In this episode, Tara speaks with Stephanie Summerson Hall, founder of a luxury brand of hand-blown colored glass named after her grandmother, Estelle Colored Glass. Stephanie started her career in South Carolina as an attorney and then pivoted toward her passions as an entrepreneur. Their conversation revolves around risk taking and career development.

Shifting gears and switching careers

From the time she was in middle school, Stephanie wanted to be a lawyer. So that’s exactly what she did. It wasn’t until she had graduated from law school at University of North Carolina, participated in two clerkships, and worked as an attorney for 10 years that she realized the law was not her passion — nor was it the right environment or lifestyle for her. Facing marginalization in the legal field, exacerbated by the fact that she was a woman of color in a male-dominated field, Stephanie decided to take a risk and make moves toward a new career. Especially once she had added the title of mother to her resume, Stephanie knew this change was the right trajectory for her desired lifestyle.

Stephanie advises women who are being marginalized in the workplace to advocate for themselves, find allies, and decide for themselves what’s best for them personally: staying and enduring or leaving and charting a new course.

Applying the skills you already possess

While Stephanie had a safety net — her job as an attorney, as well as income from a successful event rental business she and her husband had created and owned — she took the risk to create a business she could call her own, bringing along the lessons she’d learned from her previous entrepreneurial ventures to establish Estelle Colored Glass. The same was true of the skills she’d learned in her decade as an attorney, including her penchant for negotiation and strong argumentation skills. She leveraged these in presenting and pitching her new business to local media, potential manufacturers and suppliers, and more.

Risk taking in entrepreneurship

Stephanie learned that entrepreneurship takes sacrifice and discipline. It’s about putting in the time. Does that mean staying up till 3 a.m. to get things done? It did for Stephanie when it came to establishing Estelle. It also meant giving up TV time and even making financial sacrifices by eschewing certain purchases in order to invest that money in her business.

Early on, Stephanie embraced a mindset of looking for opportunities, knowing that starting a business does not mean it will be an overnight success. Stephanie encourages others like her to adopt this go-getter attitude, as well as persevere and resilience when you come up against roadblocks. She speaks about leveraging the contacts you already have to increase reach, leveraging local media and influencers (including Instagram DMs, or direct messages), and the importance of doing the research.