SHE HUSTLES and the Art of Saying No

It’s always fun to get together for a good ol’ fashioned girls’ night. 

We had an amazing time at She Hustles last week! It was great getting to see all of our friends, both old and new, come out to support women entrepreneurs in the Savannah area. If you haven’t been to She Hustles before, you’re missing out on one of the best events in the Coastal Empire. Ringing in the night with delicious hor d’oeuvres from Cocktail Hour Catering as the sun set in Savannah’s beautiful historic district…it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? 

Erica Backus, Director of Public Relations and DEI Strategy at the Savannah Chamber and Visit Savannah, brought the energy as the SHE HUSTLES emcee.

Well, it kind of does. She Hustles is a special event. And sure, that’s a shameless plug for Creative Coast, but seriously, this event is where we come to recharge our batteries and release, so to speak. It’s an opportunity for Savannah’s most well-known women leaders to open up, get real and get vulnerable about what they had to overcome to achieve success and the challenges they face even today despite their success. 

Lori Judge, founder and CEO of Judge Realty and keynote speaker of She Hustles, hit home on the topic of failure during a fireside chat led by Jen Bonnett, Executive Director of The Creative Coast. When asked about an instance of failure, Judge shared that one of the biggest lessons she learned when launching a business is that “You can be right about something, but you can also be too early, and being too early is failure too.” Judge shared an instance when she went all in on a project only to realize the local market wasn’t ready for it yet. Today she approaches new endeavors with calculated caution.

Creative Coast Executive Director Jen Bonnett (L) interview keynote speaker and founder/CEO of Judge Realty Lori Judge during a fireside chat at SHE HUSTLES.

Judge also shared about what it was like having a baby and launching Judge Realty at the same time. In 2005 she birthed not only a baby boy, but also her business, both of which are no easy feat.

You know what’s also challenging? Setting boundaries when it comes to working. How many times did you check your work e-mail over the weekend? Maybe even work on projects to make things a little easier for your return to the office on Monday? 

That was the whole point of our panel discussion last Thursday. Moderated by the terrific Jessica Belfry, we heard panelists share their versions of the importance of work-life balance and the art of saying no. 

Panelists included Zelonia Williams (serial entrepreneur), Jessie Gilligan (COO of Focus Lab), Michelle Stenson (Executive Council Agent at New York Life Insurance Agency), and Amy Capello (Owner of Pure Joy Life Coaching). With different experiences and industry backgrounds, the panelists shared their truths when it comes to leading and learning to take a step back from hectic busyness. They also touched on the reality of embracing chaos and not fighting the fact that work and life interweave.

L to R: Jessica Belfry, Michelle Stenson, Amy Capello, Zelonia Williams, and Jessie Gilligan.

I did a little digging around over the weekend and found a really great article that Sheffy Kolade with Forbes wrote examining the perception of women and the idea of work-life balance. Their conclusion? 

“Work-life balance is a misrepresentation of work as something outside of our lives when, in fact, it is something that should be integrated with other aspects of our lives for balanced living,” Kolade says. “What women need is not more tips on how to manage work and home, but rather institutional support that understands and adopts the peculiarities of being a career woman in today’s society.”

I spoke with panelist Michelle Stenson on Monday, and she spoke to this idea of women supporting women in business.

“I’m a real big proponent of the idea that iron sharpens iron,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be sharp iron sharpening the next iron. I may be with someone that’s just starting her business, but she’s got that hunger in her eyes. That ambition, that maybe I’ve lost because I’ve been doing it for so long. It reminds you, ‘I need to get back on my game’. You remember that excitement, and you leave feeling energized.”

We like to think that’s what She Hustles is. A restorative event filled with honest reflection and insights. We want all ladies making business happen in the Savannah area and beyond to feel supported within our community. We’re always so excited to hear your stories and share time with us. Preferably over a glass of merlot (or pinot…we don’t wine shame here).

SHE HUSTLES was hosted in partnership with SCORE Savannah. This event is made possible by annual platinum sponsor the Savannah Economic Development Authority. The March event was supported by Wells Fargo, which is dedicated to helping women business owners succeed!