You know those moments that you look back on and say to yourself, “that happened for a reason”? Well, I can safely say that meeting Emily Raleigh, the CEO of Spire & Co. was one of those moments for me.
2 months ago, a friend of mine from Fordham University reached out to me and told me that I absolutely had to meet this girl, Emily. She told me that Emily and I would click instantly, and are basically the “same person”. Now, I have to admit, I think I’m pretty unique, so when my friend told me that she had “found my twin”, I was intrigued, and I knew that I had to do whatever it took to meet this mysterious girl named Emily.
Flash forward 2 weeks, after about 2 hours of Facebook Messaging back and forth, and an additional hour of thorough “Facebook Stalking”, Emily and I had set up a breakfast date on the Upper West Side in NYC. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was fairly confident that Emily and I would hit it off, and we did. And now, after 2 months of cultivating our friendship, I am honored to share all of the amazing qualities and accomplishments that Emily has with the She’s Fit To Lead World!
So, get ready to be inspired, because Emily is the TRUE definition of a “lady boss”. She has class. She has intelligence, and she has an amazing story and purpose to share with the world!
1. What inspired you to start Spire?
Spire & Co was started because I wanted to have my little sister’s back.
When I was a senior in high school, my little sister, Sophie, was starting her freshman year. I had a lot of wishes for her, and I just hoped that she would find fulfillment everywhere she went in the next four years. So I wrote Sophie a field guide to finding that. After giving it to her, it got me thinking: why not start a magazine that would make other little sisters feel like someone had their back? And that’s how Spire & Co started!
We initially had 9 girls involved, and we released a small magazine that we planned to be only 10 pages long. Soon enough, the sisterhood began to grow and so did our platform. Now we have raised the volume on what we have been doing for nearly four years and just rebranded to the name Spire & Co, which is essentially our original “Smart Girls Group” amped up with an exclamation point.
2. As a young entrepreneur is it ever challenging to be taken seriously? What do you do to change the dynamic?
It definitely can be a challenge. I’m sure it can be easy to write me off because I’m young, but I don’t even consider my age a barrier, and if I keep that mentality, whoever I’m speaking to usually feels the same way. People’s perceptions are just the initial energy they bring into something, but I’m a big believer that with the right intentions, you can change that energy rather quickly.
3. You are a busy college student. You are running a big online media company, and you have other interests. How do you balance it all?
I get this question a lot and the funny thing is, I honestly don’t think much about it, and when I do, that’s when I get stressed out. I try very hard to simply not think about how much is on my plate and just get it done. I make a to do list, and I just make sure that it all gets completed on time, and when it doesn’t, I try to figure out how to do better next time. As far as balancing is concerned, I color code everything in my agenda book and when I’m planning out my week, I look to make sure that all of the colors are even throughout the pages, and that’s how I know I’m balancing everything.
4. Will Spire be your post college career? Did you ever think about doing anything else?
Yes, Spire will very much still continue when I graduate. These last four years have been such a great time for me to collect the information and experiences I need to be able to run this company full time and grow it into the brand I know it can be.
I have always kept the door open for other opportunities to come in, should they be a good fit for me and will always continue to do that, because you never know what opportunities for growth are going to present itself. With that being said, I’ve never felt as passionate about something as I do about Spire, so it would be hard for something to peak my interest enough to take it on.
5. You have interviewed a lot of really inspiring young female entrepreneurs. Do you think there is any common theme to their stories? What gave them the confidence to push forward?
I’ve never been asked that before! I think the common theme is that they are all actively pursuing the search for their truest selves. They are capitalizing on their strengths, walking towards what feels most authentically them, and when they start to veer off in the wrong direction, they make adjustments.
I think what gave them the confidence to push forward is that they have a vision for something that doesn’t yet exist, and they keep their eyes glued to that vision, no matter what comes their way.
6. Do you ever have days when you doubt yourself? What do you do?
Absolutely. I think if you don’t have days where you doubt everything that you are, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. On those days, I often try to turn on my mental machine mode and power through whatever work I have to do and take my emotions out of it. At the end of the day, if you let your doubt stop you, you are allowing yourself to waste time, which is an entrepreneur’s greatest asset.
Once all the work is done, I usually plug my headphones in, close my eyes and type every single thought I have into a note on my computer. By the time I finish writing, I usually resolved whatever negative vibe was camping out in my head. If I haven’t, then I know it’s more serious and usually will call my mom, read or watch something inspiring, and go to bed. But before I go to bed, I promise myself that tomorrow is going to be a fresh start. You can’t let things lag too long. Time is too valuable.
7. What is your advice to any of our followers who have a dream but feel afraid to go for it?
Identify what it is that you are afraid of. Usually, it isn’t nearly as concerning as you think. There have been plenty of times that I’ve been afraid while pursuing Spire, but usually, it’s me being incredibly dramatic. If you talk it out with yourself, you’d be astonished how uncomplicated it actually is.
8. What is your advice for our readers looking to start a business or join a start up? Are there any must take courses in college? Anything else that is a “must do”?
Jump right in. You don’t have to spend a lot (or any) money to start a business. Join a startup team, or just be a part of the entrepreneurship community in your area. And just think about it, what do you really have to lose? And if you do have things you can lose, can you get them back if they matter to you?
As far as any must take courses in college, I would absolutely say accounting. That’s just one subject you can’t teach yourself. I’m a big believer in teaching yourself any skill you need to get your business off the ground, but when it comes to accounting, just take a class. You’ll love yourself for it. Your business will love you for it. And your accountant will love you for it.
And the other thing I would say is just having one person you can count on to support you. You hit a lot of rough patches when building a business and often, even those the closest to you will doubt you. They don’t mean it in a bad way, but they want the best for you, and building a business is taxing and looks even worse from the perspective of those who love you. So find someone who you can always count on to support you and hold you accountable.
9. What makes you feel confident? How do you inspire others to feel confident?
This is such a good question. I used to think success made me feel confident. But the thing is, I felt confident when I was successful because I felt like I was in my flow. I was in the groove of being the truest form of myself. Saying “be true to yourself” sounds so cheesy, though. But I love the idea that you feel confident when you are authentically yourself, without any filters masking who you actually are. There’s a great quote that says, “When you love yourself, you don’t even have to think about how to be yourself–it just happens.” I think confidence is just a derivative of being friends with yourself. And I think you inspire other people to feel confident by leading by example and when you find something that works for you, sharing the lesson with others.
10. What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become Fit to Lead?
She’s Fit to Lead means deciding to create the life you truly desire. Leaders are creators of new realities. The only way you can create new realities for anyone, though, is to first create the life you desire for yourself. Someone becomes Fit to Lead when they actively participate in the daily creation of their own reality.
There you have it! A huge shout out goes to Emily Raleigh and the entire team at Spire & Co. because they are truly setting the pace for young female leadership out there in the world.