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Shelley Klingerman, Executive Director, Launch Terre Haute

I worked in a corporate environment for 18 years, but always had the desire to “own” something. While working full-time I opened a women’s boutique called “Cocoa” and produced a documentary, Terror in American Schools: Are Your Kids Safe? As our community started to lose some of our manufacturing companies, myself and three other locals started to investigate how we could help to innovate our community to give those individuals being downsized other options to stay in our community. There was a lot of startup activity beginning to bubble up around the state and we wanted to be a part of it. We, the founders, all started getting involved while still in our existing positions, over the years I left my corporate job and transitioned to become the Executive Director of Launch Terre Haute. Launch Terre Haute is a cowork space in the heart of downtown Terre Haute.

More about Shelley:

1. What is the mission of Launch Terre Haute?

Launch Terre Haute is a non-profit organization that supports sustainable economic development and the entrepreneurial spirit by fostering a culture of innovation, embracing creative thinking, advancing local talent, and providing a beacon for success.

2. You’re a BIG ambassador for Terre Haute. Why do you love doing business there?

I love this community, this is where I’m from. There are so many assets in the city and region which present a lot of opportunity. As an entrepreneur myself, I love the opportunity to work with local entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. Many of these ideas are solving problems, both around the community and literally around the world; it's exciting to watch the impact our Launch Terre Haute members are having.

3. What’s the most successful women-owned startup that you’ve helped at Launch Terre Haute?

Probably Cocoa, my own boutique. I’m proud to say that I sold it to another local female entrepreneur after having it for 7 years and it’s still in business today for a total of close to 13yrs!

4. You also own the Stiletto Agency? Tell us about that.

I started Stiletto Agency to market my documentary. I had plans to expand it to other services, but haven’t entirely executed on those plans yet. I may be pivoting with it soon, stay tuned.

5. How do you manage juggling two businesses and being a Yogi?

The yoga is how I stay balanced, find stillness, and clear my head to make space for the hundreds of ideas and to do’s that are always bombarding my brain. I’m sure everyone reading this can relate.

6. You’re a graduate of the Lugar Series. Tell us about why you think it’s so important for women to lead in politics?

I personally got involved to educate myself more on the political process and better understand the best way to affect change. I definitely think women have a different and valuable perspective to offer, but I personally needed to better understand the process and educate myself prior to stepping up.

7. What advice do you have for other women thinking about starting up a business?

Don’t over think it! I did before opening my boutique, to the point of having paralysis by analysis. Once I opened my doors, all of the things that I thought were going to an issue weren’t and things I had never thought about surfaced. Some planning is certainly required, but don’t spend a lot of time trying to solve problems and issues you don’t even know you'll have.

8. You brought The Startup Ladies down to Terre Haute. What made you do that?

I loved what Kristen was doing to support women starting businesses. I wish I would have had The Startup Ladies as a resource when I was trying to start my business. The support, education and network provides so much confidence and inspiration to someone who feels completely out of their element.

9. How have The Startup Ladies helped you grow?

I have personally met so many inspiring, smart and talented women, it’s impossible NOT to grow when you surround yourself with that kind of inspiration.

Twitter: @techshelley

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