As you know we are always searching for women who are coming up with great ideas and turning them into reality. Female owned businesses are the future. Meet Amber, MaryBeth and Kathryn, the founders of PERSIST! a card game that helps women laugh at the ridiculous role assigned to them in the game of life. The game consists of asking women to put all the cards out on the table—by being real. Persist invites women to laugh, learn from each other, connect meaningfully… and get up to fight another day. Lipstick Sister is using persist for our ladies luncheons to help our members learn more about each other and connect while having fun.
We are so thrilled to share these ladies' story with you!
Amber, MaryBeth and Kathryn's paths crossed about three years ago when they met working in Finance at Amazon and became fast friends. Bonded over their love of business and numbers (nerd alert!). They loved exploring Seattle where they were all new transplants (Kathryn is from New Mexico, Amber Minnesota, and MaryBeth Oregon), and over their love of dogs and parties.
They recall when Kathryn held a breed reveal party for her dog, Zuzu, (complete with a piñata that burst with little plastic dogs of her breed types), and Amber’s annual cinco de mayo fiesta that usually ends in an “adult” version of Jenga her and her husband invented where some seriously ridiculous friend moments unfold!
MaryBeth and Kathryn are still in Seattle and Amber relocated to London on an international rotation for Amazon. Although they miss Amber, Kathryn ad MaryBeth just got back from an epic Persist offsite trip where they met up in Iceland, Faroe Islands, and Norway to chat about their strategy and to soak up some inspiration from their beautiful surroundings.
All three are married with very supportive husbands whom they like to call their “shark boys” as a nod to Shark Tank (one of their favorite shows). They believe having supportive husbands is a good sounding board for when they need an outside, male perspective.
[LS] How did it all start? What made you decide to pursue this business?
We were grabbing happy hour after work one day, and were sharing stories/venting about how hard it was to navigate the world as ambitious women. We were starting to rise to higher levels in our careers, there were fewer women at the table and we could see this impacting our experience in tough ways. We also felt all this societal pressure to be “all the things” - we needed to have a pinterest-worthy house, crush it in workout class, get promoted, have flourishing marriages and friendships, oh and have time to track our ovary cycles while trying to get pregnant! It just felt overwhelming and we started to realize we needed real conversations with other women to help us navigate the chaos, realize we weren’t alone, and to laugh and learn in the midst of the craziness. We found a lot of humor in these challenges, and thought “what if we created a game from the female perspective that inspires players to grow deeper connections and laugh in the face of adversity?”
There was no product like this on the market, so we thought why not give it a shot?
[LS] What was it about each other that made you feel that you would make a good team?
People often say don’t go into business with your friends. We disagree. We think friendship is a great way to start a business as you already have that level of deep connection and respect. But it is important to communicate clearly and often as people have different strengths, motivators, and ideas when it comes to actually running a business. We also knew that the three of us had different strengths so we round each other out nicely and this ultimately leads to a better product and better business decisions.
[LS] What steps did you take to make your dream a reality?
We locked ourselves in a hotel room for two days! This is how we outlined our game strategy and came up with our first rough “beta” version of the product. To be honest, it is so hard to work a full time career at Amazon and carve enough energy and time out for a side hustle. But it can be done if you’re determined. We just started somewhere and built off the momentum. Honestly once you get past that first step forward, you just have to keep moving (sometimes backwards) and then let inertia take over. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way, just get something on paper (our first ideas were terrible!) and then it will lead to incremental improvements. Honestly the product building part is so fun, so be patient and enjoy it.
[LS] How do you manage to stay away from envy, ego or jealousy from getting in the way of your friendship/partnership?
We think this starts with mindset. We believe in abundance, which means that success is not a scarcity - there’s enough out there for everyone. If you believe that, you aren’t trying to be defensive and protect a self-serving agenda or ego. Yes, jealousy is a real emotion we sometimes feel - but you can’t get caught up in that narrative or it will ruin your own creativity. There is no leverage in envy.
Also, it’s important to remember why we started. We wanted to have an impact on women’s lives by giving them a product that allowed them to come together, strengthen their connections, and laugh while navigating life’s ups and downs. We wanted them to know we see them and they aren’t alone. If we let envy or ego get in the way, it would ruin the central mission of our product. So I think it’s important to really know why you’re doing this and be intentional, then your actions will follow suit.
[LS] What qualities must a good partner have?
Integrity, great work ethic, and transparency.
[LS] What do you love most about your profession?
We get to meet the most incredible women because of our product. Our “marketing” is literally playing games with other inspiring women and male allies - how does it get any better than this? Each time we play the game comes to life in a new way, we come away with different perspectives and cathartic belly laughs. This gives us fuel to Persist.
[LS] If you were to pinpoint a few tools for success, what would they be?
Mindset and resilience are huge. We really believe in the quote, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Often times the success of a specific idea or instance has to do with luck or other factors you can’t control. So if you’re aiming for long-term success, you’re best bet is to just keep going even if you fail. Don’t lose your enthusiasm because one thing doesn’t go your way, that’s just going to happen. At Amazon, we have a “fail fast” culture and we’ve tried to adopt that with Persist and pick ourselves up quickly when something doesn’t work like we thought.
[LS] What advice would you give a young girl about getting out in the “real” world?
Find your story and voice. Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t worthy of pursuing your dreams. Leave those people and thoughts behind, girlfriend! Your accomplishments do not define your worthiness. How you treat others and yourself is what truly matters.
[LS] Finding a mentor is key. Did you have a female mentor or idol growing up who has significantly impacted your lives? How?
Yes - we wouldn’t be where we are today without mentors who helped us! All three of us have had people along the way in our careers who have taken interest in helping us grow and learn. Having a mentor or sponsor is so important because they’re helping you get somewhere you haven’t been yet. A good mentor will also understand your strengths and opportunities, and will find ways for you to lean into both as you progress.
We’ve also found the best mentors just happen organically - it’s not about being assigned someone. We also think there’s a lot of value in having a few different mentors to get different perspectives. Also, having a mentor who’s just a few years ahead of you in experience is the best, because they can better relate to what you’re going through and there’s not as big of an experience gap.
[LS] What / who inspires YOU to get through each day & overcome every challenge?
We think of all the women who came before us so we could have a seat at the table (Anita Hill, Margaret Thatcher, Kathrine Switzer, and many others). The ridicule and pain they had to endure, the energy and dedication they put forth because they believed in full equity for women. These women were beautifully defiant when society told them they were lesser. We have the luxury of creating this game because of them. Now it’s our turn to do what we can to shift the narrative and find solutions by using entertainment as a medium for change through Persist.
[LS] What is your definition of BEAUTIFUL?
Courage, and then confidence. You have to start with courage before you can build confidence from experience. There is nothing more beautiful and compelling than a strong woman with confidence who is unashamed to be herself and speak her truth.
[LS} What is your favorite shade of Lipstick?
MaryBeth: Is it OK to admit I am not a lipstick person? This is actually one of the only makeup items I don’t use! It just doesn’t seem to jive with my brand, which I’ve grown to accept.
Kathryn: I don't do great with coloring within the lines, so although I always want to wear a glamorous shade of red, I usually end up looking like a clown with lipstick all over my face, so I tend to stick with neutrals.
Amber: Amber: I must admit, I also don't wear lipstick. I'm not a big make-up wearer in general. However, throughout my teenage years, I always had cotton candy Lip Smackers gloss on my lips. Today, you will find Burt's Bees in my pocket, but if I were to discover a cotton candy lip gloss again ... I certainly would use it.
[LS] Why do you think women organizations like Lipstick Sister are important?
Community and friendship is so essential. When you start to have these moments of self doubt and beat yourself up, these communities are what lift you up and remind you you aren’t alone. Real communities don’t try to change you, they accept you with all your flaws, they meet you where you are today and pull you up when you need it. When you find a community where all are giving freely in this way, not expecting certain things in return, this is pure magic. All humans must have connection, there are no exceptions! It’s the glue that allows us to hold it all together on those days where everything goes south.
[LS] Do you have a favorite quote that empowers you, if so, share it with us!
So many favorite quotes! But one all-time favorite is “You don’t grow when you’re comfortable” and we also love this one from Amy Poehler, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry about.”
To purchase this awesome game for your next girls night or brunch, visit their website: www.persistthegame.com
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