A PIECE OF EMILY'S STORY
Today's post is all about Emily Raleigh, a hard-working gal who's passionate about what she does. She's a senior at Fordham University and the founder of Spire & Co. She lives in New York City and is an inspiration to any young women in college who want to start their own business! We hope you are inspired by reading a little bit about Emily Raleigh!
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW?
I’m currently a senior at Fordham University in the Gabelli School of Business and I am the Founder of Spire & Co, an online destination covering the inspiring, the informative, the intriguing, and the encouraging for ambitious young women.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE YOUR OWN BUSINESS? WAS THERE A CERTAIN MOMENT?
This definitely was not a planned business! I was a senior in high school, dreaming about studying chemistry in college with the hopes of becoming an orthodontist. Entrepreneurship was never in my thought process until I started seeing the impact we were having.
However, throughout the whole process, I always felt like I was in my zone and I loved that. I had never felt like my soul belonged somewhere as I do now that I own my own business. And it makes perfect sense. In hindsight, I have approached every opportunity in my life like an entrepreneur without ever realizing it.
There wasn’t a moment I knew, but when I was a freshman in college, we won the Kenneth Cole 2013 AWEARNESS Grant, which was $5,000 and determined by Kenneth Cole, someone I so admire as an entrepreneur. That was definitely a turning point where it felt like this could work out.
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE TYPICALLY LOOK LIKE?
I usually try to wake up between 6am and 7:30am, depending on when I went to sleep the night before. I’m trying to be more conscientious of getting enough sleep.
When I wake up, I usually try to stick to a solid morning routine (which I actually wrote about on Spire!), which consists of guided meditations, tidying up my room, and making a big breakfast.
From there, I head to our office which fortunately is only a ten minute walk from my apartment, where I get to work with such talented, fun teammates on Spire. Our work usually consists of a lot of computer work mixed with strategic planning, but it definitely varies on a daily basis. We are all project oriented people, so we try to build our plans into projects because we all function best in that sort of environment.
I have a lot of night and afternoon classes this semester, so I usually have to head to class towards the evening. Luckily, most of my classes this semester are directly applicable to Spire so that helps me leave the office without feeling like I’m wasting time.
At night I usually head to SoulCycle which is my favorite way to wind down the day and I’ve found it to be a time when I get the most ideas for Spire as well. Once I get back, I spend the rest of the night answering emails, working on projects for Spire, and I try to end the day reading something that usually benefits either Spire’s business or our content.
WERE/ARE THERE ANY OBSTACLES YOU FACED WHEN STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Definitely. The most challenging part has always been fitting everything in. Double timing school and a company is not easy and I've had many moments of trial along the way. The funny thing is, I’m finally starting to think I have it figured out and I graduate next month!
TELL US MORE ABOUT SPIRE & CO, WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
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 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 released a small magazine that we planned to only be 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 rebranded to the name Spire & Co, which is essentially Smart Girls Group with an exclamation point.
WHO IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION?
I get this question a lot and it’s always a difficult one to answer. I definitely feel grateful that it is a tricky one, though, because I think that is very telling of how many people I’ve been fortunate to be inspired by.
But I would definitely say my Nana. She’s an entrepreneur, having owned a trophy shop for decades now, and seeing her energy for life and ability to meet even the hardest challenges with incredible gusto is so inspiring. And my mom has been monumental in the person that I am in all aspects, including as a leader. She’s the person who I can call at any time, with any problem and more than anything, she’ll tell me I can do anything in a way that I believe it. All of the women in my family are my heroes and I wouldn’t be the girl I am without them.
HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE TRAIT HARD-WORKING? AND HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE THROUGH YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I think I quite simply just don’t stop until something has met the standard I expect for myself and what I do.
Hard work is one of those things that sounds both easy and incredibly difficult. I think I’ve learned that having a good work ethic is also understanding when you are running on empty and need to replenish. I’ve tried to do more of that this year. I have a machine setting, where I can just put my head down and work until something is finished, but no matter who you are, eventually you get tired if you don’t recharge. I’ve started trying to pair hard work with smart work and I’ve started to see that I’m able to work harder and longer when I am more mindful.
If there is one thing owning a business is about, it's hard work. I have been able to set high expectations for the business amidst college because I know if I have a goal, I’m going to do whatever it takes to reach it.
WHAT OTHER PASSIONS DO YOU HAVE BESIDES SPIRE & CO?
I adore reading. It is one of the few things that can make me stop working. I love reading non-fiction books that serve as life game changers and I so enjoy getting to talk about books with friends. Luckily, I’m friends with a lot of writers so they feel the same way I do.
I also love SoulCycle, which is a spin studio here in New York and they have studios in various cities throughout the U.S. If you haven’t tried it, I highly suggest it. It’s one of my favorite things to do with my friends and it’s quite possibly the only workout I’ve ever done where I practically forget I’m exercising in the first place. It’s my favorite way to blow off steam at the end of the day while catching up with friends.
ASIDE FROM BEING HARD-WORKING, WHAT OTHER PERSONALITY TRAITS DESCRIBE YOU AND WHY?
Confident: I’m very lucky that I was raised in an environment that totally cultivated confidence. I’ve been surrounded by confident women my entire life and my parents set the foundation for my sister and I to be the same. I think there is a lot of power in believing that everyone has greatness within them, including yourself.
Creative: This wasn’t ever something I thought much about until I was developing Spire. I thrive in spaces where I can think of a thousand different ideas a day to solve the same problem.
Passionate: Simply put, I don’t think you can own a business without being passionate about what you are doing. I’ve come to learn that I approach most of my life with that same perspective.
WHAT WOULD YOUR BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE TO A YOUNG GIRL LOOKING TO START OUT ON HER OWN ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURE?
If you completely, 100% believe that you can do absolutely anything, that’s exactly what you can do. When I started Spire & Co, I didn’t know anything about new media, journalism, computer programming, or business strategy. But there is nothing you can’t learn or try.
And it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything all at once. But the power is in the focus. If you want to make a difference, focus on keeping it simple. Plant your roots deep and your growth will be much stronger and more impactful.
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo credit to HZphotography