EP 133: Building A Business In The Feminine Economy With Sister Founder & Director Jennifer Armbrust

The Nitty Gritty

  • How Jennifer’s creative entrepreneurial journey influenced the creation of Sister and Feminine Business School
  • What led Jennifer to transition from solopreneurship to a brand that’s bigger than her — and how collaboration sets the foundation for Sister
  • The practical and foundational values of creating and formulating a feminist business
  • Why you should see your business as a partnership and some of the tools Jennifer uses to connect students with their business’ “spirit”

Do you think there’s a better way to approach your work than just hustling hard? Jennifer Armbrust, founder of Sister and Feminist Business School, would argue there’s a more feminine way to build and grow your business.

In this episode of What Works, Jennifer walks us through what a feminine economy looks like, how to use those values to guide your business decisions, and tools for working on your business in a holistic, healthy way for work/life balance.

Jennifer also discusses her experience with growing from a solopreneur mindset to a leadership one… and the struggles she faced on that journey.

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What is a feminine economy?

“If capitalism is an economy that values masculine traits, what could another economy look like? That’s where we get the feminine economy. It’s almost a backward question. Instead of saying what economy would we need for feminine values, I’m saying: what if we start valuing feminine principles? Will that shift the economy?” — Jennifer Armbrust

Capitalism currently operates according to masculine traits of the ego, Jennifer says. For example, worker value comes from productivity, poverty is vilified, nature is dominated, and systemic racism and sexism are commonplace.

You can find the graphics mentioned in the podcast here.

So what would the world look like if we included resourcefulness, mindfulness and gratitude, integrity, and honesty in the very foundation of every business and system? Things would radically change — for the better.

Infusing feminine ideals into daily life

“It’s a creative act every day going to my business, taking these ideas and ideals, and asking: what are the choices and the ways I’m setting up my business that’s going to evoke them?” — Jennifer Armbrust

One of Jennifer’s most recent experiences putting her values into her business was with her new office. “I want it to be honoring my body,” Jennifer shares, “which is the first principle of the 12 principles for prototyping a feminist business. Our bodies are things that we use in our day-to-day workspace so how do I configure my workspace to support my body?”

With that as a guiding principle, she got both a sitting desk and a standing desk. She also added a meditation pillow. “I’m not trying to make the choice that other people made before me,” she says. “Instead, it’s: what is my office? What is Jennifer Armbrust’s office for Sister? What is this space going to be and how do I work in it?”

What are some feminine values that you already infuse into your business? What are some that you’d like to explore more in your everyday work life? Check out the 12 Principles of the Feminine Economy from Sister for more insight and ideas!

Scaling from one to many, with intention

“I can see the vision and the value of creating a framework for feminist entrepreneurship. It doesn’t exist right now. I had to get to this crossroad where I looked at the two paths and said: Jennifer, are you going to do it by yourself or are you going to create the structure that allows you to co-author that framework with other people?”

For Jennifer, scaling up from one to many was a no brainer. “The very principles of feminine and feminist ideas say together,” she says. “It doesn’t say you’re the hero that creates the genius idea. It says we do this together because we know that together is more important and more powerful than what one person can do alone.”

It was an identity crisis for her, she says. At 40-years-old, Jennifer’s been in business for 17 years. Most of the time, she worked alone as a solopreneur. But with a big vision, Jennifer realized that she couldn’t tackle her vision for the feminine economy on her own… and decided that it was time to hire a team.

Part of that decision tied back to work/life balance. To achieve her goals alone, she realized she had to work 80 hours a week. Surfing and enjoying nature is a commitment she’s made for her life… and working long hours every day meant she wouldn’t be living in alignment with her own values.

Are you at a crossroads, like Jennifer, where it’s time to scale up and hire so you can bring your vision to life?

Hear more from Jennifer Armbrust on the Feminine Economy, being in partnership with your business, and how to deal with growing from solopreneur to leading a brand that’s bigger than you.

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

May 15, 2018

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support