Interviewed by: Bethney Bonilla (email@example.com)
BASED IN: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Pushing the envelope as a female entrepreneur, Passionista Devona Stimpson lives to fulfill a life of not one but many passions. Early this year she was featured on Huffington Post for her success as a multi-passionate female entrepreneur, influencing others as both an artist and business owner.
Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, Devona moved to San Diego, CA from Boston, MA with her husband, Kevin, last year. Their move was inspired by their dream of growing their own branding and creative agency, Strive & Grind. “We want to educate, motivate and inspire millennials about what’s possible,” says Stimpson. “We want to help people achieve their dreams. We say strive to achieve greatness, grind to get there.”
Recognizing the challenges of working alongside a spouse and juggling multiple passions, Stimpson is driven by her love of art and impacting others. Urban paintings, graffiti, bright colors and unique textures spark her creative eye. Her talents, developed through education in the Fine Arts and professional experience as an artist, have now transitioned in the world of graphic design. She currently works full-time on Strive & Grind, putting her creative energy into projects for clients. Her creative workspace often involves dance breaks and handstands, with Tinashe playing in the background.
Seeking balance and focusing on communication have helped her to create a career, which merges her talents in the arts with her desire to motivate others. Taking the risk of drawing outside the lines has allowed her to thrive and inspire many.
Tell us what you do.
I usually say I’m an artist and entrepreneur, but sometimes creative ninja is a better fit. My husband and I own a boutique branding and creative agency called Strive & Grind where we help established entrepreneurs and small business owners attract their dream clients and customers, build brand loyalty, and ultimately make more money. We’re all about creating brands with SOUL. Our passion for entrepreneurship drives us to use our branding knowledge and creativity to help others thrive in business and achieve the freedom that they desire.
In your own words, what does it mean to be Passionista?
Being a Passionista to me means being true to whom you are while pursuing your dreams and helping others... with a touch of lady-boss swag.
What has been your key to success throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
My husband as my rock and back bone for sure. But I’d have to say three big key points:
1. Consistency - As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to give in and give up or get bored with one idea and go on to the next. Consistency is key when it comes to success because it’s the only thing that keeps whatever you’re doing relevant and memorable. Entrepreneurship is also all about experimenting, so if you change lanes too often, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t.
2. Patience - It’s so easy to feel defeated when success doesn’t come right away. There’s heavy marketing for an unrealistic laptop lifestyle on the beach that I feel people don’t realize it takes a TON of hard work and time to get to where you want to be. Even in the toughest times, it was key for me to know that I was only 3 feet from gold.
3. People - Surround yourself with like-minded people. These people should be encouraging, honest, uplifting, and ambitious. People who give more than they take. Joining mastermind groups and hiring a business coach were the biggest turnaround points for me.
Is it important to have mentors and mentor other people? Why?
YES! YES! YES! I’ve invested in a lot of self-education over the years. Being a self taught artist and designer taught me that mentors were key to success. You have to learn all that you can about and from the people who are where you want to be as well as just successful people in general. Mentors don’t have to be met face to face either. The authors or subjects of the books you read can also be your mentors. Like I said before, hiring a business coach was key to our business’s success. I also believe in mentoring others but only those who are deserving. So many people want to just take from you without any effort or dedication put into it. For those I do and have mentored, it’s always heartwarming to know I’m helping someone get that much closer to reaching their dreams and success.
What are some ways we can inspire other women and young girls to start their own businesses and build them to last?
It all comes down to being authentic and having your own unique voice that other women admire. Showing other women the good and the bad in our journey to success as entrepreneurs is also very important. Entrepreneurship is NOT easy and it can be VERY lonely at times (even if you have a partner). This life doesn’t always consist of gold glitter, cute outfits, champagne glasses, and traveling abroad. I think if we stay true to who we are, share all our ups and down, teach the experiences and knowledge we learn, and really show what it takes to go after your dreams, other women and young girls will feel extremely inspired to pursue their own businesses.
What does success mean to you?
Everyone has his or her own definition of success. To me success is feeling fulfilled and happy...being able to wake up everyday with purpose. Depending on what success means to you, I totally believe it can be achieved. If you’re definition is somewhat like mine, I think that sometimes it may come and go only because I believe we all go through different transitions and phases in our lives where we have to reflect and evaluate the road we’re currently traveling. It’s important to have a constant thirst for growth and personal development.
What is one (or more) piece of advice you can offer our readers and other entrepreneurs that are reading your interview? What is the most important to keep in mind?
My two pieces of advice would be my 3 key points stated above, and to not settle for less. Create the life you want to live. Life is way too short to step into a cookie cutter routine and lifestyle. If you want to be a professional dancer, do that. If you want to be a doctor, do that. If you want to start a business, do that. If you want to travel the world in an RV, DO THAT! You can’t avoid people thinking you’re crazy and sometimes it’s those closest to us, but don’t let that stop you from being happy and fulfilled. Do something today that your future self will thank you for. Take risks, because the real risk is doing nothing. And don’t let money stop you from achieving and growing. We’ve spent over $45k on self-development and $36k of that was on a coach and mastermind. Was it worth it? HELL YEAH! Because we wouldn’t be where we are today without investing and believing in ourselves. Remember that every decision you make is an investment in your life.