When Shawntan Howell presented the concept for Girls Are Powerful to potential supporters several years ago, she was told it wasn’t a viable business idea. But Shawntan wouldn’t take no for an answer. She knew her idea had merit and was determined to get her business off the ground. So she did what many women do: She bootstrapped. And then she started connecting with supporters who believe in her mission. Seven years later, Girls Are Powerful has empowered more than a thousand girls to embrace their unique identity and own their personal power.
Shawntan is among a growing community of women business owners who are refusing to settle for the status quo. They’re rejecting gender and cultural biases and taking matters into their own hands. They know what they stand for and they want everyone else to know too. They’ve made a monumental shift in the way they talk about their businesses. Rather than focusing on WHAT they do, they’re leading with their WHY.
Shawntan’s is one of more than 30 stories in the book, “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” A Whyography is a founder story fueled by purpose. It combines the principles of storytelling and the power of purpose to honor your journey and what it took to get where you are today. It articulates the problems you’re solving and the difference you’re making in the world. Your Whyography connects you with consumers, investors and employees who align with your values, revere your brand, and become your biggest advocates.
The guidebook to developing your Whyography includes dozens of exercises and examples, plus the inspirational stories of more than 30 fierce founders who are leading with their WHY. Author Chris Olsen also shares outrageous moments from her 12-year radio career—from being asked to hide a recording artist’s handgun to transporting thousands of dollars in cash in her purse—and how the moments that tested her values ultimately led to the launch of My Founder Story, a social enterprise dedicated to supporting women-owned businesses.
This book includes the stories of these fierce founders:
Leanne Aranador of Ladoru
Jacquie Berglund of FINNEGANS and Finnovation Lab
Keri Bischoff of Keri Bischoff Consulting
Carrie Boe of SuperStrongChick
Laura Boyd of Leadership Delta
Allison Bross-White of B. Resale
Twila Dang of Matriarch Digital Media
Jordyn DiOrio Polsky of MEND Jewelry
Susan Elwer of Spoonful Apparel
Val Fleurantin Turner of Coach Val
Junita Flowers of Junita’s Jar
Robyn Frank of Thumb’s Cookies
Lindsey Froemming of Fashion Fix
Sairey Gernes of Urban Undercover and Towel Topper
Karla Heeter of Grace Gear, Bounce Back Project and Bounce Travels
Nikki Hollerich and Anna Hagen of Hagen and Oats
Shawntan Howell of Girls Are Powerful
Laura Keller of Pixie Dust
Kylee Leonetti of Leonetti Confetti, Kylee and Christian Creative, and Girl Creative
Sarah Moe of Sleep Health Specialists
Susie Moschkau of Flip’em the Bird
Heidi Mueller of Excelsior Candle Company
Ginger Neilon of Baubles and Bobbies
Lindsey Ramundt of Coach Lindsey Beth
Katie Steller of Steller Hair Company and Steller Kindness Project
Lisa Tabor of CultureBrokers
Melissa Taylor of Beauty Lounge
Maria Tototzintle of Tequila Digital Media
Lauren VanScoy of Essence One and Six for Good
Kim Witczak of Woody Matters
Mary Kay Ziniewicz of Bus Stop Mamas
Proceeds from “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose” book sales benefit grants for women-owned businesses via the My Founder Story micro grant fund. Since launching in 2018, My Founder Story has donated more than $250,000 in grants and services to women.