I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel alongside my peers, friends and mentors in the commercial real estate industry. The CREW: Breaking Barriers to Success event bought together local female entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges we’ve faced and some of the insight we’ve gained along the way.

Sitting up there with Kristen Cummings (Chief Experience Officer, VESTA), Megan Walsh (Principal and Co-Founder, Catalyst Planning Group), Martha Weidmann (CEO & Co-Founder, NINE dot ARTS) and Traci Lounsbury (President and Co-Owner, ELEMENTS), I knew I was in good company.

CREW Denver Panel

These women have all built successful businesses in an industry that has traditionally been male dominated. Each of us became entrepreneurs with different backgrounds, expectations and various areas of expertise. The conversation we had inspired me to reflect on the last 25 years of my career in design and the last five years of my journey with Elsy Studios. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few words of wisdom:

Be Genuine. Be Consistent.

This one speaks for itself, but I can’t say it enough. You are only human. Show up, be accountable and be yourself.

Know What You Want.

I believe it’s important to live with intention. It’s impossible to plan out everything, but you have to know where you’re headed. When I was in college, I made a list of the things I wanted in life:

  • To fall in love
  • To be a mother
  • To own my own business
  • To be happy

Today, I have completed everything on my college list, but it wasn’t without hard work and dedication. Which brings me to my next point.


Everyone in my office knows about my ‘list.’ It’s what I live by, and it has everything on it from design deadlines to picking up the dry-cleaning. Life is a constant juggle, which is why I will always give my designers a flexible schedule. Some of my best work has been done on the dining room table at 11 o’clock at night.

Chart Out the Big Picture, but Stay in Today.

Know what you want and set your priorities, but remember to stay focused on the goals and tasks at hand. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of it all, but having the ability to be present in the moment is key.

Surround Yourself with Good People and Take Care of Them. 

Founding Elsy was only possible because of the women and men who believed in me and took the risk to follow me in starting something new. Relationships are really important and it’s one of the reasons our business continues to be primarily referral based. My designers are my biggest asset and that means I need to financially invest in them. Since the beginning, I have provided my employees with 100 percent of their health care. As a women-owned business, with a primarily female staff, this has always been and will continue to be a priority.

Each one of the women on the CREW panel had a different path and perspective on entrepreneurship, but I think at the end of the day we could all agree on the importance of planning, prioritizing and taking care of one another.