Female Feature Friday: Michelle Miles of Fort Worth Woman
We are back at it, bringing you another Female Feature Friday. We are so excited to be sharing a new amazing Girl Boss every week. The inspiration behind this series was to highlight the brilliant women running small businesses in an effort to inspire other women to bring their talents to the table. We can do it all, ladies!
Michelle Miles is another amazing Fort Worth woman! Literally because she owns and operates the online networking community, Fort Worth Woman. Yes, that Fort Worth Woman, the guide to all things Female Run in Fort Worth! She’s all about building a community of strong women and even has a reoccurring Woman of the Month post! We are so excited to share our interview with you! Meet Michelle!
LET’S GET DOWN TO (SMALL) BUSINESS:
Name and Occupation:
Michelle Miles - Stay at Home Working Mom? :) ‘Fort Worth Woman’
Briefly describe your business:
I have a passion for connecting, encouraging, and informing about the good happening in our city. The good people, events, food, stores, entrepreneurs, and good deeds are my focus. I have created a niche for myself by using social media as a native marketing tool that has created meaningful exposure for local businesses in Fort Worth to a wide, but very particular local audience.
Between my social media outlets and Women in Business Directory on my website, I am able to spotlight, showcase, and highlight different business and people who are making their mark on our city. I highlight non-profits, stores, businesses, restaurants, events, good deeds, and amazing people who make our city the incredible gem that it is!
What was your first real job?
I was a first grade teacher and school counselor. I LOVED every minute of it! I then turned Stay at Home Mom, but just couldn’t sit still...
How did Fort Worth Woman come about and what were you doing before its inception?
FWW started as a bet. My dad runs San Antonio Woman Magazine and has for over 15 years. I was trying to show him the value of social media and how his magazine needed to improve their social media coverage (they weren’t even on Instagram...) so I created a ‘fake” Fort Worth Woman account to showcase how my daughter and I experienced the city on a day to day basis. The bet was, that if I could get 100 followers in a week, he had to hire an intern to help with his social media. We hit that goal and I honestly let the account go.
A few weeks later, I popped back in on it and it had grown to 500 followers! I was astonished and quickly realized that there was some kind of magic here. I then continued to post, showcase our tiny bubble of Fort Worth, highlight what events we were a part of, and showed the reality behind our parenting journey. I quickly learned that people liked the ‘real’ aspect to the whole thing. If they read my honest commentary and saw me out at, say, ArtsGoggle with my kid in tow, they felt they could do the same!
The account continued to grow and quickly turned in to trade deals with local businesses, restaurants, and event tickets. I just kept on pushing while trying to portray a realness. I hyper-focus on that word because the world of social media can be a fickle game. It’s easy to portray perfection and that is not my aim. My goal is to show and highlight what makes Fort Worth special and to encourage anyone to go out and experience it for themselves, no matter their situation. For the first year and a half I didn’t even show any of my family's' faces because I wanted anyone to be able to feel like they too could take part in that scenario themselves.
Now the account is the native marketing machine that it is. My posts are now paid for in advance by local businesses looking for organic and real exposure and they experience true results. I highlight real people, real places, and real experiences that are had with my tiny family and have met some of the MOST incredible people along the way.
Why is small business so important to you?
Small business is the backbone of everything. Every big business started small once. Small business is the beginning of a dream and the potential that can be had from there is truly magical if you’re willing to do your research and take the risk!
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and have a husband with the same passion. We each have a mark to make on this world and as soon as you take the first step you begin to make a difference. Even if it starts as a bet! :)
What motivates you to keep going on the less than awesome days?
My sweet kids.
My kids are with me ALL the time. They watch everything my husband and I do, both the good and the bad.
They also have this view on the world that is so full of potential and light. That is what I focus on. My favorite quote regards living out your life and is “go out into the world and don’t just do well — do good” and this reflects the looks in my kid’s eyes at everything they see. They see the good in an oftentimes dimly lit world.
So that is what I aim to focus on. Even on the less than awesome days. We look for good and the best news is that Fort Worth is FULL of it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Start now and find your people who won’t always tell you ‘yes’.
There’s never a convenient time to get started, so why not just jump on it? You have an idea, so use your talents and the momentum to move forward.
Mentorship has been essential for me and my greatest mentors are the ones who don’t always say “Great idea! That’s perfect!” They are sometimes the doubters, they are my accountability partners, and after an accomplishment, they ask, ‘What’s next?’ People who challenge you over simply appeasing you are the best people to have in your corner.
My mentors range in ages from my peers to 60+. They are moms, teachers, successful business owners, parents, or just all around good people. The diversity is what makes the relationships strong.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what/how did you learn from it?
Fort Worth Woman surprised me. I was a school counselor who wanted to stay home to raise my kids and immediately get back to serving an at-risk population via counseling once my kids were in school. I still would like to do that one day and have worked hard for it, but am learning that this may not be the season of my life for it.
When Fort Worth Woman started to become a true marketing tool for local businesses, I would laugh and feel insecure talking about it. The thought of “this started as a bet and I have no clue what I’m doing” would run through my head over and over and over. When you have those insecurities and those doubts they show through your eyes, demeanor, and word choices. I felt like I had no clue what I was doing and when I would talk to people/businesses, it showed.
But you know what? I do know what I’m doing with this. I have a strange knack for it and seem to have a pulse on not just social media or our city, but the combination of the two. I don’t mind being real with people and showing them the less than perfect sides of my scenario because THAT’S REAL LIFE.
I also know I have a lot to learn. But luckily, I like that part.
Sometimes I’m perfectly organized and on top of it.
Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants.
Either way, there’s a magic in the middle when you are confident in who you are and are willing to follow the winding path ahead.
What has surprised you most about running a small business?
Fort Worth is a truly magical place. They foster, support, and LOVE their small businesses. There’s enough room for everyone’s ideas and business. When I have given support to local businesses, the same love and appreciation has always come back ten-fold. My followers truly visit, shop, eat, and enjoy at the places I have supported and each of those businesses give back in their own way in appreciation. The cycle truly is: find good, show good, they experience good, we feel good, go find more good.
Growth as well.
My plan was to be in the education and counseling field forever so the business side of things still surprises me. When your idea grows, adapts, and continues to make a positive impact for other businesses it’s like watching your baby walk for the first time! You feel scared, shocked, emotional, and so. dang. proud.
I noticed you have a blog series that features a ‘Woman of the Month,’ can you tell us more about the inspiration for that?
That is my counselor heart shining through.
I loved featuring where I shopped, where we ate, what I wore, and how we enjoyed the city, but I wanted something with heart. I receive so many messages and honestly get so many hugs in person that are so kind and appreciative of what I showcase and how I showcase it so I wanted there to be a chance to show others that same light in other women.
So I found the most incredible person I knew at the time and made her my first Woman of the Month. People LOVED reading about her. They saw she was real, authentic, a hard worker, and enjoyed reading how she created her business. They saw her light.
Now, almost two years later, the Woman of the Month is pulled from my Women in Business Directory on my website and is currently booked out as far as early 2020. There is so much light left to showcase to our city and the women here make every word of those articles both authentic and amazing.
Who have you looked to for advice and mentorship?
A diverse group!
My small group of best friends.
My mentor-professor from TCU who I have met with once a month since I graduated in 2005.
All of them keep things real with me. All of them ask not just about ‘right now’ but the future as well. All hold me accountable. All give me the hard answers, even when they know it may not be what I want to hear. All of them believe in me which is the greatest support to make the coverage of Fort Worth that I do possible.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in small business?
To me it means that I can be my own version of fierce.
I’m not going to lie. I’m so tired.
I have two young kids. I am a Stay at Home Mom.
I have my own business. I am a Working Mom.
But I kid you not. When I can get up at 5am, work a bit, then go work out, then get my kids ready for their day, pack lunches, get them to school, have meetings and conference calls in between, pick them up, put them down for naps, meet or work during nap time, take them to afternoon activities, make dinner, feed them dinner (a whole separate feat), give them baths, put them down to bed, answer a few more emails, chat with my husband finally about his day, and then fall asleep? Add in days of events, photo sessions, and committee meetings? That is when I feel fierce.
Not all days are pretty and most are exhausting, and my husband is my right hand, but there is something absolutely fierce about being a woman in small business who can truly get it done.
What’s next for Fort Worth Woman?
Anything! This account has grown and adapted so organically that I do want to continue to follow its lead. I’d like to start a small business highlight, continue the praise for my Women on the Move, add to the event calendar, and grow my business directory so that it can be the best resource in Fort Worth to find a reliable and authentic business for your needs.
Also - why stop at Fort Worth? Why don’t we create Texas Woman? That would be the biggest dream. I’d love to encourage women in other cities to work with me to use the Fort Worth Woman model in their city and create an overall umbrella of women in Texas who are highlighting every ounce of good they come across where they live.
LET’S GET THE SKINNY ON Fort Worth:
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO FORT WORTH?
TCU, but I met a Fort Worth born and raised boy 2 weeks in and never left!
BEST TACO IN FORT WORTH?
EEEPPPPP. My San Antonio heart struggles with this but Salsa Limon is by far my favorite.
BEST QUESO IN FORT WORTH?
Honestly-- I’m not sure. Eep!
FAVORITE MARG IN FORT WORTH?
Joe Ts. I can’t help it. Between the strength of the tequila and gorgeous patio, I immediately relax.
FAVORITE STEAKHOUSE IN FORT WORTH?
FAVORITE KID FRIENDLY ATTRACTION IN FORT WORTH?
The Rodeo! I wish it was more than once a year! I eat every moment of the Stockshow up with my babies.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER IN FORT WORTH?
Being an owner of a business that focuses on highlighting other local businesses has allowed me to meet the greatest people on the planet. I am astonished at who I have been able to meet, work with, and now call friend because of FWW!
TELL US 3 OF YOUR FAVORITE FORT WORTH SMALL BUSINESSES.
Holland Collective - These women also highlight other businesses but they do it in a way that is inclusive of others. They have a knack for PR, marketing, and showcasing the authenticity of a business.
Shop Birdie - Jessica Breslin and Brittany Voxland saw the need for modest but perfectly trendy, quality women’s clothing and they created the perfect spot! This is my go-to for almost every outfit I wear because the clothes are gorgeous, the shopping experience is personal, and they are the kindest local mamas who will distract my kids while I try things on.
Mustard Seed Jewelry - Marcie Finney Ditto creates meaningful jewelry, wears her heart on her sleeve, helps others with everything she designs, and has a passion that shines through everything she creates. She is a true ray of light!