Miss A Columnist

Lesley Haenny is the Seattle Editor for Miss A. She is an Air Force wife now living in the Seattle area. Prior to living in Seattle, Lesley spent 7 years in Washington, DC, working as a Congressional liaison. She grew up in a small, mountain town in Southern California, sandwiched between an older sister and a younger brother. Her two hard working parents taught her to always go for the clearance rack, bring your lunch everyday, work hard for what you have, and always take the opportunity to travel and play outside. Lesley has been actively involved in various charities such as the Animal Resource Foundation, Komen For the Cure, Prevent Cancer Foundation, American Diabetes Association and the Race for Hope (benefitting the National Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure).

Interview With Founder Violette Sproul At FemCity Seattle’s One Year Anniversary

Miss A Seattle writers Stacey Mertes and Lesley Haenny with April, owner of April's Photography (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Miss A Seattle writers Stacey Mertes and Lesley Haenny with April, owner of April’s Photography (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Miss A has grown organically by building a powerful online network of women. By tossing aside the superficial and shallow, Miss A aims to deliver sensibility and substance with style. With this mantra in mind, I was drawn toward another amazing outlet for women-in-the-know, Femfessionals.

In 2009, Miami-native, Violette Sproul, started Femfessionals. The mission of Femfessionals is to connect professional women through the creation of local Femfessional communities supported locally through Connection Events, Pink Collar Business Workshops, Around Town Socials and social media; and nationally through their organization, online presence and interactive website.

Violette Sproul speaking to the women about Femfessionals (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Violette Sproul speaking to the women about Femfessionals (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Seattle has its own Femfessionals chapter, FemCity Seattle, which recently celebrated its one year anniversary. With the amazing Amalia Martino (CEO of BlueShoes Media, a Seattle-based boutique entertainment PR firm) at the helm of FemCity Seattle, she hopes to continue to identify the needs of business women in Seattle and create events that are a great use of their time.

Fellow Miss A writer, Stacey Mertes, and I had the opportunity to attend the one-year anniversary event for FemCity Seattle and meet Violette Sproul herself at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Bellevue.

Can you tell Miss A Seattle readers about how you started Femfessionals?

Ironically, I started Femfessionals simply as a side project that at the time I envisioned to be very small and private with a maximum of 20 women. {and of course only in Miami}. After our second connection lunch, with 60 women in attendance, followed by requests from women around the country for their own Femfessionals community due to the new methods of social media sharing, my vision grew. There was a series of “aha” moments along the way and feedback from the community as to what women in business really needed to grow revenue and make authentic connections to expand their business. After a year of Femfessionals in Miami, and an exponential interest in Femfessionals nationally, the next aha moment occurred. If Miami needed Femfessionals and all these women around the country are requesting a Femfessionals community near them, then would the world need Femfessionals? While on the phone with Jessica Passman, an attorney I had met at our second lunch, I shared my vision for Femfessionals global. And within minutes we formed a business partnership. We spent a year moonlighting with research and focus groups on how to create what our community said they needed. After a year of research we were ready to launch a pilot of our first Femfessionals Community. At the same time we had our first angel investor come on board so the vision really started to take form. We launched our first community and that did very well. We then launched a second community and sat back and watched, reviewed and listened to the feedback. We made more tweaks and now are in 40 communities in the US including Toronto. We continue to listen, host focus groups, tweak and provide innovative platforms to help women in business.

Listening to Violette speak (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Listening to Violette speak (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Q: What’s it been like for you to watch Femfessionals grow into cities like Seattle?

A: It’s been truly amazing. There are truly no words to share what Jessica and I feel when we hear how Femfessionals has changed the lives of thousands of women with increase growth and revenue of their businesses. I travel to all of our communities and the feeling is always the same. FemCity Seattle started the Designer Series and showed us a new creative way to showcase women and their businesses. FCS has been instrumental in creating new platforms to not only showcase our members but also help them expand their brand by workshops such as the ones hosted at Google {G+}.

Q: What do you think about Seattle from a business perspective and the opportunities that are available for women to break the glass ceiling?

A: Each community is different. But the feedback we constantly get from our communities is that they need help with connections and continuous assistance on the latest ways to feature, promote and grow their business. I am a true believer that the only glass ceiling we have is the one we impose on ourselves. Femfessionals is there for to do whatever it can to make sure women have all the resources needed to remove any limitations.

Q: Miss A is the known as the intersection of where charity meets style. Are there any non-profits or charities that you partner with that you’d like to talk about?

A: Femfessionals women love giving back! It’s part of our core and our every breathe. Girl Scouts, Dress for Success, Womens Fund and YWCA are just a few we have partnered up with on local levels. Since the start of Femfessionals, it was always tied strongly to the community. We view Femfessionals as a community movement ensuring that we help women every step of the way.

Karen Khuu, Deanna Durbin and Em Goo (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Karen Khuu, Deanna Durbin and Em Goo (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Q: What motivates you to keep going?

A: Every time I receive an email from a member or I meet a member at an event and they share with me how Femfessionals changed their business and their life, it motivates me to continue to work 60 hour weeks, 6 days a week, holidays and all so that we can continue to be on the cutting edge for providing our members the necessary resources to always help them achieve their goals. Every email, conversation and social media mention inspires us to continue expanding our community. We have a collegiate program and soon mini fems {a mother daughter project} all created from the inspiring women we meet every day.

FemCity Seattle President, Amalia Martino and Femfessionals founder, Violette Sproul (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

FemCity Seattle President, Amalia Martino and Femfessionals founder, Violette Sproul (Photo Credit: A to Z Photography)

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for the women of Seattle who want to succeed in the professional world?

A: Be passionate with what you do, be kind to others, shoot for your ultimate dream and remember it’s our duty to help other women along the way.

You can find out more about FemCity Seattle here.

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