Laura Wallace is the CEO and Creative Director of Worx & Co. She founded the branding agency in 2007, and that was just the beginning of her “gutsy” journey. She’s also the Host(ess) of The Gutsy Podcast, a speaker, author, wife, mother – and overall Ladyboss.
Wallace is a graphic designer by nature, but after over a decade of working with businesses, she’s quickly realized two things. One, she loves getting people excited about what’s possible while reminding them how insanely capable and deserving they are of it all. And secondly, she feels passionately compelled to talk about the crazy shiz that happens within our heads to help women overcome insecurities and start thriving.
Get to know Laura Wallace and Worx & Co in our interview below!
Tell us about your professional journey. What lead you to founding Worx & Co?
I began my journey as a graphic designer for the phone book – I created yellow page ads – which was just as exciting as it sounds. I found myself as the “middle man” between the sales team and the customers – the business owners that needed help advertising. I often wondered who they were, why they started their business, what their offices looked like, and what it was like to run a business.
After my husband and I decided to start a family, I knew I wanted to be home to watch my son grow up, but also didn’t want to give up my passion for design. So at 6.5 months pregnant, I quit my job to start Worx.
Leaving a full-time job to start your business is one of the scariest challenges you can face. How did you tackle fears and/or doubts when starting Worx & Co?
My first office was my couch, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a bigger vision for my life. Entrepreneurship is like parenthood: there’s no playbook, and you figure it out as you go. Fear and doubt is part of doing anything new. I think there’s something unique about entrepreneurs – our drive outweighs our fear.
This isn’t to say that I wasn’t terrified. I left a regular paycheck and security to “find myself.” It helps to have a support team that believes in you but at the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself. I found power in sitting and dreaming, seeing the future, remembering why I did this in the first place.
One of the most challenging creative struggles for an entrepreneur can be what to name their company. How did you come up with the name Worx & Co?
The business name started as Worx Graphic Design. Worx is a lifestyle… I wanted to create a culture that allowed people to be themselves. Before you’re a businesswoman, mother, spouse, friend, you’re a human. Many corporate settings forget that. Worx is a way of life, one that allows you to be who you are and do what you love.
In 2019 we changed the name to Worx & Co because we found the term “graphic design” limiting. We’re more than just designers. We’re strategizers, visionaries, and problem solvers. Changing the name allowed us to fully own who we are and market ourselves properly.
What branding advice would you offer to a new entrepreneur?
Branding is one of the most important parts of your business. However, it’s often one of the last things people consider. Many businesses launch without a brand or scramble at the 11th hour to throw one together. We rarely see budget lines for branding. Include your branding as part of your startup budget. Your brand is a visual representation of who you are, what you do, and how you solve your client’s problems. It’s the feeling people get when they interact with you. It’s an entire experience with your company.
What does your day-to-day look like – and what you love most about what you do?
Well, my day-to-day has evolved a bit as we’re in the middle of COVID, but the core of my day is the same. One thing I love as a creative is that no two days are the same. My role is being the visionary – connecting with people to find out what makes them tick and extracting their awesomeness so that we can turn it into a brand that attracts the right clients.
One of my superpowers is developing people – whether it’s a team or our clients. I’m often on calls or meeting with clients to discuss what’s holding them back and painting a picture for what’s possible. And as a business owner, I also wear a lot of hats. Accounting, scheduling, and our own brand is just as important to maintain as our day to day is.
What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?
I’ve worked with a lot of business coaches over the years and have been blessed with an amazing support system. But one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to follow my gut. Your gut is a super-powered internal compass that gives you subtle clues when you’re either on the right path or should pause and reroute. I use this in every aspect of my life, and it’s guided to me to some pretty amazing outcomes.
Tell us about The Gutsy Podcast and why you started it?
The Gutsy Podcast was born out of an earlier initiative called The Green Couch Project. As an entrepreneur, I found that I had a lot of thoughts and feelings that felt “off.” Excited one minute and doubting everything the next made me feel like something was wrong with me. I’d stay up for hours dreaming about the future and spend an equal amount of time second-guessing myself. I thought, I can’t possibly be the only one that feels like this, but am I?
The Gutsy Podcast is all about humanizing business. My guests and I talk about specific topics that relate to the mindset and actions of a business owner. It’s a way to “normalize” the entrepreneurial journey and empower others to know that they’re not alone. Life and business are closely intertwined, and your mindset is the difference between winning or staying stuck.
Every Tuesday, we have a 20-40 min episode on a specific topic, and every Thursday, we have a 5-8 min episode called Powerbacks. Through life and business, we often give away pieces of our power to people, circumstances, thoughts, and feelings. These episodes are designed to help you take back your power so you can stand true and strong in your calling.
If someone was to listen to the podcast for the first time – which episode would you recommend?
It’s hard to narrow them down because each has its own personality and flavor. However, one of my favorite episodes (and top downloaded) is Episode 26: 5 Steps to Eliminating Shame with Amy Taylor. Shame is such an underlying factor in our lives, and it keeps us small. Amy shares tangible ways to eliminate shame so that you can free yourself.
With everything going on in the world right now, it’s never been a more challenging environment to operate a business in. What advice would you offer other business owners for how to navigate these next few months?
You can say that again! In just a few short weeks, the entire playing field has changed. Like many other business owners, I’ve gone through the rollercoaster-like emotional changes and it’s a tough one to navigate. First, I want to encourage entrepreneurs to feel what they need to feel. Emotions are often pushed to the back or suppressed because leaders don’t want to look weak or vulnerable. However, emotions are energy and when not properly release, they manifest into other things, and it’s often not positive.
Second, give yourself the chance to dream again. I know that’s easier said than done when everything seems so heavy, but this really is a HUGE opportunity for many of us. As you’re doing way more than you’re used to, you’ll quickly discover the things you love and the things you don’t.
Is your business still on the course of your dream? Does it still align with your why? If yes, how can you use this time to show up for your customers? What have you needed to do that’s been forever put on the back burner? Take some time to love on your business and set yourself up for success.
If it’s not on course, what’s coming up for you? In a sense, you have a clean slate right now. If there were no consequences or opinions from others, what WOULD your business look like? What’s been calling you? This is a time to write the next chapter of your career. If you’ve been unhappy – now’s the time to change that. If you go back to the way things were after this is all said and done, you have to be ok with that continuing to be your life’s story.
How do you practice self-care?
Girl. I used to think that self-care was selfish. That getting a massage or telling people no was rude and inconsiderate. Not anymore. At the end of the day, when business is quiet, clients are taken care of, and my family is tucked away, I am all I have left. My mind and my body rely on me taking care of it like my life depends on it, because it does.
I have several things that I like to integrate into my regular schedule. Every month I get a 90-minute deep tissue massage, and it’s the highlight of my month. Toxins build up and I need to release them. I’m also a huge Peloton lover, so clipping into my bike, sweating, and sometimes ugly crying is just what I need to work out excess stress.
I also have a “zen room” in my house – a sacred space that is quiet and peaceful. I love to go in here with a cup of coffee, open up the windows, meditate, and take naps. It’s so important to have an uninterrupted space to unwind.
How do you balance being a mom and an entrepreneur? And what advice would offer to other women who feel like they can’t be both?
As I mentioned earlier, I started my business when I was pregnant. Fast forward to today and my son is now 12 years old. One of the challenging things to overcome is the guilt that comes along with being a working mom. When you’re working, you feel like you should be with your kids, and when you’re with them, work is on the brain.
One thing I’ve found to be helpful is to be fully present in whatever I’m doing. This means when I’m working, I’m a businesswoman, and when I’m with him, I’m a mom. This creates a clear separation in my mind and allows me to be 100% the role that I’m in at that moment. I also talk to my son a lot. He understands what I do and how it impacts our family.
What single word or saying do you identify most with?
The word Gutsy is the mantra that I live by and is the thread between everything that I do. Gutsy is all about embracing who you are and doing what you’re called to do, even when fear is present. Being an entrepreneur takes a tremendous amount of Gutsy. When you choose possibility over fear, your life’s potential is unlimited.
What’s next for you and Worx and Co?
There’s always a “next for me.” I’m a visionary, so I’m often dreaming up the next chapter. The thing I’m most excited about is developing my personal brand, LauraAura, further. I’ve been working with female entrepreneurs for over a decade and have developed a passion for helping them to get out of their own way and fully stand in their power.
Branding starts with the head and the heart. To have a brand that reflects who you are and attracts the right clients starts with owning yourself, wholly.
I’m a branding + mindset coach for creative businesswomen ready to take their power back and expand their business – and THAT excites me.