Avenue Presents Recap: A Values-Driven Conversation with Women and BIPOC Leaders

Last month, Avenue hosted our inaugural panel, Avenue Presents: A Values-Driven Conversation with Women and BIPOC Leaders. Our quarterly series elevates the voices of women and BIPOC entrepreneurs and leaders who have transformed their passions into a business, made a name for themselves and continued to set goals to carry their careers and companies to the next level. As COVID-19 has, in some ways, made us feel more separate and divided as a community, we saw this as an opportunity to bring the Avenue community together to learn, share and inspire one another.


The purpose of our panel series is to invite members of our community, including friends, colleagues, clients and partners to join us for a discussion that we hope will inform, foster connection and inspire on a variety of important topics – all from the perspective of women and BIPOC leaders. As a BIPOC-led community initiative, Avenue is also bringing together and collaborating with values-aligned people we respect and admire to share knowledge, innovative ideas and to give back to the community in which we live and work.

Read on for a recap of our inaugural Avenue Presents panel.



Making the Leap: Personal Journeys in Entrepreneurship

The topic of our first Avenue Presents conversation was “Making the Leap: Personal Journeys in Entrepreneurship.” I have so much admiration for the five panelists who joined us and shared their experiences and stories about persistence, perseverance and commitment to chasing goals. Each one of them is making a mark on the Portland business community and beyond, blazing their own trails and navigating the journey of entrepreneurship.


Our esteemed Q1 panelists included:


  1. Alexis Braly James, Owner and Chief Equity Officer at Construct the Present

  2. Nina Byrd, Sr. Strategist at EXP Consulting

  3. Paula Hayes, President and CEO at Hue Noir

  4. Helen Hồng Nguyễn, Founder and Owner of The Cake Batch, Executive Chef and Pastry Chef at BEASTRO by Marshawn Lynch

  5. Jill Kuehler, Founder, CEO and Distiller at Freeland Spirits


Because our Q1 panel on “Making the Leap: Personal Journeys in Entrepreneurship” was such a hit, we will be doing a reprise of the same topic (different panelists) in September! Until then, we’re already gearing up for our Q2 Avenue Presents panel on the topic of “Influencing through Content Creation,” spotlighting entrepreneurs who are innovating in the influencer marketing industry.


Inspiration and Takeaways from our Panelists

The Q1 conversation was overflowing with stories and wisdom from our panelists. We learned about their entrepreneurial journeys and how each one of them has experienced a myriad of challenges and setbacks on the path to turning their dreams into reality – with the common thread of being driven by their personal values weaving their stories together.


To guide the conversation, we asked our panelists the following questions during the live event. Included below are a few of the insights shared by each of our panelists (however, you’ll need to watch the video recording to capture all of the awesomeness and the full list of questions and answers):

  1. What are the values that guide you? How have those values impacted your life, business, etc.?

  2. Alexis: “Connection, love and meeting new people. I love learning about new people. When I think about my business through a lens of business consulting, it really is centered around connection and learning how do you connect with people who are different from you and the same as you.”

  3. Nina: “Part of my values is having autonomy. The ability to be independent as well as collaborative. That was something I couldn’t find balance in my traditional Corporate America job. Values are also expressed intentions. It's great to have intentions. If you don’t live that out, that’s not a value. So for me, I want to express my intentions in my work every single day without being penalized or worried I won’t fit in.”

  4. Jill: “Diversity and celebrating collaboration. Celebrate the science part of women having way more factory cells and taste buds. Without women making things, there’s a whole palate missing from the world.”

  5. Tell us about the moment in time or inflection point that catalyzed you to ‘make the leap’ to start your own business and personal journey into entrepreneurship? How did your values play a role in the building of your business?

  6. Nina: “My sister. She showed me what it was like to take your savings and invest it into an opportunity. She showed me what it was like to have to collaborate and network and find a path to express her passion in the corporate world.”

  7. Helen: “Legacy. My parents immigrating to America and the work ethic that both my parents executed really flexed on me, and I have always carried that with me. My parents came from nothing into something for me and for my siblings to thrive. That really pushes me forward.”

  8. Paula: “My father had said to me, and it’s a piece of advice that I carry to this day, he said, ‘The people I know in this world who are most successful are those who are open to opportunities.’ I decided I was tired of seeing products I had developed sitting on store shelves. Yet, as a woman who loves beauty products, I was still struggling to find products that work for me, and I knew I could do something about it. So that’s when I took the leap.”

  9. What is one thing that has surprised you the most about founding, leading or operating your own business?

  10. Jill: “Surprised and delighted about how many people are willing to help. Knowing I’m not in this alone, and we’re not doing this alone.”

  11. Helen: “Everything in this world is negotiable. Where there's a will, there's a way. Are you going to crumble under the pressure or are you going to rise to the occasion.”

  12. Alexis: “What continues to surprise me is what happens when people who haven’t historically been given a chance are able to take up space, and how the world can be such a better place when we offer opportunities for folks who create diversity in that space.”

  13. Paula: “I’ve been surprised at how comfortable I've gotten with being uncomfortable. There really aren’t limits. The only limits are the ones that I’ve placed on myself.”


We invite you to watch the video recording from our live panel below:


Our Community’s Response

Throughout the live panel we were uplifted by the positive responses and affirmations from our community. In bringing our community together to share and inspire one another, we continue to strive to elevate historically marginalized voices so that more people can feel empowered to take the leap and manifest their own success stories.


A few of our favorite inspirational comments are below:

  • “I have to say this is one of the best panels I have ever listened to. Thank you all for taking the time to do this. I am so inspired by your stories, your mindsets, and your hearts. It's also so empowering to see women uplifting each other and edifying each other.”

  • “I don't want this to end! Thank you all so much for your amazing insights. <3”

  • “This was amazing! Huge thank you to everyone for sharing your stories. So very inspirational!”

We’d like to share our immense thanks with those of you who attended, participated and uplifted the community with us.


What’s next!

Our inaugural panel went off without a hitch, and we were blown away by the authentic and collaborative stories that were shared and the way in which our panelists continue to set the example for how to be a leader in business and the world. From all of us at Avenue, we appreciate the time our panelists took to give back to their community, share their personal journeys and inspire us all to go out and make the leap.


Our next panel is taking place on Wednesday, June 22 at 11am and will spotlight the experiences and stories of Portland’s digital influencers. You can register now on our website: AvenueAgency.com/events. We look forward to seeing you there!


❤️The Avenue Team