Last night was a night of many firsts. The Live Loud Collective, a community of fearless and fiery Charlotte, North Carolina based female entrepreneurs, held its first Unstoppable Women’s Dinner Club to a sold-out group.

It was also the awarding of our first Fish Tank Micro-Grant. These are tiny grants to start big things for women and girls who want to launch new businesses, develop new products, and/or receive training and education related to entrepreneurial skills. A percentage of the proceeds raised from Live Loud Collective events and merchandise sales is used to funds these grants.

Our first recipients have definitely set a high bar for future grant recipients…. In fact, they set a high bar for all of us.

Seven-year-old Lexi is the founder and owner of Lexi’s Unicorn Shop. She hired her nine-year-old sister Sydnie to serve as marketing director. With the help of their mom, Kari, they have launched an entire product line of unicorn products including t-shirts, stickers and hats that feature art work by Sydnie. They have a Facebook page (which you should immediately go and like) and a website where they sell their products (which you should immediately go and buy https://www.lexisunicornshop.com).

For those of you who could not be there last night, here are the top ten things I learned from Lexi and Sydnie:

1. Don’t you ever doubt that you belong in “that room.” Last night when Lexi and Sydnie walked into the restaurant, they undoubtedly had to feel a little out of place in a roomful of really talkative adults most of whom they have never met. Did they turn and leave? Hide in the corner? Not hardly. They positioned themselves in the middle of it all and soaked up every second. And we loved them for it.

2. You are never too young- or too old- to pursue your dreams. Do you tell yourself that you can’t possibly do X, Y or Z because you are too young? Or too old? Start looking for another excuse. Lexi and Sydnie are seven and nine. They didn’t let their ages stop them. You shouldn’t either.

3. Your success is not contingent on your attaining a certain level of education. While I am sure Sydnie and Lexi are super star students, they haven’t even started middle school yet.  If you are allowing your lack of a ______________ degree to hold you back, think again.

4. You need someone in your corner cheering you on. Lexi and Sydnie could have never launched their business without two very important things: their mother and each other. As I sat watching their mom stand in the background letting her girls work their magic, I was reminded of my own mom and all the lessons she took me to, plays she attended, articles she edited, etc. You gotta have a cheering section (and if that cheering section happens to be your family, then you are incredibly blessed).

5. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone- or to let other people shine. When Lexi and Sydnie accepted the grant last night, the typically more extroverted Sydnie chose to lend her silent support and allow her sister Lexi to bask in the limelight. In that moment, two little girls each stepped out of their comfort zones- and the results were spectacular.  Props to those who shine- and those who allow others to shine.

6. Admit when you are wrong, learn from it and move on. As with all businesses, Lexi’s Unicorn Shop has had its share of drama. For instance, there was the time that Lexi fired Sydnie when Sydnie refused to go with her to Claire’s to pass out business cards. Rough times. But eventually, Lexi came around and realized that she really needed Sydnie’s talents to compliment her own… and so she re-hired her. Screw up- fix it- learn from it- move on. Next. Got it?

7. Negotiate for what you want- and get it in writing. Sydnie is no sucker. After the “Claire’s incident,” she insisted upon a contract that detailed the terms of her employment as marketing director. No more unexpected firings for her! Besides money, she also insisted on at least four mentions on social media. Get what you want- and get it in writing.

8. Set the boundaries that make sense for you and don’t apologize for them.
We could all stand to learn a thing or two from Lexi’s Unicorns Return Policy:

9. Be prepared… but also be authentic. When Lexi took the mic last night to accept the grant, she pulled out a piece of paper where she had written down notes from which to read. Kudos to her for being prepared. But you know when she truly owned the room? When she folded up that piece of paper and spoke from her heart instead.

10. Dream big… but leave room for some reality (also known as “The money you make can’t all go to buy stuff you want at Claire’s” rule.) For you, maybe it isn’t Claire’s. Maybe it’s Neiman Marcus. Target. Whatever. Regardless, you can’t spend it all- no matter how great the sale may be.

Lexi and Sydnie, thank you for allowing the Live Loud Collective to be a small part of your big dreams.  We celebrate with you- and with women of all ages who have the courage to pursue their dreams… unicorns and all.

Lexi Kalgren, Q1 Fish Tank Micro-Grant Recipient

Photo: BlueSky Photo Artists

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