Crushing it in Carlsbad: Female Founders Who Are Empowering Other Entrepreneurs

October 27, 2020

Running your own business takes guts and grit, even during good times. Put a pandemic in the picture, and entrepreneurship may feel like a moonshot.  

That’s especially true for women, whose businesses have been disproportionately hurt by COVID-19. Last January the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveyed female founders and found that 60% felt their company health was “somewhat or very good.” By July it was 47%, a 13-point drop. In contrast, male entrepreneurs reporting a “good” company health status only fell five points in the same period (67% to 62%).

Yet female founders in Carlsbad are proving that when the going gets tough, they get tougher. We’re celebrating some of their stories in honor of National Women’s Small Business Month

What’s more, we’re spotlighting women who are empowering other entrepreneurs. Collectively, they see a silver lining to 2020 because the pandemic is inspiring some to reimagine their professional identities as entrepreneurs. 

In fact, despite the challenging times, Americans are launching businesses at the fastest rate we’ve seen in over a decade. The Wall Street Journal found there’s already been 3.2 million applications for new company tax ID numbers — up from 2.7 million this time last year, according to US Census Bureau data. 

With that, here are some of Carlsbad’s successful female entrepreneurs on what inspired them, takeaways from the pandemic, and the advice they have for folks thinking about starting their own ventures: 

Jamie Jacobs, Co-founder of GigTalent

What inspired her: After climbing the corporate ladder only to hit a glass ceiling, Jamie Jacobs knew there was a better way. She dreamed of translating her years of HR leadership into something that would help others. 

“We all have a choice in how we spend our days, and I wanted to create something that empowered professionals to make that choice,” she said. 

Enter GigTalent. Her company functions like a talent agency for independent consultants. After a consultant is vetted, they gain access to GigTalent’s professional training and network of clients. “GigTalent gives consultants the flexibility and freedom to only work on the projects that spark their passion and align with their skills,” Jacobs said. 

Perspectives on the pandemic: “Companies need talent, but due to COVID, they may not be able to afford a new hire,” she said. “More and more are starting to look to consultants as a solution.” 

Parallel to that, she’s also seeing a surge in new consultants. “I think people are starting to reimagine what their careers could be, and if they have a specialized knowledge, consulting can be a great way to go.” 

Advice to women eyeing entrepreneurship: “Know your worth, and go for it,” Jacobs said. 

She points to research for employers like Hewlett Packard that show men will apply for jobs when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100 percent of the criteria. “Women tend to sell themselves short professionally,” she said. “As entrepreneurs, women need to confidently be charging for the true value of their services, just like men would.” 

Amy Porterfield, Founder of 

What inspired her: Amy Porterfield spent years marketing for big movers and shakers, including Harley Davidson and famed motivational speaker Tony Robinson. A self-confessed “yes girl,” however, she hit burnout. 

That put her on the path to entrepreneurship, and after a bumpy start, she figured out her secret sauce: Helping entrepreneurs take their knowledge, know-how and skillset and turn that into a digital course.

“This is a way to create one course that goes out to many, so it’s about helping entrepreneurs scale in a smart way,” she said. To date, she’s helped thousands of people capitalize on their knowledge — which has resulted in courses ranging from backyard gardening, to accounting for resellers, to getting your baby to sleep through the night. 

Perspectives on the pandemic: “As people spend more time at home, the demand for online courses has skyrocketed,” Porterfield said. “Beyond that, COVID has changed everything because minds have been opened in new ways.” 

Specifically, she said people are seeing the value of having multiple income sources, which can include online courses. 

Advice to women eyeing entrepreneurship: First, get crystal clear about why you want to start your company. Next, expect fear. 

“I would have never started my business if I let fear hold me back,” she said. “If you’re scared, let yourself feel the fear. Then do it scared.” 

Lucy Kelleher, Founder of Keep Them Loyal

What inspired her: Lucy Kelleher is a natural power networker. She worked for years in the legal world, then public education—but she always had a side gig, and felt the pull of entrepreneurship. 

She finally launched her own do-it-yourself crafting business and quickly learned her networking skills were paying off. It wasn’t long until she was helping other business owners build their networks, which is when she had her ah-ha moment. Today she’s running Keep Them Loyal, a consultancy that helps entrepreneurs turn their contacts into a tangible, consistent source of revenue. 

“Staying top-of-mind for existing and potential clients takes strategy, which I custom build based on a business owner’s goals,” she said. She regularly helps other women build their business through HeraHub’s GURU program, a free resource open to women entrepreneurs in North County. 

Perspectives on the pandemic: Kelleher says COVID has taught her it’s more important than ever to work your network. 

“More than ever, I’m seeing a sense of community across the local entrepreneur community,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see the collaboration that’s happening. The truth is running your own business is challenging, and we all need to help one another, especially women.” 

Advice to women eyeing entrepreneurship: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Kelleher said.  “Ask questions. Reach out to other women in business. Make a plan.” 

“Collectively, these women underscore the creative and collaborative nature of our startup community,” said Carlsbad Economic Development Manager Matt Sanford. “They are a critical part of what gives Carlsbad its flair and allure, and we’re thankful to have them here.” 

To learn more about how the City of Carlsbad’s business services, please visit the business resources page or contact the City at 760-607-2923.