Women in Business: Never give up

IN GOOD COMPANY: "Surround yourself with other business owners and startup types," says Safi Martin, COO of Hood Huggers International. "Being an entrepreneur means looking at the world through a different lens — you need other people who see through that same lens cheering you on." Also featured is DeWayne Barton, Martin's husband and business partner. Photo by Jay Hill

Editor’s note: For our Women in Business issue, we invited women in our local business communities to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina. 

Safi Martin is the chief operations officer for Hood Huggers International, which she runs with her husband and founder, Dewayne Barton.

What is the best advice you were given about launching your business?

Believe in the impossible and never give up. No matter what anyone says, stay true to your vision and dream.

What is the best advice you’d share with someone just starting out today?

Get a mentor to walk you through the initial startup, then again when you hire your first employees. Get a great accountant that wants to help you grow as a business owner. Surround yourself with other business owners and startup types. Being an entrepreneur means looking at the world through a different lens — you need other people who see through that same lens cheering you on. Finally, don’t let “failures” or “nos” deter you — keep going. In fact, use these experiences as fuel to feed your own motivation.

As a woman, what unique challenges have you experienced within your industry, and how have you overcome these obstacles?

The two biggest things that have come up for me as a woman are:

  1. Being underestimated — some folks assume that I’m less capable, intelligent, resourceful, creative, etc.
  2. Underestimating myself (imposter syndrome) — buying into No. 1 and letting other folks’ limited imaginations start to define me.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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