Barnard College - Economics
Amanda Hofman is the founder and CEO of Urban Girl Squad, a social networking group for women in their 20s and 30s who love to try new things, spend time with friends, and meet new people in New York City. The organization hosts exciting weekly events that include food and wine tastings, volunteer days, beauty and spa nights, fitness and sporting events, dance classes, cocktail parties and more at a wide range of venues in the city. Amanda started Urban Girl Squad in February 2008, but the organization really hit its stride when she left her full-time job to work on Urban Girl Squad full time in the fall of 2009. Amanda's other passions include yoga and running. She says one of her favorite parts of making her own schedule is that she gets to work out during the day. She also enjoys meeting up with friends ad family over delicious food and wine and has a fondness for "bad" TV and books (which usually include vampire novels and reality TV), because she says they allow her to escape reality for a while.
You don't get what you don't ask for.
How did you discover your current job?
I searched for a career I could be passionate about for several years before I started Urban Girl Squad. Urban Girl Squad grew out of a careful study of my personal strengths and interests. I knew that I didn’t like my day job, so I researched alternative careers all the time, taking as many informational interviews as I could. One day I started Urban Girl Squad as a fun side project, and once the group picked up steam I was able to transform it into a viable business.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
It certainly wasn’t a smooth path! I started in data analysis and market research. I was starved for social-type work in my day job, so I explored as many other types of careers that had a social piece as possible. I was running a knitting group informally outside of my job for my friends, and one day I decided to experiment with growing the group. I recruited members, created events for the group in knitting shops around the city, and threw parties for the group. One day I decided to take the knitting out of the knitting group, and viola!, Urban Girl Squad was born.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
I met with a career coach who pointed out all of the negative messages I was telling myself about what I could and could not do with regard to career exploration. For years, I was stopping myself from exploring my passions because of my fears of failing.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
My day changes every single day! Most typically, in the morning I’ll manage my email and make sure that women are registering for our events. In the afternoon I might have several meetings with businesses who want to host Urban Girl Squad events. In the evening, if there’s an event we’re hosting, I’ll be there to oversee the event (and have fun!). On evenings where there is no Urban Girl Squad event, I’ll try to hit up other networking events in the city.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Without question, the most rewarding part of the job is attending the events we host and meeting the women who show up. The events are incredibly fun and often challenge attendees to try something new (gun shooting!) or learn a new skill (eye makeup techniques). The women who attend are friendly and interesting. Our volunteer events are particularly enjoyable because the women who come out are so generous with their time and passionate about the cause at hand.
What is the most challenging part?
Constantly motivating myself is a real challenge. Running your own business is a marathon! To be successful, you need to keep going and grow all the time, and when you’re working from home and/or creating your own schedule, it can be tempting to have a lazy day. Also, there are so many balls to keep in the air at once when you’re an entrepreneur: You’re managing people, projects, new ideas for growth and the day-to-day operations of the business.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I work all the time. Nights, weekends, vacations, you name it. I work twice as hard as I did in my previous jobs because I’m so passionate about Urban Girl Squad. It can be really hard to separate your personal life from your work life.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. If you’re not assertive, you won’t get ahead. Often, I find that my confidence level going into sales meetings is directly proportional with my success.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I constantly see women undervaluing themselves in the workplace. Women are often uncomfortable talking about money (it’s not a particularly “feminine” quality) and concerned with whether people like them in the workplace. In life and with friends, these are good qualities, but in the workplace they cause women to not earn the salary and promotions they deserve.
Who are your role models?
Successful female entrepreneurs who seem to balance their work life with their personal life and family, particularly female entrepreneurs who are also moms. Amy Abrams and Adelaide Lancaster, the founders of In Good Company, are both moms who run a business that supports hundreds of female entrepreneurs in the city. They are remarkable businesspeople and provide such a valuable service to other women in business.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
Yes! Before other people (employers, friends, partners) can believe in you, you must have confidence in yourself. As difficult as it can be sometimes, having confidence in yourself is a critical tool for success.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Start small! Entrepreneurship is a huge undertaking and so you first need to make sure that the entrepreneurship lifestyle suits your personality. You can start your business idea on the side while you have a full-time job to prove two things: first, whether entrepreneurship is right for you, and second, that your business idea resonates with your market.