By Alison Znamierowski June 27, 2016
I AM THAT GIRL had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Chantel Waterbury, CEO and founder of Chloe + Isabel, a company that puts “smart, creative, and confident women” at the center of the business through their “innovative new business model” that trains and empowers female entrepreneurs in the art of social retail.
At the core of Waterbury’s mission is her desire to “make a meaningful impact, and a positive impact on people’s lives.” After years of working in the heavyweight corporate jewelry industry, and although she “loved what she* did,” she “wasn’t feeling inspired,” and she decided that she wanted to “dedicate her life to a cause that she could feel really good about.” Waterbury had “always wanted to be able to help people,” and has always loved “educating, teaching, and help people discover what was possible.” Even when she occupied corporate roles, she made it a point to always put herself in positions where she could teach, empower, and help people.
Through talking to Waterbury, it is clear that, while she loves the jewelry and retail industry, her true passion lies in helping other women. She emphasized that Chloe + Isabel is equally about helping women “make money as it is also just the training and education,” which is in “whatever field they want, whether it’s marketing or merchandising or sales experience.”
Chloe + Isabel also hosts conferences to train and connect networks of female entrepreneurs. During the Soar to New Heights events, hundreds of women came together for four days of training. “It was so incredible,” Waterbury recalls, “not only to see how they engaged with one another,” but how they were “so hungry for that knowledge and being able to grow as businesswomen.” Waterbury recounted hearing so many stories from different women at the conference, including one about a girl who had just graduated from college and was drowning in her sales job. She told her, “When I came [to this conference], I had just started the job and I was about to be fired. They put me on a performance plan because I wasn’t doing well. I joined Chloe + Isabel, and after completing the training, I approached my sales job differently. I went from being on that performance plan to actually being the number one person in the company in sales, and I got promoted.”
It is clear how much Waterbury enjoys helping these women to develop an entrepreneurial skill-set and the confidence to implement them. “I have the ultimate feel-good job,” Waterbury gushes. “I wake up every day feeling like I’m walking on sunshine."
I just come into the office asking, whose life can we change today?
Chloe + Isabel’s motto is “Be creative. Be confident. Be you.” Waterbury clarifies that, “when we’re looking for a merchandiser, we’re not saying that you have to be this constant, creative person. It’s that, in becoming a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser, you’re acknowledging the fact that you want to explore the creative side of yourself. That you want to find that confidence and be a female entrepreneur—that SheEO, that girl boss… A lot of our training, especially our leadership training, is about finding the confidence and believing in yourself as an entrepreneur.”
Waterbury’s fiery entrepreneurial spirit was born out of her own personal life experience. She grew up with a single mom in a small town in Northern California. While she was attending private school, she recognized from a very young age that her mother couldn’t afford it. Seeing the intense poverty, drug addiction, and welfare rates all around her, she realized that she needed to do everything she could to get a great education—the “key out of her situation.” She ended up graduating at the top of her eighth grade class, earning a scholarship to go to a private high school four hours away. She left home at age thirteen to pursue her education, all the while dreaming of her future as a successful businesswoman.
“You just have to have that confidence and believe that you’re capable,” she said.
“It was always my mission to be able to write the end of my story myself.” In fact, she believes that her experience helped her to become the woman she is today. “It’s overcoming those obstacles that makes you the person you are. It’s overcoming the challenges and obstacles where you find your greatest strengths.”
The most important thing for young women, Waterbury says, “is to believe in themselves. If you don’t believe you can do something, why would anyone else think that you can? And I think that’s where it really starts, with us deciding that we have the power.”
Alison Znamierowski graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Sociology. Her favorite activities include picnicking with friends, barefoot wandering, and engaging with spontaneous impulses for adventure. Her little corner of the interweb universe is here: nowastespace.org