Carrie Barker and Sarah Baucom have taken Charlotte by storm with their popular brand, Pink Social, while also making a point to build up other female entrepreneurs around the city. We sat down with the duo to talk about their successes and what changes they want to see happen for women in business. Meet today’s FACES of Charlotte, Carrie Barker and Sarah Baucom.
You both made big career changes to start your own business. Tell us about your traditional backgrounds and what made you change course?
Carrie: I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in architecture from Virginia Tech. After graduating, I landed a design position with a commercial architectural firm and it brought me back to Charlotte. During my time at the architecture firm, I had an amazing boss who ended up being an incredible mentor for me — pushing me to go past what I thought I was capable of — and I really blossomed as a designer. I learned I had an incredible passion for graphic design, marketing and direct client communication. I slowly started Pink Toast, which lit a fire in me, and since then I haven’t looked back!
Sarah: When I begin to rattle off my resume, it makes me sound really old but a lot of these very important experiences overlap. My first job out of college was as the event planner for Charlotte Ballet, then I moved to New York City to be a marketing/PR/sales intern at Tibi, moved back to Charlotte and started working in construction for my dad and teaching yoga. Then I went back to school and got my interior design degree. After that, I opened up my first business, Social Dress Shop, an online dress boutique. In some strange way, every venture taught me so much about business, how to treat people and how to tap into my creativity.
How did the idea of Pink Social get started?
C: Sarah and I met in 2012; she was looking to get out of her day job and I was just starting Pink Toast. After an eight hour convo at Starbucks, we became instant best friends and two days later she told me she wanted to start her first business, Social Dress Shop. Together, we grew our companies and networked as hard as we possibly could. During that process, we both realized we had an undeniable passion for business in general and together we were unstoppable. Finally in 2014, we pulled the trigger and started Pink Social, which is Pink Toast and Social Dress Shop mixed together. We launched with 48 graphic tees — they sold out immediately and we have just grown since!
Any fears or worries about going out on your own? How’d you get past those feelings?
C: No. I kind of have this theory about self-fulfilling prophecy — with both Pink Toast and Pink Social I have moved forward optimistically and only positively driven. It may seem naive but I think when you lead with positivity, you fulfill that prophecy. Sure, there are moments of worry and mainly stress but when you move forward knowing that you are on the right path, it creates an environment where success can happen. Where as if you get caught up in the negative and/or fear, you are left hanging in that space with no other room for ideas or success to come in!
S: No, not really. We have worked from intuition. When something doesn’t feel right, we step back. Why doesn’t this feel right? What are we missing? Are we sticking true to our message, our brand?
We see your tees and tanks all over town. What’s the secret to your success?
C: Being true to who we are, constantly working no matter the hour and capitalizing on the right opportunities and networks when they are presented to us.
S: Perseverance, authenticity and drinking while we create.
We love your motto of “Community Over Competition.” From where did that philosophy come?
C: I think since Sarah and I started our first businesses, we surrounded ourselves with a tribe of women from all walks of life. We all were going after the same dream and running into the same frustrations and joys. We learned quickly how crucial it was to surround yourself with women and we knew it needed to be a pillar in our brand. Sarah and I look at community over competition as something more than just liking a post or following someone on social media. It means truly supporting each other such as purchasing, collaborating or connecting with a fellow business woman — and this very thing happens in the Girl Tribe group.
S: We just decided a long time ago to truly live it. Girl Tribe is an action plan in motion. It came from the belief that all women need to be paid exactly what their counterparts do in business. I think that from this marginalizing that happens in our society, women are left with the feeling of competing with one another. When in reality, you might be more financially successful if you wholeheartedly work with other women and rise together. That’s a lot of words for “it was basically an experiment and our hypothesis has proven successful.”
Tell us a little about Girl Tribe, the monthly pop-ups and how the idea got started.
C: We always knew we wanted to connect with women and create a space for them to connect, as well. We acted on that as just a “let’s see how this goes,” and overnight we had 1,000 women in the group. Social media creates such a disconnect and being an entrepreneur can be pretty lonely. This group brings women of all walks of life together in such a way that creates true connection and community that I remember desperately looking for when I first started Pink Toast.
S: Girl Tribe Pop-Up started in December 2015 with a group of 60 dedicated women-owned businesses. (Carrie was eight months pregnant at the time. I began to plan and she went along for the ride. She is a good sport!) We knew we had something special when we saw over 2,000 people during our first pop-up and have since had two more. We have two more planned for this year and are actively expanding into other cities. Girl Tribe Pop-Ups are the ultimate girls day out — and seriously the most fun shopping experience I have ever been a part of. Our next Charlotte Girl Tribe Pop-Up is December 10 at Sugar Creek Brewing and we are expecting this to be the best one yet!
What’s the biggest message or initiative you hope Girl Tribe conveys?
C: It’s a place to lift up your tribe, not tear them down. It’s a place for movement that targets everyday struggles women have and using your tribe to move forward and remove those pop culture stereotypes. Personally, I thought what I wanted for a very long time was a good paying salary job, a husband, a baby and a dog — you know that American dream all the movies layout for you — but turns out what I want is to run a successful business, connect with other passionate women and have a family and make dollars. Culture lays out this map of what we think we should do but we can make our own road map.
S: That women can and will work together. To tear down the stereotype of “catty” or “that’s just how women are.” I don’t believe that — the ball is in our court and the future is now. I think our work will be done when women make 100% of men’s salaries, get paid maternity leave no matter the job or geographic location, have access to affordable and excellent childcare and are represented equally within corporations, government and the world. We aim to lift up our community and, in turn, create waves. If you look around, it’s happening. Let’s do this.
Y’all recently expanded with a line of home goods. What’s next for Pink Social?
Best piece of advice?
C: Be authentic and true to yourself. There is a lot of noise that surrounds us everyday and it’s easy to get caught up in it all. But if you stay true to yourself and check in why you are really doing XYZ, you’re sure to figure out your place in this life.
S: Go your own way.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
C: My Tribe (duh), phone (I would die) and SLEEP.
S: Yoga, my phone and a blow out.
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