Leslie Bailey of Indy Maven, a lifestyle media company, on making an impact in her community
Describe your business in a few words:
I’m the co-founder and CEO of a lifestyle media company for women by women in Central Indiana. We offer curated content, an award-winning newsletter, a paid membership group, events and more. I have two sons under 3 and a 12 year-old step son. I was in the inaugural class of the Forbes Next 1000 list and this spring, I’m opening a femme-powered co-working and community space in Indianapolis called Maven Space.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My background is in journalism, but I didn’t got to journalism school. I started off as a blogger actually! I’ve worked as managing editor for AAA Crossroads magazine, lifestyle editor at Indianapolis Monthly magazine, and as a columnist for the Indianapolis Star. I also freelanced and worked as a consultant in between those roles. The community and connection elements of storytelling have always been what appealed to me so putting all of those things together felt like a natural progression.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, but I never really knew what I wanted to do. It was sort of a process of elimination there for a while. I’ve worked at law firms, radio stations, and in retail. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs, though, so looking back it makes sense that I took this path.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Our marketing strategy was to invite 200 local women of influence (note: not the same as influencers – though we had some of those, too) to a big launch party that was super fun. I think it worked to get the word out for sure, all of our growth has been completely organic outside of a small FB post boost here and there. However, not all of those 200 women stuck around as members later, but we gained new members along the way and have around 300 now. We have a great partnership with a TV station, our public radio station, and a lot of local businesses and organizations – all organic relationships.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m most proud that I was able to launch and keep a business in the middle of a pandemic; and in the middle of all of that, have a second baby. It’s been an incredibly eventful 2+ years and the fact that I don’t drown my face in pinot grigio every night is a miracle.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I speak as a cisgender white, middle-class woman with a very present husband so I’d like to note that it’s my privilege that allows me to say that I believe in work/life chemistry. My favorite tips include putting myself first (put on your own oxygen mask before everyone else and all that), looking at my calendar daily and weekly and seeing what I can take off. Regular communication with my husband and making sure we share responsibilities equally is also key. Getting kids involved in household things early on is also helpful. My 19 month-old feeds our dog on a regular basis.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
Signing the lease on Maven Space! It’s terrifying and exciting and I think it’s important to remember that both of those things can be true at the same time. I’m an enneagram 7, so I want to avoid uncomfortable scary things at all costs, but it’s part of the journey!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Launching Maven Space is definitely the focus for the year ahead. Indy Maven and Maven Space are “sister” companies right now but I’m curious to see if one sort of takes over the other. I decided everything else has happened pretty organically so that part might as well, too. I’d still really like to write that book though.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I LOVE connecting with other female entrepreneurs to learn and also share knowledge!