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The Years Bring Wisdom

Female Business Owners in Fort Worth Share Advice for their Younger Selves

Women's relationships are undoubtedly impactful during their development, starting at a young age. But what about the relationship women have with themselves? For high-achieving ladies involved in the Fort Worth business world, it's easy to continue moving forward without stopping to assess; and it can be difficult to stop and look at how far they've come and even, gasp, celebrate themselves and their accomplishments. 
A good pause gives us a moment to congratulate ourselves on a job well done or thank ourselves for the sacrifices we made while pursuing a dream. 
For the Women's Issue, seven female Fort Worth business owners and entrepreneurs walk us through their rise in business, the advice they would give to their younger selves, and the dreams they kept as children. Proving that if you believe in yourself, your dreams can come true; maybe not how your younger self-imagined, but true, nonetheless. 

Michelle George, Co-Owner, Fort Worth Heat and Air
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be an artist. I still enjoy drawing. As a teenager, my dream was to become a small-town newspaper editor. Although things didn’t work out regarding a career in journalism, I truly enjoy editing. I have edited a tremendous number of college papers, letters, and other correspondence for my family and friends. One of my co-workers even gave me a plaque that says, “I’m silently correcting your grammar.”

How did you get into the industry you are in?
In 2013, I was asked by a good friend, who was just starting his HVAC business, to help him with bookkeeping on a part-time basis. We ended up making a great team and became partners. I now manage the admin side of the company and am a company co-owner.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to take much better care of my skin and body. I should have started my “staying young” regiment a long time ago.
 

Ashley Newhart, Co-Owner, Vigor Active Fitness
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In elementary school, I always said I wanted to be a mom. My mom is my best friend, and she dedicated everything to my sister and me, and I just knew I wanted to do the same for my family. But over time, sports came calling, and having a career where I could be active and help my community do the same was a decision I made in college.

How did you get into the industry you are in?
At the University of Texas at Arlington, I decided to pursue Exercise Science/ Fitness and Wellness. When I graduated, I dove headfirst into opening a recreation facility with the City of Burleson. I wore many hats with the City of Southlake Community Services Department, creating events and managing an event venue. 
From there, I spent 15 years in the Municipal government, and afterward, our family decided to use our skills to grow the family business at Vigor Active. I manage the downtown fitness facility operations and love interacting with our members, team, and community. After almost two years in this role, I wouldn't change it for the world.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Be confident, patient, and don't be afraid to lead and trust in your faith that God is in control.
Early in my career, I wanted to excel and be the best all the time, but I lost myself in my career. I always gave 110% to others but found that isn't enough, and there are politics that you won't have any control over. I would encourage my young self to be patient and follow my faith, don't get involved in the toxicity and get discouraged because there is a beautiful world out there and new chapters ahead. 

Caryn Evans, Owner, The Water Closet Interiors
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I either wanted to be an attorney or a designer. I have always been interested in law but landed in design and really enjoyed it.

How did you get into the industry you are in? 
I went to work for the company I interned for doing kitchen and bath designs and loved it. From there, I did a few other things in the interior design field but ultimately loved the remodeling side of the business. I love to design, and it brings me joy to help my clients create a space they love and can be proud of.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Never judge yourself in comparison to others. Do what truly makes you happy and be confident.

Gayla Henderson, Owner, ProLift Garage Doors of West Fort Worth
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to rodeo, specifically barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and cutting. I loved working with horses and riding. I grew up on a ranch on the Oklahoma and Colorado Stateline and lived there until I graduated from high school. Then I moved to town.

How did you get into the industry you are in?
We were looking for something to do so I could retire my husband, Ty, from Corporate America since we are too young to retire. We were looking for something to start up together, but the oil and gas company my husband worked for kept him on after a merger. So that has left me running everything from the setup to all the day-to-day operations with ProLift Garage Doors of West Ft Worth. 
We've been open for business for a year, and I love every minute of it. It's not something I would have picked for myself to do, but I'm so glad that it worked out this way. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. Hopefully, it's something I can hand down to my daughter.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Go try new things, and don't be afraid! You can do anything you put your mind to with God's grace and a whole lot of prayers. 

Michelle Kelley, Owner, VIP Total Health and HydrationWhen you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to do exactly what my parents did at the time. I wanted to work for a company for a long time and make enough money to support my family. They taught me to be loyal to a company versus going out on my own with an entrepreneurial state of mind. I think 90% of parents raise their children with the same mindset. My parents taught me great morals and values as their parents did for them. And they taught me to follow my dreams, although I never thought I would be doing what I am doing today.

How did you get into the industry you are in?
Functional medicine has always been a passion of mine. I have been involved in healthcare for 14 years and experienced different treatment methods. When my husband and I developed our company, we wanted to be more than just an IV hydration clinic. We wanted to provide our clients with an experience and place where they could achieve a whole health approach to their needs and wants. As we have continued to develop our company over the past two years, we have provided additional offerings to our clients that allow them to take control of their health and wellness. We saw a concept that companies were offering, and we took that concept and created a more inclusive business model within health care.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to have all the confidence in the world. To know that I could achieve greatness. When I was younger, I was shy and honestly did not know what I was capable of achieving. I never dreamed of owning my own business. Over the years, I have developed confidence, taken my knowledge, and turned it into something great that helps people. I look at my business as my legacy. I will teach my children that entrepreneurship is possible for them as well.
 

Kelly Decker, Owner, Kelly Decker Law PLLC
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher or lawyer. When my older stepsister said she wanted to be a lawyer, I decided to be a teacher because, God forbid, I follow in her shadow. (Insert eye roll). Then in college, a miracle occurred, and she switched paths to become a teacher. That opened the door for me to become a lawyer. We laugh about this to this day.

How did you get into the industry you are in?
I sped through college and law school because I was not a good student and could not grasp what the professors wanted. I waited tables and went to every “free pizza party” until I landed a real job as a lawyer. Frankly, it was a huge risk. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but somewhere deep down, I knew that more education was a better bet on the pathway to becoming truly independent, so I flipped the coin and took a chance. I want to thank my student loan lenders for taking a chance on me, as well. Thankfully, I took to it and have no regrets.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to embrace each and every opportunity to fail and to run away from the “safe” paths. I’m older now and just wish I could sleep in or take a nap.

Laura Woerner, Owner, Complete Back Yard Inc. 
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
My entire adolescence was built around sports, fastpitch being my main love. As a result of my passion and dedication to the sport, I continued my career after high school as a collegiate player. During high school and college, I discovered my passion for working with children to enhance their chances of college success through sports. That experience led me to graduate with a degree in Education where I pursued the career I loved for almost 20 years. Building a team atmosphere in the classroom and on the field was a job I happily woke up to every day. Being a part of the success of past students and athletes is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. 

How did you get into the industry you are in? 
My husband and I have been happily married for almost 13 years now. At that time, we had three beautiful children who brought tons of joy to our lives and multiple activities after school, such as choir, sports, and UIL competitions. I quickly realized that doing the profession I loved was causing me to miss out on many milestones in their lives that a parent does not want to miss. 
My husband was in the pool industry for our entire marriage, and we were contemplating starting our own business. While the idea of owning our business was promising and exciting, it also meant that, as a team, he needed me to help build it. After many prayers together about our next adventure in life, God led us to the scary decision to leave the profession I loved, take what I had learned as a teacher and a coach, and help apply them to the business world. Building a successful, supportive team is where I thrive the most. Building a team as an owner of The Complete Backyard Inc. with my husband was no different. 

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
It is important to have plans and goals for your life, but write them in pencil. What I mean is it's always good to plan and have a clear direction for where you want your life to go. Relish in the talents the Lord bestowed upon you. However, unexpected curveballs can be thrown your way, and it is silly to ignore them simply because they weren't a part of your original plan. Live your life with open arms, an open heart, and an open mind. You will end up right where you are meant to be.

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