurs starting their own online businesses. People are like, “I got to work from home. I got to build something, and I’m going to take a course, or I’m going to be a coach,” or whatever it is. Have you seen an influx of people wanting to join your community?

Christie: Yes, I have. We have grown tremendously over the last six months. And honestly now is the perfect time to start a business because you have this extra time. To all the people who pivoted their businesses – that is amazing! I’m so grateful for the internet. I am so grateful for wifi. I’m so grateful for social media to be able to connect with infinite amounts of entrepreneurs across, not only the United States, but the world. On Instagram, we’ve grown in the last six months by either 3000 or 4,000 audience members in our community, which is just amazing.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely. We’re looking at some of the pictures from your event, and you guys have a ton of fun. It looks like an amazing group. I’ve got a couple of questions here. So Lexi wants to know what was the moment when you saw all your hard work pay off?

Christie: That’s such a great question. I think going back to The Summer Bash of 2019. I think that was the moment where, especially for Babes With Brands, seeing all the women come and enjoy the events. The event went super smooth. Everything came to fruition. That was probably one of the biggest moments of Babes With Brands where I was like, “People enjoy this. I’m going to keep doing this. This is so worth it.” It kind of took a year for me to be like, “Alright! We are full steam ahead.” So I think that was one of those moments.

Laura: Now these events cost money to produce. So do you charge for admission? Is that how you recoup and hopefully gain?

Christie: Yeah. We charged for admission. And, as I said, I like to keep it affordable. So it’s pretty low. I think for us specifically, it’s always a learning experience. So for that event, for The Summer Bash of 2019, I think I charged a little bit too low. It was $25 per person, which was awesome. Then we also have sponsors who pay a monetary fee.

Laura: Now, are people drawn from specific industries? If I owned an art studio, what value would there be for me to join Babes With Brands? Will I find fellow artists who want to submit art to my art studio?

Christie: This is such a good question. So this specific event was actually at a salon. You could get your hair done. But they’re not all like that. We also hold fitness events. A lot of our events are based around cocktails, and we definitely do have that element to it. And then the last one we actually hosted was about money and investing. I try to target different categories that go into either building a business or allowing you to turn your side hustle into a full-time entrepreneur gig.

We actually were going to do a beauty event right when COVID happened. We’re going to go back to do that one later though.

Laura: You mentioned how you did have to go online. Shannon Mackey is asking, “Do you guys have any stories of how your community has helped overcome the loneliness that people are feeling?

Christie: That’s such a good question. So, I like live events. We have done two live events. It’s been a digital course for Instagram specifically, and how to grow and reach your target audience on Instagram. Now we’re offering it digitally, but I really like the in-person, online element to it, where you’re in real-time, and you can communicate with those women.

We like to keep it a smaller group. So about 10 to 15 so that, not only can you communicate with those women in the group, but after that, there is a chat session where they can continue that conversation and form even tighter bonds.

Laura: I’ve got another question out there. Shannon wants to know, “What does your community need in order to grow and feel supported right now? What are their biggest pain points? And what is your company doing to help those things?”

Christie: So I think the previous question touched on loneliness. I think that is something that’s huge. That’s going on right now. Something that Babes WIth Brands specifically offers, and we offer it all the time, but I’ve tried to amp it up even more during these last several months is inspiration. Both on Instagram and on our group chats, we give the inspiration to keep going. Your dreams are still going to happen, and your goal or your ideal life is still going to happen. You’re just taking a different path to get there right now. 

Laura: One more question from the audience, and then I’ve got a couple. So, Kat is asking if you have anyone in the non-profit sector, or are you really just catering toward the for-profit businesses?

Christie: In the small-knit community, we don’t have anybody in non-profit that I know of personally. But I’m sure in part of our audience we do. We just started partnering with a lawyer who helps with education and kind of moving racial injustice forward. So she does a lot of that, and we’ve connected with her and really support her as well. So I think that’s probably the closest we have right now to non-profit.

Laura: Nice. I’m new to this world of networking. In fact, here at HipCat Society… opens in a new window to HipCat Society website homepage…, we had our very first mixer recently. It was kind of a new experience because that’s just not how I’ve operated my personal businesses in the past. But I do now realize how important it is. So when you have these events, is the benefit really to get to meet the other people and potentially collaborate with them? Or is it more of the community, where you’re just sharing advice and tips? Or is it something else?

Christie: I thought it would be more so of collaborating with each of them. But what I found from these events is that it was more about community. During one of the events, one of the women there was like, “This is awesome. I’ve never been to anything like this before, where it just feels like a real community of people who are doing the same exact thing that I’m doing.” And she had her own business with several other ladies who were there as well. It was kind of like a fitness health business. Also, other women who were there were doing something completely different. But they could all bond over being in that same situation about being an entrepreneur.

I think, as far as Babes With Brands, it’s more about the community than it is about the collaboration, which is interesting.

It’s a lot easier than people think it is. It’s just like anything else. You can pick up any skill, just one step at a time, and then you will be where you want to be.

Laura: That’s awesome cause I’m always looking for new communities, and I can use a little support, as I’m sure we all can right now. Since this is Do The Damn Thing, let’s talk about how you got started. Did you have experience planning events? Is that something you did in your marketing days? Maybe in your dance days? How did you know how to start and what to do?

Christie: It’s so funny that you say that because it really is true. People are so astonished that you’re doing something, and they are not used to that. I found that people are just kind of like, “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that.” Some people are so accustomed to just getting a job and then keep working from there and moving up. That’s what I’ve found in my experience.

With me, I’ve heard that a lot. “How are you going to do this?” And I’m like, “I’m going to figure it out.” So it’s a little bit of both. I had planned events around my marketing job. So I kind of knew what vendors were, how to get sponsors, and what registration looked like. It’s those little things where you’re kind of like, “I don’t know.” And thankfully, I did have a background in that. So I was able to put some of that knowledge to use, which was awesome.

But to be honest, it’s a lot easier than people think it is. It’s just like anything else. You can pick up any skill, just one step at a time, and then you will be where you want to be.

Laura: In just doing this show, I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs. And most of them say, “You just figure it out as you go.” They have an inkling of an idea of what they think it’s going to be like, and then it’s totally different.

Christie: What I found that really helps is taking courses online from other entrepreneurs who know what they’re doing and who have proven that they know what they’re doing. So this whole knowledge industry online and the online courses – that has personally really helped me. So I felt that part of it is just taking courses on subjects that you want to learn, and then just doing it and making it happen.

Laura: Now I noticed that you sell some different social media courses through your Babes with Brands website. And I would imagine that that library of courses is just going to grow. I mean, that’s the thing you do. You figure out how to do it, and then you teach other people how to do it.

Christie: Exactly. And you literally read my mind. That’s just what I’ve released as the first part of it. I already have an outline for the second part. And I’m just going to keep building on it because the more you know, the more you grow. And what you don’t know, you don’t know.

Laura: What’s a day-in-the-life like for the founder of Babes With Brands?

Christie: I like to start my mornings off slow. I have a morning routine, but I like to start off slow. So I wake up. I read. I’ll get ready. I’ve just started to do 15 minutes of meditation in the morning and I’m enjoying that. And then I’ll make my coffee. I’ll make my smoothie. I’ll take my dog Prince for a walk, and then I’ll come back.

I’m not only just doing Babes With Brands. I’m also hosting online fitness classes and dance classes. So I’ll usually have a class that I teach in the afternoon, or maybe in the evening. In between there, I always think about, “Okay, what can I do today to move the needle forward?” So I’ll write down about three to six need-to-do things, and I’ll kind of tick those off. I usually kind of either check my email in the morning or at night. And then I’ll do any marketing that we need to do, whether it’s on social media or through email marketing. And then check any automations and make sure those are all up to date.

I also recommend, if you can, as an entrepreneur, to automate everything that you possibly can. I just started doing that, and it’s made all the difference.

Laura: Which particular automations really helped you the most?

Christie: So as far as email marketing, I use ActiveCampaign… opens in a new window to ActiveCampaign website…. It’s easy to use, and it’s also super helpful. If you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, make sure you have a newsletter, an email list, and a website. It doesn’t have to be the best, but those are the two things that, if you’re just starting out, I really recommend getting.

Laura: If you need help, HipCat Society… opens in a new tab to HipCat Society website on website service page… does make wonderful websites.

Christie: Also, I make sure that I have an email automation series that is welcoming everyone to Babes WIth Brands. If there’s something that I’m launching are promoting, I make sure that I also have email automation that has that. Email automation just means a series of emails tailored to the person who logs on to receive your email list.

Laura: They’re a series of emails that are sent based on either something they do, something they click on, or whatever. You could just sit back and sip your margaritas because emails just get sent out.

We’re going to take a look right now at your Instagram… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Instagram page…, which is beautiful. It is one of the things that really had me drawn to Babes With Brands. You’ve got such a distinct style, and you’re very uplifting. You’ve obviously spent some time researching what makes a beautiful Instagram feed. So what is your social strategy, and is it focused primarily on Instagram?

Christie: Yes. I’ve tried Facebook. I haven’t tried TikTok. But Instagram is where I find that our niche lives. So women entrepreneurs who are between 25 and 34, who are just starting out in their first two years of business. And I’ve tried different things over the years with the Instagram strategy, but it always comes back to the inspiration and value that I can offer. I do have that checkerboard look, which now they’re really cohesive and nice to look at.

I’ve tried different things, and they just don’t work as well. So I stick to what I know that our audience loves. They love inspiration and value and a little bit of educational content. And then what’s awesome with Instagram is that they have awesome features like carousels, IGTV, and Reels. So I’ve been trying to do some of those with Babes With Brands.

Something with Instagram that I think has made Babes With Brands so successful is the shareable content. So, if either you tag your friends in the post who can relate, or you want to share some love too. If they want to blast it out on their stories, then that helps more and more people see the content posted.

I would say to just tune into yourself a little bit more. Think about what it is you really, really love, and also how you love to help people or how you would like to help people. And then once you find out what that is, start making actions to do it, even if they’re super small.

Laura: You’ve got just about 4,500 followers. Some people think that they need to overcomplicate their graphics, and it’s just so busy and so cluttered. Whereas yours is very clean in design. It’s white on pink, or it’s pink on black. But it draws your eye in, and it stops you.

So it’s just another testament that any of you out there who think that you need to have professional design skills or some extravagant photographer working for you in order to have a really successful Instagram feed – you’re proof that you don’t.

Christie: I also use Canva… opens in a new window to Canva website…. Canva is awesome! And like you said, it’s very clean and simple, but it works. The message gets across.

Laura: It does work. Now we’ve only got a few minutes left. We’re getting a lot of comments that you’re very inspiring, and they love your energy. So what would you say to someone out there who maybe is stuck? Maybe they have a block. They have a passion. They want to be an entrepreneur, but they don’t know what to do. What advice would you give them?

Christie: Oh, I love it, cause I’ve been there before. I would say to just tune into yourself a little bit more. Think about what it is you really, really love, and also how you love to help people or how you would like to help people. And then once you find out what that is, start making actions to do it, even if they’re super small.

And then once you build the confidence and you’re like, “This is exactly what I want,” then keep doing that. And if you’re unsure and you start something, and you’re like, “Hmm, I’m going to tweak it,” that is totally fine too. Everything evolves. You can pivot with your business. Your business can grow with you.

But I would just start with that. Start with the mindset. “What do I want?” And then think about who exactly you’re helping and then go from there. Even if it’s small little pieces, it’ll make up a greater piece in the long run.

Laura: And maybe join a community of supporters.

Christie: Exactly. I’d be happy to have you in Babes With Brands.

Laura: It’s funny that you mentioned thinking about who you can serve because our mantra here at HipCat Society is Marketing with Love. And the big thing about that is: “Serve, don’t sell.”

And that’s really a shift that we’re seeing across almost every industry, where it’s not just about, “Buy from me, buy from me!” It’s more like, “I can help you.” And I’m sure that you’re finding the people in your community are, I’m assuming, coming from that same positioning.

Christie: Yeah, they are. And I asked something on our Instagram the other day like, “Tell me your Why. I want to know your Why.” And a lot of people said, “I want to help people. I want to help people in this specific region.” So I think that that sense of community and having that accountability is everything.

Laura: Absolutely. We are out of time. I had such a great time talking to you. Before we go, I want to give you a chance to tell everyone all the wonderful places that they can find you and then can connect with you. They can potentially join Babes With Brands and connect with a whole slew of bad-ass female entrepreneurs. So go ahead and spell it out for us, and I’ll post the details in the video below as well.

Christie: So you can find us on Instagram at @BabesWithBrands… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Instagram page…. You can also find us online at  www.babeswithbrands.com… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands website…. You can book a session with me, take an online course, or we also have a ton of hashtags that will help you out and boost your posts. Or you can join our community and just search Babes With Brands… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Facebook Group… under Groups on Facebook… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands Facebook page…, and I will let you right in and you can come in.

Laura: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. I will certainly be following all of your success. I wish you nothing but the best! We’ll see you next week and Do The Damn Thing. Bye!

Christie: Thank you. Bye!

So please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Christie at babeswithbrands.com… opens in a new window to Babes With Brands website….

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