Dynamic Foundations Institute Presents The 2020 Entrepreneur Showcase featuring Female Founders
This month’s Female Founder is Christa Clarke, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Consultant, Founder + CEO of Cubicles to Cocktails in Houston, Texas. Christa is an alumna of Rice University, earning both her B.S.in Bioengineering and M.S. in Bioscience and Health Policy prior to starting her entrepreneurial journey in 2018. Her business Cubicles to Cocktails was created to be a resource to women of color dealing with the feelings of isolation and lack of opportunities in their corporate careers. Learn more about Christa’s journey and how she’s making sure other women of color have access to a mentor and a strong network of success-minded career women that looked like them.
DFI: So, tell me about yourself? What is your background or passion that led you to start your business?
CC: I conceived the idea of Cubicles to Cocktails® after a series of post-work happy hours with my friends, mentor, and husband. The conversations were our time to celebrate accomplishments, catch up on life, and of course vent about the microaggressions, lack of access to opportunities, and the experience of being Black at work.
The conversations were also my way of gaining beneficial advice to navigate corporate life and practice advocating for myself. I am fortunate to have a mentor and strong network full of ambitious women of color who are young corporate professionals like me. So, I launched Cubicles to Cocktails on February 1, 2018, hosting our first in-person soirée because I believe every woman of color deserves the network and resources to be able to thrive in their careers too!
DFI: What do you think your unique skill(s) is/are that has/have helped you become successful?
CC: I am a project manager with a background in engineering and entrepreneurship. My love for learning, systems, and growing understanding of business certainly helps me to overcome obstacles and set strategies to achieve my goals. Not one day passes by where I am not using the skills that I’ve sharpened in my 9-to-5 to build my business.
So, I launched Cubicles to Cocktails on February 1, 2018, hosting our first in-person soirée because I believe every woman of color deserves the network and resources to be able to thrive in their careers too!
DFI: Let’s go back to the early days of your business. What were some of the obstacles you faced, whether fiscally, emotionally, mentally, etc., and how did you overcome them?
CC: Being an entrepreneur is a mindset journey. You must actively commit to building and evolving a growth mindset, an abundance mindset, and other positive mindsets. In 2017, I started doing the work to break a toxic mental belief that I didn’t realize I had— my value was tied to my success. I had to dismantle my relationship with toxic productivity and learn to better manage imposter syndrome when it pops up. There are so many levels to evolving your mindsets as an entrepreneur, so this mental work is lifelong. Not one and done.
DFI: Looking back on your startup experience now, is there anything that you would have changed?
CC: When I first launched Cubicles to Cocktails, I treated it as a passion project. Then I quickly discovered how expensive a passion project I selected! I would have paid better attention to the amount of money I was spending earlier on in my journey.
However, you do need to eventually go through the process of creating a business plan as this will help you identify your business weaknesses, market risks, and strategies to mitigate the potential impact of shortcomings and future hardships.
DFI: Based on your experience during this startup time, what wisdom could you impart to other upcoming women entrepreneurs?
CC: I didn’t inject capital upfront while I self-funded my business. This led to many costly mistakes and not making sure my dollars were working the hardest for me. Set growth milestones early on, create a plan to hit those targets, and invest as much money as you can upfront to reach them. Piecemealing your biz funding while you are self-funding is not wise!
DFI: All businesses will inevitably face some financial hardships. What steps have you implemented in your business to guard against these hardships?
CC: I’m an alumna of two community-based entrepreneurship programs: University of Houston Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship (SURE) program and Houston Community College Business Plan Competition. In both programs, you receive business training and advisors to help you craft a strong, fundable business plan. I don’t believe that you need to start off with a business plan, a lean canvas will do as you get started. However, you do need to eventually go through the process of creating a business plan as this will help you identify your business weaknesses, market risks, and strategies to mitigate the potential impact of shortcomings and future hardships.
DFI: What does the future look like for you and your business?
CC: We curate an amazing community newsletter and are continuing to host our virtual soirées. We will bring back our in-person soirées once it is safe to do so. This summer, we are launching our digital community where women in our newsletter community and who’ve attended our events can connect with each other and our community mentors! What I’m most excited about is creating resources to truly empower women within their own peer-networks and sister circles– but that is all I can say right now! Sign up for our newsletter community to be the first to know!
All Photos by: FotoHer Co
Dynamic Foundations Institute is a place where all entrepreneurs, regardless of education level, business experience, financial status, or whatever, can receive assistance to make their companies grow. Large companies typically have tons of money to hire external experts to help them start new companies and sources for information. Small businesses don’t have that luxury. This is where DFI can help. We know how to help small businesses because we are a small business. We provide high-quality services that fit within the budget for small and medium-sized businesses. So regardless of the type of business you have or intend to start, we all need a foundation. This foundation needs to be strong yet dynamic. We are here help provide institutional learning and consultation services in a welcoming environment. Review our courses or contact us regarding consulting services today!