It Girl | JOANNE WETZEL
Name: Joanne Wetzel
Job Title/Company: Founder, The Girl Inspired Project
Education Background: Self-taught business owner / entrepreneur; though, I do have an Associate’s of Arts degree and left college when working to get my Bachelor’s because I knew I wanted to work for myself
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I’m equal parts military brat, business obsessed, and world changer. I grew up bouncing around from place to place as a Marine daughter and I think that instilled a sense of wanderlust in me since day one. I’ve been married to my husband, Michael, for almost three years and feel so grateful he shares my love of travel, adventure, and the outdoors. We have two rescue dogs, who we take hiking frequently. In 2017, I became involved in the animal welfare and rescue community, which has changed my life in more ways than one. I’m a big foodie as I worked in restaurants in college, so we love checking out new cuisines and places that open in Raleigh. Yoga plays a major role in allowing me to be physically and emotionally healthy to run a successful business; after all, yoga is life on and off the mat. I’m a firm believer in building community over competition, so I spent a lot of my time encouraging, meeting, and working alongside other businesswomen at any local coffee joint you can think of. Other than all of that, Michael and I are getting ready to sell our house and travel the country living in an RV, which is going to be a whole other story in itself.
2. What sparked your interest in starting your business?
I wouldn’t say that I ever dreamed about being a business owner, but after working a corporate job for seven months until I was ultimately fired, I thought to myself, the traditional work model doesn’t suit what I want for my life. My first business I had for more than five years working as an on-site, freelance hairstylist and makeup artist. I was a newbie to business, though, and completely burned out. I wanted to start The Girl Inspired Project to help inspire and encourage women in their businesses. The main goal is to provide education and insight into growing a healthy, happy, and successful business—essentially, learning from all of my mistakes, so they don’t experience what I did.
3. Tell us about your full time job and/or any side hustles you might have.
The Girl Inspired Project is my only hustle, because let’s be honest, being a business owner takes up all your time; however, as I mentioned before, I am passionate about animal welfare, so I manage the media and most of the marketing at Friends Of Wake County Animal Center, a local nonprofit that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for homeless animals in Wake County. It’s all volunteer, but I take it very seriously, because what we do makes such a difference for these animals in need.
4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
I was a model and actress for fifteen years, so the first position I ever held was working at my modeling agency as a front desk receptionist a couple of nights a week. I don’t remember how long I was there—I believe it may have only been a few months before I moved away and signed with a different agency.
5. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
This may not sound like a great achievement to some, but I feel that one of mine is learning to trust myself. For a long time, I would take advice and listen to other people about my life, myself, and my business and think that I had to go the direction they were telling me. But, that’s not the truth. I’ve learned to trust myself and what I want implicitly without allowing negative advice or fear on the behalf of others dictate the course of my life or business.
6. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
My initial goal with The Girl Inspired Project was to simply inspire, encourage, and empower women in their businesses, but I didn’t know how I was going to help business owners solve a problem. All businesses, products, and/or services solve a problem for a consumer. So, I’ve had to sit down and consider what I could offer that would make business easier in some way for my potential clients. The evolution of that looks like niching down my service offerings and coaching to Pinterest strategy. In other words, helping small businesses and social enterprises develop Pinterest in order to reach new clients/customers, leads, and drive more sales.
7. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned through your work?
Resilience. I have failed again and again, but the thing I’ve learned is that I always get back up, keep pushing, and experimenting. When you are an entrepreneur, grit, resilience, and tenacity are all great skills to have in your back pocket, because you are certainly going to need them.
8. Where do you hope to be in five years?
I’m confident that The Girl Inspired Project is going to become a noteworthy educational resource for entrepreneurs in the areas of Pinterest, social media, and online marketing. The end goal is to be able to work from anywhere while coaching and implementing Pinterest strategy for my clients from all over the world.
9. What is a typical day like for you?
Each day looks a little different, because I do try to batch my work, but essentially, my mornings are spent taking care of my pups, getting ready, eating a healthy, nourishing meal, then getting to work. I take a one hour lunch “break”, get outdoors a bit, and do something I enjoy. Then I do a couple more hours of work, wrap up the day with a long walk with my dogs, a yoga class, and dinner with my husband.
10. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
Distraction and self-doubt. The former being working through the difficulty of simplifying my day and pairing down distractions, so I get the real work done, not just executing busyness for the sake of busyness. The latter really stems from at times not having enough confidence and faith in myself that I can make things happen. But, that’s where The Girl Inspired Project name comes from is me figuring out and designing a life that inspires and fulfills me while encouraging others to do the same.
11. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I’m going to go ahead and quote Mrs. Rachel Hollis’ here. She said, “The people in the cheap seats don’t get to have an expensive opinion of you.” She also said that other people’s opinions are none of my business. A lot of us worry about what people are going to think or say about our business journeys, but it has given me freedom in that if you are someone who doesn’t have any skin in the game or aren’t out there hustling too, or if you are just spitting fire because you can—it’s not going to change my mind or my business one bit. It’s refreshing, too, because so many of us hold back on pursuing something for fear of judgment. Well, here is your permission slip to move forward!
12. When do you get your best ideas?
Anytime I am unable to write something down. That’s usually in the shower, right before I fall asleep, or when I’m driving in the car. It always happens like that, doesn’t it?
13. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
Like I mentioned before, I burnt out in my last business. When I announced closing my business, I felt like such a failure. I was embarrassed. I thought I wasn’t enough, because I couldn’t push through it, I couldn’t hang, I couldn’t make things happen, etc; however, I learned two things: 1) Success is standing on a pile of failures, and 2) My business did not define who I was as a person and the contributions I have to bring to this world. If you are in a place where you are feeling the need to transition out of something, don’t hold back. Do it—you’ll be so glad you did!
14. How do you unwind?
I unwind on my yoga mat, by hanging out with friends, or getting out in nature with my dogs. I’m a big proponent of bubble baths, fiction books, and aromatherapy. All of things combined in one day are pretty much my happy place.
15. What would you tell someone else who is interested in entering your field?
What is your unique story? What makes you different from everyone else? Also, what gap or missing element is there in the market that no one is serving? Can you create something to serve that audience? Can you solve a customer’s problem? Online marketing is a saturated market to be sure, but if you can work through the questions above and find a niche—you’ll do just fine.
16. What do you hope people take away from your story?
I want people to recognize that there is life after “failure”. Business and life are all one big experiment, so keep experimenting until you find that one thing that gives you the life you want, changes the world, and sets your heart alight. If I would’ve stayed in a job and/or business that I detested I would still be deeply unhappy, unhealthy, and stressed today.