As I was in the beginning process of putting this website together, I kept meeting these incredible women from all over the world who were just simply badass. They were passionate, hard-working, and embodied everything that I wanted to portray in my own life and also on this site. So I decided to give them the credit they deserve and created the ‘Badass Women In Business’ section to highlight their efforts to make this world a better place. I hope you enjoy their interviews and if you have anyone you think should be interviewed, leave a comment below.
The Ladies of BE. Magazine
When I chatted with Bridget back in August about TT&W, I was just as intrigued about her new venture as I was to talk about the Day of Trust. Bridget was one half of BE. Magazine (Emily is the other half), an online resource that aims to empower women to do just that; BE. Helping women truly be the best version of themselves, BE. Magazine is on a mission to be a personable resource for women to use to reach their highest potential. The online magazine launched at the beginning of the year, and is growing each month with content and readership. I can see it only being months before they take off in the media world, being the badass business women that they are. I’m a big fan of their work and their mission. Women empowering women? Yes please!
Both Bridget and Emily were kind enough to answer my questions about BE. Magazine, being a woman in the biz world, and what they’ve learned along the way.
Who are you!? And where do you live?
B: My name is Bridget Thoreson, and I live in New York City (Brooklyn, to be exact).
E: My name is Emily MacDonald and I live in Crofton, MD which is a suburb about 40 minutes outside of Washington, DC.
Tell me the story of BE. Magazine and why you started it
B: The idea for BE. Magazine (if not the name) was hatched in my college dorm room. I was living with my good friend Ann, who is also a writer, and we were discussing how frustrating it is to look at the media and almost never see someone who looks like us. By that I don’t mean race, ethnicity, religion, or anything like that. What I mean is, all the women we were seeing whose stories were being told, all the women who were being held up as role models were celebrities or politicians or reality tv stars. The only “real women” we got were on the news broadcast. For years after that, I toyed with the idea of starting a publication that emphasized real women, held them up as strong role models, and covered topics that interested real women.
Now, that was awhile ago, so there are some places now that cover real women, but usually with a specific angle—like real women entrepreneurs or something like that. In our magazine, we want to cover everyone. So many people are doing wonderful things—whether it’s something huge like starting a business or social movement, or something seemingly smaller like standing up for what they believe in or pursuing their dreams.
Last year I was having a tough time in my career, and even though my personal life was great, I felt dissatisfied. I brought up the magazine idea to my fiancé at the time, and he really encouraged me to pursue it—he even made me come up with a list of steps and deadlines to submit to him so he could me keep on track! One of the first steps was find a partner, because I knew I couldn’t do something like this alone. So I tapped Emily. I texted her “I’m thinking of starting a website for real women. Do you want to help? This is a real question.” And she said yes and we spent a few months planning and figuring things out. We launched our first issue on January 1, 2015. We absolutely were not ready, but that was the deadline we set for ourselves and we knew that if we let ourselves miss it, we’d keep coming up with excuses. We figured done was better than perfect, and we’ve been figuring things out as we go. That can be tough because it’s a bit stressful, but it’s great because it means we get better and better each month!
E: Well, my sister, Bridget, was the brains behind the project. She had the idea and tinkered with it for a few years, mentioning it on occasion, before she asked if I wanted in. She basically just texted me (last summer a MONTH before she got married) and was like I’m doing this with or without you. Are you in or out? And by the way this isn’t a joke. I didn’t think about it. I just said, yes.
Her concept was pretty simple. Take real women. Women like her and me, and promote them for their accomplishments. We were both so tired of mainstream media talking about celebrities and socialites, and even athletes nowadays, who aren’t very wholesome people, and promoting their agendas or accomplishments. We thought why should they be revered when there are thousands of women out there, who aren’t in the spotlight, and are managing to accomplish some really cool things? We wanted to feature real, down-to-earth women and place them on an (admittedly small pedestal) for their successes.
What have you learned in the process that will stay with you forever?
B: One thing I’ve definitely learned is the importance of promoting yourself. There’s such a sleazy connotation to that idea, and I bought into it for a really long time. I hated elevator speeches, I hated networking events, I hated asking people for favors. Part of it was I didn’t want to impose on people or look like I was being selfish or something, and I really believed it was important to make it “on my own.” But I’ve learned that a little self-promotion is necessary and if you do it right, no one will think worse of you. And sometimes you can’t do it on your own—hundreds of people aren’t going to just stumble upon our website if we don’t use social media and ask our friends to share it!
E: I’ve learned the importance of being proud of your accomplishments and being happy with yourself. We have all these women asking to be profiled and they are happy with what they are doing and wanting to share it with the world. When we first started we profiled ourselves to get the site off the ground and get some content and my thought was “what will I say about myself that is important? And who is going to want to read it?” But we’ve had so many awesome women say “I’m amazing and here’s why.” I definitely struggle with speaking about myself that way. Even now if someone asks about BE. it’s really hard for me to be like, here’s what it is and why you should read it!
Do you believe more women should become solo/entrepreneurs? What do you think women bring to the table?
B: I definitely think more women should become entrepreneurs, if that is their dream! There are a ton of statistics about how many companies each year are started by women, and I think more should be done to nurture those companies. There are some great resources out there for women-owned businesses—forums, and classes, and websites that highlight these stories—and I think that’s terrific. If entrepreneurship is someone’s dream, man or woman, I hope they don’t let themselves become discouraged by statistics. It’s tough to say that women bring something unique to the table without falling back on stereotypes about empathy and things like that—I think all women are different and have different strengths, and I also think these strengths can be highlighted and improved through entrepreneurship.
E: I definitely think more should if they want to! Women can do it all. There is nothing a man can do that a woman can’t, but there is one key thing a woman can do that a man can’t and, unfortunately, I think that fact is still looked at as a negative or a hindrance more than a positive. But putting all the gender clichés aside there’s no reason, in today’s society, why women couldn’t or shouldn’t become an entrepreneur if that’s their dream. And when they do we’ll feature them.
Can you dish out some advice for women who are thinking about starting something on their own?
B: One thing that I would say is what I said before—done is better than perfect. I don’t know who was the first person to say that, but it’s so true. If you’re waiting until your business plan is flawless or you’ve got everything planned out, nothing will ever happen. I’m a big planner—I brainstorm and make lists to no end, but when it comes to sitting down and taking action, well, I’m not so good. There comes a time when you don’t feel ready, but you just have to start anyway and figure out the rest as you go.
E: Persevere. There are plenty of times when I think “why am I spending my only 30 minutes of free time today on this? It would be so much easier to just forget it.” And my husband often says “Man, you spend a lot of time on BE. stuff” (to which I reply I feel like I need to spend so much more). But we have a goal. And even on the days (or weeks) when it seems like we’re at a stand still if we just work a little harder we see progress. We get a new follower. Or a comment from someone we don’t know. Or a woman we profiled sends an email thanking us for recognizing and promoting her success. It’s those little victories that make it worth it.
What are your plans for BE.?
B: Right now, our plans are to keep publishing, growing our contributor base, and our readership. We’d love to grow the site to the point where we can publish great new stories every day, where we can be a community for women, to provide some attainable inspiration. Every woman has an idea of the woman she would like to be, the woman she would be in the movie version of her life. It’s not a perfect version of herself, just the best version. We believe we can all get there, attain that state of being where we reach our full potential, and we want to be a resource that inspires other women to reach for it. We want to be source of real inspiration, and help provide tools to turn that inspiration into action, and that action into achievement.
E: I have a tendency to tell my husband “in my head I’m…a musician or an extrovert or super stylish, etc.” So in my head, BE. is a national name and we’re full-time entrepreneurs. I sort of use the “in my head” as a crutch or a way of not fully committing to trying something. But for real, that’s the big picture I have for BE. But on the small scheme I really just want to grow our readership and make more women aware that there are healthier, more intellectual topics and people out there than what the mainstream media outlets are throwing at them.
What makes you the happiest about what you’re doing?
B: On a day-to-day basis, running a content-focused website is really hard. We each have full-time jobs, and families and social lives. There are a lot of days when sitting down and writing articles or emailing contributors is a bit deflating. But when I step back and look at the project as a whole, it makes me very happy. We’re creating something that wasn’t there before. It doesn’t reach a million people, but the feedback we get from the people we do reach is really positive. And that’s what makes me happiest. We’re making something that only we two could make. Sure, other websites can write about the same topics, but no two other people would create the same website that we have. And other people—family, friends, strangers—like what we’re doing. And that’s why I force my husband to force me to work on it, even when I’d rather be vegging out with him, why I’m sitting writing an article on a Friday night—because in the end, this is what I’ve always wanted to be doing.
E: Getting to work with my sister. She’s a slave-driver (just kidding), but she’s definitely more driven than I am and pushes me to try harder and work more. Without her I think I would have been discouraged and given up (or at least missed a lot of deadlines!). Also, I really like that we’re putting unique content out there. We’re interviewing women who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily have an outlet to voice their achievements. And even if we write an article that has been done before we try to have our contributors put their own personal spin on it.
What’s something that you’re proud of yourself for doing? Being? Learning? Realizing?
B: I’m proud of myself for studying abroad in college, and for continuing to travel. I’m proud of myself for always trying to put my all into my personal relationships, because I think they’re the most important thing. I’m proud that I learned how to live on my own and support myself. And I’m proud for learning to take the bad with the good and even though there are things in life I wish I could change, being happy and finding a good balance between contentment and ambition.
E: Traveling. Jumping out of an airplane. Marrying my soulmate. Living alone in DC before I did that. Buying a home before I was 30. Learning life’s too short and realizing there’s no possible way to fix that so you have to make every moment (even the normal, everyday, dull ones) count.
To learn more about BE., visit their website here
Connect with them on FB: Be. Magazine
About the author:
Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found on Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that inspires young adults to utilize the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s enjoying the Pacific Northwest and her mom’s tacos.