The Story Exchange, Hilary Rushford, Dean Street SocietyYour Name: Hilary Rushford

Business Name: Dean Street Society, a personal styling and brand mentoring blog

Type of Business: Coaching & Consulting

Business Location: BrooklynNew York, United States

Twitter   @HilaryRushford

Reason for starting
After a career I loved in musical theatre, I realized that I didn’t want to leave the life I loved in Brooklyn to pursue the MFA in Acting that was always my plan. So I asked some friends if they had any ideas of what I should be when I grew up. They all replied something having to do with styling and it was an ah-hah moment where everything clicked. I realized that there was something called an entrepreneur that was precisely what I wanted to be.

How do you define success?
Being able to pay my bills. Yes, there are a lot of other things beyond that. But to me the marker of whether this was working was whether I was truly building a financially sustainable business that could pay my rent.

Biggest Success
Realizing in month 20 that my business was self-sustainable — paying all my own bills. And three months later I hired three new people onto the team. The successes before that were good for my heart — words of affirmation, media features, partnerships with big brands. But I knew all along that no matter how fancy I felt, it was only legit if I was really growing something that was going to be around ten years from now. And I feel so proud knowing that I really have.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Priorities. The challenge I hear most from my business coaching clients is being overwhelmed with how much there is to do. It’s so universal because when you start something new your head is exploding with marvelous ideas. You just want to do them all and it’s painful to your head and your heart when you’re barely scratching the surface of your to-do list {aka your potential} daily. My big breakthrough there came after about a year and a half when I started to look more long term at where I wanted to be in six months, then work backwards to figure out which steps came first. It allowed me to beat myself up less for not doing everything, because I saw the path and why I was saying no to some things right now. That mental shift was such a game changer.

Who is your most important role model?
Before I launched my business I realized that most of the women I looked up to were frantic. They run incredible businesses — the kind of multi-faceted ones I’m building — but they were always frantic. So honestly my best role models were people who weren’t doing it quite as well as I want to. Or at least with the energy I want to. So that gave me a visual very early on that my focus had to be on building an empire while still being the friend you can call at midnight in tears without worrying that she’s too busy for you. That’s been my goal from day one: Empire building and being a great friend.