When she was a girl growing up in Mexico, Lucy Stange’s father made it clear the male members of their family were more valuable than the females. Even at a young age, she was determined to prove him wrong. When her entire family traveled to Nevada to harvest pine nuts during the summer, living in tents for three to four months at a time, Lucy worked in the fields, right next to her dad and brothers. It was a hot and dirty job, but it didn’t deter her. She’d often be the first in the field, sweating all day in the blazing sun, harvesting as much or more than the others. At 10 years old, Lucy started her first business selling candy to help support her family. And when she was a teen, she confronted her father about the way he treated girls and women. But nothing she did would change his views. Women were to be submissive to their husbands, he said. “The best you can do is be the third wife—that would be the most humble.”
This only fueled Lucy’s drive. She continued to work hard and imagined a day when she’d be free of his oppressive ways. She vowed to do everything she could to empower herself and others like her as soon as she had the chance. When her mom divorced Lucy’s father and moved her nine children to Minnesota to pursue a new life, Lucy took on a motherly role. As the oldest, she made sure her sisters knew they were valued, and she cared for them while their mother worked long hours cleaning houses. Then, when Lucy was in 10th grade, she dropped out of school and joined her mom, working side-by-side to help support the family. Housecleaning became the official family business.
In 2008, Lucy stepped into the role of operations manager for the business and began creating the infrastructure to take it to the next level. She learned about accounting and taxes and worked with CPAs, attorneys and the IRS. She created systems for client management and staff hiring, training and scheduling. She developed processes for sales and projecting revenue. She tackled marketing, seeking referrals from existing customers and continually networking to grow the business.
It was the height of the recession and many viewed housecleaning as “nice to have” versus “need to have.” But Lucy made an important discovery. Stay-at-home parents were going back to work and it was causing stress in many households—as well as a greater need for outside help. She tweaked the company’s marketing messages to speak directly to this pain point, and it worked. In six years, Lucy grew the company’s annual sales from $40,000 to $1.5 million. Her efforts went beyond operations. The most important thing she contributed to the company was the vision for what was possible and a belief that it could be achieved.
Though she was proud of what she brought to the family cleaning business, Lucy began to feel like she wasn’t pursuing her purpose and grew restless. Leaving the business was one of the most difficult decisions she would make, but she wanted to create something of her own. She was six months pregnant with her fourth child when she and her husband, Tim, moved to Florida to build a new life. As she contemplated a venture of her own, Lucy used her gifts for growing a business to help Tim launch a construction company. She created the branding and website and marketed the services online. The company quickly outgrew its home-based office and moved into its own space.
Eventually the couple landed back in Minnesota, where they continued to grow the construction company. Lucy launched her own business as a photographer and often worked with other small business owners. She found herself advising clients on how to use their photos to market their companies online. When they asked for help implementing the recommendations, she’d sit with them for a few minutes and show them what to do. One client landed a $70,000 contract after working with Lucy for 30 minutes setting up his online presence. Another secured six new clients after a quick session with Lucy to maximize his company’s social media efforts.
She quickly realized the people she was working with mostly just lacked confidence in marketing themselves. She was shifting their perception that they weren’t good enough by making them feel seen and heard, and by giving them the encouragement they needed. She was also providing useful tools that produced real results. Lucy recognized that the skills she honed growing both of her family businesses could actually be a business—and in 2017, My Social Drive was born. The company specializes in branding, website development and online marketing.
Lucy and her team are committed to becoming true partners to the businesses they work with, and she is particularly passionate about standing beside and lifting up other women-owned businesses. That work directly connects to her values and she believes she’s finally found her true purpose. She has also seen firsthand that women are more likely to lack confidence and resources, which impedes their success. Lucy believes everyone deserves an equal opportunity to be seen and heard and she’s made it her mission to do so.
To learn about Lucy’s business, visit MySocialDrive.com.
Photo: Kylee Leonetti for My Founder Story
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