Busy Bee Meets Boss Babes Part 15. Noelle Parent

Be authentic and be true to yourself. If it doesn’t feel right and you don’t love it, ask yourself if it’s the right thing for you. I wish that I had learned at a much earlier age to listen to my inner voice.
— Noelle Parent

Hey busy bees,

I'm baaaack with another RVA boss babe on the blog!!!! When I started this series, I truly had NO idea it would allow me to connect with so many amazing entrepreneurs. This blog post is for you if you're an entrepreneur, or if you dream of being one! You will find inspiration, productivity tips, and advice from boss babes who are rockin' it! You'll also love this particular boss babe, if you love shopping LOCAL and supporting RVA small businesses! 

Noelle is the owner of Gifted, and believes that finding the right gift takes time. She is able to save you time by offering unique and meaningful gifts. The best part? Noelle features local artisans and uses locally made products! YAY! 

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From housewarming, to wedding bags, to gifts for coworkers, Noelle has got you covered! 

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I connected with Noelle through the RVA Boss Babes Network, and I'm so excited to feature her creative business on the blog this week. Let's get started! 

Meet Noelle:

I came to Richmond about 7 years ago and fell in love with it immediately. I grew up in Charlottesville, VA and thought I would never leave those beautiful mountains, but the river city just felt like home. I have a spunky 11 year old daughter who keeps me busy and was the main inspiration behind starting my business.

Before gifted, I spent 13 years in the hospitality industry as a sales manager and the last property that I worked for was the fabulous Quirk Hotel. I knew that I wanted to make a career change, but Quirk was too good to pass up, so I joined as part of their opening team (employee number 7 to be exact!) and spent 2.5 years with them building an amazing brand and a new experience for those living in and traveling to Richmond.

I recently bought my first home with my partner/boyfriend/domestic partner and it is truly our oasis. We love spending time at home as a family but we also love to enjoy all of the restaurants, museums and oddities that Richmond has to offer.
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Quirk is one of my favorite RVA hotels!

So many people think they are "stuck" in their current career. Your story, and transition from the hospitality industry to starting your own creative business is so inspiring. 

Please tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey!  

I started to get the entrepreneurial itch after about 11 years in the hospitality industry. At first I wasn’t really sure what it was that I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to work for myself and that I wanted to make my own schedule.

Hospitality management is a rewarding but tough career for a single mom. It meant a lot of long hours and a lot of weekends and evenings spent working. I was very fortunate that all of the hotels that I worked for were very supportive of me and very flexible with my schedule. Still, I knew I needed a change. My daughter had spent many hours in the office with me and I knew I wanted to create a schedule where I could be with her more often.

As I was exploring the idea of owning my own business, when the opportunity to work for Quirk Hotel presented itself to me. I was approached by an HR representative for the company and asked to come in and interview with them. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to learn what it was like to open a business and build a brand. I got the job and spent the next two years with one of the best teams I have ever worked with.

Finally in 2017, things just started to come together. At Quirk I was often putting together welcome gifts for bridal parties, and sourcing gifts for corporate clients coming to stay in the hotel. The theme that kept coming up with these gifts was “local” or “something that really shows off RVA” and so I decided that there was enough of a need for a local gifting service to start a business!

It was very scary to leave a great job with great benefits and a consistent paycheck, but the timing was right. So I signed up for a 10 week business start-up program called Co-Starters and things started to move quickly at that point. Before I knew it, I had left Quirk and I was putting together over 200 gift boxes for my first holiday season!
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What an amazing idea! I know we were looking for something like this when I was planning welcome boxes for my wedding guests! You've taken all the stress out of gift giving! I love the pre-designed boxes. 

What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as a female business owner? 

I think my biggest responsibility, or at least the one that feels the most important to me, is that I set a great example for my daughter. The statistics pertaining to entrepreneurship are a little frighting, but the statistics pertaining to female owned businesses are down right terrifying. I want her to know that life will be difficult, but that you can’t give up. When it gets hard, that is when you have to start trying even harder to make it happen. I feel an obligation to show her that regardless of what happens, that I tried my absolute best to get through it and move forward.

That is so, so powerful to all the women reading this. You're absolutely right. I know your daughter must be so proud of you! 

You talk about pushing through when things get hard. I think the hardest part is making changes to our habits and routines. You obviously have one that works for you!

Can you tell us about your schedule or routine that allows you to be productive?

My schedule changes every other week, which adds an extra little challenge to my scheduling! My daughter spends every other week with her Dad, and we use an app called Cozi to keep up with our family scheduling. For business I use a model calendar that I created in google calendar. I learned about the Model Calendar from Racheal Cook. She is a business mentor who helps you develop the lifestyle that you want, not just the business you want. Seriously, if you haven’t found her already RUN to her website.

On Sundays, I plan out my week depending on whether or not I’m going to have my daughter with me. This is a calming activity for me so it really doesn’t feel like work. The weeks that I have her with me there is a lot of commuting and after school activities. During those weeks my days are filled with communicating with clients (email, phone calls, meetings), filling orders, social media and looking for new marketing opportunities.

The on-going struggle is always how to organize and create systems for the business, and how to save money on expenses! Currently, I spend a good amount of time focusing on those tasks as well. I am very fortunate to have a highly productive assistant that comes in every Monday, so that tends to be my most productive day of the week.

On the weeks that I do not have my daughter, I focus a lot more on networking and meeting with clients who aren’t able to meet during the regular 9-5 business hours. On these weeks it can be difficult to find time to spend with my partner, so I have to really make sure that he and I are communicating a lot, otherwise the whole week will go by and we haven’t spent any time together, other than brushing our teeth and sleeping!
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What keeps you motivated through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur?

It is definitely a roller coaster. The thing that keeps me motivated the most is how much I love the lifestyle that I have created and how badly I don’t want to give that up. There are times when you really start to feel down, and I just keep telling myself that if I don’t want to give up the freedom that entrepreneurship provides, then I need to get through it. This is typically when I decide to try something different. I’ll try to find clients who I haven’t worked with, or I will go to a networking group that is outside of my comfort zone. I just start looking for a way to get out of the low and either find a solution to the problem that I’m having or try a new approach. Sometimes you’re just looking at the situation from the wrong angle. Also, asking for help is so important. Being an entrepreneur does not mean that you are alone. Ask for help and ask for it often.

You can follow Noelle at:

https://www.giftedrva.com/

https://www.instagram.com/giftedrva/

https://www.facebook.com/giftedrva/

Thanks for being part of the Busy Bee blog, Noelle! I know your story will inspire so many others to take steps towards their dream! 

If you feel overwhelmed at making a big change, or starting your own business, I'd love to help. I offer free consultations for new clients! I'd love to hear what your big dream is, and even feature YOU on my blog some day! You can connect with me here to set up a free consultation, which also includes a free assessment! 

I believe in you, and I'm here to support you! Thank you again, Noelle, for being a light for so many others! I can't wait to buy one of your gift boxes for a friend! 

xo,

Danise

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