Women in business: Never apologize for who you are

Coral Darby

Editor’s note: For our special Women in Business issue, we asked women in our local business community to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina. Here is one of those stories.

I’m typically one to shy away from the women-led designation because at the end of the day, we’re all people simply trying to carve our own path. I’m also uncomfortable with the moniker because after years of traveling to trade shows and hearing colleagues reference the Darby Communications team as the “Darby Girls,” I got fed up with it. The title simply felt demeaning, especially to a grown, middle-aged, successful woman. Eventually, we began to correct people by saying, “You mean the Darby Comm Team, yes, that’s us!”

This brings me to my first bit of advice for all the female business owners and entrepreneurs: Never apologize for who you are, what you believe in and what you set out to accomplish. Stand tall, be proud of the work you’re accomplishing and respectfully correct people when they make you feel uncomfortable.

Titles aside, I admire and cherish my female colleagues. When push comes to shove, I’m proud to say that we are there for one another. At the beginning of the pandemic, I found myself incredibly stressed with all the variables March and April 2020 delivered. With so many unknowns, I worried about making payroll and rent, and navigating grant and loan applications with the federal government. It was all so much to absorb.

Fortunately, I have a group of peers who believe in mutual support, and we leaned into one another during the early months of the pandemic. Even though our businesses are very different, we shared information on whom to contact, ways to populate forms, various deadlines and everything else that accompanied that challenging spring. There was no undercutting, no secrecy, just a genuine desire to help one another through a difficult time.

My takeaway from it all and final piece of advice: Invest time and energy in a network of like-minded business owners. By taking this approach, you’re able to develop a quasi-advisory board on your side, because at some point in business you will need them, and you’ll be very grateful for their insights — and their friendship!

— Coral Darby
Founder, Darby Communications


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